“You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it’s me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can’t miss? ‘Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it.”
“Fast Eddie” Felson is about to risk it all in the movie, “The Hustler”. The entire roll of cash, everything he has, in a game of pool against the great “Minnesota Fats”. I love stories of gamblers, all kinds of gamblers. The gamblers who risk their lives climbing mountains, gamblers who risk their lives exploring new places, gamblers who risk their reputation to follow a vision. Many of our great heroes were gamblers – they believed so strongly in their dream, they risked everything to achieve it. Every gambler makes an assessment of the risks versus the rewards by looking at all the elements of the game as well as each player, sometimes they do this in seconds, sometimes they spend years analyzing. But then the moment of decision arrives, stay or go, bet or go home, do or not do.
Rahab was a gambler. She is first mentioned in the Old Testament book of Joshua, and we learn a lot about her in her first appearance: she lives in the city of Jericho, she is a harlot, she allows Joshua’s 2 spies to stay in her house. She is also a liar, the King of Jericho sent men to find these spies, when they show up at Rahab’s house she admits they were there but says she had sent them away. In fact, the men were hidden on her roof among the stalks of flax.
When Rahab lied to the King’s men she gambled her own life and the lives of everyone in her house. Kings had absolute power and there was no democratic process. What convinced Rahab that the risk of hiding these foreign spies was worth the risk? The answer is found here:
Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Rahab knew the Lord was giving the Israelites the land, she knew the people of Jericho were terrified of them. She had heard the stories of how God had taken them out of Egypt and given them victory in battle and most importantly, she knew and believed that this God was the one true God the Lord of heaven and earth.
The spies promise to spare her life and the life of her family IF she keeps silent and when they conquer Jericho. Notice (verse 15) exactly where Rahab lives, “her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.” You probably know what happens to Jericho but if not, read Joshua chapter 6. Rahab ties a scarlet cord to her window to mark and protect her house from the impending invasion. This red cord was a vivid marker to say, “Here I am” and also to say, “I believe!”
The walls of Jericho fall flat but God preserves and protects Rahab and reminds Joshua of the spies promise to her. Everything she owns and her fathers family are all spared, Jericho and it’s people are utterly destroyed.
But the story of Rahab does not quite end there, “she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” Joshua 6:25
Rahab is mentioned again in Matthew 1:5, only one of three women in the genealogy of Jesus, Rahab lives in the midst of Israel to this day.
In Hebrews 11:31, Rahab lived by faith, trusting in God for her life and future, when she welcomed the spies in peace, living in the midst of Israel to this day.
James 2:25 Rahab was justified by her works, gave evidence of her faith, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way, living in the midst of Israel to this day.
I love this story of a woman who gambled everything for her God. And not just any woman, a harlot – this identity is used in every mention of her except Matthew. God wants us to know that Rahab was a woman the world scorned, looked down on, gossiped about, and marginalized but look what God does with and for her! Her story, her name, she herself, lives on in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Rahab risked it all for a very great reward – an eternal heritage. When the Kings men pounded on her door what went through her mind? Based on her actions, I am sure she thought, “This God will save me.”
She was right. And He is still saving anyone, anywhere, anytime. Just ask Him.
Header image from: Photo by James Barker. Published on 16 December 2008
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