Plain Janes: The Prostitute

Before the spies bedded down, Rahab went up to them on the roof.She said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land. Terror over you has overwhelmed us. The entire population of the land has melted down in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea in front of you when you left Egypt. We have also heard what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites on the other side of the Jordan. You utterly wiped them out.11 We heard this and our hearts turned to water. Because of you, people can no longer work up their courage. This is because the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 Now, I have been loyal to you. So pledge to me by the Lord that you, in turn, will deal loyally with my family. Give me a sign of good faith. 13 Spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, and sisters, along with everything they own. Rescue us from death.”

14 The men said to her, “We swear by our own lives to secure yours. If you don’t reveal our mission, we will deal loyally and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.” (Joshua 2:8-14, Common English Bible).

I have tried for a good part of the past two days to load the video from yesterday. I am giving up. I have too many things to do this week to continue fighting in an effort to get it to load. I am not sure what else to do. Loading it one way I get an error every time. Loading it another, it never finishes uploading to WordPress. I am at a loss and to date this is the first time I have had a problem. My solution for this week is my manuscript. Please remember, it isn’t perfect. I don’t write them for you, I write them for me as a way to get the sermon in my head and honestly, this week, I just don’t have time to go back and edit.

When the Lord first told me, I was to go and watch over Rahab I didn’t think much about it. I didn’t know who she was. I thought it was just another assignment. When I got down here and started following her around it didn’t take me long to figure out how she supported herself and her family.

My immediate thought was God must have lost His mind! I am actually supposed to watch over a prostitute? Well, I certainly didn’t want to watch what she was doing. I didn’t know why I was doing this one. This was just crazy, or at least that is what I thought. I really didn’t get it. Why in the world would God care enough about a prostitute to have an angel watching over her? I mean, I know God loves everybody but this was all a little much.

God didn’t like how Rahab was living. We had heard it all, several times. God doesn’t like that kind of stuff. God doesn’t like it at all and had made that abundantly clear to all of us.

Because I was so puzzled, I asked some of my buddies if they had ever heard about it. Every one of them, first laughed at me. They all said I drew the short straw They asked what I had done to make God so angry with me. They accused me of trying to date God’s daughter. I reminded them, of course, God doesn’t have a daughter, just one, the only begotten son.

They continued their annoying banter for a while and then stopped just long enough to tell me they had never heard of it either. Then the banter started back up again. I had listened to enough. I told them I had work to do and left. The next time I saw any of them the whole situation had reversed and they had nothing left to say. We will talk more about that in a few minutes.

I went to my boss seeking his advice. He said to handle it just like any other God might ask us to do. Watch over her when she is out in the world. Try to keep the danger away. But, when she is home, I could stay outside. For that, I was very thankful. If she chooses to live her life that way, there really wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was just happy I could stay outside! I was also still wondering what God was up to with this one.

One night as I was standing outside. There was no one in the house with Rahab but there was a good deal of commotion out in the town. It would seem there were two Israelite spies moving around in the town. Everyone already knew what the Israelites had done to the Amorites. The Amorites were good fighters. That Israel had devastated them was pretty amazing.

I snapped out of my thoughts when I saw two men coming up the street toward Rahab’s home. From the distance I couldn’t tell who they were. I had no way of knowing right at that moment, but I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Or, maybe it was those jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon I had for lunch that day. Oh, wait, no one had thought of those quite yet. What? I’m not Jewish, I can eat pork. Still, all the lunches run together after a while when you have been around as many years as I have. Isn’t that right Paul?

Well, that uneasy feeling I had was about to go to full-blown heart burn as the two men reach a distance where I can recognize them. The two men were Ripath and Zapatha. They were Hebrews. They were two men I knew to be up and coming leaders in Israel. These had to be the two spies, but they stopped directly at Rahab’s door. They knocked, she answered and they went in. This all looked really, really bad and I was not sure what I should do. The only thing I was happy about was, I was down here and not in front of God at that moment. I should have known better. After all, God is love.

God told me I didn’t have to go in and I wasn’t going to do that. I wasn’t even going to peak in the windows. But, the windows were open. Everyone kept their windows open. It was the desert before the invention of air conditioning. You certainly didn’t want to be in a house that prevented any kind of air circulation. So, I went up to one of the windows, leaned against the wall like I had seen others do, and tried to listen to what Rahab and her two new friends were doing. Then, I could tell it was Ripath from his voice, said, “I am not even sure why we are here. We know about you and perhaps the Spirit of God led us here because men coming and going here wouldn’t attract attention.

With that Rahab aske, “You men are Hebrews correct?” I suspect they nodded but said nothing, because Rahab continued, “Almost every person in town has been expecting an attack from Israel. We heard long ago about your attacks on Og and Sihon. When I heard about the presence of two spies, I am not sure why, but I knew you were coming here and I am ready. Quickly, follow me.” And that was all I could hear. I went back across the street and waited.

Perhaps an hour or so later, five men were making their way up the road. Even from a distance, it was obvious they were soldiers. Like Ripath and Zapatha, they stopped at Rahab’s door and knocked. These guys were loud and obnoxious. They didn’t care what they did or whose toes they might step on. And, they were really trying to intimidate and it wasn’t working. She said, “Well of course they came here. They were, after all, men, and this is one of those kinds of places. But they left when the city gate was about to close. I don’t know where they were going.

Apparently, she lied to them and never missed a beat. They believed her and gathered some troops and started the chase. They were chasing people that weren’t there. They may as have been chasing ghosts.

As soon as they were gone Rahab went to the roof. It was not until much later I learned what Rahab had done for the two spies. She took them upstairs, laid them on the floor and then covered them with flax leaves. Because there were bags of flax around the room the soldiers never suspected a thing.

When Ripath and Zapatha were down stairs, I was standing at the open window again, listening, Rahab asked for special consideration for her family. She wanted to parlay her help into assurance her family would be OK. The two spies both agreed, telling Rahab to bring all her family to her house, which was built into the city wall. She was to put a red cord out the window of the second-floor bedroom, near where the spies re-entered her house. The spies told her when they saw the red cord they would let the other Hebrew troops know to bi-pass the house. It would also be inconspicuous as the red cord from the window was an indication of an available prostitute.

Ripath and Zapatha also told Rahab, if her family wasn’t there, they would be released from the promise they made not to kill.

With that, the two spies left out the window that would hold the red cord and made their way back to the Israelite camp, hiding out for three days along the way to avoid capture by the soldiers of Jericho.

Ripath and Zapatha briefed Joshua on what they would face when they arrived in Jericho. They also told him about Rahab and her family. Joshua understood and agreed to help them out.

Then came the siege. Israel surrounded Jericho. Joshua gave instructions to his men, exactly as God had instructed Joshua. The siege would last seven days. They were to walk a circle around Jericho each day in silence until the seventh day when they would walk around the city seven times, before trumpets would blare and shouts and screams occurred. And the walls of Jericho came down.

For her part, Rahab was worried. As each day passed, with her family packed into her small home, she could look out her window, the window she used to lower Ripath and Zapatha, and she would see the Israelites walk a lap around the city. What was wrong with them? Why didn’t they just attack and get it over with. She still didn’t understand following divine instructions.

When the attack finally came and the walls started to fall, they fell all around her but she and her family were able to remain in her house until Ripath and Zapatha got to her and got her and her family to safety.

Following the fall of Jericho, Rahab and much of her family joined in with the Israelites and actually converted to Judaism. She gave up her former life and it wasn’t long before she married Zapatha. And Rahab lived out her days as a wife, a mother and a good Israelite.

 

Randy Travis, in his song “Three Wooden Crosses” tells the story of another, much like Rahab, who also found redemption. Let’s take a look.

Rahab did find redemption. I don’t say that because she married Zapatha. Part of that is tradition and part of it is artistic liberty on my part. I know she found redemption because of words found in the first chapter of Matthew. As Matthew tells the genealogy of Jesus, Rahab is one of the direct ancestors of Jesus. Yes, Rahab, a prostitute, is an ancestor of the Messiah.

Additionally, we find Rahab’s name in Hebrews 11. It is a passage often called, “The Hall of Faith.” The writer of Hebrews says, “By faith Rahab the prostitute wasn’t killed with the disobedient because she welcomed the spies in peace.”

That says to me, if Rahab, who lived well ahead of Jesus can find redemption before the Messiah, so can we. No matter what you have done in your life, there is forgiveness and redemption. All you have to do is ask.

In just a moment we are going to come to the Lord’s Table. Many times in my career I have heard people say, “I’m not worthy.” Well, in truth, none of us are. We are not worthy, but by faith, we are redeemed.

 

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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