Rahab was a harlot. Was.
That was before she met the Lord, but when she started hearing stories about the God of the Israelites, she believed them, and forsook her gods for the one true God. It changed her.
God used Rahab not only to save the spies but to save the world! It was through her that eventually Boaz was born, who married Ruth, who had Obed, who had Jesse, who had King David. Trace the lineage down far enough and we come to Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the world!
Yes, Rahab is in the lineage of Jesus Christ—a testimony to the grace of God! To the Jewish reader, it was unthinkable. A woman. A woman of ill-repute. A Canaanite woman of ill-repute.
Yet when strangers wanted to convert, they were essentially becoming Israelites by accepting their God, their Passover (see Ex. 12), and their laws. Leviticus 19:34 “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
Were the Israelites supposed to destroy all the Canaanites? Yes, they were. But Rahab’s story shows us that the grace of God would extend to all who would believe in Him. Rahab’s belief in God made her more of an Israelite than a Canaanite! Through Israel, God promised to bless all nations (see Genesis 12:3). It has always been the sin of man that separates him from God—not his nationality.
When Jesus came to earth, he changed how people accessed God. It was no longer through Israel, but through himself—through belief in his death, burial, and resurrection. Rahab found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and through Jesus Christ, you and I can too.
Commentator Dale Davis said, “Now that can be offensive. We say we can’t have that; the church is only for respectable, clean, middle-class folks. But that is like saying that hospitals are only for doctors, nurses, and x-ray machines instead of sick people. Or it is like saying that only morticians and coroners belong in morgues instead of dead people. Who then should be in the church but sinners? The church is not a club but a refuge for sinners who have been touched by the grace of God. Apparently, Rahab’s past did not bother the writer of the first Gospel. Rather, Matthew seemed to see in Rahab a trophy of divine grace. Astounding, isn’t it, that the shady lady of Jericho should be the ancestress of Jesus the Messiah (Matt. 1:5)?”