A woman of ill repute. She lived in a city with fortified walls deemed impenetrable. Her reputation was that of a simple prostitute living near the city walls. Just as she was surrounded by a mighty fortress secluding her people from their enemies, so was she fortified in her people's evil influence and depravity. Her gods consisted of a variety of false deities. She lived in a land where lying with prostitutes seemed to be the least of the depth of their depravity. It was not unusual to see children thrown in burning altars.
Rahab the prostitute. That's how she's referred to in the few instances she's mentioned in the Bible. Although references to her are few, Rahab gives us a glimpse into the struggle between faith and feelings.
You see, it's not uncommon for us church folk to have faith in God as it concerns our eternal destination yet fail to exercise daily faith in our walk with God. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." The Bible also says in Romans that whatever is not of faith is sin. It makes sense that something so crucial to our relationship with God would be practiced more radically.
We seem to grow accustomed to relying on feelings as the determining factor in our walk with God. In moving forward with life decisions, we trust on feelings of "peace" or feeling "good" about a decision being God's will. We approach worship services believing God was in "our midst" by what we felt. We approach trials and adversities demanding from God that we feel joy and happiness in the trials. We give of our time and treasure as it feels best. "I don't feel peace about giving that amount."
Sure, we can have faith in God for our eternal destination, to save us from our sin sickness. And if we're extra spiritual, we may have faith in him when we go through trials. But do we live by faith daily? Are we walking by faith?
Enter Rahab. A woman who by our accounts would be the last person to be commended for faith. Living knee deep in depravity, she is approached in her house not with men seeking her services but spies who are seeking to spy the land they intend to conquer. The land is theirs, it's a done deal. God already promised the people through Joshua. What could Rahab been feeling? "Who are these men?" Given her profession of choice, men staying in her house would be the norm. Maybe she thought they were new clienteles. However, the king of her city Jericho comes to her himself demanding that she tell the whereabouts of these men. The people know why they are here. Oh, they surely do live a city with walls that humanly possible can't be conquered. But they've heard some stuff about these people. She tells these spies that they've heard about them. She says they are afraid of them, using strong words such as, "our hearts melted." There's fear. There's a disposition of uncertainty. She's relatively certain that her people will be overtaken, but uncertain about what that means for her and her family. She had only heard of the God of these spies. She hadn't seen with her own senses what this God is capable of doing.
Rahab was in a dire situation. Trust these two unknown spies to conquer the heavily guarded city, or trust in her king, her people, her lifestyle. Who would she choose to trust in this situation. She chooses faith in the Most High God. Regardless of her circumstances, despite the logic, no matter what she felt about her family, her people, her safety, her fears, she put her faith in the one true God. She viewed her circumstances not by her senses but by faith. She determines to hide these spies, profess that she believes that their God is real and that they will overtake the land, and pleads with these men to remember her and her family and guarantee them safety.
How did she get this faith? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Rahab had heard what God had done. She was assured that the God of Israel would prevail and overtake the land. Her feelings didn't author her faith, God did. Her feelings couldn't deter her expression of faith. Feelings didn't perfect her faith, causing it to grow, God did. What she felt didn't seem to matter in light of choosing to exercise faith in this unknown God she had only heard about.
The same truth in Rahab's day is the same truth for us. At the end of the day, no matter how spiraling our feelings are, we can trust that God's Word is more reliable than anything I feel, anything I experience, any trial or adversity you face.
Does your joy come from feelings or from faith? Does your peace come from feelings or faith? When faced with decisions, do you rely on feelings to decide or faith in God who is Faithful and True.
When your heart says, "Lord, I don't feel loved," The lover of your soul responds, "Nothing can separate you from the love I have for you." When in your despondency you say, "Lord, I feel alone," our great Emmanuel reminds us that He would never leave us nor forsake us, and that He is near the brokenhearted. When we are faced with tough decisions, whether to take that job or go to that school or marry that man, and we ask God which way to go, the Wonderful Counselor reminds us to trust in Him and lean not on our understanding, acknowledging Him in all our ways and He will make our paths straight. He tells us to delight in Him and He will give the desires of our heart. When the burdens of bosses or pressures by teachers weigh us down, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords gently tells us that the King's heart is in His hand, and He directs it wherever He pleases, and He is surely sovereign of your boss's heart.
You see, feelings come from God. Yet God did not intend us to live by feelings. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." The word "substance" denotes that which stands under. It is based on who God is. We can stand under who God is and what He promises.