Thoughts to Ponder

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:8

Can God use us, even with our sordid past?

If you think that God can't use you because of your past, or that God can't ever forgive you because of it then you should take a look at Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho. The Bible first tells us about her in the book of Joshua: Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, "Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land." So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land." But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. Joshua 2:1-4

We see later that Rahab and all her family were saved when the Israelites destroyed Jericho. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho--and she lives among the Israelites to this day. Joshua 6:25

Why would God use a prostitute? Why would He save her and her whole family when Jericho was destroyed? Not only was she a prostitute, she was a woman and a Canaanite on top of that. Being a woman in her time was to be a second class citizen or on the level of a possession. The Canaanites were idol worshipers, that is why God told the Israelites to destroy every man, woman and child so that the Israelites would not become contaminated by them. The Israelites were God's judgement on the Canaanites.

Rahab was used by God because she had faith in Him. She was saved for the same reason. She had heard the stories about how God had divided the Red Sea for the Israelites and the many other miracles He had done for His people and she believed in Him. This woman had faith!

She had the kind of faith that takes action and takes risks. She risked her life when she concealed the spies. She no doubt would have been killed if the Canaanites had found out. She was committing treason. She had to trust that the God of Israel could and would deliver Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, otherwise she would have been on the wrong side of the battle. She showed more faith in God than most of the Israelites did in the desert. If they had shown as much faith as Rahab, the Israelites would not have had to stay in the desert for 40 extra years.

Look at what the New Testament says about her: In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? James 2:25 She was considered righteous. That should be a message of hope for all of us who have sinned and come short of the glory of God (which is of course all of us).

If the story of Rahab ended there it would be a fantastic story, but it does not end there. She is one of four women named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew: "Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse," Matthew 1:5

You see when God forgives He does not hold back. As humans we often forgive but we don't forget. We remember the wrong a person has done and we judge everything they do in the future against what we know about their past. We should all thank God that He does not do what we do.

God goes even farther than just saying Rahab was righteous. He shows that He accepts her as righteous by allowing her to be part of Jesus' direct line. If God were like you or I, do you think He would choose to have Rahab in His son's family line? After all He could hand pick those who were in Jesus' genealogy.

Rahab was not the only person who started out with questionable character in Jesus' genealogy. Let's look at David and Bathsheba, they both committed adultery: One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. Bathsheba was Uriah's wife and as such is mentioned in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew: "Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife," Matthew 1:6

Is God celebrating sin by allowing these people to be in Jesus' family line? No, but He is showing that we were all sinners and in need of the cleansing blood of the Lamb, God's own Son, Jesus Christ. If He judged us on our past even after we accepted Jesus as our Savior, no one would be found worthy and the blood of Jesus would be null and void. When we are washed in the blood of Jesus we come out as white as snow and God only sees righteousness through that blood that covers us and our sins. Nothing else is needed, we do not have to pay any further price for our salvation.

Christ did it all. Those that say we must still suffer or do penance are denying the total salvation and forgiveness given us by the shedding of Jesus' blood as a holy sacrifice. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:8

So is Rahab's salvation any more amazing than our own? God can use us just as He used Rahab, we just have to trust Him as she did.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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