Joshua 2 is about Rahab, a prostitute who recognized that Israel’s God is the God of the universe. When her country’s political leaders thought they were smart enough to defeat God who created them, she chose to put her faith in God. In doing so, she made history and got a nod from the authors of Hebrews and James.
The chapter opens with two Israeli spies scouting Jericho before a military attack from the Israelites. The spies stayed at Rahab’s home, most likely using her profession as a cover. When Rahab realizes who they are and why they are in her city, she immediately knows that unless the people in her city choose to align themselves with the God of the universe, Israel will win. She tells the spies that she knows they will conquer her city because God is with them. In foretelling Israel’s victory over Jericho even before the first military action was taken, Rahab becomes the first prophetic figure in the history books.
Sadly, no one in the city except Rahab understands and trusts that God will do as He has promised and give Israel victory. Rahab knows that whether she helps the spies or betrays them, the city will perish. Rahab chose to help the spies, put her trust in the living God, and fall into God’s merciful hands. In doing so, she becomes the first inhabitants of this foreign land to join Israel.
Centuries later, Rahab is commended by the author of Hebrews for her faith, when he wrote, “It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God” (Hebrews 11:31). And Jesus’ brother James said, “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (James 2:25).
You see, God does not discount our past. All of us remember Rahab’s profession in Jericho. But our history is forgiven by God. And our past does not have the power to hold our behavior captive for the rest of our lives when we put our faith in Jesus Christ.