Meditations on M’Cheyne

1 07 2009

I hope over the next while to devote one post per week based on a reading from the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, which has been a tremendous influence for good in my Christian life. I don’t have any commentaries here in Arequipa so this is Bible study ‘unplugged’, with merely the simplest of thoughts.

The Scandal of Rahab’s RedemptionJoshua 2:1
‘And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there’
Rahab intrigues me, and it is all because of a certain street in Arequipa, Peru… When I was growing up, the early chapters of Joshua were firm favourites among those wonderful people who taught me in Sunday School and Children’s Meetings. What 9 year old boy wouldn’t find himself transfixed by stories of war, bravery and conquest, of the unassailable blessing bestowed on a people whose God is the Lord. A favourite story was that of Rahab and the spies, and the majestic way in which God preserved one woman and her family amidst the decimation of a city. The emphasis of all such presentations was normally placed on the spies hiding, or the men of Jericho searching, or ultimately the scarlet cord being hung out as a sign to God’s people to spare a family. But on recently reading about Rahab in the New Testament, and just yesterday in Joshua, one fact has struck me more firmly than any of these:

She was a prostitute.

There are a couple of things which keep us from fully appreciating what this means, and what it meant for such a woman to be rescued by God. Firstly, there is the providential isolation in which the activites of such women are conducted in most cities in Western Europe. Prostitutes are a sub-society, and one which many people mercifully never encounter, or even see soliciting business. The other is our tendency to disinfect biblical narrative so that it accords with our residual Victorian-esque attitudes about everything unsavoury. Again, this can be a mercy.

But here in Arequipa things are somewhat different. In a busy commercial district (I’ll not name the road) on a Saturday morning as one goes to buy vegetables, nappies, or household goods, the opposite side of the street is lined with young women selling themselves for profit. This is no Julia -Roberts-in-Pretty-Woman-fairy-tale, but a cess pit of all that is warped and wrong about humanity. Young women sell their bodies, degrade their personalities and, without the mercy of Christ, damn their souls by their behaviour. This is an environment and an occupation, which is unspeakable in its brazen display of depravity and sin.

And this is the social/moral category into which Rahab ought to fit. Let us not call her a ‘harlot’ because that removes her reality one step further from ours. She was a prostitute, in a city which was so godless that God wiped its inhabitants from the face of the map, and banned people from ever rebuilding it again.

Why is the moral background of Joshua 2 important? Because it doesn’t ultimately point to the sewer-like life this woman lived, but to the heavenly grandeur of what God did in her life. He rescued her, He redeemed her, and breathtakingly, mind boggling, category shatteringly he placed her in the family line of the Son whom He would send to bear her sins on the cross! ‘By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient…’ (Heb 11:31).

What a God, what a Saviour, what scandalous redemption! The bigger point comes hard on the heels of Rahab, and hard against any sentiments of moral superiority we might harbour. What is true of her, is true of us all! How disinclined we are to look at ourselves with realism, and think of where we have been redeemed from. We frame our sins (past and present) in clean and tidy settings, pretending (to ourselves and others) that we’re not really all that bad. The reality is altogether different, how much it took for Him to save us, and how loudly it speaks of His glory!




2 responses

3 07 2009

I loved the phrase 'scandalous redemption'. Brilliant post, one that seriously causes some self awareness

5 07 2009

Thank God He portrays all the people in His inspired Word 'warts and all' which further proves His Devine will and way of Salvation is for the 'whosoever will.'He leaves no-one outside of His wonderful Amazing Grace which gives the sinner hope and rejoices the heart of the sinner saved by grace! Glad you're back at the blogging. God Bless Maggie

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