At some point most people have heroes. When we were children it may have been a fictional person such as Superman, Wonder Woman, or Captain America. As we grow older these heroes may become people such as a teacher, first responder, or our parents. These heroes serve as examples for us to emulate. An ideal for us to strive for in our own lives.
In Hebrews 11 we read of several “heroes of the faith.” This list includes many well-known men and women of the Old Testament such as Abraham and Sarah, Noah, and Moses. But then as the chapter comes to a close we see an unlikely hero. An unexpected example of what real faith looks like in action. This example comes to us as a pagan prostitute living in a godless city destined for God’s judgment.
As unlikely as it may seem Rahab demonstrates tremendous faith. She, like everyone else in Jericho, hears the reports of what God is doing through the Hebrew people. But what strikes fear in the hearts of everyone else melts her heart. The people are anxious and worried. Rahab is in awe and wonder of the God of the Hebrew people. As a result, when the Hebrew spies arrive in the city she provides shelter and a hiding place. In Joshua 2 we read of her confession that the God of the Hebrew people is the one true God and Sovereign King over all.
But Rahab’s faith is not merely a confession, it takes action. Rahab asks the spies to spare her and her family when God delivers Jericho into the hands of the Hebrew people. The following chapters in Joshua record how she trusted God to deliver her and as a result Rahab and her family are saved.
In the New Testament we discover that Rahab apparently married into the Hebrew nation. And according to Matthew 1 from Rahab’s lineage would come both David, and the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Rahab’s life reminds us that God’s grace knows no limits. It can reach into a foreign city and rescue a pagan prostitute and turn her into a beautiful example of real faith for generations of Christians to emulate. In Rahab we see that faith must always take action. Faith that does not work is not real faith according to James 2:25,26.
Furthermore, Rahab possessed a faith that was willing to take a risk. In the United States risk and the Christian faith are often not tied together. Many times our Christianity can be somewhat “safe.” But Rahab reminds us that sometimes we are called to take a risk. Rahab risked her very life to harbor the spies. So many other passages in Scripture remind us that the call to follow Jesus is not always safe. We see examples of how we are called to risk everything in this life to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). But we also see in Scripture that the reward for following Jesus far outweighs the risk and even the loss (Mark 10:28 – 31).
So, Rahab serves as an unlikely example that can challenge us and even make us a bit uncomfortable. She calls us to examine our hearts to see if our faith is bearing fruit. She challenges us to be willing to risk and do whatever God may call us to do. All the while trusting that following Jesus will always be for our good.