From the Wall of Shame to the Hall of Fame

Bible Book: Joshua  2 : 1-7
Subject: Salvation; Grace; Rahab; Jericho
Introduction

Maybe you heard about the man who was hired to go and take a census in the hills of east Tennessee. He knocked, and a teen age girl came to the door. The interviewer asked, "Is your mom home?" She said, "She ran off with a moonshiner." The man continued, "Is your father home?" “Nah," she replied, "He pokes his head in once a month to take a bath." The frustrated guy said, "How about an older sister?" She said, "Nope, she's in jail for shooting at a sheriff." The guy said, "Is your older brother home?" She said, "Nah, he's at Harvard." The astonished census taker gasped and said, "Harvard? What's he studying?" The girl said, "He ain’t studying nothing, they're studying' him!"

Today we are going to study a person from the Old Testament that has something to do with the birth of Jesus. One of the great blessings in Bible study is looking into the lives of some of the most interesting people this world has ever known. One such person is a woman named Rahab. In considering the birth of Christ, we discover his genealogy recorded in Matthew, and in chapter 1, verse 5, we find the name Rahab. As we look at her name in this elevated place, we need to discover where she came from and how she got into the family line of the Savior. We are going to see that she went from the wall of shame to the hall of fame. This is a message of hope to everyone, everywhere and in every circumstance. Anyone who has never experienced what Rahab experienced, can do so today!

Man was made for fellowship with God. As a tree was made for the soil, a fish for the sea and a bird for the air, mankind was made to find life in His creator. Sin removes man from fellowship with God. Like plucking a tree up by its roots, like throwing a fish upon dry ground, like casting a bird beneath the water, sin brings death - spiritual death - to people. Ephesians 2:1 is written to Christians. It says, “You were once dead in trespasses and sins…” Sin brings death. “For the wages of sin is death”… (Romans 6:23a).

For man to be put back into right relationship to God a radical work was needed; in fact, a miracle was needed. No mere amount of good deeds could appease God or change man’s nature. To be quite honest, a dead man can’t do good deeds. That’s why the Bible says, “Even our righteousness’ are as filthy rags.” When we are without salvation even our good works could do nothing to make us right with God. A person separated from God does not need reformation, he must experience transformation. He does not need a change of mind, he needs a change of heart. He needs something done for him that he cannot do for himself. He does not need to turn over a new leaf, he needs a new life. For this reason, some of the greatest stories in the Bible involve the testimony of people who had a life-changing experience through the awesome power of God. The story of Abraham’s call, Ruth’s conversion, the Disciples Commission, The Ethiopian’s Confession, etc., thrill the Christian reader.

Today we look at just such a story, a story amazing grace! You will recall that the last message in this series left us with Joshua and the people of God poised on the eastern side of the Jordan waiting for God’s order to go over into Canaan. Their first stop was going to be a city named Jericho. Jericho was a great city surrounded by a tremendous wall. The wall was so thick that mounted riders could ride three or four abreast around the top of it. People actually had their homes in the wall. One such family that lived in the wall of Jericho was the family of a woman named Rahab. It is the story of her amazing conversion that grips our attention today. I want you to see three important things today about the subject, When God Changes A Life.

I. She was Deformed

Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho. Her life was a sordid and ungodly one. I want you to notice that there are actually two types of lost people.

A. The Down and Out

We might consider Rahab the first type. The down and out person is someone who is living in the dregs of society. A good example in modern time is that of a man named Mel Trotter. Mel Trotter was an alcoholic by the time he was 19 years old. He had a son that died and after that Mel abandoned his wife. He sunk deeper and deeper into his life of alcohol.

One night Mel Trotter was on the cold city street during a blizzard when he heard music and felt the warmth of a gospel mission. He slipped inside to warm himself but while he was there God began to work on his heart. He was strangely drawn to the altar and there he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He became a child of God by grace.

Mel trotter became a preacher in the inner city and led countless men and women to Jesus. He led mission work to those who had fallen into sin the same way he fallen prior to his conversion. In fact, at one point Mel Trotter led the largest city mission in the United States. He had gone from a drunk who sold his own shoes for a drink of whiskey, to leading a ministry to thousands who needed God’s help. I once heard a recording of his voice and I wept at the compassion he had for the lost. He had been delivered from the pit of hell and he knew it. And he knew that the Lord could do the same for others.

We might consider Rahab such a woman. She was deformed by her society and by her character. She was a prostitute in Jericho.

B. The Up and Out

A second type of lost person is the up and out person. The up and out person is someone who seems to have everything but Jesus. This type of person is often highly educated, financially doing well and considers himself or herself above the need for God. A good example of this type person whom the Lord saved is Charles Colson. In his book Born Again, Colson tells about his experience of coming to know the Lord. Colson was in the Nixon White House of the early 1970s. He tells in his book what a rush of pride, arrogance and power swept over him when as a mere 30 year old he rode down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington in the Presidential limousine. The flags of the president and the country blew in the wind of the front bumper as they drove along. He sat in the car beside the seat of the most powerful man on earth. But friends, he was lost. He was up in society but he was out with God. He had never been born again.

Colson tells in his book how everything came tumbling down with the Watergate fiasco. He was indicted. Gloriously, however, he was saved - thus, the title of his book, Born Again.

You see, it doesn’t matter whether you are in a Fifth Avenue Penthouse, or a bum on the street, if you are lost you are headed toward an eternity without God. In fact, I am not so sure that Rahab might have been considered a person in the upper crust in her day. Why, you ask? Because, in the Ammonite religion, the temple prostitutes were highly paid and looked up to as religiously superior. Whether she was seen in her day as down and out or up and in, she was really lost and condemned. Joshua and his army were days from marching around the city. She was lost and the judgment was coming - the walls of her city were going to collapse on top of her. Friend, understand something today, without Jesus you are lost and unprepared to meet God. Sin has deformed us. Every person God changes has to turn from their deformed life of sin to trust Him and Lord and Savior. That is exactly what Rahab did. Let’s see how it transpired.

II. She was Informed

For the deformed person to come to salvation, that person must hear - must be informed about the salvation of the Lord. Mel Trotter heard that message in a gospel mission. Charles Colson heard it from a friend. How did Rahab come to know about the Lord’s salvation?

A. She was Convicted by Works of God

She heard about the things God had done for His people. People need to know what the Lord is doing before they will believe that they need Him or that He is able to make a difference in their lives. We must publish the good things of the Lord. "Go Tell It On The Mountain, Over The Hills And Everywhere!" Indeed, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."

B. She was Convicted by the Witnesses of God

But she needed more than just second hand accounts, she needed a personal testimony. The two spies gave her that testimony. The Holy Spirit searched the city of Jericho and saw a heart upon which He could work. He will do the same in every heart that will be tender toward God! God led the spies to the woman who was ready to hear the Gospel of God! All over Lilburn, and Atlanta, the Spirit is at work. We must be ready to share the Gospel with the lost. Look at the Ethiopian eunuch who was lost. Look at Cornelius. God sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, Peter to Cornelius, and Jesus to the woman at the well at Sychar. God is not only convicting the lost, He is looking for some Christians who are so sensitive to His Spirit that they are willing to share with those who are convicted. She had seen the work of God in the lives of His people and she was convinced. Many are unsaved today because we are not so walking in the Spirit that supernatural, divine things are happening in our lives.

C. She was Convicted by the Word of God

What she received was the Word of God. In James 2 these two men are called messengers. They were spokesmen of Almighty God. They were speaking God’s message. Real faith is taking God at His Word. Faith is your response to the Word of God. You don’t have faith in faith, you have faith in God and what God says!

III. She was Transformed

In James 2 we are told that Rahab was justified. She was gloriously transformed because of her faith in God and the action which her faith produced. I want you to see what happens to a life that God changes.

A. The Present Danger was Alleviated

Judgment was merely days ahead for Jericho. Everyone living in the wall of Jericho were going to die - everyone except this one woman and those to whom she witnessed. She missed death and hell by a mere span of days. You do not know how near you may be to the judgment, but the moment you come to Jesus all the fear of that day is alleviated!

Let me tell you what was great about her salvation, it was an eternal redemption. It was not just to get her off that wall that was about to fall, it was to get her out of her sin, into the kingdom, and secure her a home in heaven.

I love the story about the man who went to the barber to get a shave. It seems the barber’s wife, Grace, was working in his place. She shaved the man and charged him $100.00. He started to complain about the price but decided against it. The next day he noticed that he did not need to shave again. Then the next day he also did not need a shave. This went on for two weeks. He went back to the barber shop and told the barber the amazing story. The barber said, “Oh, that was Grace who shaved you. Don’t you know that when you’ve been shaved by Grace, it is once shaved always shaved!”

Well, hallelujah, though a shave may not last forever, the price Jesus paid for your sins does last forever! She had an eternal redemption.

B. The Past Deeds were Eliminated

Her sins were gone! She was forgiven, not because she had turned over a new leaf, but because she had accepted God’s plan for her life. She had trusted what God said, what God did, and what God promised to do specifically for her. She was as clean as the white, driven snow!

C. The Positive Direction was Inaugurated

Her life was turned around. Suddenly she became a blessing.

1. A blessing to those of faith

She blessed the people of God, the spies, the entire camp of Israel.

2. A blessing to those in your family

She blessed her family, for they too were saved.

3. A blessing to those who follow

She blessed those who followed. She is an ancestor to Jesus. Look in Matthew 1:5. She was in the family line of Boaz, Ruth, and was the great-great-grandmother of King David. You see, while Jericho was headed toward Judgment, she was on her way to a wedding. She married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz! Friend, would you rather be headed for, a wedding with Lamb of God in heaven, or a judgment when the walls on which you stand collapse?

Rahab was religious but she was lost. She had a false religion that had no chance of offering her eternal life, but when she placed her faith in the Lord, she received something that time cannot steal. Religion will not save you, but a relationship with the Savior will. In fact, in the great roll call of faith in Hebrews, you will find the name of Rahab. Do you realize that she got off the wall of shame and into the hall of fame!?! Yes, that is what God will do for anyone who will trust Him! She could sing with the songwriter:

“I once was an outcast

Stranger on earth

A sinner by choice

And an alien by birth

But I’ve been adopted

My name’s written down

I’m an heir to a mansion

A Robe and a Crown

I’m a Child of the King” (Lyrics by Harriett E. Buell)

Conclusion

One of the great stories from the history of California involves a aged silver miner who died. He spent all his life searching for silver in the mountains of the Old West. He had become so obsessed with his search that his wife and children had left him. When he died the handful of people who came to bury him found in his possessions a note instructing them to bury him under his cabin. As the earth was overturned a lustrous gray material began to appear. It became known as the largest silver vein in California history. The miner had been a millionaire all his life, but he had never been able to claim his wealth.

Someone here today has been searching for the meaning of life. Well, it is right under you nose. You will find it in Jesus. Rahab found it. Mel Trotter found it. Charles Colson found it. So can you. Just come to Him today by faith - believe and be saved.