I love the story of Rahab. In the book of Joshua, chapter 2, we read about how she hides the Israelite spies when the king’s men come looking for them. At risk to her own life, she protects the spies by telling the officers that the men have already left (when they are in fact hiding in her roof). Later that evening she instructs the spies to head to the hills and wait there three days until their pursuers have given up and returned to the city. She tells them that then they can go safely on their way. Her house is built into the city walls so she lets them down through her window on a rope and they make their escape.
What I find most poignant about this story is that we are told quite clearly in the very first verse of the chapter that Rahab was a prostitute. Nevertheless, God uses her to protect his people. Rahab would have been looked down on by society and judged for her lifestyle but her confession to the spies in verses 9 to 13 reveal that she recognises the God of Israel. She recognises his might and even refers to him as Lord. She shows reverence and fear towards both God and his people. Rahab has had a spiritual encounter. Her one request is that, as she saved the spies, when the Israelites plunder the city they spare her and her family.
The spies grant Rahab’s request but tell her that she must tie a red ribbon in her window as a sign and she, and all her household, must stay inside the house. As with the story of the Israelites, when God tells them to paint their doorposts with blood and to remain inside when the angel of death passes over killing all the first-born sons in Egypt, this instruction to tie the red ribbon in her window is symbolic of the blood of Jesus which saves and protects us. God has indeed touched Rahab and her life will never be the same again.
What this story tells me is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what your history or background is, God can save you and He can use you. God has a plan and a purpose for anyone who is willing to turn to Him. Not only did God spare Rahab’s life but we read see in the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel that Rahab is recorded in the geneology of Jesus! (By my calculations, Rahab was actually the great grandmother of Kind David.)
So don’t disqualify yourself from God’s love because of your past, or because of who you are. What matters to God is that you are willing to turn to him in love, trust and obedience. Don’t let your past determine your future. Rahab didn’t and she is recorded in the so-called “hall of faith” in Hebrews chapter 11, along with the likes of Abraham, Moses, Noah and the great kings and prophets of Israel.