Rahab: Courage to Act

Rahab: Courage to Act || 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know Rahab's story isn't pretty. In fact, it's pretty messy. But through her courage we are reminded of an important truth — our pasts don't render us unusable to God for His purpose.

Welcome to Day 4 of 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know! I am excited about this series and hope it is an encouragement to both women and men to spend time studying the women in the Bible. We can learn much from them about how to live for the glory of God.

Ready to jump into our discussion for today?

Rahab: Courage to Act || 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know

Rahab's story isn't pretty. In fact, it's pretty messy. But through her courage we are reminded of an important truth — our pasts don't render us unusable to God for His purpose.

Rahab: Courage to Act

Before we go any further, let’s look at where we first meet Rahab in Joshua 2.

Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, “Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.” So they left, and they came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there.

Joshua 2:1 CSB

In case you’ve forgotten, Joshua is now the leader of the Israelites. They’d wandered 40 years in the wilderness because of their lack of faith and now it was time to enter the Promised Land. So Joshua sent spies to get a lay of the land and they ended up in Rahab’s house.

Rahab the Prostitute

Rahab, if we pay close attention, wasn’t just some junkie on the streets of Jericho. In verses two and three, we discover the king of Jericho knew her and trusted her to act in his best interest. She was in a position to have access to information and, likely, had been willing to use that knowledge for the king’s benefit in the past.

But what about this time?

Rahab the Liar?

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. So she said, “Yes, the men did come to me, but I didn’t know where they were from. At nightfall, when the city gate was about to close, the men went out, and I don’t know where they were going. Chase after them quickly, and you can catch up with them!” But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them among the stalks of flax that she had arranged on the roof. The men pursued them along the road to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as they left to pursue them, the city gate was shut.

Joshua 2:4-7 CSB

Pretty bold move, huh? To hide the spies and then to lie to the king’s men and send them off on a goose hunt. And the men sent by the king had no questions about what Rahab told them. They clearly believed her and followed her recommendation.

So was she a liar? And wait, didn’t we look at this same thing with Shiphrah and Puah? Is it okay to lie? Are there “good lies”?

Rahab the Protector

Rahab, like the two Hebrew midwives, acted in fear of God and not men. How do I know this? Read what she told the spies …

Before the men fell asleep, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.”

Joshua 2:8-11 CSB

Rahab knew it was the Israelite’s God who was acting on their behalf. And she recognized the authority and power of God both in heaven and on earth. Why is that important?

Rahab’s confession of God’s power on earth indicates her submission to Him even above the king of Jericho. Her fear of God led her to protect these men who represented His people.

Rahab the Protected

But Rahab didn’t just acknowledge God’s power for His people, she asked for protection for herself and her family.

“Now please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to my father’s family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.”

Joshua 2:12-13 CSB

She desired to be spared, saved, from the inevitable conquest of Jericho. She had protected the men and now she was asking for their protection. And they agreed.

The men answered her, “We will give our lives for yours. If you don’t report our mission, we will show kindness and faithfulness to you when the Lord gives us the land.”

Joshua 2:14 CSB

She hung a scarlet cord out her window, just as they instructed her. When the Israelites came into Jericho, Rahab and her family were spared.

Rahab in the New Testament

This is a beautiful story of faith and courage, right? But Rahab isn’t just mentioned in the pages of Joshua. Her courage to act on behalf of the spies was recorded also in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

But my favorite mention of Rahab is in Matthew …

Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse.

Matthew 1:5 CSB

And who did Jesse father? Yep, King David! And ultimately, who descended from David? Yep, Jesus.

Rahab the prostitute is one of the five women named in the lineage of Jesus.

A Lesson for Us

Rahab displayed great courage. She took action to save the Hebrew spies and to ask for their protection for her family. And she is remembered as a woman of faith.

What can we learn? I think there are a lot of lessons … but the one that stands out to me is that our pasts don’t render us unusable by the Lord for His purpose.

Rahab's story reminds us our pasts don't render us unusable by the Lord for His purpose. Click To Tweet

A Prayer for Us

Lord, we’ve all got messy stories. We all have parts of our past that can make us feel like we are not valuable or worthy or useful to You. But Rahab’s story reminds us that our past doesn’t disqualify us and our circumstances don’t define us. Give us courage to act for Your glory and to trust Your faithfulness in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post is part of the 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know series. You can find every post indexed here.

20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know || Learn about 10 women from the Old Testament and 10 from the New Testament — who they were, how they they were used by the Lord, and what we can learn from them as we seek to grow in our faith.

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