Anger rose up in me like the creeping flow of volcanic heat. My cheeks flushed and heart thumped in a way that defied where I was and what I was doing. It was a Bible study. The ladies were sweet, the pastor compassionate. I was a first time guest and we were studying Rahab, an Old Testament woman from the city of Jericho.
The author detailed her history before receiving two Jewish spies into her care. Horrible sinner, harlot steeped in debauchery, and vile idolater painted a picture of a woman without God.
With each sentence, passion rose up in me. Like a pugnacious defense attorney, I questioned facts versus assumptions against this unknown woman. Outrage rose out of me like smoke signals that no one understood, least of all me.
After all, I didn’t know Rahab. I only knew what I read in the second chapter of Joshua. That was it. No reason to defend her from profound injustice centuries later.
I searched for a link to this young woman. Most translations called her a harlot. I hadn’t been a prostitute, but had felt the sting of life outside the knowledge of God. For a girl, I could pull off a good junkyard dog when threatened. Judged by my history alone, I’d be in trouble, too.
God visited Rahab one day in the form of two spies from Israel. Their visit offered her an chance to realign in a shifting time. It was now or never. With prophetic insight, she told the men who they were and what they were doing there. She acknowledged their God as God in heaven above and earth beneath. She chose to make the shift and bring her family with her, trusting the mercies of a God she’d never known, but risked her life to embrace.
History’s definition doesn’t reflect what God saw in Rahab. What He saw even now defies our ignorance and prejudice. Rahab was a gate for God’s people into a new era.
Have you ever been locked out of a place you needed to go? I have. My history doesn’t affirm a gift from God. If religion saw my imperfections, I’d be hailed second-class citizen. Insecurity still shouts if I let it. The accuser still taunts, unless I silence him with the reflection I see in a different mirror.
Gateway people can go unnoticed. Their wrapping may be prostitute or drug addict. Or maybe just a simple lady with a wounded past. Like Lazarus with stinky grave-clothes, they carry resurrection life under a mess.
Israel had an enemy called the Amalekites. They were assassins of the weak. They picked off children, nursing mothers, the elderly – those who couldn’t keep up with the virile young warriors. God remembered them. And not in a good way. (Deuteronomy 25:17,18)
God remembers the forces of hell against us. He puts a sword in the hands of the strong, not to slice and dice each other, but to destroy assassins who rise up against the weak and helpless. He wants us to be a refuge. He’s made us His gates.
I love Rahab’s heart. God did, too. I want to be a refuge for God’s people moving forward, offering His gate through iron-like resistance. I want my prayers and my life to protect the vulnerable.
So I’m taking another look in His mirror. What I see in His eyes surprises me. Its better than I imagined and bigger than my history decreed. It gives me hope. It challenges, but makes me happy. I’ll be looking for those Rahabs. After all, it takes one to know one.