“The city and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.” ... So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day. — Joshua 6:17, 25
The award-winning movie Saving Private Ryan depicts a courageous attempt to save the life of an individual soldier in the heat of a great battle. Complete with dramatic effects and searing portrayals of modern warfare, the movie packs a powerful emotional punch. It has also garnered its critics, who point out that it is highly unlikely that, in the heat of modern warfare, a squad of soldiers would be put at risk to save the life of an individual.
That may be so, but the story of Rahab of Jericho shows that, in God’s eyes, the value of one is immense. When Joshua’s spies entered Jericho in order to plan the invasion and capture of the city, they stayed in the home of Rahab, who then saved their lives. At great personal risk, she stood between the spies and those who wanted to do them harm.
Rahab’s motivation was clear. She told the spies, “The Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). She admitted that the people of Jericho were living in mortal dread of the advancing Israelites, and her actions could have been construed as nothing more than a “convenient conversion” to save her own skin. But the spies believed her and promised that she and her family would be saved when the city was taken, provided she identified her home clearly by leaving a “scarlet rope hanging from the window” (2:18).
Rahab did what she was instructed and the Israelites did what they had promised. In the dreadful battle that ensued, as the invaders “charged straight into the city from every side and captured it” and then set about completely destroying it (6:20-21), Rahab and her family were neither forgotten nor overlooked. Somebody was given the task of finding her home in the chaos of battle, fighting through to her side, and physically taking her out of harm’s way. Why? Precisely because the men of Israel were men of their word and she was valuable in the Lord’s eyes.
How valuable was she? Incredibly, Rahab appears in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 1:5). Despite her troubled past, both the writer of Hebrews (11:31) and James (2:25) speak of her as an example of faith at work.
In the heat of battle, individuals are often expendable. In the warm heart of God, though, individuals are never expendable. Each of us is of infinite worth to Him. And in the clashing strife of modern life, God never loses sight of those who belong to Him.
For further study: Joshua 2:1-21; 6:15-25
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.