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Rahab: How God Uses Unlikely People

Yes, You: How God Uses Unlikely People  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This series explores the lives of a few unlikely people whom God used to do amazing things. Through the stories of David, Rahab, John Mark, and Gideon, we will see that God uses the small, the outsider, those behind the scenes, and the timid to do amazing things in the world.



Welcome everyone
Welcome guests
Second service only: Welcome online campus
Introduce myself
Give thanks


Last week, we started a four part series entitled: “Yes, You: How God Uses Unlikely People.”
Pastor Kevin shared about a behind-the-scenes guy named John Mark who God used in some incredible ways.
If you weren’t here last Sunday, go check out week one on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll be glad you did.

Tension Transition

This week we’re going to look at another unlikely person that God used, named Rahab.
More than:
John Mark that we learned about last week
And more than Gideon and David that we’re going to learn about in the weeks to come,
Rahab is perhaps the least likely person in the whole series.
She got some major obstacles in front her including:
Her past
Her profession
Her culture
And the town that she lives in called Jericho.

Historical Transition

So who is Rahab?
What is it about her past, profession, culture, and home that makes her so unlikely?
The first time we see Rahab’s name in the Bible is in the book of Joshua; on the far lefthand side of your Bible.
The Book of Joshua reads a bit like a screenplay for a Hollywood action film.
It’s a war story that took place sometime between 1400 and 1200BC in the Late Bronze Age.
Rahab, is the unexpected plot twist in the first act.
Let’s set this up:
Moses has led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt.
They spend 40 years in the desert.
Moses dies.
Moses’ assistant, Joshua, takes over as leader.
With Joshua, God renews a promise that he made to Moses—a promise that God first made with Moses’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Abraham.
Joshua 1:1–3 ESV
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
This was a holy war.
The Israelites are about it engage in a military campaign against the city-state nations that already live in the promised land, Canaan.
The inhabitants of these city-states are in opposition to Israel and to their God.
They’re polytheistic idol worshipers, meaning they worship lots of god’s with a little G.
False gods.
Not the the real God.
Not the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua.
Joshua, upon receiving the renewed promise and the instructions from God, instructs his people to prepare themselves for battle.
To engage the enemy, Israel first had to cross the Jordan River, the eastern boundary to the promised land.
But even with the promise of victory, a good general wants to learn all he can about an enemy before he goes into battle.
Joshua needed complete information about this 12 acre fortress—its gates, its towers, its military forces, and the morale of its people.
So he sends two secret agents to cross a rampaging, flood-swollen river, and carry out a secret reconnaissance mission.
What they saw from the outside, archeologists tell us, was a city with inner and outer walls surrounding it.
The walls stood 30 feet high.
The inner wall was 12 feet thick.
The outer wall was six feet thick.


We catch up with these two spies in Joshua chapter 2, and this is where we first meet Rahab.
So today, I want to walk you through this chapter of scripture and show you six different ways that Rahab was unlikely.
Joshua 2:1 ESV
1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.

Rahab: The Unlikely Host

So first, we find that Rahab is an unlikely host.
She’s an unlikely host for a couple of young, Jewish, secret agents.
She was a prostitute.
She had a degenerate career.
The Israelites despised, rejected, and even stoned prostitutes.
In her native Caanan, she would have been tolerated, but scorned.
Rahab was a social outcast.
I’m willing to bet that her name, Rahab—or Ra-hab, as it’s pronounced in Hebrew—isn’t her given name, even though it’s the only way the Bible ever refers to her.
When my wife, Lynne, and I named our youngest daughter—Chloe, who is two now—it was because it was pretty name.
It was down to that or Paige; but a rude barista at Starbucks named Paige took that name out of the running!
The ancients, on the other hand, chose names based on their meaning.
And that’s why I’m convinced that Ra-hab isn’t her given name.
Ra-hab is a derogatory nickname that had to do with her profession.
I had Lynne sanity check me.
“Sweetheart, is there any way I can share this definition from the pulpit? How can I make this PG-13?”
She said there’s no way I can, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
So why would these spies opt to stay at Rahab’s house?
The original Hebrew text very carefully avoids the implication of anything sexual occuring between Rahab and the spies.
In these ancient times, it was common for brothels to double as inns or taverns.
And you can expect to stay anonymous at a brothel!
As an inn or tavern, there were perhaps a fair amount of travelers from Canaan and beyond; so these spies could slip in, unnoticed, and get a read on the city.
This seems like a logical strategy.
Go somewhere where you won’t arouse suspicion.
And this is how Rahab became an unlikely host to these two spies.
The literal definition of hospitality is showing kindness to strangers.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.
Who is someone you know of, but don’t really know, that God want you to show kindness towards?
Is it that neighbor who lives alone?
Is it that coworker who keeps to themselves?
Is it that shop worker that God keeps highlighting for you?

Rahab: The Unlikely Ally

Next we see that Rahab is an unlikely ally.
Thew two spies stayed with Rahab thinking they could fly under the radar, but their cover it blown.
Joshua 2:2 ESV
2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.”
Hebrew was a dialect of Canaanite.
Speaking the same language, but with small vocabulary and grammatical differences, these spies probably gave themselves away by their speech.
It’s like when my wife’s cousin, Cathy, visits from England.
She blends in pretty well until she opens her mouth.
Joshua 2:3 ESV
3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.”
To the modern, western reader, it seems odd that the king’s men didn’t go-all-FBI on Rahab’s house.
Knock down the door
Throw smoke grenades in the widows
Repel in through the roof
And then find these spies and take them to the king.
Ancient custom and manners had an almost superstitious respect for a woman’s home, even a prostitute like Rahab.
So these royal messengers or guards didn’t demand admittance into Rahab’s house.
They would not go where they were not invited.
And this gave Rahab her opportunity to be an unlikely ally.
Joshua 2:4–7 ESV
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
The ethics of Rahab lying to the king’s men are not the concern of this story.
The lies do, however, magnify the personal risk she was taking in hiding the spies.
Their mission was obviously known to the enemy at the highest levels.
It was treason against Jericho and its king to aid these men.
She was putting her life on the line.
If she got caught in this lie, she could be put to death.
By aiding these spies, Rahab had renounced her allegiance to the Canaanites of Jericho and aligned herself with Israel’s spies.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.
Who has God been nudging you to become friends with that, on the surface, it seems so unlikely?
Someone from a different walk of life?
Someone you’ve butted heads with in the past?
Someone who doesn’t meet the profile of your “typical” friend?

Rahab: The Unlikely Convert

The third thing we see is that Rahab is an unlikely convert.
Once the king’s search party has left, Rahab confesses to the spies why she’s allied with them and willing to put her own neck on the line for these strangers.
Joshua 2:8–9 ESV
8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.
This is golden intel for the spies!
Rahab tells them that though the army of Israel hadn’t yet crossed the Jordan River, the conquest was as good as over.
The hearts of those living in Jericho have melted in fear.
They’re shaking in their boots.
They’ve given up before the battle has even begun.
Joshua 2:10–11 ESV
10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
Rahab just made a declaration of faith.
I don’t think the gravity of that statement hits us the same way it did those two spies.
Check it:
Rahab was a prostitute.
She had a past.
She was an outcast in her own culture.
Prostitution was a grave sin in the eyes of the Israelites.
So, I imagine, that while these two spies were treating her as a means to an end.
They were really down their noses at her.
Rahab was a Canaanite.
Canaanites were public enemy number one to Israel.
Remember? This was a holy war they were in.
The Israelite’s God, the One True God, had given Caanan over to the Israelites as the promised land.
But first, the current residents—people like Rahab—had to be wiped out.
Canaanites were idol worshipers.
Polytheistic ones, at that.
That means they worshiped lots of little G gods for all sorts of things.
Rahab, a prostitute, a Canaanite who grew up worshiping lots of fake Gods just told these two dudes that “The LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
And she doesn’t use one of the names of her little G idols gods.
She doesn’t just say “God” or “Lord.”
No, Rahab invokes the name of Yahweh, the personal name of the God of Israel.
She, in essence says, “I believe in everything I’ve heard about Yahweh, I stand in awe of Him, and Yahweh is the God of the heavens and the earth.”
Pastor Kevin mentioned a few unlikely converts in last week’s message.
He mentioned Alice Cooper and how unlikely it was that this Shock Rock icon became a follower of Jesus.
I’m a big metal and rock fan, myself, and for my generation of metalheads it was when Brian “Head” Welch of Korn became a Christian that shocked me.
That guy seemed so unlikely, yet he’s gone on to write Christian metal albums, plant orphanages, and give away a ton of money in the name of Jesus.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.
Who is God calling you to share his love with that seems like the last person who would ever receive Christ?
Maybe you’re here today and you’d say, “You know what, Mike, I’m not so sure about this whole religion thing. I’m really not sure about the who church thing.”
Listen, You might feel like an outsider but you are never too unlikely to Jesus.
This is a place that you can belong before you believe and we are so glad you are here today.

Rahab: The Unlikely Hero

Next we see Rahab as The Unlikely Hero.
At this point, the royal search party is well down the road.
The spies are vulnerable.
Rahab could easily raise the alarm at any minute and have them arrested.
The King’s men could return at any time, believing that the spies hadn’t actually left Jericho.
The only way into and out of the city was closed behind the search party.
Joshua 2:12–15 ESV
12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.
Rahab’s home was built into the outer wall of Jericho, so she was able to help them escape through a window with a rope.
She became an unlikely hero to these two young men.
Rahab had enough faith in God to believe that she could guarantee the safety of her and her family, despite the total destruction that was about to befall her city.
She wasn’t just concerned for her own hide. She was burdened to rescue her family.
Just as Andrew went to get his brother Simon when he met Jesus, Rahab wanted her family to experience God’s grace and mercy.
Just as the leper went home and told everyone he met what Jesus had done for him, Rahab wanted her family to experience God’s grace and mercy.
Because of her faith in the God of Israel, Rahab and her family were spared during Joshua’s conquest of Jericho.
Joshua 6:25 ESV
25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Have you ever turned away from something you felt God was leading you to do because it just seemed too big?
That’s something that brave people do. I’m no hero.
I’m too introverted.
I’m too different.
i’m too much of an outsider.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.

Rahab: The Unlikely Example

Next, we see Rahab as an Unlikely Example in two different New Testament scriptures.
First in Hebrews 11:31 in a part of the Bible often referred to as “The Hall of Faith.”
Rahab’s listed among names like Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Moses.
Hebrews 11:31 ESV
31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
In James, Jesus’ brother lists Rahab an example of faith in action.
James 2:25 ESV
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Like all of us, Rahab was a sinner.
Like all of us, Rahab was saved despite her moral qualities.
Rahab heard of God and chose to commit herself to him.
That faith—not her past, profession, identity, culture, or home—won her both salvation and praise.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.
How is God calling you to step out as an example that other people can point to?

Rahab: The Unlikely Legacy

Finally, Rahab has an unlikely legacy.
If she hadn’t placed her trust in the One True God that day, she would have perished with all of Jericho.
Instead, she went on to live, give married, and have children and grandchildren.
And in Matthew Chapter 1, we find out just how unlikely Rahab’s legacy became.
Let’s check out Rahab’s family tree.
Rahab is the great-great grandmother of King David.
Rahab is an ancestor of Jesus.
Rahab’s acceptance into the people of God, and her role as an ancestor of Jesus Christ reminds us that the God who forgives our past gives us a new character and a new future as well.
Church, today is your Yes, You moment.
What kind of future, what kind of legacy does God want to build in you and through you?

God Wants to Get All of Us to a “Yes, You” Moment

Rahab’s “Yes, You” moment was when she became the unlikely host to those young Jewish spies.
It progressed when she became their unlikely ally.
It crescendoed when she professed her faith in the one true God.
But God calls all people to follow him in a progressively significant way.
So Rahab went on to be a hero, an example, and left an unlikely legacy.
What’s your “Yes, You” moment today?
What’s the next step that God is calling you to take?
Maybe you’ve never taken a step of faith with God.
Perhaps this is your first time in church or your first time in a long time.
I hope the story of Rahab encouraged you.
You are not too unlikely to God.
The God that created the rhythm your heart makes,
The God that arranged the light of your first day,
The God who has had his eyes on you ever since you were born loves you enough that he:
Sent his son to die on a cross for your sins—all the stuff we do that separates us from God
Then he rose from the dead three days later defeating death, hell, and the grave forever.
That same God wants to give you eternal life with Him in Heaven and an abundant, overflowing life here on earth.
All you have to do is turn from your sin, and place your faith in him.
With every head bowed and every eye closed:
If that’s you today, if you want to Jesus to come into your life for the first time ever or the first time in a long time, would you slip up your hand so I know who I’m praying with?
Salvation Prayer
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