Skip to content

Rahab — A Reformed Prostitute

Sex sells, is sold, and enslaves human hearts. Businesses use sexual messages and imagery in their advertisements to sell their products. Human bodies are sold for sex in the age-old trade of prostitution. With the proliferation of pornography, especially
on the internet, countless victims are
enticed and ensnared.

Satan, the chief enemy of our souls, has found sex to be an effective device to enslave human hearts for his kingdom. Since, as Jesus reveals, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications” (Matthew 15:19), none of us are immune to the devil’s attempts to reclaim us through the use of immoral sex.

With sexual sinfulness being so powerfully addictive, is there any hope of deliverance for those who are held under its control? We have a wonderful example of such deliverance in a woman named Rahab. By the grace and mercies of God, Rahab—who at one time made a living as a prostitute—became a believer and was delivered from such sinful slavery. The Holy Spirit regards Rahab as a significant example of an Old Testament believer, as He included her in the “hall of faith” found in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11).

Prior to Israel’s invasion of the promised land of Canaan, Rahab lived in the walled city of Jericho. Rahab was surrounded not only by physical walls, but also by the spiritual walls of sin and unbelief as she plied her trade of prostitution. But even as God mightily caused the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down, so also He removed the walls of sin and unbelief that surrounded Rahab, by working repentance and faith in her heart.

Rahab came to know by faith that the God of Israel was the one true God of heaven and earth (Joshua 2:11). She had heard how He powerfully delivered Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and was defeating all the enemies in their path (Joshua 2:10). And she believed that the Lord would give the whole land of Canaan to His chosen people (Joshua 2:9). Rahab had been led to believe in the Lord not only as a powerful God, but also as a loving and merciful God who forgives and saves by His infinite grace.

Rahab gave evidence of her saving faith when she received two Israelite spies into her home, prevented their capture by Jericho authorities, and sent them safely on their way (Joshua 2:1-25). And it was because of her faith in the Lord that she and her family were the only ones who were spared in the destruction of Jericho (Hebrews 11:31; Joshua 6:17).

Rahab received the necessary strength from the Lord to leave behind her sinful vocation of prostitution and dwell in Israel in sexual purity. The Lord in His great goodness blessed her in the holy estate of matrimony when He joined her in marriage with a Jewish man named Salmon. To this union He gave the gift of life in the birth of Boaz. The name of Boaz most likely rings more familiar to most of us, because he married Ruth and in due time they became the great-grandparents of King David.

Review the genealogy in Matthew chapter 1, and you will find Rahab listed as one of Jesus’ ancestors. Because she is found in the lineage of Jesus, some in previous years have tried to clean up Rahab’s dark past by claiming that she was not a prostitute in Jericho, but rather a hostess. However, the Bible is quite clear about Rahab’s sordid, sexually-immoral past. The fact that God in His providential will included her in Jesus’ family tree is evidence of His saving grace. The precious blood of Christ shed on the cross washed Rahab clean of all her transgressions (1 John 1:7). And when the Holy Spirit worked repentance and faith in her heart, Rahab was regarded by God as one of His holy children and an heir of eternal life.

Is there hope for those who are held captive in sexually-immoral enslavement? Yes, indeed! Just look at Rahab for a wonderful example of this. Praise be to God for His boundless saving grace in Christ Jesus, and His powerful sanctifying work!

Mark Gullerud is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bowdle, South Dakota, and Zion Lutheran Church in Ipswich, South Dakota.