We continue our study on Hebrews 11, concentrating today on Rahab. Letís read verse 31.
The title of my sermon is ďfrom the house of shame to the hall of fameĒ.
Notice, in the verse we just read, the profession Rahab practiced. According to the Bible she was a prostitute; many would consider her a first-rate sinner. But notice also what faith did for her. It transformed her totally. Thanks to faith, she was able to leave the sewers.
Maybe the term shocks you, but I think that before she had faith had fallen as low as a woman can go. She took a bad path.
My friends, the world doesnít hand out gifts. Society doesnít help us better ourselves, and often ruins our potential and leads us to the ugliest of what is in our hearts.
Rahab fell victim to this godless city. I donít think she voluntarily directed herself towards this profession. No little girl grows up saying ďwhen Iím older, I want to be a hooker!Ē It is a choice that occurs after falling into desperate circumstances. It happens when one finds oneself in the street without resources, when one doesnít know what to do to survive. Especially in that period, there was no social security, unemployment pay, homes for women in need, social workers.
Reflect for a moment on what it means to become a prostitute. One is forced to kiss old men nobody wants to kiss. The body is abused for hours by men touching you, men who donít love you.
And at the time, there were no means of protection like we have today. The pill didnít exist, nor did condoms. A woman knew she ran a big risk entering this job. She could get horrible, incurable diseases. She could find herself with a kid to raise and no dad around. There was also the danger of being beaten or killed by the bad sort of company who would come to see you.
So I say Rahab was figuratively in the gutter, as low as one can get in life.
And yet, thanks to faith, she was saved and transformed.
And what a transformation she was able to have!
This woman, called a prostitute, had the privilege of marrying one of the great leaders of Israel and became great, great, etc. grandmother of the king David.
This Canaanite left the sidewalk to walk the hall of fame for heroes of the faith. She also escaped, according to Hebrews 11:31, the destruction reserved for her fellow citizens.
Isnít it marvelous to see that a child of hell can become a citizen of heaven?
Isnít it fantastic to see that a person of obscurity can be transformed into a bright star, with Godís help?
In all that, there is hope for each of us, isnít there?
But letís see how Rahab came to get Godís attention. I want to see what allowed her to find favor with the Lord and receive such blessings.
I. The convictions she showed
To do so, one must turn back to Joshua 2. If you remember our sermon from last week, Joshua was at the point of leading the Israelites into the promised land. Rather than attacking blindly, he wants to see what awaits them in Canaan, so he sends two spies.
Letís read what happens to them in vs. 1-23.
The first thing I see in the text that couldíve attracted Godís attention to Rahab are the strong convictions she manifested.
Look again at what she told the spies in vs. 9-11. She says with no doubt, ďit is the Lord, your God, who is God over heaven and earth.Ē
Can you imagine a Canaanite woman talking like this? Can you imagine a prostitute who grew up with idolatry, who grew up in a tragic situation, making such a grand declaration of faith?
Her eyes were open to a reality many werenít ready to accept. And she trembled at the idea of this reality.
But I ask you this afternoon, how did she understand this? What worked on her heart?
According to the text, she had observed the accomplishments of Israel and understood that only miracles couldíve protected them. And if miracles be found, Godís behind it. And this God must be powerful enough to control heavens and earth.
She was open enough to recognize the extraordinary nature of what was before her eyes and intelligent enough to attribute the facts to a marvelous God, out of the ordinary.
Are you that open and intelligent today?
You tell me, ďGod didnít part the Red Sea in front of me!Ē
Thatís true, but he didnít do it in front of Rahab, either. V. 10 says ďweíve learned howÖĒ which indicates she didnít see these things with her own eyes. But she had the good sense to recognize the truth of certain facts.
And today if we donít have eyewitnesses to whom we can speak (although we have the Bible which is the report of eyewitnesses), we have another undeniable witness before our eyes: the universe and life around us.
Where did the universe come from? Is it really wise to believe it the product of chance?
That life is the accidental product of chance is as probable as that the Encyclopedia Britannica is the result of a printing press exploding. Mathematicians have calculated that, did you know?
Have you ever read Shakespeare? English specialists wonder sometimes whether his writings were the work of one man named William Shakespeare or the work of several writers under a pseudonym. But one thing is certain Ė thereís an author behind their composition.
Who would choose to believe that one day a pilot got aboard his plane, flew over the desert, and dropped millions of papers with individual letters on them and unintentionally spelled out ďto be or not to be, that is the question.Ē Or again, ďmusic is the fruit of love, play for me.Ē
It would be RIDICULOUS to believe that!
But how many think life is the result of chance, that DNA formed as a result of an explosion?
Itís just as ridiculous to believe that 2 amoebas met one day, courted, and finally we end up with all that roams the earth, including you and your kids.
I tell you today, letís look at the evidence and be convinced like Rahab.
Letís not forget the words of Paul in Romans 1:19-20.
No one can attain Godís favor if he denies the evidences of creation and doesnít show strong convictions as to his existence.
II. The acts of faith she showed.
But convictions alone are insufficient. I think what also attracted Godís favor were the actions that flowed from Rahabís convictions.
Look at vs. 12, 15 and 21.
According to the Bible, she did 3 beautiful things:
Thereís a whole typology in these verses. I mean to say that we find in them an image for our lives.
If we make this oath, like the messengers in v. 14, Christ responds, ďIím ready to die for you, isnít that great?Ē
The red cord represents something in this story, itís not red by coincidence. Red is the color of Jesusí blood.
All along the Bible we see the same thread. The Jews needed to paint their doorframes with what, so the Lord would pass over them in Egypt? Lambís blood. Itís a typology. And Rahab had to use a red cord. All throughout the OT we find things that point at the redemptive work of Christ to come.
If today I want salvation, my life must be protected by Jesusí blood.
I say then that by her actions Rahab was saved, as James 2:25 confirms.
Do you have convictions that are such that actions naturally follow from them?
Actions are important to perfect our faith if one day we want to be able to enter heaven.
III. The light she spread.
Finally, thereís one last thing that probably pleased God. Itís the way Rahab became a light to guide others to salvation. She spread a light around herself.
How do I know this?
Because in v. 13, she didnít ask protection for herself alone. She spoke for her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all her family.
Next, it wasnít around her waist she tied the cord, but around her house.
She wanted to protect with the color red all those she was able to assemble.
Like the Jews facing Pharaoh, she wanted all of hers to be saved.
Her actions impacted all of her family.
We can say much about the impact of a spiritual woman on those she loves, I donít have time to develop this point as Iíd like to. But I want at least to say this:
Our children will have trouble growing in the faith, with a red cord around their own house, if they donít first see an example in us.
We need to show ourselves to be Rahabs in their sight. We must do all we can to make our faith a family affair.
I got a hold of some interesting statistics from 5 years ago. A researcher named Flavius Yakley led studies throughout the US to see what happened to children who grew up in the faith.
Hereís what was found:
When the parents go regularly Sunday and to Wednesday Bible studies, 85% of their children grow up and choose to be faithful Christians.
When the parents donít go to church each week, 50% of the children abandon the faith when they are out of the house.
Let me ask you today, in which group do you find yourself?
What you do now will influence your kids sooner or later. What do they see in you? Rahabs or lukewarm Christians who donít think God is very important?
If you look at Joshua 6:23 you see that all of Rahabís family was saved thanks to her testimony. What about ours?
A traveling preacher went to see a member who had asked him to pass.
He was received on the terrace of a very luxurious house. In the exchange following, the rich man began to talk about his daughter who no longer came to church. He had a broken heart. He didnít know what to do to help her be a better Christian.
The preacher proposed to talk to the young woman. He went and asked, ďCeline, have you ever thought about becoming a Christian?Ē Right away the young woman says ďyes, but Iím not interested.Ē
The preacher, surprised, asks why. Hadnít Jesus come to die for her? Hadnít he touched her? Hereís her reply: ďitís not that Iím mad at Jesus, but I hate Christians and religion!Ē
The preacher asked her why and she confided, ďI saw in my parents what it means to be a believer, and itís hypocrisy. I lived with them and I know theyíre pretending. Everyone else I know, also.
ďI may not know much about the Bible, but if thatís Christianity I donít want any.Ē
The evangelist returned to the rich man and told him nothing changed her mind. When the man heard that he said, ďBrother, you see this property? I own all of it and all the land in a 1km radius. I donít owe a cent on it. But Iím ready to abandon it all, to give my house to the poor if that could bring my daughter to church and convert her.Ē
The evangelist looked him right in the eyes and said, ďmaybe itís not lands or your house you should abandon, but your lukewarmness for Christ! Give yourself truly to him!Ē
Today are we lukewarm for Jesus or does our faith burn for him and have an effect on our families?
So I finish saying that if youíre on the sidewalk physically and emotionally, if you have lost all dignity and life has beaten you down, there is hope. God is always at work. He searches the face of the earth to see who loves him and who is ready to walk by faith.
Are you disappointed by life? Then look what God has done by his power and believe.
Are you living out what is worst in your heart? Then begin to take actions showing you believe in God, heíll help you.
Do you want God to shower you with his blessings? Then become a light, a witness for all around you.
Letís finish in prayer.