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Redeemed - From Prostitute to Legacy Saint

“You’re not defined by the worst thing you’ve ever done, and you’re not defined by the greatest thing you’ll ever do.”


  • Joshua Broome


Can God transform a life so dramatically that it is unrecognizable in comparison to its previous existence? So much so that one has to emphasize that past life so people can see His transformative power at work?


Many years ago I had a very narrow view of what a Christian looked like. In my eyes they had no tattoos, looked really neat and tidy and lived pure lives from a young age. They didn’t have a sexual past… they looked the part of a perfect “Christian”.


I am a very different person now… in some ways better, some I’m still working on submitting to Christ. The biggest change is that many of the Christian’s I hang out with now are very different than I would have imagined 30 years ago. I’ve overcome shame, rejection, addictions and other common human conditions. As such I look at people who are doing their level best with much more grace.


What I’ve learned is that what I think really does not matter… what matters is what God thinks.


Is it possible to overcome a past that doesn’t look shiny and neat?


Is it possible to live free from condemnation after making horrible life choices?


What indications do we have from the Bible about Gods view of our past sins?


Are there any examples in scripture of people who made horribly self destructive life choices that found new direction and were later greatly esteemed by God?


I remember sitting in a room full of people much smarter than myself. I was heading for bankruptcy and I knew I needed help. As a last ditch effort to turn things around my friend got me into a room of Christian businessmen who looked at everything and offered various paths I could take forward, it didn’t take long before one of them said I should also talk to a bankruptcy expert. I balked… I stated that I felt so much shame about this loss I didn’t think I could possibly have a “Christian testimony” after defaulting on my loans. Several men laughed at my statement… and rightly so. They said that my view of Christ was far too limited and my view of the cross far to narrow. Several men in the room had experienced substantial losses somewhere… failure is just part of life - you move forward and simply put one step in front of another…


I live in a much better place in my heart and head today. I’m not chained by shame from my past, I have a healthier view of myself that is not identified by my worst decisions and not bound by my past. I do not however take the freedom I am walking in now for granted.


All that said, does God see people with a sexual or difficult past as less than?


Believe it or not there is biblical evidence that shows us how God views us after we have submitted to Him in faith.


The Bible is full of imperfect people… I mean messed up… awful people. To be clear… that is not an endorsement of their sin… rather it is written as a cautionary tale in many parts of scripture. You can see how some of these people found salvation and renewal while others continued to sink deeper into sin and rebellion through pride.


Some people developed the appearance of the perfect follower of God… while living in secret sin and abusing those around them. You find it all, written in its messiness… but tied together to weave a story of who God is and his heart towards the broken and sincere men and women who want to know Him and break free from the shackles of sin and death.


One of the first people mentioned in the Bible with a dark sexual past was Rahab. She was described as a prostitute in Joshua 2 and 6 where we first read about the spies she protected.


This is the first passage:


”And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.“


To be clear on the Hebrew word used here for prostitute, it is the word “zanah” which directly translates as “harlot”. It is clear this woman was not someone who would have been considered a desirable wife by an Israelite man wished to walk with a holy God.


The Bible says very little about this woman. It lists her name in at least seven places and in 5 of these it matter of factly states she WAS “Rahab the Prostitute”.


Why would God wish to express to us this part of her past?


We find Rahab listed in these chapters in the Bible:


  • Joshua 2

  • Joshua 6

  • Matthew 1

  • Hebrews 11

  • James 2


Rahab, while in this lifestyle which was considered unholy obviously had a deep moral conviction to do what was right when it came to these spies… she hid the spies from the city officials looking to kill them. I know that is difficult to grasp for some… moral conviction? From a prostitute? No way… or… maybe?


Maybe the simple act of taking a step towards doing what is good and holy was something that took great courage?


Perhaps that simple step of faith launched her life into an entirely different direction with many more steps of faith?


Let’s read a bit more of what the Bible says about Rahab. I want to draw attention to how God honored her in scripture. We already quoted Joshua 2 and the story of the spies she saved… let’s just go through the additional text and then regroup after:


Joshua 6 shares this story:


“But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute's house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”


James 2 verse 25 says “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?”


Hebrews 12 verse 31 says “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”


Here is what I find interesting, in nearly every passage Rahab is named the scriptures mention what she did, however no condemnation is given for that past. The Bible does not condone her body count or her mistakes but it does lift up the moment she made this foundational good decision… the decision that propelled her life in a new direction!


As a matter of fact… I suggest that at the moment Rahab made that decision to help those Israelite spies it changed something inside her. She chose Yahweh, she chose to dedicate the rest of her life to God and even took her entire family with her.


How much did her life change?


Consider this from Matthew 1 that talks of the lineage of David:


”The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,”


Rahab was one of only a few women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. Consider that at the time when Matthew penned the gospel account there was no “marketing” advantage to sharing a women’s name to deepen impact to people. Further to my point, to name a woman that had a past that was not considered respectable would have been unheard of. Yet, there it is… plain as day.


Rahab ended up marrying an Israelite named Salmon, together they had a child named Boaz who became the husband to Ruth in the book of Ruth. She was King David’s Great Great Grandmother!


That is CORRECT…


Rahab “the prostitute” became honored among women by God through her faithfulness.


Her past, while mentioned in nearly every passage of scripture is no longer a past filled with shame but now one of redemptive victory. Our hearts are drawn into the story of God’s redemption, not of her past. All of this is because Rahab took a step of faith!


Hebrews 11 is a passage that elevates Rahab’s decision to a status of incredible honor. Here is the passage in context:


”By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.“


Yes… the Holy Bible says that Rahab the Prostitute was a person “of whom the world was not worthy”. Why? Because she chose to let Yahweh change and transform her life by a step of faith towards God! God responded by stepping towards her!


My question to you is this:


If God can take Rahab and place her in the hall of fame of Godly leaders of faith and make her a part of Jesus genealogy… what can he do for you?

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