Why Did God Use a Harlot and a Lie?
I wrote this article on the “Satisfaction Through Christ” blog on August 30, 2016. I’m posting the first part of the article here, and you will have to click the link at the bottom to finish reading.
Is it ever okay to lie? I recently read the account in Joshua about Rahab who hides the spies. Ironically, just a couple days after reading that, I heard an interview on a Christian radio program with an author who wrote a book about lying. As part of their discussion, they brought up Rahab.
The story about Rahab is found in Joshua, chapter 2. Moses has died and Joshua was chosen to be the new leader of the Israelites. He was the one to lead them into the Promised Land. They would have to cross over the Jordan River and take the land God had promised their forefathers. The first city in their path was Jericho. It had very high, thick walls around it, so Joshua sent two men to spy out the land before they would plan to proceed.
“So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.” (v.1) This story is used a lot to point out that God can even use someone like a prostitute for His purposes. I often wondered why the men of Israel decided it was okay to stay with such a woman. I know that when it was getting dark, cities of that time would close their gates to keep people from going in or out at night. In their wandering, the sun must have started setting and the people of Jericho must have begun preparing to close the gates. I suppose needing a place to hide for the night would have led them to stay among the “outcasts” of society.
Even though these outcasts were probably lesser known, word got to the king that Rahab had let two Israelite men into her home. The king sent to Rahab – I assume via a messenger and/or some guards – commanding her to bring the men out. Instead of obeying, she took the men and hid them on her roof with her stalks of flax. Then, she didn’t lie about the men coming to her house, but she said she didn’t know where they were from and that as the gates were closing, they went out. So the king’s men started pursuing down the road and went out of the city gates to see if they could find and overtake them.
When the king’s men were gone, Rahab went to the Israelite men and explained to them that she knew the Lord has given them the land and that the city had heard of the conquests they already had made and the people were afraid of them. In her speech, she says, “for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (v.11) I believe her acknowledgement and understanding of this is key. I don’t know how she got that revelation, but the fact is that she knew and that she respected God.
The story goes on that she asks the Israelite men to spare her life and the lives of her family because she protected them. They give her a scarlet cord to tie in her window as a sign to the Israelite army to not destroy her home or anyone in her home, unless she tells their business to anyone.
The narrative mentions that Rahab lived in the wall of the city. She let the men down by a rope to escape.
Keep Reading your Bible!