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when we find some opening of doors for the admission of Himself and the purpose of His grace in very unlikely quarters. When His dear Son came into the world, it was said about Him in the same mock Pharisaic tone, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Well, I say, if He was to get bite and sup, to eat and drink in this world at all, where was He to go if not to sinners' houses, seeing that, from His point of view, He came to a sinful world ? I think that there is a little too much gingerliness and a little too much of feeling that, when we come to a story like this, we are skating over thin ice, and we must be very fleet indeed or we shall go through. I think that it is out of that feeling that commentators, with the best intentions, have tried to make out that Rahab did not deserve the bad name. I do not see what is to be gained by that. I am rather the other way. I am glad to find a story like this. The more I get to find out what is in my own heart, and, if you will allow me, the more I get to find out what is in yours, the more glad I am to find that this God of ours, glorious in holiness though He be, does not pull in His skirts and keep Himself apart from sinners. He is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens," and yet He loves a harlot, and saves her, and makes her a messenger of His grace and an ancestress of His blessed Son. “Indeed, from the days of Jerome it has been noticed that the four women mentioned in that genealogy are heathens or persons of bad character, or both in one."
It is not too strong to put it that Rahab's blood was in
Christ's veins as a man. Now, again I say, I wonder if we know our Saviour. It is not too strong to put it so.
Read the record, read the genealogy, and you will find that Christ was born of a race of people some of whom I am not sure that you would have shaken hands with, before you knew that Christ came of their stock. Oh, then we would run and we would forget all about their badness, and shake hands with them, and be delighted to see them. Let us remember that when we go out and when we go into this wicked London. Take care. Do not just dub people with bad names and pull in your skirts. They may be in heaven before you—very likely. They need a great deal of God's long-suffering, and you need and I need just the same.
I have often said it, and I repeat it: I am not sure if we know this God of ours yet. If we do, why should it be tried, as some try, to make out that the word is wrongly translated, and Rahab was only an innocent innkeeper? I do feel that that savours of the Pharisee. It belongs to the same spirit as that which has prevailed among those excellent and gracious men, the Revisers of the New Testament, who have put a railing round yon wonderful story in the New Testament (John viii.) as to Christ's manner of dealing with women like this. They have put brackets round about it, and lifted it, as it were, and set it apart, just as you will see in the country a railing round about the open shaft of a disused pit, to keep you from falling in. That is a little more, I think, of the Pharisee, and of a want of understanding what the world is from God's point of view, and that, when God comes near to the world, even to the decent end of the world where you and I live, He comes near to as big sinners as there are going, and needs to come as a God who pardons iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and flings our iniquities behind our backs and says nothing about them, except “They are forgiven: sin no more.”
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 two 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.” Critics, especially unbelieving, stand round this, and start, and say, “ Now, we have got you. Now, there is a Bible narrative. What have you to say about that?'
Ah! it is very easy "saying about that." It was just a black lie. That is what it was. I am not going to defend that. The Bible does not ask me to defend that. I grant that it served God's purpose, but God Himself remains free from every taint. Why should not the devil be a little too clever? And seeing
that Rahab had been bad in his service, why should not, occasionally, just the very same thing be used for the destruction of his kingdom that so often and often goes as far as it can in the building of it up and its perpetuation ? It was not true. It was all wrong; and I am not here to twist it or to whitewash it. No amount of whitewash will whitewash a lie. The black will shine through all the white, do as you may, and you had better lay down your brush and your pot, and simply say that the thing cannot be done. There is not a glint in this chapter that the Lord wants me, in expounding it, to make out that in some subtle or mysterious way this was true. It was not. It is all wrong.
Paint the thing as bad and as black as you may, and go right through the narrative, and you will find, if we keep clear of prejudice, and if we keep clear of the Pharisee, that the whole story redounds to the praise and the glory of the God of grace, and humbles us in the dust.
And yet, mind you, in one sense it was clever, and I want to say that broadly, too. Yes, this was very clever. This woman, as I sometimes put it, was worth the saying. As to some of the clever sinners, I often feel that the devil has driven them such lengths just because they were cleverjust because there was some ability about them because there was something outstanding about them. They never could be tame, and colourless, and neutral-never; and so the devil caught them and made them notorious in his service. But the Lord does not like that the devil should have a monopoly of all the clever people, and He comes occasionally and saves a bad rascal who is clever—"a clever devil,” if I may so put it—whether man or woman, and He takes such over to His side and uses them for His own behalf. Why should He not? When I read the story, I feel inclined to forget for a moment the woman's bad character, and forget for a moment the twist that is in it, and just simply look at it from the point of view of “patriotism." I do not think that The Times would have objected to that woman. I think that The Times would have made that woman a special correspondent in some parts. I think so. She could have dressed up a story beautifully for partisan purposes. How she fooled the men ! How serious she looked, as if she was the most virtuous woman in the land—as if she were taking them at their word, and expected that from her very appearance and the sincerity of her tone they would take her at her word. Yes, the men were here, and just at the gloaming, just on the darkening, they went away—I do not know where. But go after them. They are just a little bit before you. Push on and you will overtake them.” And the men were completely beguiled by her obvious sincerity and the plausibleness of her story. I fancy that they thanked her. Off they went, and Rahab laughed in her sleeve, and went up to the top of the house to tell the spies what she had done.