by Reformed Reader
Rahab was a pagan Canaanite woman who slept with way too many men. We might imagine her being a chain-smoker with an ankle tattoo that said “YRCH” (the moon-deity that Jericho was probably named after). At this point some want to make the Bible a little more pious than it is (reduce it from “R” to “PG”). For example, Matthew Henry said Rahab used to be a prostitute but by the time the spies came she was a dainty Proverbs 31 woman because she worked so hard making the flax roof. I love Matthew Henry, but that’s just bad. A better perspective, I think, is that of Francis Schaeffer in Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History.
“Unhappily, some people ask, ‘But is it fitting that this woman should become a princess and an ancestor of Christ?’ I would reply with all the strength that is in me: it is most fitting! In having been unfaithful to the Creator, is not the whole human race a harlot? Indeed, it is most fitting that Rahab should stand in the ancestral line of Christ. …Jesus did not come from a sinless human line.”
“Is Rahab any worse than we? If it is not fitting that she should be the ancestress of Christ, is it fitting that we should be the bride of Christ? Woe to anybody who has such a mentality as to be upset by Rahab! Such a person does not understand sin, the horribleness of the whole race turning into a prostitute against the living Creator.”
“We are all sinners. Each one of us is like this woman living up there on the wall. Each of us deserves only one thing – the flaming judgment of God. If it were not for the spiritual portion of the covenant of grace and Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross, we would all be lost.”
“Jesus Christ stands before all men in one of two capacities (there is no third): either he is Savior or he is Judge. When he stood as the captain of the Lord’s host (Josh 5.13-14), for one woman and her household he was Savior; for the rest of Jericho, he was Judge.”
If Rahab had lived in Jesus’ day, she’d be one of those “nasty sinners” that Jesus was friendly to; the ”scum” Jesus hung out with (Mt 9.11, 11.19, etc). Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees when they criticized him for dealing with sinners is perfect: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9.11). Paul said it too: “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5.6). That’s what grace is all about.