Christmas at Grandma's: The Gospel According to Rahab

Advent

Christmas at Grandma's - The Gospel According to Rahab

Question: According to a new study, women should not date men in this occupation because they are less likely to be faithful. What is the job?
Answer: A bartender!

Do you think that’s true? Is it fair to judge people by what they do for a living?

If you lie and cheat for a living -- or in your relationships -- that's just wrong. You should not call yourself a follower of Jesus and rip people off for a living. We don't like cheaters or liars or thieves and we don't like to be associated with such people. But amazingly, God loves the riff raff and invites them into his family -- a scandalous and wonderful thing.

For evidence of this, let's look at Matthew 1:1-6 -- the family tree of Jesus the Messiah. A close look reveals a cast of characters that is far from perfect. The Patriarchs and Joseph's sons had lots of issues. So did the kings named there. But it is the women mentioned in the genealogy that are so remarkable.

The women in Jesus' genealogy knew the meaning of pain, including exploitation, loss, abuse, and soiled reputation. The men in their lives --despite their lofty titles -- often behaved badly.

I this starting to sound like your family? Do you have family members who are embarrassing? Maybe a drunken uncle who launches into stories better left untold? That's what we have here, except the storyteller is the Apostle Matthew, inspired by God. And he has the audacity to mention:

  • Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute
  • Tamar, who was taken advantage of sexually by her father in law
  • Ruth, a Gentile widow far from home
  • Bathsheba, a woman preyed upon by King David
  • Mary, who was mistakenly thought to have cheated on her fiance

These brokenhearted women are viewed sympathetically, even heroically, in Scripture. But the mere mention of them would have caused Jewish readers to wince. They highlight stories that do not put the people of God in the most positive light.

In this conversation, let's consider Rahab.

Everyone has a testimony of what they've seen and experienced. You can post your testimonial on Yelp and alert people of bad service at a local restaurant. You can sing the praises of a book or movie. 

Rahab's testimonial would be fascinating to hear. 

I think she give a testimonial of what God did for her. She would preach the good news of what he can do for us as well.

What would be her testimony?

“God Looked Past My Past.”
Deserved or undeserved. Nothing hurts worse than with people talk behind your back and say nasty things about you that are not true -- nothing except people talking behind your back and saying nasty things about you that are true.

Can we be honest for a moment? Everyone has things in their stories they are not proud of. There is no exception. The skeletons in your closet may look different than mine. And that closet may be locked and off-limits to everyone — to your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/family — even to yourself…but they are there nonetheless.

What reputation do you carry? Would you like to be at peace with your past?

Rahab can point the way. She can tell the story of how a Canaanite prostitute escapes death, saves her family, and is invited to the table of God. She can testify of a God who looked past her past and gave her a prominent seat among Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Where we came from is not as important as where we are going. 

The gospel according to Rahab offers good news for people with sin and suffering in their past.

“God Offered Me a Brighter Future.”

Many men had come knocking on Rahab’s door. Her reputation was well-known.
But God sent a different class of men to her door one day. These men did not come to take, but to give – to give her a way out.

Rahab's future was bleak. Without an interuption from God, she would continue to be used until she was used up. That would be her best case scenario. The brutal fact was that her city was about to come under attack and she would not live long enough to retire from her profession.

But God did not come to her door to condemn her. He came to set her free.

Jesus does the same for us. About him, his name, and our need, it is written:

  • “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1).
  • “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
  • And our Savior himself said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

And Jesus himself said:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).

The gospel according to Rahab is that God does not knock on our door to condemn us for our past, but to set us free and to give us a brighter future.

“God Used Me in the Right Way, Right Away.”

When men knocked on her door for sex, she opened it and let them in.
This was not good for her and not God’s plan for her. Sexual sins have the power to bind us in chains of addiction, shame, and self-sabotage.

Sexual sin is often self-medication, a short-cut to the love we yearn for, or outright defiance toward God. We should not take this matter lightly. If this is your issue, God can set you free.

But this is not the only category of sin God cares about.

On the subject of morality and sin, CS Lewis wrote:

“Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”
- Mere Christianity (pp. 102–103)

Your issue may not be carnal sin, it may be sin of the heart. You may sin with your clothes on in ways that are much more grievous than Rahab's sin.

But whatever our drink of choice, Jesus does not knock at the door to shame or expose us. He arrives to set us free, to give us hope, and to use us in the right way right away.

Think of the impact Rahab had. She saved the lives of everyone in her family. She aided the plan of God. All of this without a lot of discipleship, much less a seminary degree.

Not only is she forgiven her past and included in the family of God, she becomes a heroic example for ever and ever. Note this in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

While men may have used Rahab to her harm; God showed he could use her to his glory and include her in the birth line of the Messiah.

Though we may have been dishonored, God wants to honor us.
Though we may have been misused and abused, God wants to use us powerfully.
Though we may have made poor choices, we can make a good one now and open the door to him today.

Points to Ponder…

1. Your Past
What was your reputation? Are you at peace w your past?
2. His Offer
How did Jesus come knocking?
Have you accepted his offer of salvation?
3. Your Calling
What would you love to do for him? Are you available to be used by God right now?

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