Creation…the fall…a rescue from the floodwaters…a promise to establish a great nation of God through a man with no children…the provision of a substitute sacrifice…the Mosaic covenant…and Boaz, the model of a kinsman redeemer which would one day be fulfilled perfectly in the Messiah.
We’ve been tracing our finger over the pages of God’s redemptive story, as we settle ourselves into the longing and hopeful expectancy of the birth of our Savior. Today, our finger backtracks just a bit as we take a look at Rahab, the mother of Boaz.
Rahab was not a likely candidate to be among the genealogy of Christ, at least not by the world’s standards. She was a prostitute and a Canaanite. An outsider to the people of God. But that would soon change.
As Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, was preparing to advance on the Canaanite city of Jericho, he sent in two spies. When the king learned of the spies’ presence in the land, they found refuge in the home of, you guessed it, Rahab. She spoke to them about the fear that was throughout the land of this God of the Israelites. This God who had parted the Red Sea some 40 years prior. And she advised them on how to escape without being caught by the king’s guards. In return for her kindness, she asked one thing…
Joshua 2:12-21 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.” 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.”Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.”
The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless.
But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
Rahab and her family were, in fact, spared. She went on to marry an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, gave birth to Boaz, and took her place in the family line of Christ. This outsider…this harlot…shown God’s grace and mercy as a result of her rightly placed faith in the one true God.
We have such a tendency to look at outward appearances. To judge someone’s worth or value, or even ability to be used by God by what we can see. But God tells us that he looks at something altogether different.
We see this when the Lord instructs Samuel to go to the house of Jesse, from which He would provide a king for His people. Samuel has Jesse bring all of his sons out for him to see.
1 Samuel 16:6-13 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.
And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.
In David, the Lord found a man after His own heart. Not perfect, and certainly not blameless. But full of faith in God, reverence for His Law, quick to repent, and well aware of his reliance on the Lord.
That faith and reliance on the Lord would be demonstrated over and over as David led the people of God in battle after battle, ultimately establishing a kingdom in Jerusalem. The Lord made a promise to David, reinforcing the covenants He had established with Abraham and Moses, and establishing a new covenant with David, that his kingdom would last forever.
This was a covenant the people of God had to cling to tightly over the years, as time and again they would experience exile and persecution. The kingdom was eventually divided, and fell into captivity. The people would cry out for a deliverer. Someone to rescue them and reestablish them as a great nation. And over and over we see prophecy in the Old Testament that the people clung to for hope. Prophecy that one day, that deliverer would come.
Micah 5:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The people of God, understandably, expected that deliverance would come in the form of a great king or military ruler. Someone who would lead them in the defeat of their enemies and reestablish a great kingdom in Jerusalem, one which would be untouchable. They thought that their promised deliverance would be from other nations.
But if we’ve learned anything from our unlikely harlot of a heroine, or from the most unassuming of Jesse’s sons, it’s that God’s ways are almost never what we expect, and always about so much more than we could ever imagine.
As the people of God longed for a deliverer from the enemies they could see with their eyes, a much more subtle enemy continued to ensnare them. Enticing them with idols and false promises of self-sufficiency.
We have the same enemy.
And he roams around the earth, seeking whom he may devour.
But praise God, we have a Deliverer who is on His way! And so we cling to the same promises the Israelites clung to.
We join them in the hopeful expectancy of a Savior’s birth here at Christmas, while also knowing that that Savior is coming again, and He will rescue His people once and for all.