It’s possible to be marred by the past but not marked. Take Rahab. Scripture introduces her as “the prostitute Rahab.” Heaven calls her a heroine, not a harlot.
Scouts went on two occasions to survey the land. On the first expedition, ten of twelve gave a negative report, and a desert became a graveyard. Forty years later two were told by General Joshua, one of the original spies, “Go, look over the land, especially Jericho” (Joshua 2:1).
We don’t know their names, but we know the woman who received them into her hole-in-the-wall home. Rahab resided in the wall they were sent to investigate, and now the spies were inside it. They probably chose this home to reduce suspicion. Good idea, but the king found out.
Rahab could have turned them in. Instead, she hid them and gave an unexpected testimony. She somehow knew these men came with loftier business. Saying, “Come in,” she invited the God of Israel into her future and renounced her city, about to be destroyed by a bizarre military strategy, her vocation, and her gods.
No other woman is singled out in the Hebrews Hall of Faith: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31).
James also highlights her. Of all the faith heroes to choose from along with Abraham, James picks Rahab. Why? “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (2:25). Neither writer hid her vocation while extolling her incredible faith.
“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know…” She didn’t start out, “It seems to me…” Faith had been born in her heart. “I know that the LORD…” Rahab uses the name of the God of Israel. “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you” (Joshua 2:9). She reversed what ten spies reported.
Rahab went on, “We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt,” summarizing her report by adding, “For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (v. 11). This pagan Canaanite was in the family—by faith!
Rahab hadn’t said to her mom at age eight, “When I grow up, I want to be a prostitute.” Harlots have hearts, broken ones. And God kindly and powerfully revealed Himself to her.
Rahab continued, “Please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you” (v. 12). Two conditions: The scarlet rope hanging, and her family inside. When the wall fell, the “red chord district” stood! Credit Rahab with saving her extended family, physically and spiritually! Credit God with orchestrating the whole event!
Those who have crossed the line find hope in knowing that God is in the salvage business. Marred—not marked. Let the scarlet cord name you as it transformed our friend—Saint Rahab.
Another woman is named in Matthew’s genealogy, born fifteen centuries later, a Jew and a virgin. Mary was visited not by spies but by an angel. She, too, was asked to believe a mystery. “Blessed is she who believed…”