“Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?”
Rahab stands in stark and remarkable contrast to Abraham because she was a prostitute, but he a patriarch of the Jews.
James adds another illustration to those who lived by dynamic rather than static faith – a whore. Not only did God save her soul, but also He saved her body as well. This example makes the point that dead orthodoxy is not enough for God’s desire – that we live by dynamic faith rather than static faith.
was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works
Rahab believed in God almost 40 years before the spies came to her house (Joshua 2:9-13; 6:22-25). Rahab believed that the Lord of Israel was God when He delivered the Jews from the Egyptians. God saved her soul when she believed that. She believed to the point of risking her life by hiding the spies.
James uses a woman of ill repute to demonstrate the grace of God in her life. She stands in stark contrast to Abraham, the first Jew, and the father of Jews. No class is without hope before God. Rahab stands as a trophy of God’s grace. We find her even in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:5). The transforming power of the gospel completely changed her life.
He 11:31, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
James does not discuss justification by faith in this verse. He is talking about justification by works – vindication by works. We prove our faith by our works. When we act on our faith, our faith grows; when we do not act on our faith, it will atrophy. If we do not actively function on our faith, we live in dead orthodoxy. Living application of the principles of God’s Word is the essence of active orthodoxy. Our production vindicates our faith. We show this most in times of huge tests, as in the case of Rahab.
when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
Rahab’s house was located between the walls of Jericho that surrounded the city. The spies of Israel went to her house to spy on the city. When soldiers came to her house to find the spies, she lied about their presence there. She hid them under stacks of flax on the roof. She could have betrayed the spies, but her faith would not allow her to do so. She willingly risked her life.
Rahab showed her genuine trust in Jehovah by hiding the spies. She showed her faith by this action of hazarding her own life for the spies. The transforming power of the message of Jehovah showed itself in this concrete action.
The words “sent them out” express energetic action. Rahab let the spies out of her house by letting them down the city’s wall by a scarlet cord.
Genuine faith prompts production.
When we willingly put our values on the line, we show our true trust in the Lord. Some people sacrifice their position or career because they love the Lord more than their personal ambitions.
Faith shows itself best in the vortex of values. A belief that demonstrates itself in behavior is active and dynamic trust. There is an openness to lean on God and trust His values over personal values. This is a living faith as over against a dead faith.