At the very beginning of the New Testament, Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus—where we find the name Rahab. Her story (found in the book of Joshua, chapter 2) is one of intrigue and suspense. She was a Canaanite woman of ill-repute living at the time when Joshua was moving God’s people into the Promised Land. Joshua seeks to overtake Jericho and sends in two spies to gather intel on the city’s defenses. The men meet Rahab, whose house is built into the wall of Jericho. She confides to them that she has heard of their powerful one, true God, and the great things He has done. She believes that the Israelites are God’s chosen people.
By then, tension is rising in the city; officials are combing the streets, going door to door interrogating residents about two mysterious men seen lurking in the area. We can imagine an anxious Rahab listening for footsteps and wondering what to do, what to say. Will she stay safe in the moment and give over Joshua’s spies to the officers? Or will her heart be guided and strengthened by faith? Most of you may know the end of the story—what Rahab said, whether the spies were captured, if Rahab’s family was spared.
Strange to think that the most remarkable deed of Rahab was actually telling a lie. By protecting Joshua’s spies, she helped to save the nation of Israel—becoming the most unlikely of national heroes. Her life proves that there is no past that God cannot redeem and use for His great glory and our good. Rahab became the mother of Boaz, great-grandfather of King David. She was courageous in her faith, at significant risk to herself and her family. Her actions had far-reaching consequences beyond anything she could imagine.