The Harlot Rahab :: By Nathele Graham

Have you ever looked into your family history? We all want our ancestors to be pillars of the community with squeaky clean reputations, but that isn’t always the case. Years ago, my father found out that there were horse thieves in the family tree, and we were all a little surprised. Even the genealogy of Jesus has some surprises.

Matthew’s Gospel begins by giving the family tree of Jesus. This genealogy establishes that He was legally from the bloodline of King David. Both Mary and Joseph’s bloodlines were through King David, but Mary’s came through David’s son Nathan while Joseph’s was through Solomon. Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, but He was the stepfather; and therefore, by human terms, the legal father.

Matthew includes some interesting people in the genealogy. He names five women: Thamar (Tamar – Matthew 1:3a); Rachab (Rahab – Matthew 1:5a); Ruth (Matthew 1:5b); Bathsheba (indirectly named as “her that had been the wife of Urias – Matthew 1:6b); and of course Mary (Matthew 1:16).

Jewish genealogies usually don’t include the mother’s name, but Matthew saw the need to include them. Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth were Gentiles; and Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary were women who would cause gossip and raise eyebrows. Let’s take a closer look at Rahab.

After years of wandering in the wilderness, it was time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. Moses had died, and it was up to Joshua to lead the Israelites in the conquest of the land. The first place to conquer was Jericho, which was a heavily fortified city with a strong army. Joshua decided to first send in two spies rather than just storming in for the conquest.

…And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there (Joshua 2:1b).

It’s no secret what Rahab’s profession was. She was a prostitute. Even though her way of life was not honorable, Rahab heard things and believed that the one true God was with the Israelites. She had heard about the miracle of how God had dried up the Red Sea in order for them to pass in safety. She had also heard how the Israelites had defeated King Sihon and King Og, which were also miracles from God.

And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Joshua 2:11).

Rahab was a pagan prostitute but knew more about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob than most of the Hebrews who had left Egypt. Had they trusted God 40 years earlier, they would have entered the land, but they feared the giants there. Rahab understood that God had done miracles and knew that she wanted to leave Jericho and sin behind and go with the Israelites and embrace God Almighty.

Rahab made a deal with the two spies. She would help them escape if they promised not to destroy her or her family when they destroyed Jericho. Rahab had faith. She knew that Jericho would be destroyed, and she knew that she could trust these men who represented the true God to save her and the ones she loved. Rahab’s trust was not misplaced, but she must have wondered about the battle plan.

The gates of Jericho were shut tight against the Israelites, but God’s plan was that every day for six days they would walk behind the Ark of the Covenant and circle the city. On the seventh day, they would do this seven times; then when there was a long blast on the shofar, they were to let out a mighty shout. That’s when the walls would fall.

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent (Joshua 6:16-17).

The shofar blew, the shout went up, the walls fell, and the two spies went in and brought out Rahab and her family. Jericho was destroyed, but a pagan prostitute and her family were saved because of her faith in God Almighty.

What was there about Rahab that protected her? She had all the earmarks of a person who was condemned by sin. She lived in a very pagan culture, and that should have been enough to blind her to God; but when she heard the accounts of what God had done to save the Israelites, she believed. Rahab worked in a very sinful profession but didn’t want to die in that lifestyle. When she had the opportunity, she acted on her belief in God by protecting the Hebrew spies and helping them to escape. In return she asked them to help her escape from certain death.

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (James 2:25).

Instead of just believing the stories, she had faith. She put that faith into action.

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace (Hebrews 11:31).

The harlot Rahab didn’t just give God lip service, but she chose to change her life and move away from her sin. We can learn a lot from Rahab. How often do we state that we’re Christians but don’t put our faith into action?

Many people throughout the ages have heard about Jesus, but something stops them from accepting Him. A good example is King Agrippa. When Paul was pleading his case before Festus, King Agrippa came for a visit. He knew Jewish history well, and his family had been involved in many ugly dealings in the Jewish community. His great-grandfather had ordered baby boys under 2 years old to be murdered in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus. It was his grandfather who had John the Baptist beheaded, and his father was the one who had the Apostle James martyred.

King Agrippa knew about Jewish Laws and traditions as well as about Christian ways. This knowledge should have made him receptive to Paul’s testimony. After Paul testified before Agrippa, Festus accused him of being out of his mind. Paul said:

For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest (Acts 26:26-27).

Agrippa had all the evidence he needed in order to come to salvation, but he refused. He knew about Jesus, but he wouldn’t turn to Him in faith. Unlike the harlot Rahab, Agrippa wanted to stay in the sinful state he was in.

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (Acts 26:28).

Almost isn’t enough. There can be no fence-sitting or gray areas. Either you believe and give your life to Jesus, or you condemn yourself to eternal death.

The decision to accept Christ is a personal decision. A parent cannot decide for a child. If you think you’re a Christian because you had been baptized as a baby, then you haven’t made your own decision. Baptism doesn’t bring salvation, but understanding that you’re a sinner and only the shed blood of Jesus will take that sin away will.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Rahab acted upon her faith; and because she did, she and her family didn’t die in Jericho. She went on to live out her faith and became a part of the most important genealogy in history. She turned from her sin, married Salmon, and is listed as the great-great-grandmother of King David, and more importantly as an ancestor of Jesus. What happened to King Agrippa? He rejected Christ and is now regretting that decision.

Most people today have a general idea about Christ. Some even claim to know Him but embrace a religion that is far from the truth. Be sure that you truly know Christ. The Harlot Rahab lived long before Jesus walked this earth, but she knew the true God and changed her lifestyle. Rahab has gone down in history known in human terms as “the harlot Rahab,” but she didn’t remain a harlot. Be like Rahab and reach out in Faith to the one true God…reach out to Jesus.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

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No Turning Back :: By Nathele Graham

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

Songs and music can bring long-buried memories to mind. I can hear the opening notes of a song I haven’t heard in decades and will remember the words and the melody, which isn’t always good. I grew up in the ’60s, and songs were beginning to have very suggestive words; and today it’s even worse. Many secular songs have lyrics that should make a Christian blush.

It’s good to memorize Psalms in order to write praises to the Lord on your heart, to give you strength when you are weak, and to keep the Lord on your lips. There are many Christian songs that can do the same thing. When faced with a choice between a secular path and one that honors Christ, a song that strengthens my resolve is titled “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” A simple tune with simple words that reminds me of the decision I made to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.

Each person has a decision to make. The first decision is whether to accept the free gift of salvation that is offered to each one of us. For some, this decision can mean loss of friends and family. For some, it can even mean death. In the United States, we haven’t come to the point where Christianity is punishable by death; but little by little, Christian values are being criminalized. China has made owning or selling a Bible a criminal offence; Christians will be beheaded in Muslim nations; North Korea will imprison and torture Christians; and the list goes on.

The decision to follow Jesus is the most important choice in your life because it makes an eternal difference.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:20-21).

Eternal life comes only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The choice to follow Jesus may cost you friends, family, or even your life; but you must decide to follow Him.

The world behind me, the cross before me;

The world behind me, the cross before me;

The world behind me, the cross before me;

No turning back, no turning back.

Temptations will always come our way. Before deciding to follow Jesus, you had no moral standard for behavior. If sin crossed your path, you would embrace it. The world has standards set by Satan, so when you decide to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend without the benefit of marriage, you choose to follow Satan and sin. Once you have accepted Jesus for salvation, your choices need to change. Instead of following the ways of the world/Satan, follow Jesus.

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34).

Study your Bible and apply God’s Truth to your life. God’s view of sin has never changed; so when you’re faced with a decision of morality, use Scripture as your guide. It might be difficult to deny the lust of the flesh, but remember the price Jesus paid on the cross. Then take up your cross, put the world and its desires behind you, and follow Jesus.

Though none go with me, still I will follow,

Though none go with me, still I will follow,

Though none go with me, still I will follow,

No turning back, no turning back.

The decision to follow Jesus can cost you friendships. People you grew up with may look upon you as a “Bible thumper” and turn their back on you. That can hurt and cause you to question your decision or compromise God’s word. Keep in mind that each person has to make their own decision to follow Jesus or follow the world.

Even some people who claim to be Christians will resent it if you choose God’s way instead of Satan’s. “Don’t judge me” they exclaim, but forget that Scripture gives Christians the guidelines which God set for us to follow.

Don’t be discouraged if your friends choose the wrong path and you seem to be walking that narrow path alone.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Keep your eyes open because you can be sure that there are others in your same situation who feel as if they are walking alone. Yoke yourself with fellow Christians who are walking that narrow path of following Jesus rather than yoking yourself with the world. Remember, too, that those friends who refused to go with you are still watching you, so be an example to them. Let your joy of following Jesus encourage others to follow.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.

When Jesus was crucified, everyone knew the meaning of the cross. It was an instrument of death and also one of torture and humiliation. Jesus chose the cross. He allowed Himself to be beaten beyond recognition, and then He carried His cross through the streets to the place where nails were pounded into His body. He was stripped of His clothing and hung there for all to mock. He allowed this to happen because He loves us. There was no other way for our salvation to be purchased except through His sacrifice.

When we accept the fact that we are sinners and need His shed blood as the only sacrifice to take our sin away, then we owe Him our allegiance.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).

Unless we’re willing to take up our cross, we cannot be His disciples. If you hold on to the sins of this world rather than embracing Jesus, then you will never learn to follow Him. Does that literally mean to get a chunk of wood and carry it around? No, but it does mean that we choose daily to die to self. The cross was a means of death, and we need to die to sin and live for Christ.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?

No turning back, no turning back.

Jesus is calling to you. He’s asking you to either accept His free gift of salvation or, if you already claim His grace, He’s asking you to take up your cross and follow Him.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).

So, what’s your decision? There are benefits of following Him. The world offers sin and temporary pleasure. That comes with a high price.

Taking what isn’t yours brings prison. Sexual promiscuity brings disease. Lies bring stress, upset, and illness. Rejection of Jesus brings eternal death. When you decide to follow Jesus you will find peace. You may have to pay the penalty of your sin – for example, AID’s won’t go away, or prison may be where you live, but eternal life is yours through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus gives you the peace that only comes through Him; and the world cannot offer anything like it. Satan can only offer a mockery of God’s peace.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Make your decision to follow Jesus today, then don’t turn back.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.