“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31).
Rahab was a woman known by her vocation. For most people that wouldn’t be a problem. “Joe the salesman.” “The administrative assistant Sarah.” “Process engineer Anita.” “Joe the waiter.” None of those have a negative ring to them. The problem for Rahab, though, was that she was a prostitute. Almost every biblical reference to her somehow incorporates the word. She was known for her ignoble past.
I suppose all of us have elements from our past of which we’re ashamed. We may not bear them as part of the title of our name. In fact, others may not even know our past. But we know it. And somehow, the person we see in the mirror everyday is identified by the mistakes that once characterized our lives.
But don’t judge Rahab . . . or yourself . . . based on the past. Although her past was marked by promiscuity, she turned to the God of heaven as the one who could rescue her from sure destruction, both in this life and in the life to come. And He did just that!
You know, an interesting exchange happens when we come to God in repentant faith in His Son Jesus. Here’s how Paul describes it: “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Instead of being characterized by our past, the perfection of Jesus is ascribed to us!
God doesn’t stop there. He also, in spite of our past, desires to use us in significant ways. Did you know that the prostitute Rahab was not only forgiven and rescued, but she also later married a Jewish man named Salmon? Together, this couple conceived a man named Boaz. In fact, if you follow the family tree several generations further, you will discover that Rahab was a blood relative to Jesus Himself (Matt. 1:1-17). God used her significantly!
Don’t allow your past to dictate your present. When you, by faith, receive God’s forgiveness through repentant faith, his righteousness reigns where your sin once did! And His plan includes you in meaningful service!