Because you are human, I know you have things from your past you wish you could forget. Some are rather "innocent" (like that bad hairstyle you had in middle school).
But other memories are far more damaging. Some of these painful moments are from your own choices, while others were thrust upon you. Yet no matter how these moments came to be, for many of us, they feel like they define us at times.
We are in a series here on the blog called The Grandmas of Jesus where we are looking at one of the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1. This week, we get to meet Rahab, mentioned in verse 5.
If you are familiar with stories from the Old Testament, you are most likely aware of the profession by which Rahab was known. But if you aren't familiar with this week's protagonist, Joshua 2 tells us Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho.
Jericho was a Canaanite city near the Jordan River, where the Israelite people crossed over into the Promised Land. The Canaanite people, who occupied the land, were very sexually minded. So it is quite possible the Canaanites didn't think anything of Rahab's profession, or she may have even been forced into the business when she was younger.
But for the incoming Israelites, it wouldn't matter if she chose this career as a sex worker or if she had been forced into sex slavery: Rahab's nightly activities would have been taboo.
You see, while the Israelite people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before their crossing into the territory containing Jericho, God gave them the Law through Moses. The Law specifically forbade prostitution. So Rahab would have been the type of woman good Israelites would have avoided.
Yet, when two spies sent by Joshua ended up at Rahab's house, she sought to help these two men, even though they were from a tribe who would have turned their noses up at her. Because of her faith that Jehovah God would conquer her city, she sought to aid and protect the spies, asking to be aided and protected in return when they invaded.
If you read Joshua 6, you see God knock over the walls of the city and the Israelites defeat the soldiers of Jericho. But down in verse 25, you see Rahab not only spared, but become part of the Israelites. In fact, she leaves her career, marries an Israelite with a very fishy name (Salmon!), and becomes the mother of Boaz... who marries our next "Grandma of Jesus."
Rahab didn't allow her past or the discriminatory views of the Israelites to keep her from doing what she felt was right. She knew there was a God who was going to hand her city over to the Israelites, and so she trusted this God would take care of her, regardless of her past career (which violated the Mosaic Law).
Likewise, God does not define you by your past: not your successes, nor your failures, nor even the sins committed against you. You are forgiven and freed through Jesus's work on the cross. He defines you not on your historical mistakes, but on Jesus' historical sacrifice.
So this Advent, may you discover your identity in the work of Jesus rather than the painful moments of your past.
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