Read Joshua 2
Once upon a time there was a princess....
My daughters ask me to tell them stories that start just like that. And fairy tales are not just for little girls. We all love a perfect story about a lovely princess, a dashing prince. Neat details that close with everyone happy, "the end."
But God has a way of using the imperfect. He likes the unexpected, the intrigue, and always a show of His power. Joshua chapter 2 starts out with another true, awe inspiring, God-written story:
Once upon a time, there was a prostitute named Rahab....
She lived in the large city of Jericho and rumors were circulating in hushed, fearful tones that the Israelites were going to conquer their city. The Israelites had a reputation at that time of being surrounded by miraculous special effects credited to their god. Remember the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites made it to safety and their pursuers (armed soldiers on chariots) were swallowed up by the walls of water? It was tales such as this that had the people of Jericho trembling.
The rumors of Jericho's eminent demise were true. Already spies were in the city gaining knowledge to aid in the conquest. And those spies ended up at Rahab's establishment. What better place for two weary travelers to hide-out without drawing attention to themselves?
It was no coincidence that the spies would ask for Rahab's help. Like all the others in Jericho, Rahab knew of Israel's reputation. She also knew that the amazing events were made possible by their God. Everyone else thought of the powers in the day with a lowercase "g" for god. But Rahab knew it was their Lord, the one true God.
When she was asked to help, she didn't hesitate. She lied to the king of Jericho and sent the soldiers on a wild goose chase. All the while she helped the spies come up with a plan. She would help them on one condition: save her mother, father, siblings and their families when Jericho was destroyed. With that promise, she lowered the men down the wall of the city to safety.
And waited. Her instruction was to put a scarlet cord out her window and have her family ready when Israel attacked. She probably expected a normal attack. Instead, she saw the army of Israel march around the city tooting their horns. Again. And again. And again. Seven times they marched around and still she showed the scarlet cord.
And the walls of Jericho fell. Men were sent to rescue her and her family as promised and treated her "kindly" as described in verse 12.
It's a great story, right?
It gets even better when we read on and find that Rahab and her family were assimilated into the Israelite nation. She became one of them. As a believer in their God, her past was forgotten. Somewhere along the way a love story took palce and she became the wife to Salmon and bore him at least one child. A really important child! His name was Boaz. You remember Boaz as the hunky guy from Ruth's story -- a great romance/fairytale. Boaz and Ruth were King David's great grandparents, and 14 generations after that the Savior of the world was born to Mary and Joseph.
As I read this story today, I couldn't help but be floored by the details. I pictured it on the big screen and all the deserving special effects, with all the glory going to God. Imagine the Author of Creation using a prostitute! Choosing her. His ways are not our ways. I am in awe of His plan and encouraged in my faith.
Once upon a time there was an unlikely princess who was used by God..... It's a fairy tale after all.