Rahab: The Reach of Faith
Hebrews 11:31; Joshua 2; 6:21-25
This morning we will be concluding our series of messages on “Living by Faith.” The subject of
my message today is one of only two women mentioned among the list of the great heroes of the
faith in Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11:31 says this; "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with
those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace."
Sometimes we get the impression that the people that we read about in the Bible were some sort
of super-spiritual people with powers that enabled them to do things that you and I will never be
able to do. But as we've studied some of them over the past few weeks, I hope that you've seen
that they were folks who were a lot like you and me. They had their good days and their bad
days. They had days when they walked with God as well as days when they ran from God.
There were times when they obeyed and times when they disobeyed. There were times when
they believed and times when they struggled to believe. But through it all the great heroes of
faith had one thing in common, they trusted God. And by the way, that's what living by faith is
all about. It's simply trusting God, no matter what.
This morning we are given the ultimate example of what saving faith can do. The late Dr.
Adrian Rogers once said, “Nature forms us, sin deforms us, the world conforms us, education
informs us, but faith transforms us.” What a transformation that took place in the life of a
woman by the name of Rahab.
To understand the story behind the scripture for today’s sermon we need to turn to the Old
Testament book of Joshua. In Joshua chapter 2, we are introduced to a shady lady by the name
of Rahab. Now, what do we know about Rahab? The Bible tells us that she lived in the ancient
city of Jericho. Jericho is the oldest city in the world. It's also the lowest city on earth. It sits
right at the North end of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the planet.
The Bible tells us that Rahab was a harlot. She was a woman of the night who sold herself to
men for money. Rahab lived a thoroughly immoral lifestyle. She was also a Gentile. She was an
outcast. She was cutoff from the promises of God. She was outside the covenants of God. She
was a woman living in open, shameful sin, in a condemned city, among idolatrous people. What
kind of a chance would a person like Rahab have of being saved?
There are some people who think they are too good to be saved. They think God would be
especially pleased to have them in His heaven. But the Bible says, "There is none good, no not
one." There are other folks who believe they are too bad to be saved. But the truth of the matter
is there is nobody too bad to be saved. Jesus didn't come into the world to save good people.
Jesus came into the world to save bad people. Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but to
call sinners to repentance."
Rahab the harlot is a picture of sin if there ever was one. She was a pagan living in spiritual
darkness. She was a prostitute living in spiritual depravity. She was a lost soul facing certain
destruction. And yet she experienced both physical as well as spiritual salvation because of the
fact that she found grace through faith.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe says that "Rahab's conversion was truly an act of God's grace. Like all the
citizens of Canaan, Rahab was under condemnation and destined to die. She didn't deserve to be
saved, but God had mercy on her. If ever a sinner experienced Ephesians 2:1-10, it was Rahab."
Read Ephesians 2:1-10.
Rahab was a recipient of God’s amazing, saving grace. She was a woman of the night who
became a child of the Light. She was a citizen of Jericho who became a citizen of heaven. She
was a harlot who became a hero. Rahab went from disgrace to dignity; from the house of shame
to the hall of fame of faith.
How did it happen?
1. Rahab was Moved by the Spirit of God (Joshua 2:1-7)
After 40 years in the wilderness the children of Israel were at last ready to cross over the Jordan
River and enter the land God had promised them. But before they claimed the Promised Land
they first had to conquer the well fortified city of Jericho. Joshua selected two men to secretly
slip into the city and survey the situation. They crossed the Jordan River, made their way down
to the city of Jericho and slipped into the house of Rahab. Let’s begin reading at verse 1. (Read
Why would these two Israelite spies stop at the house of a prostitute? For one thing, Rahab’s
establishment no doubt served as a café as well as an inn. An establishment like that would have
been the most likely place to hear the common talk of the town and gather information and the
least likely place where strangers would be recognized or questioned. Second, if a sudden escape
became necessary Rahab's house was in an ideal location because it was built right into the city
It’s not difficult to understand why the two Israelite spies sought shelter at Rahab’s house, but
why would Rahab give them shelter and protection? She obviously knew who they were and
what they were doing in Jericho. She also knew that she was putting her life and the lives of her
family in grave danger by hiding them in her home. So why did she do it?
Rahab opened her house to the two spies of Israel and ultimately opened her heart to the God of
Israel because the Holy Spirit was working in her life.
The Holy Spirit convicts of our sin. The Holy Spirit opens our sin darkened minds and softens
our sin hardened hearts so that we can see how lost we are and much we need a Savior. The
Holy Spirit enables us to believe.
Not only was Rahab moved by the Spirit of God, she also…
2. Rahab Received the Word of God (Joshua 2:8-13)
Look at what Rahab said to these spies. It's an amazing thing.
Here is a prostitute, a woman who is living in a godless, pagan culture, in a condemned city.
Now, she shares with these two Israelite spies an astonishing testimony. Look at verse 9. Read
There are three essential elements of saving faith. Saving faith involves the mind, the heart and
the will. She says in verse 9, "I know." How did she know? Because in verse 10 she says, "We
have heard." What had Rahab heard? She had heard the story of what God did for Israel at the
Red Sea and what God did to the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og.
God had performed many miracles for the children of Israel and the people in Jericho had heard
about it. They all heard the stories, but only Rahab received it. The message of salvation is
something you hear. The Bible says in Romans 10:17, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by
the Word of God."
Saving faith involves the mind. She says, "We have heard." We see in verse 11 that saving faith
also involves the heart. "As soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted." Rahab was
shaken by what she heard. She was stirred by it. Frankly, she was afraid. I’ve heard people say,
"Preacher, I don't believe in scaring people to get them saved." It was the fear of dying in my
sins and going to hell that brought me to faith in Christ. Paul said, “Knowing, therefore, the
terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).
For salvation to occur, first the mind has to be involved. You have to believe in God, the God of
the Bible. You have to believe that God became flesh and dwelt among us 2,000 years ago in the
person of His Son Jesus Christ. You have to believe that Jesus died for your sins on the cross
and rose again from the grave. You have to know that you are a sinner and believe that you need
to be saved. You have to believe these things with your mind. But that’s not enough.
Salvation also involves the heart. You have to be moved in your heart to want to want to be
saved. There has to be a stirring in your heart, a desire to know God and be forgiven of your
sins. And number three, the will has to be involved. If you want to be saved you must exercise
your will, turn from your sins and trust Christ and Christ alone for your salvation. Rahab
declared, "For the Lord your God, He is God." By faith Rahab received the Word of God with
all of her mind and heart, and exercised her will to trust God for her salvation. That’s what it
means to be saved.
Rahab was moved by the Spirit of God. She received the Word of God. But there’s something
else I want you to see.
3. Rahab Placed Her Faith in God (Joshua 2:14-21)
How do we know that Rahab truly believed, by her declaration of faith? No, it wasn’t Rahab’s
words but her works that demonstrated that she truly believed God. Look at verse 14. (Read
Joshua 2:14-21). Rahab’s “works” and not her “words” justified her. She risked her life to save
the lives of the spies because she believed in the power and sovereignty of their God.
Keep your place here in Joshua and turn to the book of James. Rahab is mentioned three times in
the New Testament. In Hebrews 11:31, Matthew 1:5, and here in James 2:25. Verse 25 says,
"Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers
and sent them out another way?"
The point James is making here is that we demonstrate the reality of our faith by our works.
Rahab put her works where her faith was. She put her life where her love was. She
demonstrated what it means to have saving faith.
Salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ is an inward experience. But by our
works we give outward evidence of that inward experience. I can’t see your faith and you can’t
see mine, but everyone should be able to see the fruit of our faith.
Rahab was moved by the Spirit of God. She received the Word of God. She placed her faith in
God. And finally we see that…
4. Rahab was accepted into the family of God (Joshua 6:25)
I like stories with happy endings, don’t you? The story of Rahab has a storybook ending. The
Bible tells us in Joshua 6:25, “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and
all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua
sent to spy out Jericho.”
Turn to Matthew 1. Matthew begins his gospel by giving us the genealogy of the Lord Jesus.
Look at verse 5. “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
and Jesse begot David the king” (Matthew 1:5-6). What a story! Rahab married Salmon, a
prince of Judah, and became the great, great grandmother of King David. Rahab was saved by
God’s grace through faith. She got in the family tree of Jesus by faith. She got in the family of
God by faith. That's how everybody gets in.
I want you to notice something. When Rahab is mentioned in Hebrews, and Joshua and James
she is called the harlot Rahab. But when she is mentioned in the family tree of Jesus here in
Matthew 1:5 she is just Rahab. She's not called a harlot. Why? The moment Rahab the harlot
placed her faith in God and trusted Him to be her Savior she became a new person. The Word of
God says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all
things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). When you are born physically, you have no past, but all
future. And beloved, when you are born again, born spiritually into the family of God, your past
is under the blood of Jesus.
I once was an outcast, stranger on earth.
A sinner by choice and an alien by birth.
But I've been adopted; my name's written down.
An heir to a mansion, a throne, and a crown.
I'm a child of the king, a child of the king.
With Jesus my Savior, I'm a child of the king.
Let's bow our heads in prayer.