A woman in her late twenties came to our ministry for a few days of intensive counseling. She was distraught over knowing God loved her but not being able to experience or sense his love for her personally. Was she doing something wrong? Had he forgiven her for her sordid past?
The woman had grown up in a sexually perverted family. As a little girl, she was exposed to all kinds of pornography and lewd behavior. It was the perfect setup for the enemy. The abuse began when she was twelve, with her father selling her “services” to a married friend. She felt dirty and ashamed. She wondered what she had done to deserve something like that.
That incident was the first in a recurring pattern—partly through her father’s soliciting men and partly through relationships she herself pursued. She was always looking for someone to love her. At seventeen she had a daughter out of wedlock, and her brother started sexually abusing the little girl before she was five. The generational sin kept on drawing the children into its web. The horror stories the woman shared with us went on and on.
One night, while she was crying about her shame and worthlessness, a neighbor woman knocked on the door and invited her to church. This was her divine appointment, orchestrated by a loving God. She was introduced to Jesus and turned her life around.
But, she told us, “I have felt like a prostitute all my life and have even called myself one. I asked for forgiveness, but I never felt clean enough for God.” She continued, “I’m afraid God is going to turn away from me and say he never knew me—that his promises are too good to be true for someone like me.”
On our final day of counseling, we moved into a time of healing prayer, listening to the Lord for his direction. Just as Jerry was praying about the cross of Christ, she excitedly interrupted: “God showed me a picture of the cross right before Jerry started praying it. Then I heard God’s tender voice speak just two words to me: ‘Remember Rahab.’”
The woman began to weep and laugh at the same time. She had heard God’s voice loud and clear. God saw her and knew her. But what he said to her left her speechless. Those two words, “Remember Rahab,” were profound and meaningful to her. It was a moment in God Jerry and I could never have orchestrated.
Interestingly, I had just finished a novel about Rahab, so our client’s words were especially impactful. Let’s look again at Rahab’s story, found in Joshua chapters 2 and 6.
Around 1,400 years before Christ, Joshua was chosen by God to succeed Moses and lead Israel into Canaan, the Promised Land. Joshua and his armies were sent into the cities of Canaan and were instructed by God to totally destroy every king and every breathing thing. Joshua sent two men to spy on Jericho. When they arrived at the walled city, they came to a public house, where Rahab the harlot lived, to stay for the night.
Word quickly traveled to the king, and the king’s men came to Rahab’s door, demanding the spies. But Rahab had hidden the men under some stalks of flax that were drying on her roof. “They’ve left,” she told the soldiers. She hadn’t realized who they were, she said, and she didn’t know where they were headed. “Go quickly,” she said. “You might still catch them.”
When the soldiers were gone, Rahab went back up to the men on her roof. She knew their God was the one true God, she said, and she begged the men to spare her and her household. The men agreed, and at the time appointed by God, when Joshua and his army conquered Jericho, Rahab and her family were the only inhabitants whose lives were spared. They lived in the Promised Land with the Israelites from that day on.
Now here is the astounding part: Fourteen hundred years later, Matthew rolled out the lineage of Christ in the first chapter of his gospel. It is here, in verse 5, that we actually find out what happened to Rahab: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab . . .”So Salmon—a leader with Joshua from the lineage of Abraham—married a non-Israelite woman with a sordid past (unheard of on both counts), and they had a son, Boaz. The lineage continues through King David and ends with the birth of Jesus. A prostitute is found in the family tree of Christ! Her faith is celebrated among the greats in Hebrews 11:31, and her righteousness is likened to Abraham’s in James 2:25. Absolutely amazing.
“Remember Rabab.” Two small words that set a young woman free.
Thank you, Father, that you don’t look at the sin—you look at the heart.
Father, thank you that I have been grafted into the lineage of Jesus—just like Rahab. Thank you for saving me from death and adopting me as your own—just like Rahab. Father, as with Rahab, you planned from the beginning of time to share your heart and incredible love with me. I have tried to be good enough, clean enough, “fine” enough, but I can’t, any more than Rahab could. Under the law of the land, she would have been judged as a prostitute and a pagan and been killed. But Father, you saw Rahab’s heart and you rescued her.
Thank you for your Son,who set me free from the law and gave me the freedom to run right to your throne of grace. I too need to be reminded to “remember Rahab.” You looked at her heart and saw faith. Create that kind of faith in me, Father, and continue to grow me up as your child. I welcome you to take my breath away with your poignant, unfathomable love.
THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION:
The bottom line is this: As a believer in Christ, I am not defined by my sin or my struggle. My heart is good.
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