We can learn three important lessons from Rahab, the prostitute introduced in Joshua chapter 2. The Hebrew word translated prostitute could also mean an innkeeper but the New Testament makes it clear that Rahab was a prostitute. The Greek word is not as ambiguous. (James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31)
Another example of this lesson is the refusal of the Hebrew midwives to kill the male newborns as commander by the Pharaoh when they were slaves in Egypt. “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” (Exodus 1:17)
A New Testament example is when Peter and John continued to preach the gospel in disobedience to local authority: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19)
A second lesson we learn is that the revelation of God in history was not confined to Israel. Canaanites heard the news and reacted in fear. Some, like Rahab, became believers. Rahab’s faith was based on the knowledge of the Lord’s mighty acts (Joshua 2:9-10). On that basis she decided that He alone is God (v. 11), and she acted on that decision to seek refuge in Him (vv. 12, 13).
The third lesson is that a person does not need to know every aspect of Bible truth before he or she can be saved. Both Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 indicate that Rahab had put her faith in Jehovah God before the spies ever arrived in Jericho. Rahab’s knowledge of the true God was meager, but she acted on what she knew; and the Lord saved her.
She is an example of the grace of God at work. Her salvation is not based on her character or merits. She was a prostitute, a traitor and a liar but Rahab showed more faith in the Lord than the ten spies had demonstrated forty years earlier. She said, “I know that the Lord has given you the land” (Joshua 2:9). Her faith was based on facts, not just feelings; for she had heard of the miracles God had performed, including the parting of the Red Sea at the Exodus.
Only two women are named in Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith”: Sarah, the wife of Abraham (v. 11), and Rahab (v. 31). In contrast to Sarah who was Abraham’s wife and used by God to found the Hebrew race, Rahab was a non-Jewish worshiper of pagan idols who sold her body for money.
God in His grace uses people we would probably not choose. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
Matthew named Rahab as Boaz’ mother (1:5) in his genealogy of Christ. Rahab married into one of the important families of Israel and was the mother of Boaz who married Ruth and was the ancestor of both King David and Jesus.