Rahab’s Story — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Matthew 1.1, 5a
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…

Joshua 6.25
25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Reflection: Rahab’s Story — Love of Advent
By Erin Newton

These are the matriarchs of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. This is Rahab’s story.

Who was this Rahab, the great-great-great-(and so on) grandmother of Jesus? Her identity is somewhat muddled. (Have no fear, she is not the mythic dragon from Job, Psalms, or Isaiah.)

She is likely the woman you remember from Joshua, whose name is rarely said without her epithet, “the prostitute.” How shameful that we demote her to one identity, because she is, in fact, a matriarch of Jesus.

Rahab the prostitute matriarch, like Tamar, was not a member of the Abrahamic family. She did not escape slavery from Egypt nor cross the Red Sea with the multitudes. She was a Canaanite. .Her business was one of pleasure, not love as we dream of it. She used her body in a culture that was more than willing to pay for it. Her job was scandalous and disgraceful to the covenant people encroaching on the borders of Canaan. She is an unlikely character in God’s story of redemption.

The stories of God saving his people reached her ears in Jericho. Stories of wonder and power, stories that herald the supremacy of God. I imagine how she compared the stories to the pathetic notion of her Ba’al killed and trapped by the god of death. Rahab heard and believed in this true God.

By faith, she hid the spies who swore an oath to spare her family. She risked her life to save people who would condemn her land, her friends, her culture, and her job. All because she knew God was coming to her.

The sign of mercy would be the scarlet cord draped from her window. The grandchildren of the people who spread the lamb’s blood across their doorposts would recognize this same sign of faith letting judgment pass safely over her house.

And so she lived among the Israelites. Her old ways would be reformed. Her past would become a testimony. Her future would bear the One whose blood would wash away all sin.

Yes, she was a prostitute.

But she is a matriarch of Jesus. Rahab, the disgraceful member of the enemy nation, is chosen and honored as one of five women named in Jesus’s family. She is not defined by her occupation or nationality.

In the love of Jesus belong the foreigners and the shamed. In the love of Jesus, we are renamed. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
Keep me, Lord, as the apple of your eye and carry me under the shadow of your wings. 

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 13  (Listen 3:56)
Psalms 119-49-72 (Listen 15:14)

Read more about Becoming Part of the Promise
Rahab asks to be accepted by this powerful God who is not only in the heavens but active upon the Earth.

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Jericho’s Wall

Joshua 5.13-14
Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Reflection: Jericho’s Wall
By John Tillman

If you ask most Christians how the inhabitants of Jericho responded to Israel and their silent marching around the city, most will probably say they taunted them and that the point of the story is that the Israelites demonstrated faith by following God’s strange plan despite being made fun of. This is a complete fabrication. There is no textual evidence to suggest that the Israelites were teased or taunted at all by Jericho.  

Scripture doesn’t shy away from a great taunt. The scriptures are full of them. God himself delivers sharply barbed taunts. Even Jesus gently taunts Nicodemus. But no taunts are recorded here.

Jericho wasn’t in a taunting mood. They were terrified. No matter how funny the French Peas are in a Veggie Tales video, the reality is that scripture tells us multiple times how terrified everyone in Canaan was of Israel, but it never tells us once that they taunted Israel or made any comment about God’s plan of marching around the city.

It’s not difficult to see why Jericho was terrified. This gigantic group of former slaves destroyed the entire army of Egypt—the world-wide superpower of its day. Today, this would be comparable to the United States military being wiped out by an opponent. Then this same group traveled through the desert completely destroying any king or nation that stood up to them. Then, these desert-crossing, dangerous, religious fanatics show up at Jericho’s border, crossing the river without permission and in a miraculous fashion.

One possible reason for our extremely poor handling of scripture, in this case, is that, when teaching children, we are so uncomfortable with the idea of God ordering the Israelites to wipe out an entire city, we need a distraction. “Perseverance amidst taunting” is a kinder-gentler lesson to teach children. 

This erroneous reading of scripture turns the power dynamic upside down allowing us to feel “persecuted” like the Israelites and justified in destroying our enemies.

But God isn’t interested in destroying people we call our enemies. If the commander of the Lord’s army was not on Joshua’s side, we can rest assured that the commander of the Lord’s army is not on “our” side today. Especially if we define our side so narrowly as to exclude those outside of something so meaningless and trivial as a political party.

The lesson of Jericho’s wall is not that God’s plans are weird, and people will make fun of us, but we should follow God anyway. The lesson of Jericho’s wall is that it is God who initiates judgment, not us. The lesson is that we don’t deserve what God has given us and that if we are unfaithful, we too will face God’s wrath and no wall will stand in its way.

*Tomorrow, as the United States marks its independence, may we be reminded of our utter dependence on God and that our true citizenship is in the new Heaven and the New Earth to come. 

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, for in his holy Name we put our trust.
Let your loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, as we have put our trust in your. — Psalm 33.20-22

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 5-6.5 (Listen – 2:38) 
Psalm 132-134 (Listen – 2:42)

Tomorrow’s Readings
Joshua 6.6-27 (Listen – 4:47) 
Psalm 135-136 (Listen – 3:53)

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Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

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Read more about Over Jordan
When we cross over the Jordan with Christ, the land has no enemies to be defeated. It has no cities to march around and no battles to be fought. 

Read more about Prayer for Enemies
How quickly do we celebrate our enemies’ sufferings? Should we, rather, pray for them instead?