God's Witness Protection Program: Rehab for Rahab
Can I Get A Witness?
The Witness Protection Program, also known as The United States Federal Witness Protection Program, is well known in our society. Most of us know it from movies and pop culture, but it's a very real program that has affected many lives. There are specifics about how the program functions, but the basic idea is that the program offers protection for a witness who cooperates with prosecution before, during, and after a trial.
The Witness protection is usually required in trials against organized crime to prevent witness intimidation. It is also used at war crime trials. Several instances provide witnesses with a new name and identity. They may move to another town, get new neighbors, and even a new job. The program is entirely voluntary and witnesses are eligeble to return back to their original identities at any time.
So where am I headed with this? I want us to look at the story of Rahab the harlot. Joshua, successor to Moses and leader of the Israelite camp, sent spies to go and search out the promised land of Jericho. When the two spies arrived in Jericho, they ended up lodging with a harlot named Rahab. Someone spotted the two Hebrews go into her residence and reported it to the king. The king sent men to Rahab's place to find these men. The heat was on and if these two were caught, then the mission of the Israelites taking the land of Jericho would have suffered a major setback.
Instead of showing allegiance to her homeland, Rahab decided to cover for the Hebrew spies. She hid the two spies on her room in the stalks of flax. She told the men who were searching that the Hebrews had already left and that she didn't have a clue of their whereabouts. This was a very bold move and one that could have jeopardized her safety. So, why did Rahab choose to protect these men? Why did she run the risk of endangering her own life at the expense of helping them?
Word Gets Around
Part of the answer is revealed when she tells the two spies that the people of Jericho have heard about how the LORD delivered the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and how they defeated the Ammorites. She also revealed that the people of Jericho were terrified about the thought of the Israelites taking their land. It's clear that hearing about the exploits of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob put a reverential fear into Rahab. Despite her social status and reputation, she was wise enough to recognize sovereignty and the power of the true and living God. According to Rahab, this was a sentiment of much of the city, so others may have capitalized on this opportunity as well. However, I don't believe Rahab's decision was solely a power play. I believe it goes deeper.
I believe a major factor in Rahab's decision to help the two spies came down to the fact that she was "Rahab the harlot." See, the bible is filled with hundreds of names and mentions people by the thousands, but it's rare that we find people that are referred to with a "the" in their name. This usually happens when there are several people with the same name and needed for distinction, i.e. "John the Baptist, "John the Revelator," "Mary the mother of Jesus." However, there are rare times where a person is so famous or infamous for their behavior that it becomes completely ingrained with their identity, i.e. "Jesus the Christ", "Simon the sorcerer", and "Rahab the harlot."
Imagine how it must feel to always have to have your reputation precede you wherever you go. She couldn't simply be Rahab, but she had to be known as Rahab the harlot. The word of God even introduces her to us by her behavior:
Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go
view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab,
and lodged there.
And even in the new testament, she's still associated with her behavior:
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she
had received the spies with peace.
James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received
the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?
Rahab realized that her life, her city, and her current situation hadn't profited her anything. She started off as an innocent little girl, but somewhere down the line, her circumstances and life choices reduced her to "Rahab the Harlot." No matter how accustomed someone becomes to living that lifestyle or how much they try to downplay it, the reproach doesn't go away. So, we can imagine that there were lonely nights in Rahab's life when she cried out to God. There were moments whens she was laid up under some man and wondered how she found herself here. There were times where she reflected and knew that there had to be more to life than this.
Get With The Program
Now, in comes these two Hebrews... two men who didn't want to use her like so many others she had encountered, but dedicated soldiers to their people and their God. She was able to recognize the favor on their lives and wanted in on it. This was an answer to her prayers. Rahab recognized the opportunity in front of her and became a witness. Just like in the Witness Protection Program, she cooperated with the Hebrews in exchange for protection for her and her family, and a chance for a new identity. She was once a willing participants in the wickedness of Jericho, but she realized that Jericho had nothing to offer her.
Here's the reality. All of us have a past, and all of us have had at least one "the" with our name. Our sin may not have been infamous or visible enough to earn a title of "the" among men, but God knows all and sees all. Despite knowing each and every one of our "the"s, God still loves us enough to redeem us. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God is looking for a witness. He wants someone who realizes that this world, our Jericho, has nothing to offer them. God wants a witness who is willing to cooperate in advancing the Kingdom of God and tearing down the kingdom of darkness. God wants a witness who is tired of living a life of sin and wants to be made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. God wants someone who is able to recognize the sovereign protection and provision of God over their lives. God is looking for a witness and he will offer protection!
Just like Jericho, it's written that this world will one day suffer the wrath of God. It's not God's will that any of us should perish, but that choice is up to us. Rahab was instructed to hang a scarlet threat out of her window and anyone who was in her house at the time of invasion was protected. This scarlet threat was a type of Passover. God used the blood for the death angel to Passover in Egypt. The Lord Jesus Christ is our perfect Passover sacrifice for salvation. God always uses the blood for protection. God's plan is for man to turn away from the sin and reproach of the world and to be born again into the Kingdom of God, but the only way to do this is to be under the blood. Are you covered by the blood?
Certainly, there was more to Rahab than just being a harlot. She had stalks of flax on her roof, which means she was probably skilled in making clothes. However, no one was interested in knowing her story beneath the surface. But God saw enough in her to listen to the meditations of her heart and redeem a person that many others considered irredeemable. God made Rahab over. Her legacy ended up going far beyond her sin, and she is now known as a pillar of faith (Hebrews 11:31) and a model of good works (James 1:25). Rahab was actually allowed to live amongst the Israelites and eventually ended up in the lineage of our Savior (Matthew 1:5). Above all, she's a portrait of salvation and a testament to God's grace. While the rest of the world will yell out "don't save her!" God is telling us that there is rehab for Rahab after all.