How do you solve a problem like Rahab?
Every year, one of our local stations shows the movie, “The Sound of Music”. It is a beautifully made film and it is worth the three-plus-hours it takes to sit and watch it. It tells the story of a wanna-be nun who is sent out into the world to be a nanny for a man who has lost his wife and who has seven children. Only one problem; she wasn’t a “typical” nun. She spoke her mind, and had a bit of a chip on her shoulder. It caused her mother superior to belt out the song, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
We have problem people like this (and worse) in the Bible, too. Moses murdered a man, David committed adultery and ordered the death of a good man, and Jacob was no model citizen, either. And then, there’s Rahab. She’s a gentile, a prostitute, and her people are the enemies of Israel. I didn’t say reformed prostitute; the Scriptures do not indicate this. She’s a morally objectionable person.
She’s someone you wouldn’t want coming to your house for dinner. In fact, if she showed up at your church, the elders might have a “closed door meeting” about her, and then have a “closed door meeting” with her.
To be clear, prostitution is not harmonious with the Christian faith. It undermines the First Institution; marriage. Additionally, it scars the individual who participates in prostitution. Prostitutes are often abused, neglected and considered the doormats of society. Never mind Julia Roberts. Prostitution is not a glorious occupation, it’s a shameful one.
And, prostitution is not just for prostitutes. Men who seek these women out are committing adultery. Both men and women prostitute themselves when they commit sexual acts with each other outside of marriage. Not to mention when they use pornography as a “two-dimensional” prostitute.
God goes further than this. He calls unfaithfulness to Him adultery. The ancient Hebrews followed after other gods and abandoned the God who saved them from Egypt.
2You lust and do not have; so you (C)commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
3You ask and (D)do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James is indicating that greed is the form of adultery these people were engaged in. And, we are too. We want, we want, we want. I always seem to have at least one more thing I want for myself or my family. This is so strange since I have a garage that’s half-full and I will be taking some of this stuff to a garage sale to get rid of it.
I suppose confession is good for the soul, but God wants more. He wants faithfulness. He wants 100% faithfulness. He wants you and I to have the faith of … Rahab the harlot. That’s why she shows up in Joshua. Read Joshua 2. Tell me that this is not a women of tremendous faith. Even a harlot of tremendous faith.
Although this is the case, her faithfulness does not outweigh her sin. And not just the sin of prostitution, but also her very sinful condition. Rahab, you and I are all in the same boat; we are born adulterers. We are born sinners. We are faithless (and dead in sin) from the get-go. It takes the great mercy of an infinite and all-powerful God to send His one and only Son (the best human being to have ever walked the earth) to become the total sacrifice for our sin.
And, not just our sin, He has given Himself up for the sin of the whole world, including businesspeople, doctors, politicians, activists, environmentalists, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, secularists, prostitutes, adulterers, murders, and even Christians. That is why we are able to say, “Christ has died for you”. His sacrifice has swallowed up all of our prostitution with the world, so that we can be united with Him forever.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.