The Faith of Whores

Today’s post is one that I like because it gives you insight into the types of people that God uses and/or the types of people that find massive success. We tend to look at successful people and think that they have their act together. They step into the spotlight and shine and their brilliance sends a big ole spotlight down onto our own lives and highlights all those little insecurities we have.

What we don’t see is everything that went on behind the scenes to make that person shine. We look at the scarlet chord on their window and think “wow, that’s beautiful,” but we don’t see that the person living there is someone who put herself on the line for strangers. We don’t see that the person sold themselves for sex for a living. Bear in mind, I don’t see that in a negative light (her occupation). In fact, typing up the words “she is a whore,” while factually accurate, seems overly harsh and judgmental to me. So, before we get started, I just want to clear the air here. I’m not judging her. If I call her a “whore,” I’m really just doing it for effect rather than judgment. Sometimes I think stronger language is necessary to drive home a point. And in this message there is some powerful stuff.

The story of Rahab is found in Joshua 2. I’m going to post the whole chapter because the things I want to pull out of it are scattered throughout. So take a moment and read the whole chapter and then we’ll talk about it.

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

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 you this land 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. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days,until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lordhas surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.

–Joshua 2: 1-24

Couple that with the scripture from Hebrews posted in the picture above, and you will see that this story is meant to illustrate a certain type of faith. If you read Hebrews 11 and look at the people referenced there, I believe it is meant to illustrate the different types of faith you can and will have in your life. I also understand that the notion of faith has been so abused by the church. We look at people who are hurting or going through extremely rough times and we tell them to “have faith.” We look at people whose entire lives have been struggle and pain and addiction and we tell them they don’t have enough faith. Faith, as a whole, has been used by the church to bludgeon people into submission.

Today I want to dispel that notion and teach you how to have faith that is uplifting and inspirational. A faith that sits deep in the core of who you are. Imagine what our evangelical circles would have thought of someone like Rahab. The bible calls her a “harlot,” which is bible-speak for “whore” (or perhaps a better way of putting it is “prostitute,” but you get the picture). The church would look on her and see her profession as an indicator of who she was. You see this same kind of judgment for people like porn stars in our current society. People look at them as if they are lesser beings…as if it’s okay to treat them badly.

I’ve called this post “The Faith of Whores” because I want to highlight that judgment and show you that who you are at your core is not your profession. The core of who you are is a measure of the faith you have, the hope you hold onto, and the love you share. We will look at the faith aspect in this post, but perhaps later we will circle back to the other two.

Faith that is Bigger than the Truth

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)

This was the first thing that jumped out at me in this story. Did you catch it? The King of Jericho sent men to Rahab’s house to inquire about the spies. What did she do? She told a BIG FAT LIE about what happened. She hid them on her roof and then told the king’s spies that they had already left. And then she made it even juicier by telling them that they hadn’t left that long ago and that, if they hurried, they might catch up to them. I think that’s hilarious because not only did she choose to lie, but she told the best lie. All she wanted to do was get rid of these men, and, by making it seem like the spies had just left, she made it seem like they had a chance to catch them. A part of me laughs at the thought of these men rushing off to catch people who were literally lying on Rahab’s roof.

So, is it okay to bend the truth or not? I assert that you aren’t asking the right question. I think that Rahab saw something bigger at work here. Her faith was a faith that was bigger than her current reality. Telling the truth of her current reality meant that two men were camping on her roof and that the king’s soldiers should go up and kill them. Telling the truth of her current reality meant that her and all her family would be dead the next day. But because she had faith…a certain kind of faith…her truth became synonymous to something beyond her current reality. And that is the whole point of faith. It means that you see something that doesn’t yet exist, but you believe in your power and/or God’s power to bring it into existence.

Some might say that Rahab told a lie. I say that Rahab was looking at the current situation with the eyes of faith, with the belief that she was doing the right thing. And that faith superseded the need to be factually accurate. She saw what was coming and believed in it, and, because of it, her whole family was saved.

Faith That Means You Are Not Broken

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

Rahab was making a plea for her family. That should give you enough insight into who she was. Notice that she wasn’t trying to save herself. She was making a deal for her entire family. Her faith, her deep inner core, was one of compassion. She cared about other people. She wanted those closest to her to survive. To a judgmental world, a prostitute is a lesser person, one not worthy of the respect given to “regular” people. I imagine someone in her position was probably looked down on and treated terrible.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I ever had was the moment, deep in my struggle, where the following thought washed down over me: I AM NOT BROKEN. The church and evangelicals want you to believe you are broken. They want you to believe that because you were born into “sin,” that that makes you worthless. They want you to believe that humility means constantly telling yourself that you are broken, useless, and/or worthless. I think that’s because in that state you are more susceptible to being brainwashed or believing some of the hooey they want to force on you.

Let’s just state it for the record: YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. Period. It’s in that realization that you will find the truest power inside yourself. Too many people want to wallow in their misery and then look up to God and say “Pick me up and carry me.” But that’s not how this works. You weren’t put here just so God can tote you around like a baby and save you from your hard times. You were put here to face your hard times because, in those times, you build strength. The strength and endurance that is built from a tough situation is worth a thousand mantras, prayers, or affirmations.

You are faced with a situation that is going to change your life. Rahab knew what was about to happen. She could have just prayed for God to deliver her and, in a week, died along with the rest of the people of Jericho. But she didn’t. Because she had faith. Tough times aren’t meant to just show you the power of God. God isn’t a magical sky fairy who swoops in like Superman to rescue people. Tough times are a way of forging your faith. It’s the beating of your faith in the heat of battle that shapes and sharpens it. You are not broken. You are not helpless. SO STOP PRETENDING TO BE.

Faith is Staying Ready

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.

This is my favorite part of this story. Why do you suppose that the spies told her to stay in her house? Why didn’t the spies just say, “Gather up your family and let’s go”? I think the obvious answer is that it would have tipped the King off to what was about to happen. If it were just Rahab, they might have been able to sneak out with her and not draw too much attention. But to get out of the city with her whole family? That would have brought a lot more attention. The spies didn’t want that, so they wanted her to stay put until they returned.

Think about the incredible faith it must have taken for Rahab to stay put when she could have fled the city. She knew what was about to happen. She knew that the city was about to be destroyed. It would seem that anybody with any sort of brains about them would have gotten the heck out of there right away. But she didn’t. She believed two complete strangers who were part of the army that was about to destroy her people!

I think this shows us where her faith really was and why it was rewarded. I don’t think Rahab was trusting those spies alone. I think she was putting her faith in something beyond herself and her situation. I think her faith was that her and her entire family were going to be saved. So, it didn’t matter whether she went with the spies or not. She knew…without knowing the future…that everything was going to be alright.

So, instead of being afraid or wondering what was about to happen, she got ready. The deal was that when the Israelites saw that scarlet chord, they would show mercy on her and her family (a deal that was kept in Joshua 6). Instead of running away and trying to escape the city, she got ready. She knew something, she had a special flavor of faith that knows one big important truth:

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” — Will Smith

Faith isn’t just about saying a prayer. Faith is a lens through which you view the world. You see things that other people can’t see. You have foresight that other people don’t have. And in that foresight, based on your faith, you prepare for what is to come — not for what is. Faith is what allows you to be proactive.

Let me give you an example. A lot of people pray for money. They want to have their needs met. A person without faith will pray for God to send them money. A person with faith will make room in the pantry for the food that is about to show up. Or room in the garage for that new car. A person with faith will learn how to handle the money. Do you know what you would do if you received a big windfall of money? If you have no idea, then you don’t have faith. A person with faith will understand that when they receive the blessing it’s going to change their lives. And when their lives change, they will need to be ready for that change.

Are you preparing for a change in your life that hasn’t happened yet? Have you made room in your life for the blessings you are about to receive? Are you looking in the direction that you want to go? If you focus on your problems, all  you will see is suffering. But if you lift your eyes up and focus on the future, you will only see hope and possibility. Because that is the faith of a whore…the faith to get ready and stay ready because your life is about to change. Are you ready for the change?

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, please share it with someone who could use encouragement. Thank you for your patience and God bless!