Sermon #     711                                                      Hebrews Notes


     Title:            “The Harlot Rahab”

     Text:            Hebrews 11:31

     Readings:     Wes Rozeboom & David Burge

     Subject:       Rahab’s Faith in Christ

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – December 18, 2001

     Tape #         W-76a



When the Lord God sent Joshua and the children of Israel across the Jordan River and into the land of Canaan to take possession of the land, the first order of business was to destroy the city of Jericho. Jericho was one of the largest, most prosperous, and most thoroughly fortified cities in the land. But the city was cursed of God and marked for destruction. The sentence of death had been passed upon it forty years earlier (Ex. 23:27-28).


     Though the inhabitants of Jericho prospered in the world, though they worked and played, labored by day and partied by night, though they filled their lives with every amusement, comfort, and pleasure they could find, though they were utterly ignorant of it, they were a people cursed of God, a people whose numbered days were up, and a people about to be forever damned!


I cannot help wondering who in this assembly those words describe! They were as sure for hell as if they were already there when Joshua and the children of Israel crossed over the river Jordan; but they were oblivious to the fact of it!


     The Scriptures tell us that the children of Israel marched around Jericho, carrying the ark of the covenant everyday for seven days. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, blew their trumpets and shouted. When they did, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and fell flat to the ground. The whole city was completely destroyed at once, except for one house. There was one small section of the wall that did not fall because there was a house on that section of the wall that could not fall.


     Why? Why was that house preserved? The answer is found in Hebrews 11:31. There was a woman in that house who believed God. There was a woman in that house who was sheltered by a scarlet cord, which represented the precious blood of Christ.


(Hebrews 11:31)  By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.


Let’s read her story together (Joshua 6:20-25).


Joshua 6:20-25  "So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (21) And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. (22) But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. (23) And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. (24) And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. (25) And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho."


Proposition:    Though all of Jericho was destroyed under the wrath of God, Rahab and her father’s house were saved, the house of the town’s most notorious harlot could not fall.


     When I read that, being the kind of curious, inquisitive person I am, I want to know why? Why was this one house left standing, while all the other houses were destroyed? Why, when the entire wall surrounding the city collapsed under the weight of God’s wrath, was this harlot’s house left standing?


Divisions:    Give me your attention, and I will show you five reasons why this one house upon the wall could not fall.


1.     Rahab was the object of God’s sovereign, electing love.

2.     Rahab’s house was under the blood.

3.     Rahab believed God.

4.     Rahab had the promise of God for her security and the security of her house.

5.     Rahab stayed in the house.


I.      Rahab was the object of God’s sovereign, electing love.


What a picture this woman is of God’s sovereign mercy and grace in Christ to sinners like us! Rahab was a sinner by birth, and a notorious sinner by choice and practice. Religious moralists and legalists try their best to make us believe that the word “harlot” simply means that Rahab was an innkeeper. But the kind of inn Rahab kept was a brothel. The only women in those times and countries who kept public houses and inns were prostitutes.


     I do not understand why people have so much trouble with that. The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners., real sinners.


1 Timothy 1:15  "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."


Matthew 9:10-13  "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. (11) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? (12) But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (13) But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


Romans 5:6-8  "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."


     Mercy is for the miserable. Grace is for the guilty. Redemption is for the ruined. Righteousness is for the rotten. Rahab was a cursed woman, in a cursed profession, dwelling in a cursed city, from a cursed race (An Amorite); yet she obtained mercy.


     Illustration: Barnard and the Pastor on Visitation


     Why did this cursed, woman obtain mercy? It was not because of anything in her, or anything done by her, but because the Lord loved her and chose her as the object of his grace. It is true, that she and her house were saved because she received the spies, hid them, and sent them out another way. But that was an act of faith, faith which God gave her, not to get mercy, but because she had obtained mercy.


Note: Faith is not the product of natural religion, logic, or human reason. Faith is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith s the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Faith is the operation of God in the souls of chosen, redeemed, called sinners (Col. 2:12).


No Accident


It was not by accident that the spies stumbled into Rahab’s house when they came in to spy out the land. They came to Rahab’s house because God had purposed it from eternity.


     If you will read her conversation with the spies in chapter two, you will see how this harlot’s experience of grace is described (Jos. 2:8-19).


A.    By some means or another, this woman heard the gospel of God’s salvation.


Joshua 2:10  "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed."


B.    Rahab’s heart withered before the august, sovereign majesty of the one true and living God.


Joshua 2:11  "And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."


     The other inhabitants of the land withered in the dread and fear of God’s wrath and power; but Rahab’s heart withered in repentance and faith, as is evident from verse nine. Here we see that when she heard the report of God’s wondrous works…


C.    Rahab believed God.


Joshua 2:9  "And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you."


II.   Rahab’s house was under the blood.


Not only was Rahab an object of God’s amazing, free, and sovereign grace in Christ, her house could not fall under the wrath of God because it was under the refuge and protection of the precious blood of Christ. That is what was symbolized by the scarlet cord hanging from her window (2:18-21).


Joshua 2:18-21  "Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee   ...   (21) And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window."


     This scarlet cord which Rahab dropped from her window was, like the blood of Abel’s lamb, like the blood of the passover lamb upon the houses of the Israelites, like the blood of sin-offering in the tabernacle, a picture and type of the precious blood of Christ.


     Let others mock and deride us as being outdated in our religion, if they must, but in this house of worship the precious, sin-atoning, redeeming blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is not only prominent, it is everything! God helping us, that is the way it will remain! How I thank God for the blood! I never tire of hearing about it. I never get tired of singing about it. And I never grow weary of preaching it.


A.    It is by the blood that we are redeemed.


1 Peter 1:18-20  "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you."


Revelation 5:9-10  "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."


B.    It is by the blood that we have forgiveness.


Ephesians 1:7  "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."


C.    It is the precious blood of Christ that gives us access to and acceptance with the Lord our God.


Hebrews 10:19-22  "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (21) And having an high priest over the house of God; (22) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."


D.   It is the blood of Christ, sprinkled upon our hearts that gives us the blessed peace and full assurance of faith that under it we are safe and secure from the avenging wrath and justice of God.


Romans 8:1-4  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."


Romans 8:33-34  "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."


     The Lord our God declares, When I see the blood, I will pass over you!” Rahab believed him. Do you? When Joshua saw the scarlet blood hanging in her window, when he saw the blood upon her house, “Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive”. This one house on the wall could not fall because it was protected by grace. It could not fall because it was protected by blood. It could not fall because it was protected by faith.


III. Rahab believed God.


Rahab is held up before us in faith’s hall of fame, in Hebrews chapter eleven, along side Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, as an eminent example of faith (v. 31). James uses her, side by side with Abraham, as an example of what it means to prove our faith by our works.


James 2:25  "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"


     Hers was not an empty, unfruitful, meaningless profession of faith. Oh no, Rahab believed God and proved that she did by her works of obedience. Let me remind you of how this woman proved her faith by he obedience.


A.    She believed the report she heard of God’s salvation (2:9-10).


B.    Rahab received, cared for, and protected God’s messengers in her home, at the risk of her own life.


C.    Believing God, she also sought mercy for her household (2:12-13).


Joshua 2:12-13  "Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: (13) And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death."


D.   Rahab hung everything upon the blood of the covenant represented in that cord hanging from her window.


E.    Rahab the harlot so thoroughly believed God that she brought all her family into her house and thus into the pail of grace!


1.     This old harlot, who had been the shame of her family, was made in the hands of God the primary instrument and means of eternal salvation to her family!


2.     Rahab the harlot, believing God, obtained a place in the family tree of the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:1-5). – Matthew identifies her as the wife of Salmon (a prince of the tribe of Judah), mother of Boaz, and great-great grandmother of King David.


Note: In the genealogy of Christ only four women are mentioned. All four of them have a specific taint upon them. Tamar was guilty of incest. Rahab was a harlot. Ruth was a cursed, unclean Moabitess. Bathsheba was an adulteress. Thus, even in his genealogy and birth, our Savior associated himself with sinners! The Son of God came to save sinners.


     Rahab’s house could not fall because it was protected by grace, protected by blood, protected by faith, and protected by the promise of God.


IV. Rahab had the promise of God for her security and the security of her house.


If you read Joshua chapter two again (vv. 12-21), you will see that the messengers of God made a solemn promise to Rahab. They said, You go get your family, bring them into your house, bind this scarlet cord to the window, and stay in the house. And when the Lord gives us this city, “We will deal kindly and truly with thee”.


     Child of God, this is our security, too. We have the promise of God. This is what he has promised.


John 10:28  "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."


Romans 8:38-39  "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Philippians 1:6  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."


1 Thessalonians 5:24  "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."


Hebrews 13:5  "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."


1 John 5:11-13  "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."


Romans 16:20  "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."


I want you to see one more thing. The house on the wall that could not fall could not fall because…


V.    Rahab stayed in the house.


God’s faithful messengers told her that if she went out of the house, she would perish with all the rest of Jericho. There was no safety in any house in the city except in that house protected by the ever-abiding scarlet cord, the house under the ever-abiding protection of the blood. Just as the Israelites were to stay in their houses while God judged Egypt, so Rahab and her family had to stay in her house while God judged Jericho. Even so, you and I must cling to Christ alone. Abiding in him, we are safe from the wrath of God. But if you go out of this house, you will perish without mercy.


Under the blood of Jesus,

Safe in the Shepherd’s fold,

Under the blood of Jesus,

Safe while the ages roll,

Safe, though the world may crumble,

Safe, though the stars grow dim,

Under the blood of Jesus -

I am secure in Him!





1 See Misc. Sermon #1317 – Preached in Danville (AM – 03/08/98) and at San Leandro, CA (03/22/98).