Even SHE

Whether desperately spoken by the defensive, proudly proclaimed by the 'holier-than-everyone' or boldly tattooed somewhere across the assured and secure, we all have been made aware at one time or another that "Only God Can Judge."

And how lucky are we that this is so true?

Though I am one of those people that know this, I am also one of those people that fears the possibility that every wrong thing I do will be stacked up next to the good, and surely outweigh it by the time His judgment cometh.  As good as it feels sometimes to just write things off, and know that only He can judge me, it begins to weigh heavily when mistakes and slips happen.  I want to know what's waiting for me.  Though I'm saved, I will still see His face first.. How, exactly, will He judge me?

Beth Moore has yet to cease to feed my inquisitive nature as, once again, I have reached a story in the Bible that has not only opened my eyes to my own life, but to the lives of us all.  *smile*
It's another long one, but well worth it, in my opinion.

In an age where we are so quick to judge one another, and put people into social classes that we, ourselves, create, we need to review what is really happening and how we are all being watched and recorded.  We need to acknowledge who our audience really is, who we are performing for, and how our "accounts" are "credited and debited" with every breath we take.  We need to entertain the idea that we've had it wrong this whole time, understand that each and every believer is safe in the arms of Love, and though they will be judged someday, they are not yet.. especially not by anyone of flesh and blood.

So without further ado, I introduce to you, Rahab.

Yes, Rahab the prostitute.. or harlot.. or girl gone crazy.. whatever works for you.

Now, if there is one thing I have found that gets people excited about the Bible, it's when something controversial pops up;  especially slavery, murder, homosexuality, and of course, women with their own "vocational challenges" as Beth Moore elegantly described.  People just like to find something wrong with the Bible, period.  It's like an "AHA!" moment with an overzealous fingerpoint, but without much to follow, often times due to a lack of knowledge of what exactly happened in the book.  Granted, there are some pretty heavy stories in the Bible, things that have likely made Jerry Springer google "flux capacitor" a time or two, but these quick references are often made in the heat of the moment, taken out of context, and used with the sole intention of proving something wrong.
Well, the message of the Bible is of Love and Forgiveness, and even in the face of the unspeakable, it reigns true.  In this case, pointing out the life of this harlot, this "evil" woman, has only brought full and undivided attention to one of the greatest displays of love and forgiveness, of devotion and faith bearing much, much fruit, and ultimately succeeding in proving wrong the very negative connotation of "only God can judge."

A quick review of Rahab.
She lived in Jericho, in the Promised Land, and she actually helped the Israelites capture the city!  By Faith, she made an agreement with the two Israelite spies, successfully saved her family and herself, and they were all incorporated among the Jewish people.  The end.
Oh, and yes, she was a harlot.

Now I can't just put "prostitute" and feel good about it.  It is a very modern term and not exactly what was breathed (2Tim 3:16) by God in the story of Rahab in Joshua 2.  The reason I want to clarify this is because of the interesting definition of the original words that "harlot" stems from.

Strong's Concordance-Greek word number 4204 is "povrnh", and is defined as:
  1. a woman who sells her body for sexual uses
    1. a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defilement for the sake of gain
    2. any woman indulging in unlawful sexual intercourse, whether for gain or for lust
  2. metaph. an idolatress
    1. of "Babylon" i.e. Rome, the chief seat of idolatry 

Strong's Concordance-Hebrew word number 2181 is "zanah", and is defined as:

1) to commit fornication, be a harlot, play the harlot
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to be a harlot, act as a harlot, commit fornication
1a2) to commit adultery
1a3) to be a cult prostitute
1a4) to be unfaithful (to God) (fig.)
1b) (Pual) to play the harlot
1c) (Hiphil)
1c1) to cause to commit adultery
1c2) to force into prostitution
1c3) to commit fornication

When I read things like this, I actually hear the Transformers theme song playing in the background:  "... more than meets the eye!"  Here I am reading two very different uses of the words "povrnh" and "zanah."  Now, of course in reference to Rahab, the most obvious definition is what is being used.  But what about the other part?  In both definitions, harlot is used as a metaphor for an idolatress or one who is unfaithful to God.  So harlot can refer to either prostitutes, or a female idolater, or even both, I'm sure.  If we could just pause to define "idolater"...

1. One who worships idols.
2. One who blindly or excessively admires or adores another.

...we can see that many, many many many women, if not ALL women, are currently or have been that kind of a harlot at one time.

Idols are in many forms these days.. cars, money, labels, clothes, jewelry, our own children and husbands, our positions at work, the moon and stars, musicians and actors, even food and drinks.. Basically, anything that we put before Him.  Think about it; the Lord chose that specific word, "povrnh", for a very great reason.  Isn't it possible that He is referring to any woman that outright chooses to worship another means of satisfaction before Him?
In Strong's Greek definition 1b it clearly says that the woman's indulgence can be for gain or for lust, meaning, these two returns for her actions, clearly, satisfy her.  The second part of the definition doesn't even relate to sexual encounters at all, but instead, uses a word that encompasses the other things that satisfy us:  our idols.  Just as Isaiah says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6b), we have all turned from God in one way or many.  If I may creatively conclude; be it that whether we worship physical, spiritual, or even fantasy idols, we all are harlots, in this sense.
To soften this reality.. when you look at the biblical context within which He has used this word, and the comparisons He used between the righteous and these women, we find a fascinating realization;  a reason to feel even more loved by Him, even in this weakness of ours.
He loved them just as much as anyone when they had faith in Him.

I will elaborate;  keeping on the subject of Rahab, first.  In Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 5 verse 8, he tells us that "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In Joshua 2, Rahab was an active harlot.  She was working and living in sin, obviously well aware of the Israelites coming, and so confident that they were going to take the city that she pleaded and bargained for her life and the lives of her family members.  The spies gave her a direction, and she followed it.  She hung a red cord in her window so that as the invasion began, she and her family would be delivered.  As she heard the walls come down, the people dying, the city being destroyed, she clung to the faith represented in that red cord in her window.
And she was saved.
Despite her lifestyle, her choices, her desires and manifestations of them.  Despite the fact that she lied to the King's men, betraying her country.  Despite all of these things, she was delivered, by faith.

The reason this sits so softly with me is because of how her life continued on.  For starters, she was accepted by the Jewish people and treated kindly.  How many prostitutes, current or former, are treated kindly these days?  People are evil in many ways, but some are deemed worse than others, by our manmade rules.  And so, she was labeled a very bad woman and wore that hat and lived in her own shame, amongst sinners of all other kinds.  But after all of this, she was treated kindly.
And she was loved, and married, and bore children.  She became a part of the very bloodline of Jesus, the Great-Great-Grandmother of King David.  Her name was cleared, as seen in Matthew 1:5.  No longer was she referred to as "Rahab the harlot", but as "Rahab the mother of Boaz." 
If you are familiar with the Book of Ruth, you will know that Boaz is who married Ruth after she chose to return to her late husband's homeland with her mother-in-law.  Ruth displayed the ultimate picture of selflessness, compassion, devotion and faith.  Naomi, her mother-in-law, lost both of her sons and Ruth remained committed to her husband and his name through devotion to his mother. (Wow, ladies.. if we could learn a lesson in how to be Great Daughters-In-Law, it is right here!)
Even this is not what fully gets me though.  Rahab was loved first.  She was forgiven first.  Not only by God, but by her husband, Salmon.  She was accepted, made clean and pure, and became a bride.  She was living in the grace of God by His direct favor when He spared her life in Jericho, and also through His love and forgiveness shining through Salmon as he devoted himself to her.  I imagine her faith only grew after that, and so, Salmon's love and appreciation only grew as well.   No wonder they gave life to such an amazing, faithful, caring, devoted, non-judgemental, sensitive, compassionate man-Boaz.
Today, we hear many scholars and experts talk about whether or not "a woman of her character" should have been spared;  but who are we to judge?
Yes, she had a bad streak of decisions, but even SHE was forgiven and loved.

To continue, I move my focus to the citizens of the world who have sinned in ways other than those of Rahab's past title.  I will not say lesser or greater, just other.  In His eyes, we all have sinned;  it doesn't matter what it is.  Sin is sin, and when it happens that we are at a point in our existence where we cannot do things our way any longer and we choose to turn to Him, He delights in this!  One of my favorite parables is that of the one hundred sheep in Matthew 18:12-14
12 What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray?  13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.  14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

It is never his desire to only flock to the obedient and righteous, but to bring the lost sheep home, as well.  When Jesus came He did not spend all of His time in temples with the most holy people, and He did not surround Himself with the Pharisees.  Instead, He reached out to the broken, and made Himself accessible to the lost.  He focused on those in serious need of a miracle.  I believe that even today, though He cries when we use our free will to do unspeakable things, He is still anticipating the moment we throw ourselves at His feet and repent. 

So since we can all accept that at one time or another we have been straight up harlot-ized, then this message clearly applies to us in so many ways.  Jesus said that by believing, we, the broken, battered, idolaters and the weak of faith, can be made new and meet Him in Heaven.  How much more clear does it need to be for us to finally get it?

Our main problem nowadays is that we are immediately put off by someone's faults and we label them with that.  We complain about the speck in someone's eye while a beam sticks out of our own.  We become judgemental Christians.   We forget to understand that He will do the judging on His time.   It's not our job to pick who gets to go to Heaven and who does not.
What a place it would be if we did..
Jesus himself expresses His frustration with our big pride and little faith in Matt 21:31b-32 when He says "I tell you the truth, the publicans and the harlots are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.   For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors (publicans) and the prostitutes (harlots) did.  And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."  This from the Man Himself, people. 

It is not a matter of how good we are, or what we do or do not do.  Obviously if that was so, the tax collectors and prostitutes would have certainly needed to wait their turn, right?   No.  Jesus clearly says that they are flooding the gates of Heaven simply because they believe what John told them.  Period.  And even more disappointing to Him, if we haven't experienced it ourselves, even after we have seen this forgiveness in the lives of others, we still do not believe.   He wants us to see that, where there is faith, there is forgiveness and love.   He can tell us all kinds of stories in the Bible, and prove it in the lives of our friends and family, and yet, we continue to go our own way, judge others, forget our own transgressions and turn away.

When I wonder why we do this, I think about our current relationship with the act of judgement.
I think about the people we are judged by now, and how their "ruling" does not precede eternity, nor does it come with forgiveness.  We care so much about this, and we sometimes base our actions on this;  yet when Jesus asks us to believe Him and try His grace for a change, we hesitate.  We feel so unsure about His abilities that we even take it a step further and begin "helping Him out" by beginning to judge people for Him!  This is not the way we are supposed to relate to the act of judgement.  That is the job of God and God alone.  Our job, our one very difficult job, is to only compare ourselves to Jesus and know that we are all imperfect.  That leaves us all on level playing field, and we "all have sinned and fall short the Glory of God."  (Romans 3:23)
Essentially, there needs to be a conscious effort to be a devoted and true believer.  I've said it before and I'll say it again;  it's the most difficult thing I've ever done.  But with the prize in sight, I continue to run this marathon, avoiding all the stumbles I can and continuing on with many scraped elbows.  Knowing that only He can judge me allows me to feel safe in my mistakes, because by prayer and petition I can come to Him full of Hello Kitty bandaids, totally open about what I've felt or who I've been and know that in doing so, I'm practicing the faith that Glorifies Him.  I know I'll still have to answer to Him when I get to Heaven, for everything I've done on this earth, but that's when I get there.

Only God Can Judge Me.   Amen.
As women we are the influential part of our homes, the one that is often times hit the hardest by temptation and fear, and so, we must grasp this very fundamental truth.  I believe He chose to acknowledge our "harlot" nature with a great purpose;  not to scare us or even berate us through scripture, but rather to show us that even SHE can and will be saved.  I believe He does not want to see us become so afraid of our failures that we do not even try to reconcile with Him.  I've seen Him save many broken down women before me, and I'm still watching Him do it today.  I have learned of Him saving not-so-righteous women in the past, and they have blazed the trail for all of the broken on this earth.   In no way do I defend the sins of myself or others;  they are what they are and will be dealt with by a very sovereign Lord.  Instead, I say that it is not final in our lives that these moments of failure have come into our timeline.  It does not take away from our ability to return to Him.
Maybe a tough truth to swallow?
Well, it still is for me, too.  The one thing I try to run with is Jesus Himself telling us in Matt 21:32 to, if nothing else, believe after seeing it be done to someone else!  Whether it is the story of a widow finding love and favor from a sensitive and forgiving man that came from a harlot, or a lost soul asking Jesus into their heart from a prison cell, there is forgiveness where there is faith. 

So I continue to work hard to live by faith and actively believe God.  I continue to work hard to resist the urge to measure my sins up to others', and judge.  I'll especially continue to work hard to accept who I am, and embrace the harlot in me, leaning heavily on the fact that even SHE, by faith, can and will be Loved and Forgiven.

God's Best..

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  
~Matthew 11:28

Popular posts from this blog

In with the old

a white flag moment

looking back