Women of Faith Wednesday: Rahab

Rahab’s story and the story of Israel’s defeat of Jericho are some of the most compelling in the Bible.  Rahab was a prostitute living in an evil pagan city, yet she is listed in the lineage of Christ! Through her we are shown that God will use any means to fulfill His plan and redeem one who was lost.

Rahab’s story begins at the end of Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert.  All the nation of Israel was camped on the opposite side of the Jordan River from Jericho.  They knew they would have to defeat Jericho in order to make their way into the Promised Land.  Jericho was a great yet evil city.  It was very well defended with thick, high walls.  It was also very pagan; they did not worship the Lord in Jericho.

So, Joshua, the leader of the Israelites assigns two men to cross the Jordan and scout out Jericho.  These two men are in great danger going into Jericho.  The people of Jericho knew by then what the Israelites were about, they knew what happened in Egypt before they left.  They knew about the parting of the Red Sea and these things struck fear into their hearts, though most of them probably wouldn’t have admitted it.  So the city was ready to defend itself from these seemingly aimless wandering invaders.

The two scouts somehow end up in an interesting place, hiding in the home of a harlot, a prostitute, our girl Rahab.  It makes me wonder, how did they end up there? What process of events led them to the home of a prostitute?  It’s obvious the Lord had His hand in everything.  While the spies are in her house somehow the king found out they were there so he sent some soldiers down to investigate.  Rahab told the men that the Israelite men were there but had gone; meanwhile they are hiding in the thatch of the roof.

The bravery it must have taken for Rahab to stand up to the soldiers and hide the spies is amazing.  She probably would have been put to death if the king found out she was harboring enemy spies.  In Joshua chapter two it tells us that Rahab believed in the power of the Lord, that He was behind all the miracles surrounding the Israelites.

“…and she 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 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.”  Joshua 2:9-11

She then makes a request which shows either how much faith she had in the Lord or how much she wanted out of her terrible existence, or both.  She asked the men to spare her and her family when they defeat the city.  They agree and tell her to gather her whole family into her house, and then hang a scarlet thread from her window so it can be differentiated from other windows.  After this Rahab lets them down from her window (her house was in the outer wall of the city) and tells them to run into the hills and hide for a few days so they won’t be pursued.

Rahab brought her family into her house and they wait and watch while the Israelite army marches around Jericho once a day for six days.  Can you imagine watching that?  How crazy it must have seemed by the sixth day! But on the seventh day they march around seven times, then shout and blow horns.  At this, the walls come tumbling down, totally destroyed except one house.  The Israelites take the city, burn it and kill everyone and everything living in it, except Rahab and her family.

“However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and 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

After this conquest Rahab marries an Israelite man, Salmon.  They have children one of which happens to be none other than Boaz, whom we have seen before in the story of Ruth.

“Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Jesse was the father of David the king.”  Matthew 1:5-6

The lineage of Christ never ceases to amaze me!  He could have had the greatest kings and warriors fill his ancestry, but instead it is full, for the most part, of common people, and many times people of bad reputations according to the world’s standards.  This shows us that anyone can be saved, as long as they have faith.  Christ accepts everyone, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done, who your parents are, or what circumstances you were born into.  All you need is faith alone in Christ alone.

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.  By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”  Hebrews 11:31

Advertisements

The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (Summary)

Lately, I have been listening to some of Pastor Andy Stanley’s messages online.  Someone recommended a series by him with the title “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating.”  Let me tell you, it is amazing!  Andy points out a lot of things that I had learned, but forgot about.  Things that are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT if you are a single person who hopes to have a successful marriage someday.  So at first I thought I would do my own series of posts on this same topic, but then I realized it would be better to no try to reinvent the wheel, after all Andy Stanley is much more eloquent than I am, and has much more knowledge on this topic.  In this post I will outline some of the points I believe are the most relevant and important to young single ladies (I might even put my own spin on it!), but I really encourage you to listen Andy Stanley’s messages as well.  Here’s the link:

http://northpoint.org/messages/the-new-rules-for-love-sex-and-dating

1. Are You the Person the Person You’re Looking for is Looking for?

Everyone seems to think that finding the right person to spend the rest of our lives with is the be-all and end-all of life.  It’s the thing that is supposed to solve all our problems.  I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but, the Disney movies are lying to you.  The thing that the movies don’t tell you is that marriage takes work, before and after.    The fact is that people with problems who bring all their problems to marriage just end up having more problems, marriage isn’t the solution.

People tend to think if they have some sort of problem when they get married it will magically go away because they found the perfect person and they make everything better.  That, I’m sorry to say is an unrealistic fairytale (ahem, Disney- not that I don’t like Disney movies! They’re just unrealistic!).   If you are lazy before marriage, you will be lazy after.  If you have a negative attitude before marriage, you will not magically become Snow White; you will still have a negative attitude. This is real life, and things are not automatically fixed as soon as the main characters get together. The point is that you need to BECOME the right person BEFORE you can find the right person.

2. Men are Accountable to God for How They Treat Women

We live in a culture where women want rights, but they are constantly devalued by men.  What I mean is that the world we live in teaches men that women are a commodity, something to be used.  It does this through the porn industry as well as other things.  But the truth is that God designed women to be loved and valued by men just as we are loved and valued by Him.

3. Sex is Not Only Physical

Sex was designed by God for one man and one woman in marriage forever.  So it follows that anything other than that is sin. God designed sex as a way to share intimacy in marriage.  Many people have separated the intimacy from the sexuality and therefore treat is as though it is only physical.

“Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?  For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  1 Corinthians 6:16-19

This passage clearly states that there is more to sex than just the physical.  Every time you have sex with someone you are becoming one with them and essentially giving a part of yourself away.  If you keep giving pieces of yourself away what will be left when you want to commit to one person forever?

I encourage you to decide ahead of time what honoring God with your body, as it says in this passage, looks like.  Also, determine the story you want to tell, and then live in a way that writes that story.  Because, giving up something now for something better later isn’t a sacrifice, it’s an investment.  Don’t ever feel pressured to give up your purity.

4. Commit Now to Being Someone Who Can Keep Commitments Later

So many people go into marriage thinking that if they can just keep the promises they make at the altar, everything will be alright.  Well, here’s how it is, if you are not prepared to keep those promises, you won’t be able to.  Look at it this way, I can promise you that I will run a marathon next week, but if I haven’t been training for that marathon for months previously I probably won’t be able to finish it! It’s the same with marriage, if you haven’t been preparing  yourself for commitment by committing to a Godly lifestyle now there is a good chance your marriage will fail.  Your inability to keep promises makes them worthless.

In this last message Andy talks about the importance of being prudent.  A prudent person know that all of life is connected and what you do in the past will affect your future.  He basically says that if you have done foolish things in the past or are doing them, you will probably do them in the future, unless you drastically change your point of view and lifestyle.  This not only applies you, but the person you want to potentially spend the rest of your life with.  Don’t marry a fool thinking they will change just because you marry them.  They won’t!  If anything their problems will probably get worse.  There are many other awesome points in this series, go listen for yourself!!

“The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way,
But the foolishness of fools is deceit.” – Proverbs 14:8

 

“The naive believes everything,
But the sensible man considers his steps.” – Proverbs 14:15

What Modesty Actually Looks Like

ImageI’m sure many of you reading this have an idea of modesty that is not at all flattering.  Maybe the word ‘modesty’ brings to mind images of long skirts, turtlenecks, and just general frumpiness.   I’m writing this because I want you to know that the Bible mentions none of those things when speaking of modesty.  So the news is good!  You don’t have to dress like a grandma or wear a burka in order to please God!   But a question remains… How should I dress?

Unfortunately the Bible doesn’t contain any step-by-step instructions or commandments (like ‘thou shalt not wear thy skirts above the knee!’) when talking about how women should dress. But it is not silent on the topic, it’s very clear that God doesn’t want us focusing on what we wear, but on what is in our souls and how we relate to others.  1 Peter 3:3-5 says:

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.”   1 Peter 3:3-5

I have always loved this passage, however I’m not totally sure I always understood its full meaning (not that I fully understand it now!).  It’s important to notice a few things.  First of all, Peter says, ‘Your adornment must not be merely external…’  Merely usually means something like ‘not only.’  So what Peter is saying is that our adornment must not be only external.  He means there are other things that need to be considered when thinking about beauty.  It’s also important to note that the specific external things he mentions are examples, and because we’ve already established that he’s not totally condemning all types of adornment, he is not saying we can’t braid our hair or wear gold jewelry or dresses.

Then we come to the heart of the matter.  Peter tells us to focus on the ‘hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.’  He is essentially challenging the way the world thinks of beauty and tells us to think the opposite way.  The world focuses on the external, and the external things will fail, they are perishable, everyone grows old.  But, the inner person can always be beautiful.  The more Christ-like we become the more beautiful we become in God’s sight.  Basically a gentle and quiet spirit is what we gain when we spend time learning God’s word and let it change us.

Having a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean that if we have loud personalities God won’t be happy.  As we learn more of God’s word and let it guide the way we think and act we will become more Christ-like.  This is what true modesty looks like.  Honestly, it doesn’t really matter how a person dresses as long as they are concentrated on God’s word and doing His will.

Here are some more links and resources that inspired and helped me write this post.

Rachel Held Evans Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think It Means; http://qideas.org/articles/modesty-i-dont-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means/

Jefferson Bethke: The Idolatry of Modesty; http://www.believe.com/articles/The-Idolatry-of-Modesty/

Do I Have A Gentle and Quiet Spirit? http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=541

 

 

 

Women of Faith Wednesday: Hannah

In honor of Mother’s Day which is coming up this weekend I want to focus on a Biblical woman who is remembered for the circumstances of her motherhood.  There are many examples of Biblical motherhood, but Hannah might be one of the least known as well as one of the most compelling. Hannah’s story can be found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2. Hannah had been childless for many years, but God fulfilled her greatest hopes when he blessed her with Samuel. Samuel later became one of the great prophets of the Old Testament.  He anointed David as king and guided him during his reign.  But, despite this beautiful ending, Hannah’s story begins with sadness.

Hannah was the first wife of a man named Elkanah.  Elkanah loved her deeply, but because she was unable to have children he married another woman named Peninnah.  Peninnah gave Elkanah a bunch of children, this made her feel that she was better than Hannah and therefore was horrible to her.  In this time period it was a shameful thing when a woman couldn’t have children, so Hannah probably had to endure scorn not only from Peninnah, but also the community in which she lived.

“Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.” -1 Samuel 1:6

So it came time for Elkanah to take his family to worship and sacrifice in the temple.  While there Hannah went to the temple and prayed and wept.  She made a promise to the Lord that if He would grant her request for a son she would give him to the service of God for his whole life.

“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” -1 Samuel 1:11

While Hannah was praying she was so visibly distressed that the high priest, Eli, came up to her and told her to leave and stop drinking wine.  She was so distraught he assumed she was drunk!  But she explains to him what her real problem is, that she had been praying to God for a son.  Her actual words are awesome, “I have poured out my soul before the Lord…”  Her prayer was fervent and sincere.  Eli’s answer to this is a blessing, that God would grant her petition.

After this Hannah goes home and within a short time she becomes pregnant with Samuel.  She fulfills her promise to God by giving Samuel to His service only after he was weaned.  This means she probably gave Samuel to the care to those in the temple when he was only two or three years old!

“For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him.  So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.”   -1 Samuel 1:27-28

Hannah’s faith amazes me for two reasons; first she has faith that God will grant her request for a son, second she fulfills her promise by giving her son Samuel to God’s service for the rest of his life.  It must have been no easy task for Hannah to give Samuel up at such a young age, and after she had waited so long for a son in the first place!  She must have known that what the Lord had in store for Samuel would be much bigger and more eternally significant than her own desires and what she could give him.

This is also the reason why I find Hannah’s story to be really convicting.  Hannah gives to God her most prized possession, the thing she has been waiting and hoping for, her son.  It makes me think about how we tend to horde our possessions all for ourselves.  Really, it doesn’t have to be possessions that we keep to ourselves; it could be time or talents.  Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying we should all go out and give all our money and possessions to the church or the poor; or that we should quit our jobs or school and spend all our time praying and fasting or something.  But it seems to me, that God gives us things partly so that we can share them with Him and with others; so we can use them to glorify Him and bring others to knowledge of His Son and His wonderful work on the cross. Hannah’s story makes me want to share the best of what I have and not keep it for myself.

“Honor the Lord from your wealth

And from the first of all your produce;

So your barns will be filled with plenty

And your vats will overflow with new wine.” –Proverbs 3:9