Sean Wegener, pastor
First Baptist Church, Summerville
Huddled into a cramped dark house, Rahab waits for her promised guardian. Shadows flicker under the door jam, while a crimson cord sways in the window. Screams echo through the streets. The door creeks open and the family looks upon the silhouette of man.
What kind of person would you hope him to be? Imagine he’s a trained fighter, with his sharp eyes scanning every corner and ears hearing every footstep. He’s a man to be feared, but he’s promised to guide and guard your steps through the panicked and rioting city. He is the man you are trusting to see you to safety. You can trust him, not because he is harmless and docile, but because he is good and has sworn to protect you.
Rahab found herself living in the fear filled days of Egypt’s unimaginable destruction and rumors of the same threat heading towards her own city. Egypt was the superpower of the Middle East. When the nation and its armies were crushed by a mighty mysterious hand, the news shook Jericho.
Rahab, a prostitute living in the walls of Jericho, heard how the Lord crumpled the greatest known military might like a piece of paper (Josh. 2:9). When Rahab heard the Lord had devoted Jericho to destruction, she believed the Lord is God (Josh. 2:11). Rahab’s faith in the Lord was quite uncommon for her time. The gods of her time were tied to the land; their influence was hemmed in by borders and walls.
Fearing The Omnipotent Omnipresent God
How can a god of the Hebrews have power without borders? Rahab puts it well, “for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” She realized a new concept, which few people understood— the one true God is the God of everything. “How deeply should his omnipresence impress us!” J. M. Pendelton writes, “God is everywhere. How absurd to suppose that sin can be committed where he is not!”
Rahab feared the omnipresent and omnipotent God. Her people were devoted to destruction. She was a prostitute. How could she escape the wrath of a righteous, all-present God who parted the Red Sea and wiped out the greatest military might of her time? A mighty man is to be feared, if you have provoked his wrath. How much more the God of all? “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
Trusting the God of Grace
Here’s where things take a surprising turn. Rahab knew this fearsome God also had grace. His wrath intertwines with his grace. Rahab had to trust, to actively put faith in God’s goodness. She had to hang the scarlet cord. Her trust in God’s goodness was rewarded with salvation and adoption. God’s justice extends to forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Rahab is not only saved from her sinful life and sinful people, she is given a home. Rahab joins the tribe of Judah. She is a mother in the line of Christ.
Living Out Our Theology
What do you fear? As God-designed nurturers, women often cling to fears regarding their family. Love is twisted into anxiety. What if the baby is too cold? What if my sin has messed up my children forever? If I keep making the same mistake every day, how will my family thrive? These temporal fears tend to drown out the solution. God is living and active. If God’s might and presence is strong enough to be universally feared, then He is strong enough to carry our families to safety; His grace is strong enough to forgive.
Rahab refused to worry over the destruction of her city, the social implications of her sin, or what her family might think of crowding into her home. If she feared the judgement of people, she was at least able to set them aside, because there was a more formidable threat — the God of the Hebrews.
As Christians we face a similar situation. We have chosen to paint the blood of Christ’s sacrifice over the door post of our hearts; we have chosen to hang the scarlet cord up and trust in God’s mercy. We choose to trust in God’s grace rather than man’s abilities. We call that faith. The greatness of God and his goodness to protect us are indissoluble.