Women of the Bible Podcast

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Rahab - Week 6: A New Identity

Season:  Rahab

Erin Davis: Well, one more time. Grab your Bible. Open it, and turn to Joshua. We are going to finish our study of Rahab: Tracing the Thread of Redemption. Joined again with some favorite friends, and if they don’t know you by now, I don’t know what’s wrong with them. (laughter)

Just one more time, I’d love for you to introduce yourselves. Tell them anything you want them to know about you. Go ahead.

Paulina Torres: My name is Paulina, and this is the last time I think we’re going to be seeing each other.

Erin: It is!

Paulina: Oh, no. Jesus loves you, and don’t forget that ever. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Erin: That’s so good. I love that. Alright.

Leslie Bennett: I’m Leslie. I’m from South Carolina. I want to say that last day of Bible study is always really sad for me, so I’m downcast.

Erin: I know! I’m Erin, from Missouri. I very much have that last-day-of-school feeling. At the beginning I said I had the first-day-of-school jitters. But you know how it goes: The first day you’re kind of antsy, and the last day, it’s so sad.

Leslie: It is!

Erin: But it’s been a joy to open God’s Word together over these weeks and in these sessions and talk about redemption.

When we were coming together to record this podcast, we were having breakfast together. I said, “We get to spend our day talking about redemption.” I could spend every day talking about redemption.

So you’re old friends by now. They know you. They love you. I know you, and I love you. I’ve enjoyed this time, but we’ve got one more session to go. Let’s finish Rahab’s story today.

I like to tell you the big idea. Do you like to know the big idea?

Leslie: I do.

Erin: The big idea for this last session is that Jesus gives us a new identity. I feel like we could say, “Amen!” Turn off the mic, close the Bibles, and go home.

Leslie: Amen! That’s it!

Erin: That’s really good news, but I want to add to that and let Rahab show us how that’s done. We’ve mentioned it in every session: Rahab’s identity before all this happened was really wrapped up in her profession—which was undesirable. And her geography . . . she was a prostitute in Jericho. All throughout the story we get this description of Rahab’s identity, and I want to read it, just to hammer it home.

What do we learn about Rahab in Joshua, chapter 2, verse 1?

Leslie:

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.

Erin: All right. You’ve got Joshua 6:17?

Paulina: I do. Joshua 6:17:

But the city and everything in it are set apart to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab, the prostitute, and everyone with her in the house will live because she hid the men we sent.

Erin: And I have Joshua 6:25.

But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Okay, Hebrews 11:31.

Leslie:

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

Erin: And James 2:25.

Paulina: James 2:25:

And in the same way wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?

Erin: Okay. If Rahab was filling out her social media profile or sending in a bio, it’d be pretty short. “I am Rahab the prostitute.”

It was her identity. It defined her. Even all this time later, in some ways, it still defines her—although we’ll talk about how it doesn’t completely define her. I bet prostitute is not the word that you think defines you, but I bet there are some areas of your life that you’re tempted to define yourself by—some roles, some things about your personality, some things about your family.

What are you tempted to believe defines you, Paulina?

Paulina: I struggle with feeling unqualified. I struggle with feeling that I don’t have enough. And if I don’t have the Word of God in my heart, I go to my insecurities, my I’m not enough.

Erin: What are you tempted to believe defines you?

Leslie: I would say: doing. I would say sometimes I feel unworthy. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. I can let those things define me instead of who God says I am in Christ.

It’s interesting, because when I was studying this passage and the emphasis of “Rahab the prostitute,” as I was studying it and applying it to my own heart, I was saying, “Leslie the ‘blank’.” I could think of things that, before I came to know Christ . . . I mean, you could have filled in a million things.

I wasn’t a prostitute. I wasn’t a drug dealer. But I was no less sinful. I was a hypocrite. I was an enemy of God. I was a God hater. I was selfish, self-centered. I mean, the list goes on. “Leslie the ‘blank’.” And I mean, you could just make a super-long list there.

And I realized, “This is me. I’m Rahab. I’m Rahab, too. Even though I’m not a prostitute, I am Rahab. I’m the woman that needs Jesus. My life needs redeeming just as much as hers does.”

Paulina: Amen, yes.

Erin: I don’t think identity issues are unique to women, but I do think women specifically assign their identities to their relationships. I’m a mother. That defines me. I’m a wife. That defines me. I’m a friend. That defines me.

For me, it’s: worker. Leslie and I just came off of several days of training, and the woman training us said, “Do you want to be known for your output?” As if we wouldn’t! And I was, like, “Yeah, I do!” (laughter) I want to be known as somebody that produces.

Leslie: Produces . . . that was the word.

Erin: And yet, producer is not my identity. Worker is not my identity.

So it doesn’t have to be a quote/unquote, “bad thing.” It’s often good things. But then when it becomes, “Erin the mom,” and that defines me, or “Erin the success,” or “Erin the failure” . . . Whenever we just let, like in Rahab’s case, a single word or a single role or a single choice . . .

Paulina: Or even if you have been divorced. It’s a label that we wear. “Oh, it’s me; I’m divorced.” It’s something they’re carrying.

Erin: Yes. I actually had a woman text me during the filming of this podcast, and that’s what it was. She’s going through a divorce, and it’s hard. It has just totally rocked her identity.

Except at her core, it hasn’t, because she’s no less made in the image of God. She’s no less a recipient of God’s hesed, steadfast love. She’s no less an ambassador for the gospel. This is something that has happened to her beyond her control.

But I think we are tempted to define ourselves—I know we’re tempted—in all kinds of things.

Leslie: And in different seasons of life, it’s different things that define us, isn’t it?

Erin: Oh, you mean we don’t ever outgrow it? (laughter)

Paulina: I want to for the single ladies for whom their whole life is surrounded by, “I’m single.” It’s like they’ve got their life on pause until they get married.

Erin: Yes. And in her case, really, she’s defined by sin and shame. And then, of course, the story unfolds, and she’s not. But prostitute is a label of shame. We don’t know why she’s a prostitute or how that happened, but it’s not a position of pride.

But we’ve not spent six sessions talking about Rahab the prostitute. We’ve spent six sessions talking about God the Redeemer and His redemptive work.

Paulina: Amen!

Erin: And so that’s where we’re going in this session, and I’m so excited!

Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 1. We talked about how all of the Bible is pointing to Jesus. Well, Matthew chapter 1 is really pointing to Jesus.

You probably already know it. Leslie, you know your Bible frontwards and backwards. Without even looking, do you know what’s in chapter 1?

Leslie: The genealogy of Jesus.

Erin: The genealogy of Jesus. Now, do you love to study genealogies?

Paulina: I actually do.

Erin: You do?! (laughter)

Paulina: When I went to Israel, I bought a whole poster of Jesus’ genealogy, from the beginning to Jesus.

Erin: What about you, Leslie? Do you like to study genealogies?

Leslie: In the Bible . . . no. I honestly just go, “Oh, okay, let’s get on to . . .”

Erin: We skip them!

Leslie: I’m bad about that. Let’s skip the begats.

Erin: I have a saying, “Don’t skip the begats,” but we’re tempted to. Right?

Leslie: Right.

Erin: It is important. Second Timothy 3:16 is a passage I’m sure you know well: “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction.” Not some. Not most. All Scripture is God-breathed and all of it is useful—including the genealogy. So maybe you only read the genealogies once a year at Christmas. But actually, it’s all God-breathed. It’s all useful for instruction.

So I’m going to be brave. I’m going to take on the genealogy here because there are some tricky words in it.

Paulina: Thank you, Erin!

Erin: Yes. I’ll take one for the team here! So, let me read.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, [See—this is why I volunteered to take this. This is tough.] and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab.

Oh! There she is! Ding! Ding! Ding! There she is! It took us a few names to get there, but there is our girl, right here in the lineage of Jesus—Rahab the prostitute.

Paulina: That’s amazing!

Leslie: I love that!

Erin: Rahab the prostitute, right here in the lineage of Jesus.

Paulina: That blew my mind when I saw that.

Erin: I know! Surely Rahab didn’t have any way of knowing what was coming. She didn’t know that she was going to be in the lineage of Jesus when she welcomed those spies into her home. But look what God did with her life! And not just Rahab. She’s not an outlier. It’s not like, “Oops, Rahab snuck in there!”

But did the rest of the people in this genealogy had it all together? How about Tamar?

Leslie: Now there’s a story!

Paulina: For another episode! (laughter)

Erin: For another episode—do a little research on your own of her life. But I wouldn’t have picked her to be in the lineage of the Messiah.

Paulina: I wouldn’t either.

Erin: How about Ruth—which would be Rahab’s daughter-in-law.

Leslie: The Moabitess.

Paulina: She was not an Israelite.

Erin: Right. She was also a widow. Circumstances that don’t exactly set her up for ushering in the Messiah.

And then Bathsheba isn’t even mentioned in this lineage by name. She’s mentioned as the wife of Uriah—you’d have to study your Bible to catch that. But that’s a whole story.

Leslie: Adulteress.

Erin: Right. She’s an adulteress. She’s the wife of Uriah. And then King David woos her, and we know . . . that’s another episode.

And then there’s Mary, who’s an unwed, young woman. These are women in the lineage of Jesus. If we had to boil each of their identities down to a single word, in most cases it wouldn’t be a great word. It would be like “Rahab the prostitute”.

But that word, that identity gets eclipsed by a new identity which is that they get to become a part of the family of God. There it is . . . that red thread again. That red thread of redemption. That red thread of the gospel. It’s right here in each of their stories.They were women of sin and need and desperation, and then they become women in the family of God.

So with all that in mind, why do you think God did not erase the word “prostitute” from Rahab’s story? Why is it in Scripture so many times, now knowing everything you know about Rahab? Any thoughts, Paulina?

Paulina: I think it’s because we shouldn’t forget, and she shouldn’t forget, where God saved her from.

Leslie: I love that! If God can save a prostitute by the name of Rahab, He can save anyone.

I also read that and say to myself, “I can’t save myself.” And God’s reminding me: “I’m the One who will save you no matter how sinful you are. You are a sinner. You can’t save yourself, but I can save you—even prostitutes and adulteresses and unwed mothers. I can save all of those women.”

Paulina: I think we need that constant reminder.

Leslie: We do! Yes.

Paulina: We can get “churchy” or religious, and “I’m not like them.” And reminding ourselves of where God saved us from . . .

Leslie: Right—where we came from.

Paulina: Right—where we came from. He just grabbed our life out of the pit. That’s a good reminder to be sensitive to other people’s lives and pain.

Leslie: I think it’s interesting that in our day and age a big thing in our culture is genealogy. I think I read recently that 26 million people have purchased those consumer DNA genealogy tests. I was absolutely shocked. They want to know their family.

We look back on our family, and there might be one or two famous people, and then there’s about another dozen or so that they’re like, “Yikes! We’re not related to them! Really?!”

Erin: When we find out . . . Or we think we’re from somewhere exotic, and we aren’t.

Leslie: Yes. But the family of God, we’re blood-bought brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. Hallelujah!

Erin: I love that!

When you were talking about Rahab’s inability to save herself, I had a thought that hadn’t occurred to me: She couldn’t climb her own self out of the window because they were watching her home. They thought the spies had been there, and they were trying to make sure they hadn’t infiltrated the city. So even though she knew the destruction was coming, she had to wait for Joshua.

Leslie: The rescuer.

Erin: The rescuer to come and get her. So the layers of gospel and redemption in this . . . we’ll just never find the bottom of it.

Leslie: No, not at all, so we’re going to study it again!

Erin: Yes. Let’s start over tomorrow! (laughter)

We know that Rahab got to be in the lineage of Jesus. She didn’t know that. But what did Rahab have to give up in order to pledge her life to the one true God?

Leslie: Well, she had to turn her back on everything she knew. She was a Canaanite and a pagan worshipper. We’ve already talked about that a lot. But she had to absolutely turn away from that and go in a completely different direction. Her family was saved, so she wasn’t turning her back on her family.

Erin: But her friends, her neighbors . . .

Leslie: No. They weren’t.

Erin: Her culture was obliterated. It’s not they could vacation there. Her culture was obliterated.

Leslie: Right.

Erin: She gave all of that up to follow God. But what did she gain?

Leslie: She gained everything—eternal life in Christ.

Paulina: Her purpose!

Erin: Yes! Peace—she became one of the children of God.

Leslie: A new family.

Paulina: Joy.

Erin: We know that she married into the Israelites. She becomes the mother of Boaz, and Boaz is the husband of who?

Paulina: Ruth.

Erin: So when we’re picking women of the Bible we really admire, Ruth is one we pick. But let’s look back a little bit: Ruth’s mother-in-law is Rahab the prostitute. God does this amazing thing in her story.

So we give things up when God changes our identity to be His children. What do we give up to follow Christ?

Paulina: I think at the time we think it’s a lot of things. I remember when, just that process of being born again, when God was very patient with me and just drawing me closer. But I was in a relationship at the time. It was a good relationship in a worldly view. But I remember, it was, like, “This relationship God doesn’t like, and I know I’m not glorifying Him with this.”

So God gave me the courage to go and break up with this guy. I was so fearful because I really didn’t know a lot about the true God, and the trusting part was hard for me because of my past.

So here I am put in this situation. I know God wants more. He wants me closer, but this relationship is in the way. I knew I had to finish that relationship. I did go and tell him, “I think God wants something else in my life, and I have to break up with you.”

That was so hard. Right now, I’m just talking about it easy, but at that time, it was so hard. It was letting go of something that maybe I had secured or that made me feel comfortable or loved at the time. But I did not know yet what God had prepared for my life.

Leslie: I was a young mom with two small children when I was saved. So my lifestyle changed dramatically. God led me to new friendships. I maintained relationships with these non-Christian women who I loved, but I needed some godly women. I was blessed that the Lord just developed friendships with women who knew the Lord and were further down the road than I was.

I had grown up in the church and thought I was a believer, but I was not. And so that also meant changing to a new church because the church I was at, I was not hearing the gospel preached. I didn’t know you could have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I thought it was all about my works. So that was another big change in my life.

So my lifestyle really began to look different. Gradually—a lot of these things didn’t happen overnight. I was going in one direction, and then I turned around and started going a different one.

Erin: Well, if you’re just listening to this podcast and not watching us, when I asked that question initially about what did following Christ cost you, you both kind of shrugged, like, in reality, it’s nothing. No matter what it is that He asked you to do, it’s nothing.

Leslie: Right.

Erin: There’s a Helen Roseveare quote that I love. I won’t get it exactly right, but she says, “I have tried to count the cost but find it swallowed up in the permanence of the privilege.”

There really is no cost to count when all is said and done. Whatever price Jesus asks you to pay, pay it. Whatever it is He asks you to give to Him, give it to Him. Because it’s always a trade up. But there’s no bait and switch. He doesn’t pretend there is no cost. And there was a cost for Rahab, and there’s a cost for us.

But what do we gain?

Paulina: “Whoever wants to follow Me, pick up your cross daily and follow Me.” And that’s suffering. That’s dying to yourself.

Leslie: And, really, we’re the debtors. There’s nothing I can do to pay the cost that it took the blood of Jesus to redeem and to save me. I’m the debtor. Christ paid the cost.

Erin: That’s right. And though it cost her some, Rahab was transformed from a pagan prostitute to a member of the Israelites, in the Promised Land, part of the lineage of Jesus. Talk about a trade up! It is a trade up!

But both pieces of the identity matter. It matters who she was in light of who God transformed her to be. So we don’t erase all of that. It’s part of the story of what God is doing.

Paulina: Yes. And God gets all the glory.

Erin: Yes. God gets all the glory. I really love that!

What Rahab became was brand new. There was no remnants of her former life left. Maybe she could look out over the rubble of Jericho, I don’t know. It tells us in Scripture they burned the city, so maybe she couldn’t. But other than the family she took with her, there were no remnants of her old life left. She was brand new.

Can you read us 2 Corinthians 5:17?

Paulina: Yes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; and look, new things have come.

Erin: New creation! That’s what she is!

Leslie: Hallelujah for that!

Erin: I want to call her “Rahab the new creation.”

Leslie: Yes.

Erin: Can we stop calling her “Rahab the prostitute”? I want to call her “Rahab the new creation.” And I want to call you “Leslie the new creation.” And you, “Paulina the new creation.” And every woman listening, here’s your identity: New creations in Christ. If we are in Christ, we are not who we once were.

Paulina: The old things have passed.

Erin: We may not be yet who we want to be.

Leslie: Or will be.

Erin: And we certainly are not who we will be, but we are not who we once were. We have been given a new identity. And your identity, and my identity, and your identity is the same as Rahab’s—redeemed. Moved from death to life. Taken from the pit. Moved from hopelessness to hopefulness. That’s our identity.

And so, I have a little lump in my throat because this is it. This is the last moment I have to speak to the woman who’s listening. This is our last conversation with her about redemption, and I can’t bear the thought of her walking away without understanding that she is made brand new.

So, let’s reach through the microphone and tell her who she is in Jesus. This is it. Leslie, we’ll start with you. Just reach through that microphone and tell her who she is in Christ.

Leslie: Well, I’ll have to say that before I became a believer, the script of my life was “the good girl.” So I spent, up until my mid-30s, trying to be the good girl, trying to meet other people’s expectations, trying to earn my salvation. Then when I was saved and set free, I no longer had to try to be the good girl because I have a good Savior who lived a perfect life on my behalf. I no longer had to do that.

So I would say to my sister, if you’re in Christ, you no longer have to try to be that good girl. But if you are like me, who was a good girl but didn’t have a true faith in Jesus Christ, a saving faith, then now is the time to turn to Him and be saved. Cry out to Him. Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and you will be saved.

That’s what I would say to the good girl who doesn’t have the relationship with Him.

Erin: And what would you say to the woman listening about her identity in Christ?

Paulina: I know Jesus is the answer to all her doubts, all her worries. If you put your trust in Christ, He promises He will give you life through His name. And you will have a new life. His grace is so big. All your past is gone. It’s important, as we see with Rahab, your past is important to see how great God is.

And all the glory, which is now your new purpose when you put your trust in God, this purpose is to live for Him so that He can be known through your new life, and that people will just glorify God for what He has done in your life.

Erin: And I would just tell you that you are part of the family. There’s so many passages that talk about how He sets the lonely into families, or though your father and mother forsake you, I will never forsake you. You have a place in the family of God, which is my family, and it’s your family. You belong with us. I don’t care if you belong anywhere else. There’s very few places I fit, but I belong in the family of God. And you belong in the family of God with me and with Rahab. And that’s who you are.

Leslie: Praise God!

Paulina: And He is coming back.

Erin: Amen!

Paulina: And we will soon live with Him forever.

Leslie: Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Paulina: Yes.

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About the Speaker

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many …

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