Thursday, September 3, 2009

Joshua 2

Well, I'm working on a message for my Bible study next week. I'm really excited to be a part of the teaching team, and next week is my turn. I'd like to share just a little of what I've learned along the way as I'm preparing for it. We are studying the book of Joshua. Just started our study this week, so next week I'll be speaking on chapter 2: the story of Rahab. I'm so glad I get to teach this lesson. God has really spoken to me through it. I'm sure He'd do that no matter what chapter it is!

Ok, so Joshua 2:1 says that Joshua sent spies who "...entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab..." Now, I'm not even going to address the matter of why they chose Rahab's house. I'll leave that to the theologians. Suffice it to say there would be lots of info there. What I'd like to focus on is the fact that almost every time we encounter Rahab in the Bible she is called Rahab the prostitute. As I read through the chapters in Joshua that include Rahab it kind of frustrated me. I thought, "Wow! this woman is clearly turning her life around. I mean geez she's in the genealogy of Jesus after all! The least they could do is remove the title."

Rahab is also mentioned in the New Testament. Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 both commend Rahab the prostitute for her faith and "righteousness". And I thought, "OK, for sure here we could do without the title!" I've been mulling this chapter over and over in my mind. My initial direction was to talk about the fear of God: Rahab chose to fear God over man, she chose faith, and God chose to save her. But on Tuesday at Bible study I was thinking about it again and I got the word "label", and then, "What's your label?"

You see some theologians suggest that at the time the spies visited Rahab, she was possibly no longer a prostitute but an innkeeper, or maybe both. Eventually she was adopted into the Israelite community and even married into what would be the "royal" family. You can be sure she was no longer a prostitute once she joined the Israelites and gave her life to Yahweh. Yet she continued to bear a title her whole life for something that she used to be.

How many times do we label people for who they used to be? How often do we resent that nickname or title that we've been given? How often are we held back simply because no one believes that we can change? Or how often do we hold others back?

So what's your label? Are you the liar, the sinner, the adulterer, the thief, the pain-in-the-rear, the hot temper, the jerk? Are you living or acting a certain way because it's just who you've always been? Or are you allowing God to change you into who He made you to be? Are you giving others the freedom to change?

As I looked up verses about Rahab I was astounded to find one in which she was not called "the prostitute". Matthew 1:5 "...Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab..." just Rahab. There it is. Some might say that Matthew was just trying to clean up the genealogy of Jesus. But here's what I see: when you give your life to God, when you choose to fear Him, when you are adopted into the blood line of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who you used to be doesn't matter anymore. There are no titles to be held, no sins to hide, just pure, blessed acceptance and love. The blood of Jesus washes away the sin and the past.

Acts 10:34-35 from the Message: "It's God's own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you're from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open."

So here's the deal: let it go. Whoever you are or used to be. Whatever label or title you've hidden behind or loathed for years. Allow the Blood to cover the past and walk in the freedom you've been given as a co-heir with Christ. You are just you -- and that's enough!

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