Growing up in church, every Sunday my mom, Hazel, sat in the choir loft which faced the congregation.  She spent the sermon time surveying the congregation and making mental notes.  Sunday dinner would usually be narrated by a mouthful of commentary describing “those women”, the one’s whose skirts were a little too short, wore too much makeup, whose hair was bleached a little bit too much, and those who were eye-candy to men in the congregation.  The backstories of these women didn’t matter to Hazel, unless they were juicy. What mattered were appearances. 

Rahab, as mentioned in the Book of Joshua, chapter 2, was one of “those women” which Hazel disparaged.  That is why the list of names in Hebrews chapter 11 comprising the Hall of Faith can seem somewhat peculiar because it includes Rahab.  There are so many individuals comprising this group, both named and unnamed, that they are described as “a cloud”.  Hebrews 12:12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness] ( Amplified Bible).  One would think that those mentioned would be All-Stars, those who were deserving of plaques, statues, and memorials.  There are familiar names such as Noah, Moses, Abraham, and Joseph and if we included in this cloud modern day figures we might add my favorites:  Charles Colson, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Randy Acorn & Beth Moore. I can imagine if there was playing a video of life God’s All Stars, my mom would have cut off the power when there is found mention of the name “Rahab”.  After all, she was one of “those women”. 

Thank God, appearances didn’t seem to matter in Joshua chapter 2 in the tale of the escape of the Jewish spies who had been sent to scope out the enemy city of Jericho.  Rahab lived in the heathen town and was a prostitute who operated an inn built into the city wall.  When the 2 men knocked on her door seeking lodging and safety, she quickly figured out who they were, spies belonging to the group of people who were invading her homeland. 

We are not told it, but God must have written an incredible backstory to get Rahab to the place where she said to the spies: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror and dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in despair] because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan [on the east], to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted [in despair], and a [fighting] spirit no longer remained in any man because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 

Let that roll around and resonate in your heart awhile.  The writer describes a woman who has had to resort to the oldest profession to support her parents and her brothers and sisters.  One would think that self-preservation would have been Rahab’s battle-cry, to tell her king about the spies and collect a reward for the efforts.  Yet she made a decision which flew in the face of reason and placed all her faith, hopes and dreams on a God who theoretically belonged to the enemy.  She endangered her life, economy and the lives of those she loved because she had fallen in love with Jehovah God. 

If you know the story recounted in Joshua 2, Rahab helped the spies by hiding them and enabling their escape over the wall of Jericho.  When the day of battle came, she obeyed as earlier instructed by the Israelis.  She let down a scarlet cord out her window, out over the wall, as a marker to let the Jewish warriors know which household to spare. 

That is a pretty impressive salvation story right there, but the story of Rahab goes up yet another level.  She ended up marrying a good Jewish man and became the mother of Boaz.  This is the same Boaz who became famous in the Book of Ruth.  Boaz was the father of Jesse, and the grandfather of King David.  So not only does King David the psalm writer have in his DNA a former prostitute, but he also has as his grandmother Ruth, the woman who left her home of idolatry to care for her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi.  If you look at the Book of Ruth, Naomi’s faith in God’s goodness seemed to go on vacation while at the same time heathen Ruth decided to make Jehovah God her own God, even though she had to leave everything that was familiar, everything that was the norm.  She decided that the Jewish God was Who He said He was, without promises and a glimpse of the future.

Rahab and Ruth are two tiny little individuals comprising the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12.  In their own right, they would have both been the discards and throwaways which Hazel would consider so harshly and negatively.  It would seem their lives should have blown away like dust in the wind, yet Ruth has an entire book of the Bible written about her and Rahab is a major player in the cloud of witnesses. 

What the two women had in common is that they both decided to purposely walk into the unknown based on a God they couldn’t see, touch or feel.  When they got to huge crossroads in their lives, they decided to translate their burgeoning faith into footwork.  They chose paths not illuminated by cozy warm and safe lighting.  They decided on the route which was rather hazy and cloudy.  Neither of them knew that the clouds surrounding them were actually “a cloud of witnesses who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness”. 

During these past few years I have come across a number of major crossroads in my own life.  Have to tell you, choosing to walk by faith instead of by faith can be disorienting, disturbing, and at times downright scary.  Right now I am traveling through yet another crossroads, and this one has entailed leaving the security of the job I held for 15 years.  This has not been exactly a smooth path laid out before me.  I look at our financial accounts and know those Prudential retirement specialists are not going to be knocking at my door enticed by my wealth and portfolio.  I look at circumstances and can become frozen by fear.  However, at the bottom of my heart and with every breath, I know that this is the right time, the right place, and the right God.  My Savior has too many songs and words yet to sing from my life; tunes I never could have imagined.  God has been sending me too many people who need to be loved, cared for, and disciple.  God has been laying another path out for me – it’s a brand new highway. 

Looking out my window today, it is a little cloudy.  However, those clouds are comprised of millions who have tasted of Jesus and found Him good.  I am in great company.

2 Replies to “THE CLOUDS”

  1. This message could not be more timely. Yes, I am frozen in time. Your message is directly meant for me.

    I am one of those you refer to as needing to be loved, cared for and discipled.

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