“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab” (Matthew 1:5).
Many first-time Bible readers are surprised to learn that the New Testament begins with a genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16), Jesus’ family tree. Those same readers are even more surprised when Rahab shows up on the list.
Most of us know about her. She is almost always mentioned by in the Bible as “Rahab the harlot." But that’s not all. Rahab was also a Canaanite-who were the hated enemies of Israel. Her most exemplary deed was telling a lie. Think about that. A Harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. You wouldn’t think she would have much chance of making the list, but there she is.
You can read about Rahab in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6. Check out the Christmas tree diagram of Jesus’ family tree. See if you can find Rahab. She’s the great-great-grandmother of King David.
It’s a great story with many lessons, but we mustn’t miss the point that Rahab was a harlot. That was her “trade.” The men hid there because people would be accustomed to seeing strangers come and go at all hours of the night. We also can’t deny the fact that Rahab told a bald-faced lie. Is there anything good we can say about her? Yes! She was a woman of faith. You don’t have to take my word for it. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith Rahab ...” She was a believer!
Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia-big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it’s all very intimidating to them. To many in the world today, Jesus seems too good to be true.
This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself “the friend of sinners,” and he said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10)
The same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you. I invite you in Jesus’ name to come and be forgiven. He’s already made the first move. The next step is up to you.
Lord Jesus, if you were not the “friend of sinners,” we could not be saved. Help us to love the unlovely as you have loved us. Amen.
Ray Pritchard is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries. He pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.