Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Hebrews 11:31 -- Rahab

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  -- King James Bible
by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who disbelieved, having received the spies with peace. -- Young's Literal Translation

In the book of Judges, it is written that Joshua sent spies to Jericho to search out the land. The spies happened upon a tavern where the prostitute Rahab worked. She protected them and told the spies the way to escape. At that moment, she aligned herself with God's people. She was a harlot, yet God chose to have the spies meet her. She did not welcome angels unawares. The spies were not angels but her gift of hospitality caused her to be rescued. The citizens of Jericho, however, are described as "disobedient" or "unbelieving." How then did they not "obey?" Were they given a chance to "obey"? What did they not "believe"? Is Paul writing about all the dwellers of Jericho or only about those who had received the message of possible salvation from Rahab?

Rahab is shown as a messenger of salvation. If she believed what had been told her, she and her household would be saved. How many received her message? The Bible is full of messengers of salvation: There was the Samaritan woman at the well who told her village about the man who told her everything about her life? There was the Gadarene Demoniac who spread the news about his salvation and caused all the inhabitants of the ten cities to meet Jesus when Jesus came the second time to their coasts. There was Cornelius who gathered all his friends into his house because of the angel's message. All these people preached the gospel and had oportunity to share the good news of rescue -- from death, destruction-- with others. The others who heard their message could choose to obey the message or to disbelieve it.  

And what of those who did not hear of possible salvation but who only heard of destruction? The Gibeonites believed and came from afar and used deception to save themselves. The people of Jericho didn't seem to battle the Israelites at all. So, then what does Paul mean by the disobedient. Rahab believed and showed her belief by using the scarlet thread at her window. It is also written that she and her household were saved. Therefore, it can be assumed that her family believed they could be rescued from such a large invading army.
It is a difficult thing to believe that one can be saved when a thousand are falling at one's side and ten thousands at one's right hand. The scarlet thread was a thin string to hang one's hope upon. The scarlet blood of Jesus Christ is a thin string to hold onto, if one does not believe. But to those who believe, the cross of Christ is the delivering power of God.

The Exception on earth is heaven's rule and often one must be courageous or conceited eough to trust that one would be an exception. The spies had promised salvation. If Rahab had not believed in the power of that little scarlet thread and had been disobedient to the promise made by the spies, she would not have lived.  

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