“…She came up to them on the roof 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. 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. 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’” (Joshua 2:8-11).
Rahab is not the kind of story you are bound to find in most children’s Bibles, at least not without some editing. There’s a reason for that. It’s scandalous. Her life was that of a prostitute, someone who ran an establishment for travelers that provided a wide range of services – services that need not be detailed here. Are you shocked? Good. We should be, because that is the scandal of God’s grace.
Scripture makes it clear to us that this is significant because it mentions her occupation in two other places in the New Testament, in both James and Hebrews. As it says in Hebrews 11:31, “By faith, Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
What distinguished Rahab from her compatriots in Jericho? Was she somehow more righteous or more intelligent? No. She responded in faith to God’s works. When all of Jericho was trusting in their walls and abilities, she threw herself on God’s scandalous grace. All of Jericho was terrified at the Lord’s coming. As Rahab says in her testimony, “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.” Jericho responded with hardness of heart; Rahab responded in faith.
As we know from the story, Rahab and her family were spared. We also know from the first lines of Matthew that Rahab was a progenitor of Christ. She — both a Canaanite and a woman with an unsavory past — etched forever in the bloodline of our Savior and God. This is the God we worship. This is the scandalous nature of grace. This grace is the grace that we all need, for the very same reasons as Rahab. Whatever our particular expression of spiritual adultery, we are in desperate need of scandalous grace. Grace that despite its scandal, God lavishly bestows on us. Drink deeply today of God’s grace, and relish the scandal of the gospel.