I was recently challenged to look for the redemption thread found throughout Scripture while studying the Old Testament. It is through this lens that I have been reminded of the gravity of the many elements in the Old Testament that foreshadow the coming of Christ. While the prophesies of Christ are foundational to the Christian view of our Savior, we often miss the real nature of the elements themselves. The shadows of Christ in the Old Testament are evident because He was present. Consider the nature of a shadow. It is only produced when the natural circumstances of life are interrupted by a physical presence. A shadow cannot exist apart from the reality of its source! In John 1:1-2 we are reminded that Christ was always physically present within the Trinity, even at creation. In this passage, He is referred to as 'the Word', reminding us that Jesus Christ has always been the character of God spoken out in a voice that mankind can comprehend.
In an effort to increase Bible literacy and reclaim some enthusiasm in my Sunday morning girls' Bible study, we have spent the past several months studying women of the Old Testament. While these stories did begin to resonate with the girls, it did not have full effect until we began to see the presence of Christ in these encounters. The next several posts on this site will provide an overview of these character studies as they reveal the redeeming nature of our God through His providence and grace.
GRACE FOR A PROSTITUTE: RAHAB
The Israelite people had seen the hand of God in ways that we only have the privilege of reading. He dwelt among them and appeared to their leader Moses in various forms. At Moses' death, they saw the torch pass to God's man yet again as Joshua seamlessly takes command. Despite the knowledge of God's promises and the evidence of His power, these lands were filled with fear. Again and again, the Israelites and their leaders remind one another to 'be strong and courageous'. After all, this was a time of war and frequent death. Upon this scene we see the entrance of a seemingly insignificant woman - Rahab. Almost instantly, however, we see that she is anything but ordinary. In a time of life or death choices, she defies her king with deception in order to protect the Israelite spies that she hid on her roof. Where would a Gentile woman of such lowly stature summon the audacity to take such a risk? No one says it quite like she did:
"I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us...as soon as we heard it (the parting of the Red Sea, and previous victories), 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 below."
There you have it - Rahab's profession of faith. While she had not yet experienced Christ in the flesh, she trusted God's current revelation in His wonders and through His prophets. She professes against all odds, your God is the one true God! The beauty of this profession is that it is immediately met with a symbol of the atoning blood of Christ. The spies tell her to place a scarlet chord in her window, marking her house as the Lord's. In this moment, she identifies with the death of Christ just as the Israelites did at the first Passover, just prior to the Exodus. (2:18) But the truth of the Gospel is not just about being spared death. It is about being adopted into God's family as His own. This story would not sing of the gospel so clearly if it stopped here. After the city has fallen, and Rahab's household is spared under the protective mark of the scarlet cord, she and her family are taken in by the Israelites. As if to remind us of the unwarranted nature of the gospel, we see that 'Rahab the prostitute and her father's household...Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day'... (6:25).
This is the presence of Christ and His effect on humanity. His blood has always been the answer, even before it was shed, man has known - deep in his soul. As we follow Rahab's story to its end, we are reminded that salvation is never for us alone. We are each a part of a greater story, the story of God redeeming His creation to Himself through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. As Rahab entered the Israelite family, she marries a man named Salmon and gave birth the one and only Boaz. Yes, the proverbial knight in shining armor who rescues Ruth and becomes the great-grandfather of King David, establishing the line of Christ Himself! More on this in the next post on the life of Ruth. Suffice it to say, Jesus Christ was, and is, and is to come!