This week, on Remembrance Day, (November 11th) we honour the courageous women and men who served their country during war-times. Many who served and sacrificed did not receive official recognition, so Remembrance Day is a day to remember all who have served and continue to serve our country during wartime, peace, and conflict. Whether their story ended on a battle field or they are in our military today, their courage continues to be celebrated and honoured for serving our country.
When we read our bibles, we can also honour and be inspired by women and men who served God. In fact there are many women bible stories, in the old testament and the new testament, that demonstrate immense courage and continue to inspire us to serve God today.
One of the many women bible stories of courage is the story of Rahab, often referred as “Rahab, the harlot.” One can wonder how a “harlot” made the Hall of Fame list in Hebrews 11, but there is a lot to learn from Rahab, a wise woman with immense courage. Rahab’s story is a great example of the power of God and what faithful hard work can achieve!
Rahab – Women bible stories of courage in the Old Testament
When we meet Rahab in Joshua 2, she is a prostitute, living on the city walls of Jericho. When two of Joshua’s spies hide in her home, Rahab risks her own life by protecting them from capture. She turns away from her people, the Canaanites, and professes her faith in God. In turn, when the city of Jericho fell, Joshua spares Rahab and her family.
Rahab’s life is one of the great biblical stories of courage. We can learn a lot about courage when we recognize the courageous action of Rahab fuelled by her faith.
1. Courage Requires Faith, Not Circumstances
Rahab’s circumstances did not include formal religious ceremonies and a godly profession. She was a Canaanite living in the city of Jericho when the people of Israel considered the Canaanite’s hated enemies. She was a prostitute, an immoral profession. Yet, she is known as righteous for her immense courage to hide two Israel spies in her home, endangering herself and her family.
“The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land. So the king of Jericho sent a message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me but I did not know where they had come from….(but she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) Joshua 2:2-5, 6 NIV
“But in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out anther way?”James 2:25
Rahab’s background and lifestyle did not inhibit her to show great courage. Hearing of God’s help to the Israelites, she came to believe in “God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:11) She not only helped Israel overcome Jericho, she saved herself and her family when Jericho fell.
Like Rahab, no matter our circumstances, God’s help and grace is available to us.
Rahab’s profession did not stop God’s plan, for God used Rahab’s new faith to accomplish His great purpose.
It’s our unwavering faith in God’s promises that gives us great courage to fulfil God’s plan for our lives.
2. Courage In the Face of Adversity
Although Rahab barely knew of God, she faced adversity and risked her life to save the two Israelite spies. She opened her home to the enemy of her home city, her king, and her people – spies who sought information to conquer Jericho as God had instructed Joshua.
It must have taken incredible courage for Rahab to lie to the king when she denied that the spies were at her home. She could have been killed if the hidden spies were found in the flax stacked on the roof of her home.
Yet, Rahab’s faith overcame her fear. Knowing that the Israelites were planning to invade her city, she still turned to God, sensing that the Israelites relied on a God worth trusting.
“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in the country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Eygpt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven about and on earth below.”Joshua 2: 8-11
Through hearing the stories of what God had done for God’s people, the Israelites, Rahab’s courage grew bigger than her fear. And she entered into the story of God’s plan for Jericho to be delivered into His hands, and from the Canaanite gods.
Rahab’s trust in God in the face of adversity provided her safety and safety for her family.
It’s our trust in God whenever we face adversity that overcomes our lack of courage to do what is right in the sight of God. As God’s people, we can trust in God’s promises, in God’s help, and in God’s word that we can rise above our situations to step out as courageous women.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”Hebrews 11:13
3. Courage From God’s Promises
Rahab’s bible story is also a story of how God’s plan can be fulfilled work through anyone, no matter their circumstances and background. It is also an illustration of God’s reward when our courage overcomes our fear, and we are obedient to God’s word.
Rahab placed herself in a risky situation when she hid the two men sent by Joshua to spy on the land before going to battle. Using her resources and at a great risk to herself and her family, she helped the men. I imagine it was through her turning to the Lord for salvation, not through her own strength, and with God’s help, that gave her immense courage to hide the spies.
Also, through her turning away from Canaanite gods, what her people believed, and turning toward the true God, she was rewarded with the safety of herself and her family.
“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them – and that you will save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us this land.”Joshua 2:12-14
So Rahab counselled the men on how to escape from their pursuers. In return, the men instructed her on how to keep her family safe when they returned in battle, fulfilling God’s promise that they would conquer the land.
‘Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute with her family and all who belonged to her because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho – and she lives among the Israelites to this day.Joshua 6:24-25
It’s our faith in God’s promises that gives us courage to live out our faith as God directs us. With God’s help and obeying God’s word, we courageously carry-out the work He has placed in our mind, heart, and soul.
May we be encouraged by Rahab’s story of faith and courage.
May we be inspired that Rahab, a prostitute and a Canaanite, who used her no-so-good situation to become a woman important to God’s story.
Rahab had the courage to live by her faith regardless of her background leading to the safety of herself and of her family, and to become one of the women of the bible who are part of Jesus’ lineage!
“Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rehab” Matthew 1:5Matthew 1:5
Your story is never a failure. When we place our trust in God, we can step out in good courage, living out our purpose, even in the face of adversity knowing God’s plan will prevail.
Bible Verses of Courage for Reflection on God’s Purpose for You
Take a moment to take in God’s words. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you breath in the word of God, and breath out your prayers.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Is there a path God is asking you take but you are frightened? Reflect on God’s direction “do not be frightened.” What is He saying to you?
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Reflection: Is there an area in your life you believe God has forsaken you? Reflect on “the Lord your God who goes with you.” What is He saying to you?
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Is there something you are waiting on for direction? Are you becoming discouraged during the waiting? Reflect on “let your heart take courage.” What is God saying to you?
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Do you feel your faith wavering? Reflect on “stand firm in the faith.” What is God saying to you?
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Are you unsure of what path God wants you to take? Reflect on “submit to him.” What is God saying to you?
Is there a women’s bible story that encourages you? Please share in the comments!