When God doesn’t just include notorious names in His family tree, but the Holy Spirit HIGHLIGHTS them, we understand something important is happening.
Turn to Matthew 1
This December we're unpacking the surprising truth, that the message of Christmas is not for the holy & the whole, but for schemers, sinners, outcasts, and the broken. In Other Words, the message of Christmas is for people just like me and you. We're discovering that by looking at four characters in the genealogy of Jesus. Four women who stick out like a sore thumb, because women weren't usually included in genealogies of that day.
"You can pick your nose but you can't pick your relatives" In other words, "aren't you making too much out of Jesus' genealogy? After all, we can't help who our ancestors are. Unless you're the eternal Son of God who existed before you were born as a human Everything we're about to read wasn't accidental or incidental, but intentional
Read Matthew 1:1-5
Last week we saw from the life of Tamar that the message of Christmas is for schemers. This morning we'll see that the message of Christmas isn't for the holy and the whole, but for sinners like Rahab, and like you and me.
In that one word Rahab is a world of significance. In that one word Rahab we see a girl with a checkered past and a scandalous future. In that one word Rahab we just might see a picture of ourselves and our desperate need for grace.
1.What's So Bad About Rahab?
2.What's So Great About Grace?
1) What's SoBadAboutRahab?(Joshua 2) Moses has died and Joshua has been appointed to lead God's people from the wilderness into the Promised Land Joshua sends two spies into the city of Jericho They stay at the house of Rahab, probably an inn which, in those days would've been like a one-stop shop where you could find food, a bed, and usually a woman to sleep with While the story doesn't tell us if the spies slept with Rahab, the fact that it's her house implies that she's the proprietor of this inn and brothel. In other words, she's not just an innocent victim of her circumstances who fell into the wrong profession. She's learned to make a profit from her prostitution.
So what's so bad about Rahab?...
A) Her Sin is Incredibly Scandalous
This woman Rahab is mentioned 8 times in the Bible. 5x in Joshua, once here, once in Hebrews, and once in James. 5 out of 8 times she's called Rahab the Prostitute You might think that those are just in the OT, but... 2 out of 3 of the times she's mentioned in the NT she's called a prostitute
- Hebrews 11:31 -- Rahab is the only person in Hebrews 11 whose sin is remembered Noah --nothing of his drunkenness Abraham--nothing of his cowardly fear Sarah -- nothing about her bitterness, cunning plot to get an heir for Abram, mistreatment of Hagar Isaac -- nothing of his horrible parenting and lack of leadership in the home Jacob -- nothing of his deception Moses -- nothing of his murder, or his sin striking the rock Time would fail us to talk about the sins of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel and the prophets
Hershael York -- "While God erases the penalty of our sin, He never erases the reality of our sin."
Even in heaven, we will see evidence of the reality of our sin in Jesus' scars
Imagine that we had a name tag Sunday here at PBC and I told you that we had these special nametags developed by google using a groundbreaking technology that scanned your entire internet history to know you better than you know yourself. And that once you wrote your name on it, underneath your name in indelible ink would be written your most scandalous sin.
Some of you are thinking, "I'm never coming back to this church!" NOT going to do that, those nametags are too expensive we can't fit them in the budget. . . . yet :) How many of you would say, "Well I just wouldn't write my name on a nametag!" Isn't that interesting! Even if we've never committed the sin of Rahab, the truth is that all of us know that our sin is incredibly scandalous.
So scandalous in fact that we'd rather our names be forgotten then our sin be remembered. Kids of John Wayne Gacy
What's so bad about Rahab is also what's so bad about us. But there's more...
B) Her Sin is Especially Damaging Sometimes we talk about how "sin is sin", etc All sin is equallydamning, but it's not equallydamaging.
- Hating your brother will send you to hell just as quickly as murdering him will But that doesn't mean you should just go ahead and kill your brother because murder causes greater earthly damage
Sexual sin is especially damaging to the sinner 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 -- Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
The very example Paul gives -- the Prostitute -- is Rahab's profession! And again, it's not an occasional stumble into sexual sin. It's a committed lifestyle.
How we too have sinned against our own bodies What's so bad about Rahab is also what's so bad about us. But there's more...
C) Her Faith is Surprisingly Sinful
The story of Rahab doesn't end with two spies staying in her house... The king of Jericho (probably more like what we would call a Mayor) hears that there are spies in his town He goes to Rahab and orders her to release the spies She hides the spies from the mayor, lies to him, and then after his cronies are gone she helps them to escape the city. On two occasions the NT refers to this act of Rahab as evidence of saving faith:
- Hebrews 11:31 -- By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
- James 2:25 -- And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Isn't it interesting that Rahab's first and greatest act of faith is to tell a lie?What a contrast to some of the great acts of faith mentioned in the first few verses in Jesus' genealogy...
- Abraham, willing to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to God's command
- Isaac, willing to submit himself to his father on Mount Moriah, even when he didn't understand
- Jacob, wrestling with God at Bethel
- Boaz, marrying a Moabite woman and caring for her and her mother-in-law
- David, the giant-slayer who was a man after God's own heart
And there's Rahab, whose great act of faith is surprisingly so tainted with sin How we too are like Rahab, even our good works and acts of faith are tainted with sin! Righteousness is like filthy rags—but God loves you!!!
What's so bad about Rahab is also what's so bad about us. The message of Christmas isn't for the holy and the whole, but for sinners like Rahab, and like you and me.
2) What's So Great About Grace?
If we’re going to see what’s so great about grace in the life of Rahab, we need to notice...
A) Grace Withholds What Sin Rightly Deserves
Joshua 2:9-11 -- “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
Rahab is fearful because she knows she deserves judgment
“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded,” —Deuteronomy 20:16-17
Seems unfair! Guilty of being born in Jericho! Until you remember that she too is like Jericho
We’re just like Rahab! Born into a city destined for destruction We can complain it’s not fair to be judged for Adam’s sin Until we look in the mirror and realize that we’re not just innocent citizens of Jericho, we’re willing participants
So what do we need to do? Just what Rahab did. In faith we need to ask for rescue...
Joshua 2:12-13 -- Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”
I love their response... “And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you."”—Joshua 2:14
I love their response... my life for yours JESUS!!! God doesn’t give us what we deserve because He gave it to Jesus instead. Born into this evil city of man Loved among the inhabitants of Jericho Instead of devoting us to destruction, God devoted His own Son
If we’re going to see what’s so great about grace in the life of Rahab, we also need to notice...
B) Grace Gives What Sinners Don't Deserve
Two things that we crave...
- Community—we want to belong
- Mission—we want a purpose
God gave both to Adam and Eve
Be fruitful and multiply (Community) H
Have dominion over the earth (Mission—display God’s glory all over the earth)
But on this side of the fall, can we ever have those things again? Because of grace Rahab gets both... Rahab gets a family (marries Salmon, has a baby named Boaz) Rahab gets a mission (display God’s glory all over the earth) And because of grace, so do we . . . But not without a cost Jesus gave up His perfect community with the Father so we could be adopted Jesus had to sacrifice His personal mission to the will of the Father (should’ve been born in palace, received glory and honor, etc.)
The message of Christmas isn't for the holy and the whole, but for sinners like Rahab, and like you and me.