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Rahab & Christmas

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted December 11, 2013

RELIGION – You can’t get to Christmas in the Gospel of Matthew without going through a genealogy. Most people simply skip over the long list of names they can’t pronounce. And while I can’t blame them, these genealogies are there for a reason. If you have spent much time in the Bible, you quickly become familiar with the name Rahab. Matthew 1:5 reads “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.” That means in Jesus’ family line there was a Gentile prostitute. This is how she is almost always described in the Bible. On top of that, her strongest act of faith was telling a lie. Feel free to give Joshua chapters 2 and 6 a read.

Here is a quick summation from Gotqestions.org. This passage describes the conquest of the fortified city of Jericho by the Israelites. In its day, Jericho was the most important Canaanite fortress city in the Jordan Valley. It was a stronghold directly in the path of the advancing Israelites, who had just crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:1-17). Before entering the land west of the Jordan, Joshua sent two spies to look over the land. The king of Jericho heard that two Israelite spies were within his city and ordered them to be brought out to him. Rahab, the woman with whom the spies were staying, protected them by hiding them on her roof. She told them how the citizens of Jericho had been fearful of the Israelites ever since they defeated the Egyptians via the Red Sea miracle (some 40 years prior).

She agreed to help them escape, provided that she and her family were spared in the upcoming battle. The spies agreed to her request, giving her three conditions to be met: 1) she must distinguish her house from the others by hanging a scarlet rope out of the window so the Israelites would know which home to spare; 2) her family must be inside the house during the battle; and 3) she must not later turn on the spies.

Safely escaping the city, the two spies returned to Joshua and reported that the "whole land was melting with fear." The Israelites crossed the Jordan into Canaan where they laid siege to the city of Jericho. The city was completely destroyed, and every man, woman, and child in it was killed. Only Rahab and her family were spared. Ultimately, Rahab married Salmon, an Israelite from the tribe of Judah. Her son was Boaz, the husband of Ruth. Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, is her direct descendant.

She should be a big part of Christmas because she is a powerful picture of Grace. Preachers will often complain about CEO’s, people who come to church on Christmas and Easter Only. I have done it myself. But you know I am glad for CEO’s. Because it is at the birth and the death and resurrection of Jesus that men stop and have to think about what they think and feel about these two realities.

Ray Pritchard writes that “Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia—big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it’s all very intimidating to them. ..This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself “the friend of sinners,” and he said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Jesus came for the CEO’s, for the person who, like Rahab, knew her life was in shambles. For the person who thinks they don’t fit in at church, for the person who is by religious standards radically immoral. Jesus came to show all mankind that the same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you.

The powerful reality is that once we come to Christ, our pasts no longer matter. The record is erased for all who believe and accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. Rahab was no longer viewed as an unclean prostitute, but as one worthy by grace to be part of the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So right now at Christmas you are celebrating that God made the first move to send His only Son into our world, the next move is up to you. Will you simply believe the Gospel message and be saved and transformed or will you keep going forward dragging past baggage and sin that is hindering your future?

Go forward by faith! Pastor Phillip


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