A Different Kind of Christmas Story – Chosen that you Proclaim – Rahab

I chose characters for these devotionals back in summer, but didn’t assign dates to each SO, when I looked at the list this week, I smiled and did a little cheer, thanking God for His providence and foresight. How great that we are examining the life of Rahab now, just a few days before Christmas!  What perfect timing.  Why, you ask? Let me explain:

#1 – Rahab’s story illustrates God’s love and revelation for Gentiles like us.

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho, the first city that the Israelites had to conquer as they entered the Promised Land.  Joshua sent two men ahead of the army, and Rahab hid them from the authorities.  She provided them with more than shelter, however; she also gave them courage by proclaiming her faith in their God:

“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you …, and what you did to… the two kings of the Amorites… When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.” (Joshua 2:8-11)

She was not a member of God’s chosen people, and yet God revealed himself to her.  She somehow understood that the God of the Israelites was the true God AND that He just might protect her too.  Others in Jericho recognized God’s power but stood still in fear, Rahab asked for mercy and consequently, “they burned the whole city… But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute… and she lives among the Israelites to this day.” (Joshua 6:24-25)

#2 – Rahab’s story illustrates the depth of healing and wholeness God offers to people.

If her story ended in Joshua 6, we might have imagined that Rahab lived among God’s people but was never fully accepted by them: a foreign prostitute would live forever on the margins of Jewish society, wouldn’t she? Fortunately, her story continues. In Matthew 1:5 we learn that Rahab married Salmon and had a son named Boaz who was the great-grandfather of King David.  Every Christmas when we read the genealogy of Jesus Christ, who came from David’s line, we come across her name.

The authors of Hebrews (11:31) and James (2:25) recognize Rahab as an example of true faith and reference her story to encourage others.  She was not simply “tolerated” by God; she is healed, restored and accepted by Him. This same God continues to heal and restore today; call upon Him!

#3 – Rahab’s acceptance by God in the Old Testament foreshadows Christ’s acceptance of people in the New Testament.

As you read stories of Jesus over Christmas and throughout the year, take note of who loves Him and who hates Him.  He threatens the world of the religious, but the “sinners” cannot stay away. He is called a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:24, Luke 19:7) and he accepts all who God draws to him with quiet words: “Your faith has saved you, go in peace” (Luke 7:50), “Neither do I condemn you … Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

Rahab was an outsider chosen to proclaim truth to those already inside God’s family.  If you are outside the faith and “want in”, I hope her story encourages you to pursue a relationship with God and His people.  If you are a follower of Jesus, ask Him how you can best follow in His footsteps, extending grace and forgiveness to those whom God brings your way.

This narrative doesn’t have shepherds and angels and a stable, but it is a Christmas story nonetheless.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)

Kristal Toews

Pastor of Women

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Waiting For The Call – Chosen That You May Proclaim – Joshua

Have you ever felt like God is calling and preparing you for something, sometime in the future? Have you wondered what to do as you wait for clarity? If so, I pray that a brief outline of Joshua’s story will encourage you today.

After the Israelites escape from Egypt they are almost immediately thrown into battle, and we hear Joshua’s name for the first time in scripture. “Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands…. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning …  so Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” (Exodus 17:9-13)

What a unique start to Joshua’s “career”.  He was credited with overcoming an army when God was clearly at work, fighting on behalf of Israel as long as Moses’ hands remained in the air.

This battle began a partnership that would last over 40 years.  In Exodus 24 we learn that Joshua became Moses’ aide and was the only person to accompany him to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments.  He was with Moses in Exodus 32 as they descended from the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping a golden calf.  As Moses went in and out the tent of meeting to consult with God, he would “return to the camp, but his young aid, Joshua, son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:11). Talk about spending time in God’s presence!

Sometime later, when Moses sends out twelve men to spy out the Promised Land Joshua is among the group.  Ten of them come back scared but “Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh,… said to the entire Israelite assembly…“If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land… do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land… the Lord is with us.”  Numbers 14:6-9

Frustrated with His people, God declares, “your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward… not one shall come into the land…except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. (Numbers 14:29-30)

Joshua has been obedient. He has served Moses and has believed God, spending lots of time in God’s presence, but now he has to wait for the next step.  And he does, wandering in the wilderness with the rest of his extended family.

His waiting comes to an end when Moses gathers the people of Israel to make his farewell speech and officially passes the torch: Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)

Moses dies, and Joshua steps right into his shoes.  He leads the Israelites through the Jordan River, conquers Jericho and the rest of the promised land, calls upon God to make the sun stand still as they battle (Joshua 10) and “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses”. Joshua 11:15

After settling the land, he ends his life with a challenge, proclaiming to all the Israelites, Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15).

If you are waiting for direction from God and feel like you are wandering in the wilderness, I would encourage you to adopt Joshua’s attitude and simply ‘serve the Lord’. Do whatever is placed before you; do what you know will please Him, spend time in His presence, and be ready to obey.  God will let you know the rest of the story in His time.

 

Kristal Toews

Pastor of Women