Posted by: bellissimanh | February 26, 2009

Rahab Ramblings

During the Monday night study I attend, we’ve been working our way through the “Bad Girls of the Bible” series by Liz Curtis Higgs. Each week (or two weeks at our pace!) we look at a different “bad girl” and study the passage surrounding her to see what lessons we can take from her life.

Our most recent bad girl has been Rahab. Her story is found in Joshua 2, but you know the drill. Israelite spies are sent to scope out Jericho. They get spotted and they run to Rahab the harlot’s place and ask her to hide them – which she does.  When the men sent by the king of Jericho ask her, she lies about having the spies in her attic and sends the officials out, probably with a wink and a “they went thattaway!” She then goes to the spies and gives this impassioned speech:

“‘…I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.'” (Joshua 2:9-13)

As we studied, there were a few things that stood out to me, but I’m going to just mention one today. Having done a study on the names of God, my mind couldn’t help but be drawn to verse 11.

“When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Rahab uses two words for God in this verse. The first is “LORD”. Whenever you see that name, in all capital letters, the name signified is Jehovah (or Yahweh). It comes from the Hebrew verb “hayah” which signifies “to be” or “to become.” When translated in the first person, it becomes “I am,” said twice. When Moses anticipated that the Israelites would ask about God’s name, God said to tell them, “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). He that is who He is, therefore, is the eternal One… the self-existing One.  

 In the name Jehovah, the personality of the Lord is distinctly expressed. You will find the pronoun “the” before other names for God (ie. The Elohim – the one true God), but when it comes to Jehovah, no pronoun is needed. There is only ONE Jehovah. The Hebrew will speak of “the” God of Israel, but never “the” Jehovah of Israel, because there is no other Jehovah. He speaks of “the living God,” but never of “the living Jehovah,” because he cannot conceive of Jehovah as anything BUT living.

Jehovah is also the covenant-keeping name of God. Jehovah is the self-existent One – “I am Who I am.” He is the eternal I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the same yesterday, today, and forever. All of life is contained in Him. We can rest in His unchangeableness. He has never failed. Would He start with you or me? What He has promised, He will do.

This is the name Rahab calls upon first. She knew that the LORD was a faithful God who would do what He said He would do. If the God of Israel promised to spare her family, she had no doubt that He would do just that.

How about us? Do we have that much faith in our Lord? I know that the nice “Christian” answer is a sound “yes!”, but I wonder how often our actions say something completely different from the expressions of trust that escape our lips.

It’s one thing to say with my mouth that I know the Lord keeps His promises.

  • It’s another to trust that He is going to provide in a miraculous way financially when I can see absolutely no way out of the mess I’m in.
  • It’s another to proclaim His goodness and believe He’s working all things for good in the midst of painful suffering as your child lays in a hospital bed.
  • It’s another to pick up the pieces after a spouse has been unfaithful and trust that the LORD is a God of reconciliation and can put it all back together again.
  • It’s another to receive that diagnosis of terminal cancer and still claim the truth of Jeremiah 29:11 – that He knows the plans He has for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you… plans to give you hope and a future. To understand that His plans may be far greater than anything this earth can hold.

Rahab rested everything she had in the faithfulness of a God she’d never met. And yet here I sit, a child of the living God who has tasted and seen that He is GOOD and faithful… and I struggle daily. How much I have to learn from this harlot who trusted Jehovah with her life! And so today, I pray with the father of Mark chapter 9: “Lord I believe… help me in my unbelief!”

The second name that Rahab uses is “Elohim” – translated, “Strong Creator”. The first part of the name, “El” means “mighty”. The second part of the name has a couple of interpretations. One is that “ohim” is a pural ending in Hebrew (“Trinity” anyone? :)) It is the name found in the Genesis creation account… “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the Heavens and the Earth.” The second interpretation of “ohim” is that it finds its root in the Hebrew word “alah”, meaning “to swear or bind with an oath.” Whichever interpretation you take… neither idea negates the other.

Rahab refers to God as Jehovah first, and then as the Strong Creator… the Mighty three-in-one God who is faithful. She recognizes that the One who is calling the shots, has that authority because He created the world and everything in it. He gave her life and had the power to preserve it.

When I think of God as Creator, I can’t help but remember that His Word says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). In light of that, my past doesn’t matter. The ways I have been used and abused in days long ago does not have the power to control me now… for I was created by the living God and He doesn’t make junk! I wonder if, in referring to God as “Elohim”, Rahab was not feeling some of that wonder herself… freedom from her past, release from the stereotypes she had been labeled with… I wonder if she felt guilt slip away as she experienced the awe of basking in the love of her Creator. Her actions in Joshua 2 resulted in her being named in the great Hall of Faith in Hebrews. She went from being a despised woman to having the blessing of being part of the lineage of the Messiah. She was a woman changed by relationship with the LORD God – Jehovah Elohim!

Y’all know by now how much I love digging into Scripture. Without digging, verse 11 of Joshua 2 would have just been a nice profession of faith.. but by searching out the meanings of the words, there is such a treasure chest of knowledge and application to be found! Two simple words… LORD… God… yet how much love, power, and sovereignty is packed into those two words! And taken alongside Rahab – her reputation, her past, her almost certain insecurities and misgivings about herself… what a gift they are!

I can’t wait to share with you what I learned about the scarlet cord that Rahab hung out her window… but that will have to wait for another time. 🙂

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Responses

  1. You have given me so much to think about here. “Rahab rested everything she had in the faithfulness of a God she’d never met.” That pricks my heart just like yours! Lord help my unbelief!

    Blessings – Lisa

  2. We come to the end of Isaiah (just a chapter and a half to go) and through it we have seen many repeated words and phrases…repetition for emphasis. How interesting that Yaweh is “I Am said twice.”

    I’m looking forward to the scarlet cord.

    Kate

  3. Beautiful study!! Thanks for taking the time to walk us through that verse!! How awesome!!

    Leah

  4. I’m loving the title of the study!

    Xandra

  5. […] that Rahab used for God when she begged the spies to spare her family. You might want to check out that post to get the background for this […]


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