There is whole lot of talk about aliens in the media these days. Since the way we treat enemies and foreigners is central to the message of the red rope I thought I should add my musings to the discussion.
Rahab was a foreigner – not an Israelite. She was also a member of an enemy nation – she lived in Jericho which was the next city the Israelites had to defeat in their war to take the land. She was also a sinner – for whatever reason she had got there we are told in Scripture (Joshua 2) that she was a prostitute. She was therefore dangerous to the people of Israel at many levels.
I have written elsewhere how she hung a red cord (which, with hindsight, we know connected her with God’s grace in the Blood of Christ) from her window and this symbol of trusting the promise she had been given was enough for God to decide she must be saved even as everybody and everything else in her city died. After the battle she and her family were still alive. This presented a major problem for the people of God. What to do with her? It was a moral challenge that they failed spectacularly. They put her in a place “outside the camp” – Joshua 6:23.
One of the lesser used tools of Biblical interpretation could be summed up as letting the rest of Scripture show us whether an action in a particular passage is something God likes or something he despises. The people of Israel’s apparently reasonable caution in isolating Rahab is shown to be deeply flawed by the rest of Scripture and by what happens to Rahab, her reputation and bloodline. Roll the clock forward to the first page of the New Testament and there is Rahab (“the prostitute”) in the bloodline of Christ. Even those who know this are less likely to have connected that Boaz was her son (or possibly grandson according to theologians) – Matthew 1:5. He, after many years before marriage, finally meets Ruth, a foreigner, and they are only a couple of generations before King David. So the story of God’s purpose in history is actually biased towards accepting foreigners, not just as an act of compassion but because they are strategically significant and needed. And not just because they “contribute to the economy” but because the heart of redemptive history is built upon their involvement. And not just the “nice” foreigners, but also those who would initially be considered to be enemies, sinners and genuinely dangerous.
So, as the politics of these issues swirls around us at the moment, we cannot be truly Bible based Christians and ignore this bias towards such people. Rahab did not look like it but she actually had something within her that would become in a real way what we now call the blood of Jesus! We need to stop judging in such a shallow, scared, defensive way and ask God show us who people will be. Only then can we call ourselves followers of Jesus.