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Rahab: A Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture


Polymer Clay relief sculpture of Rahab from the Bible at the window with the scarlet chord
Rahab, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

The story of Rahab has all the ingredients of a steamy, fast-paced romance with just the right measure of intrigue, drama and adventure!


This is hardly a sanitized account one would expect to find in a holy book. But that is what I love about the Bible! It is replete with earthy accounts of real people, living flawed, gritty lives set in time, in specific geographic regions and grappling with the same questions about God as I do today.


Rahab's story is rich and multidimensional. She was a harlot living in a pagan culture with only a rudimentary understanding of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Her home was set in the mighty wall of the city of Jericho.


If you are unfamiliar with her story, I would recommend that you first read it in Joshua 2. I could not adequately summarize the original account, since I might inadvertently leave out some salient detail.


One fateful night Rahab welcomed two men into her establishment. While seemingly an ordinary action in keeping with the nature of her business, that act would change her life, and the course of history.


She acted on rumors she had heard of a people who worshiped One God. Her statement of faith is stunning, especially in contrast to the pagan culture that she was steeped in where multiple deities were worshiped. In reverential awe, she declared to the spies,


... the Lord your God, is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Joshua 2:11


Exhibiting extraordinary courage, she had no qualms about lying to the king, who demanded to know the whereabouts of the men she hid. Lying was completely consistent with her character. Her sordid profession must have given her plenty of practice! While lying is never ever commended, her faith in this unseen God, the Ancient of Days, was.

Detail of the face of Rahab the harlot in profile with the scarlet cord outside the window.
Rahab, Detail, Sara Joseph

 

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. Hebrews 11:31

 

Her confession of faith pleased God. He overlooked her profession, her sinfulness and even her ignorance, and gave her a simple way out of her predicament.


She was facing a certain death by the Israelites, who were poised to overthrow her land and people. On a mission from God, the Israelites were to subdue Jericho in order to bring His presence, governance and rule, where for generations idolatry was the norm. Her faith opened the door to God's protection in the midst of impending destruction.


All she had to do was bring her loved ones under her roof, bind a scarlet cord on her window, and WAIT. When the army returned to attack, she was promised that her family would be spared.


Image of a poem entitled the Wait by Sara Joseph
The Wait, Sara Joseph

Her wait has always intrigued me.


She had to trust that the spies would return, that they would honor their promise, and most importantly, she had to trust the God they served, a God she had only heard about. In the chaos of war, she believed that He would protect her and her loved ones.


She also had to influence her family to remain quarantined in her home indefinitely, until the Israelite army arrived. It was imperative that they were physically present in her home with the scarlet cord waving in her window, if they were to be saved. There is no indication of how long she waited for them.


Rahab, as an ignorant and pagan Gentile, is an uncanny picture of each of us, who are non-Jewish Christians. All the allusions in the story are relevant for you and me today.


We are unclean sinners, just like her. We are to trust in a generous, wonderful God, who asks no more of each of us than what He asked of her. Trust Him and His scarlet provision—in our case, the blood of His son, Jesus.


Like her, our role is to inspire others to do the same. Then having done so, we must WAIT.


The scarlet cord runs like a marvelous thread through biblical history, speaking consistently of redemption.


Rahab and her family survived the catastrophic overthrow of pagan Jericho by the Israelites, as promised. She married Salmon, whom scholars surmise was one of the two spies.


Joshua, their commander's name means ‘salvation’, similar to Yeshua, or Jesus. Even the battle plan of blowing the seven trumpets sounds curiously similar to the seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation, ushering the second coming of Jesus!


What's more, Rahab enjoys the honor of being listed in the genealogy of Jesus! (Matthew 1) She was his great grandmother, many generations removed. Her profession was not commended, as her confession of faith and her courage to act on it.


Finally, in the instruction that the spies gave her, there is an exquisite, hidden literary gem. The Hebrew word for the scarlet ‘line’, is ‘tiqvah’—a word that is used frequently in the Bible meaning ‘hope’—a powerful, expectant, eager and confident hope!


Behold, [when] we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.” Joshua 2:18 KJV


We are like Rahab; she is a beautiful picture of us—the living, organic, growing church rescued out of a pagan world of idolatry to be included in His family, based on the sacrifice of Jesus, and our faith in Him.


I pray that like Rahab, you will influence others with your life and acts of faith. May you, like her, bring your circle of family and friends into heaven with you.


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