Rahab: Faith to Receive

Rahab is one of the most unlikely persons to be found in a list displaying people of great faith. Rahab was a harlot. Though attempts have been made to soften the term ‘harlot’ in the context of scripture, there is no way to get around it. Rahab was a prostitute. She was a person that we would perceive as the lowest of the lowest. Rahab lived a very corrupt lifestyle and no doubt was involved in all that you would think of concerning a prostitute. Yet, she is found in the hall of faith. She is also a woman in the blood line of Jesus. Imagine that; a prostitute, in the blood line of Jesus. Our text in Hebrews 11:30-31 says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” The historical account concerning Rahab and her treatment of the spies sent into Jericho by Joshua can be examined in Joshua chapter two. You recall the account, how that the spies came into her house for lodging and she protected them. She told the spies that she believed in the God of Israel and that she desired that her and her family would be saved from the coming invasion. The spies tell her to tie a scarlet thread in her window so that when the battle begins they will know where she is and no one will harm her and her family. There is one phrase, however, in our text in Hebrews chapter eleven that stands out concerning Rahab. In verse thirty-one it reads that “she had received the spies with peace.” Rahab was a sinful woman. She was a prostitute, and just like all of us, there was no good in her at all. Yet, in the midst of her sinful lifestyle and her bondage to her sin nature, she had faith to receive. One of the many lessons that can be learned here is that it does not matter who you are or what you may have done, you can be forgiven and your sins are paid for, all you must do is receive it. When it comes to receiving there are three things that we learn from the life of Rahab that we need to receive.
First of all, receive what you hear. Rahab heard about the God of Israel. In Joshua 2:10-13 Rahab explains to the spies how she had heard of the great things that God did for Israel and how she believed in God who is ‘God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.’ Rahab expressed faith in God based on what she heard. In order for someone to come to salvation they must have faith in what they hear concerning Jesus. We need to understand, however, that faith does not end with salvation. Too often we have faith for salvation but then once we are saved we do not have faith to receive God’s Word. We must have a strong faith in what God tells us, in what we hear. How do we know what God is telling us? Well, in this dispensation of grace, God speaks to us through His word. There is no ‘new revelation’; we have the complete word of God, the Bible. The Bible is the means by which God speaks to us today. The question is, are you listening? Do you the faith to receive what you hear from God’s word? Read Psalms 119:97-105. The Psalmist expresses his love for the word of God. He says that he mediates on it. He is constantly thinking about it. In verse 105 the Psalmist says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” God’s word guides us one step at a time throughout our lives. Just like a flashlight in the dark woods, it gives us just enough light to take the next step. The problem is that too often we do not have faith in God’s word to guide our lives and we tend to take matters into our own hands. We need to be very careful with this. The scripture tells us that, “to whom much is given, much is required.” There is an accountability issue here, and accountability to God. We have a Bible. We read the Bible. We come to church and hear the word preached. Do we receive it? Do we do something with it? Are we obedient to it? It’s one thing to hear the word, it is another thing to receive the word. Rahab was different from all the rest in Jericho, because she not only heard of the God of Israel, but she received Him. You see, that’s what faith is. It is receiving God’s word for what it says, making it’s truths a reality in our lives. What is God telling you through His word? Will you receive it?
A second thing that we learn concerning faith to receive is that you are to receive what you see. Rahab not only heard of what God was doing but her eyes were opened and she saw God at work through the spies and the children of Israel. Perception is a big issue. People tend to look at things in different ways. You may see something negative, where as I may see it as a positive or vice versa. The bottom line is that we need to pay attention to what God is doing. Look around you. What do you see God doing? Do you see His work? Do you see His direction? Do you see His blessing? I encourage you to open your eyes and see God at work. I personally can tell you first hand that God is at work right here in this wonderful community where I serve as pastor, Spruce Head, Maine. We have seen individuals growing in their faith. We have seen people that this church has prayed for over many years, now showing interest in the things of God. We have seen excitement around our new children and youth ministries. We have seen numerical growth both in Sunday School and in worship services. We are seeing a steady trend of new members coming into the church. My friend, God is at work. I believe with all my heart that God has an amazing plan for the state of Maine that involves the ministry of Spruce Head Community Church. Do you see it? Do you see what God is doing? Will you get in on it? I have seen many times in churches where people will gripe and complain and wonder why things are not going well. The problem is that they don’t see what God is doing? God is at work everywhere, the question is, will we get in on it? That’s what faith is. It is seeing where God is at work and what He is doing and jumping in with both feet. Unfortunately, we can’t let go of our personal preferences, traditions, and the way we think things should be long enough to see what God is doing. Sometimes God works in ways and in things that we never thought He would. Stop holding on to your ways and your ideas and have the faith to receive what God is doing around you and put aside your pride and get involved! Rahab saw what God was doing and received it without hesitation. Will you have faith to receive what you see?
Not only do we see that we must have faith to receive what we here and what we see, but finally, we must have faith to receive what is done. The scarlet thread that Rahab put in the window is a picture of the blood of Jesus and the salvation that is given to all those who trust in Him. You see, the way of salvation has already been made. The price of sin is paid for. God has chosen to give you the gift of salvation. It was done on the cross. When Jesus breathed His last on the cross he cried out, “it is finished.” In other words, it is done. It is complete. The victory has been won. Sin has been paid for. Death has been defeated it. My friend, it is a done deal. All you have to do is receive it. Rahab, in our minds, was one of the worst types of sinners. She was a prostitute. Yet, she is in heaven today. Why? Because of her faith in the grace of God. My friend, it does not matter where you have been or what you have done, God loves you. He loves you so much that He gave Himself for you and paid the price of sin for you. It is a free gift that He is offering to you today, will you receive it?

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