@robertkwendt || lead pastor
I was just starting out my high school career. The church I attended had just gotten a new youth minister. While I was always at church on Sunday mornings, I didn't make being a part of the teenage/kid community much of a priority. Sports, activities, vacations, and other things seemed to always be a good excuse to not go. However, this time I was going to try it out. I was going to go all in and attend a weekend retreat.
I was sitting on a giant play structure shaped like a boat (for Noah's Ark), my feet were dangling, new "friends" were all around me. Then one guy said...
Wow you have a really big big toe!"
That one comment led to other remarks. I began to feel smaller and smaller as people began to belittle and make fun of my big toe. Why were they making fun of it? What could I do about it? I was born with it.
That moment defined my experience. It was a comment that became a definition of my identity...the kid with a big big toe.
My wrestling match with God really took off from that moment. That is when I began to run, rebel, and want less and less to do with organized church. I was so hurt by people who were suppose to be living a life of love that I ran.
While there is more to the story and what God did in the years ahead, the point is this...
We are all labeled by something.
Some of these things we have zero control over (like a big big toe). However, there are things that we do have control over.
We may be defined by a decision we made, a thing we did, or something we said. We can be defined by a mistake or a past regret.
When we look into the Bible and read stories, like that of Rahab the Prostitue, we begin to realize that God looks past these definitions and wants to actually redefine us. Here's what we can learn from Rahab (read about her beginning in Joshua 2:1-21).
god cares more about what we do tomorrow than who we were yesterday.
In most cases throughout the Bible, Rahab is referred to as "Rahab the prostitute." Some versions may use the old fashioned word "harlot" but the meaning is the same. She was a prostitute. A whore. A harlot. However you want to say it, she sold her body for sex. She was an employee of the oldest profession in the world. It defined her.
Yet, God used her. In fact, he freed her. He gave her new life. He redefined her.
It started by her first hearing about what the God of the Israelites had done. He split the Red Sea. He delivered the Israelites from slavery. He enabled them to defeat all the enemies in their way. Rahab acknowledged what God had been doing. In fact, the entire city of Jericho had heard about it.
Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below."
rahab acted on what she heard.
Rahab would eventually be talked about in Hebrews 11 (the Hall of Fame of Old Testament people).
It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies."
It is one thing to just hear of God. It is another thing to act in faith. Rahab hid the Israelite spies even though it could have meant losing her life. She lied about their location. She followed the plan that they gave her.
A plan to put a scarlet rope out the window. The same scarlet rope they escaped by. The same scarlet rope that would show she was open for business.
god redefines our past.
We may not be prostitutes by profession, but at the root of prostitution is selling your body for money in return. Something has to be given away in order to gain another thing in return. While it may not be prostitution, we can give away other things in our lives.
- We sacrifice kindness and patience with anger.
- We sacrifice our health and family's well-being for addiction.
- We give away our time and energy in pursuit of more. Often at the cost of those closest to us.
We may not be known as Rahab the prostitute, but we can be known as Joe the angry one. Bob the addict. Or Cathy the workaholic.
Despite what defines us, God cares more about what we do tomorrow than who we were yesterday.
Rahab would go on to marry Salmon, the chief leader of Bethlehem (the birthplace of Jesus). She would give birth to a son who as we follow the family line leads to King David. From there we continue to follow the lineage to see that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Savior of the world, was born through the exact same kindred.
Jesus could have come through any family lineage. After all, He was God. Yet, he chose to come through a genealogy marked with a member named "Rahab the Prostitute."
If Jesus can come through such a lineage than God can use any of us. God wants us to not just know Him (like the people of Jericho) but He wants us to live for Him (like Rahab). No matter what mistake you have made, it is not too late to be used by God. There is only one catch. Don't just merely hear about God. Do something.