About this series
Rahab: Redeeming grace
Joshua 2, Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31
Rahab was a Canaanite woman of Jericho, an innkeeper whose house sat in the huge city wall, which was so wide that two chariots could ride side by side across its huge width. As well as the B&B, men could buy her sexual favours for a night. Yet she had heard of the reputation of a wonder-working God and his people and in great courage she hid the Hebrew spies. She and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho by a scarlet cord that hung from her window — saved by the colour of blood, the blood of the lamb who would be slain. Rahab appears in the family tree of Jesus. In Christ her reputation is restored and redeemed. Instead of a despised woman, she is a daughter of grace.
Like Rahab, we will meet women with sexual pasts. Maybe a young woman, converted in her late 20s with a string of sexual affairs to her name. But in the name of Jesus, like Rahab, her shame is covered by Jesus cleansing blood – ‘his blood can make the foulest clean’.
The story of Rahab reminds us that God can reach in to every nook and cranny of society – no-one is beyond the reaches of his grace. ‘In Christ, the old has gone, the new has come’ (2 Cor. 5:17). Whatever your past – in Christ it is forgotten, he ‘remembers our sins no more’ (Is. 43:25b).
Whatever is in your past – sexual sins or something else – grace covers and nothing can harm your status as daughter of the King, daughter of grace. Live in the light of that reality – not in the shadow of the past.
Esther: Saving grace
The book of Esther
When King Xerxes signed the edict to annihilate all the Jews in his kingdom, he didn’t know that his own queen was herself a Jew. Esther had kept her background and nationality a secret. It was her cousin Mordecai who had thrust her into the limelight and told her to keep quiet! But now he urged her into the presence of the king – a despot and a grumpy man – to beg for mercy for her people. ‘Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ (4:14). So she risked her position, her life in the palace and even life itself to speak up for this despised nation. But she was successful in mediating for God’s people and so they were saved from genocide – and the godly line of the Saviour was spared that he might be ‘the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ 1 Tim. 2:5).
A second Esther came to a royal position for such a time as this, also thrust into prominence by her family. In 1533 Anne Boleyn became the wife of another powerful and grumpy man – King Henry VIII. The Tudor Court was a place of intrigue; no one was safe from gossip and false accusation, not even the queen. But in that court personal Bible study was Anne’s practice and among her chaplains were reformers like Hugh Latimer. God was using the obsession of the king with producing a male heir to fan the flames of the evangelical reformation that was sweeping across Europe and had reached the shores of Britain.
Without the influence of Anne, King Henry would not have broken with Rome. She used to mark pages in the Bible and in evangelical books for breakfast discussion on these matters. Anne protected men who were importing evangelical books into England and influenced Henry to help evangelicals in trouble in mainland Europe. Like Esther of old she interceded for God’s people. She worked hard to ensure that key church appointments went to evangelicals and although it was illegal she supported the trade in the Bible and evangelical books. There’s more to tell – and it contributed to cost her her life. As she died she cried out, ‘To Christ I commend my soul’.
Like Esther, she was a child of her times and made mistakes, but she stood for the truth and progressed the cause of God’s people.
What are we prepared to do to further the cause of Christ on a local or national scale? Neither of these women had ‘spiritual roles’ and yet were greatly used by God. This is a reminder to us that God’s work is not just inside the church – it can be political and social and even international.
Next in this series: Daughters of the King: Mary and Lydia »