Although Irving Berlin penned the 1942 song “White Christmas” two decades before I was born, it’s still alive and well and topping the charts of Christmas albums across the world 75 years later. That’s an amazing run! Not as amazing as Amazing Grace, but none the less, who wouldn’t want that kind of history for their music? I still prefer those crooning sounds of singers like Bing Crosby that draw you so far into their song you can almost catch a drifting snowflake on your tongue. But as I painted my Silkie Chicken version of “White Christmas” yesterday while feeling in the holiday spirit of 2017, it drew me back to the white Christmas of 1400 B.C.
What? How was there Christmas, before Christ was born? There was actually Christmas in the book of Genesis and throughout the Old and New Testaments, but this morning my Christmas story came from the book of Joshua, with the key character being a Harlot named Rahab. Needless to say, this ain’t your 1940’s Bing Crosby version of the story.
We find this version in Joshua (Chapter 2), when Joshua sent out two men to go and spy on the land of Jericho. The two men went into a harlot’s house named Rahab to lodge because it was a “hotel” of the day, and likely because it probably wasn’t uncommon for many men to travel in and out of that house unsuspected, but Rahab knew who they were and that God’s hand was upon the children of Israel. Rahab wasn’t a brainless woman of ill repute, she was a woman quite aware of the political and biblical events of the day. Harlotry may have been her business, but her family was the affair she was most concerned about.
Hidden by the Harlot
Joshua 2:1-6 ~ And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
It wasn’t just happenstance that the two spies ended up in the home of a harlot. God’s decides from a vantage point higher than ours, who it is that gets a role in the Christmas program. We want the ones of good reputation, the pretty people. God instead chooses a harlot by the name of Rahab because He knew her heart was ready for rehab.
Hallowed by the Harlot
Verses 7-11 ~ And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Rahab reverenced God and His people. She acknowledge that there was power in the God they served and that she and her people had a healthy fear of Him.
It’s unfortunate today that there are many people who don’t fear our God because His people aren’t allowing anyone to see their deliverance. Rahab had seen how God had delivered His people. She’d heard the talk around the neighborhood about the great things God had done and it scared her to death! She knew that her people had nothing that could win against a God so mighty. When is the last time you heard people sharing about the deliverance of God with the community, even though we in the church know it happens. We’ve seen God tear down walls in families and restore relationships, we’ve seen Him wipe out disease and heal our sick, and we’ve seen Him fight and win battles where it would appear all was lost, but God brought the victory. But nobody’s talking about that…
Rahab reverenced God and His people because they were the topic of conversation everywhere!
Heaven Hears the Harlot
Vs. 12-18 ~ Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.
God knew the heart of Rahab before the story ever started. He knew that she was ready to leave the lifestyle she was in and be converted.
So what does all that have to do with a White Christmas?
The red cord that hung from the window of the harlot’s house, that crimson colored rope, signaled her redemption. She and her family would be saved so long as they stayed within the walls covered by the red cord. Another symbolic red covering was that of the children of Israel when the blood over the door signaled the death angel to pass and their family spared the loss of the first born. All of which lead to the final application of the red, covering the sins of the harlot hearts of the world when Christ’s blood was shed on Calvary. That baby we celebrate this Christmas that washed us all as white as snow.
Rahab and all those close to her were saved because of the red cord, and I’m hanging onto that hope that I and all those close to me will be saved when that final day of judgement comes. But like Rahab, I have to be vigilant about opportunities to be used by God.