If you were in a conversation with your closest friend and you were called on the carpet for an opinion in a way that realigns your spine, where would your next words come from?
Most of us would bring out the justification for our position, complete with hand gestures, and our voices would lower as we made a case. Our careful words would line up in sequence.
This is how I know. Since you asked…I’m happy to tell you. So shut up and listen.
And then you’d tell a story.
The Bible is full of moments like these when people in peril show their true colors. When Rahab’s story got stuck on a spin cycle in my head recently, I leaned in. God speaks to me powerfully through the moments in his Word when someone has been driven to their threadbare edges. They make me sink deeper in my skin.
Rahab. I love how my spellchecker keeps calling her Rehab.
She steals my heart in Joshua 2 with her outright haggling with the holy men sent by Joshua to case Jericho, so I follow her up the stairs to the roof of her house, where she will make demands of God’s representatives for the sake of her family. A girl, who by all rights has no rights, will make a case and be respected.
Confrontation makes me uncomfortable. I like to go with the flow. Set me in a group on the hunt for adventure, and I am generally in the back seat just hoping we don’t die in some ridiculous manner. If situations propel me to fight or flight mode with you, you’d better believe you’ve hit a nerve. But something tells me Rahab had good reason to be defensive. And she had a lot to defend.
This is how it went down.
Listen to her punch out her words, she is a force. Whoever these spies were, they never get named in scripture. Whose story is this? It’s Rahab’s.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them,
“I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.
10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
12 “Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2: 8-13
To me, she sounds like this (and looks like Queen Latifah):
Make no mistake, gentlemen, I know who you are and I’ve heard of your God. You saw what I did for you. Totally didn’t have to. I want to know if you can be trusted to come through for me and my family. Are men of God any different from any other men I’ve known right here in this room?
What kind of girl leverages her lifestyle for the sake of her family and forces an oath from reputable men? The kind who has seen the underbelly of her city, and slept with it. She wants real. She thinks she is seeing it and she wants to be sure. Can she believe the rumors of a God like this who defends his people and goes before them himself?
I’m with Rahab. I want to know. I’m standing so close I can see the finger she’s pointing to punctuate her words. Will they honor her with a promise? Will their God also reward the faith of a sinner?
Have you ever been asked a desperate question by a person who actually is exactly what they appear to be? Does that kind of guts call up your integrity?
It works for Rahab. For showing honest kindness and holding the spies accountable, her whole family is saved. Her name will join the names of those whose legacy is Jesus.
I’m glad we’re related. We are songs sung in dimly lit rooms where perfect people are not welcome.
Like Rahab, I’m a hot mess most days. That’s my witness. Being steeped in her kind grit this week reminds me that the dust film of my nature coats me with credence. Even my mistakes are messy, marked by mercy.
Anyway, who would you rather trust to put out a fire, someone who smells of smoke, or someone who’s never been singed?
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