Tuesday Dec. 10
Scripture: Joshua 2
Rahab is the second of the five women whom Matthew includes in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). This is the only place in the Bible where Rahab is named as the mother of Boaz, a key character in the story of Ruth. The Old Testament never connects Rahab to Boaz, and the books in which they appear are separated by several generations.
Nevertheless, Matthew is surely talking about the woman named Rahab who provided shelter for the Hebrew spies in Joshua 2. Rahab, Joshua says, was a prostitute in the land of Jericho. In exchange for her hiding of the spies from the King of Jericho and his soldiers, the spies agree to deal kindly with Rahab and her family.
Thousands of years (and pages) later, three separate writers in the New Testament remember Rahab. She is praised by the writer of Hebrews (11:31) for her faith and by James (2:25) for her righteous works. And Matthew unashamedly places her in the family tree of Jesus the Messiah. They knew that she was a prostitute, but that doesn’t seem to define her.
This raises lots of questions. One of them is this: Why does the church have such a difficult time welcoming those loved and welcomed by Jesus and his earliest followers (in this case these three New Testament authors)? Where did we get the idea that there are “church people,” by which we usually mean better people, and everybody else?
As it does so often, the Bible here messes with us. It undercuts our way of seeing and categorizing. For Advent and Christmas, this may just be one of the best gifts of all.
Prayer: God of Rahab, who loved her family and asked that they might be shown kindness, we thank you for calling us to be the church. Now help us truly to be the church and not simply a club for people like ourselves. And in that calling may we daily welcome you and those whom you love into our lives. Amen.