Formations 12.04.2022: I Pledge Allegiance…

The ancient city of Jericho as it appears today

Matt 1:5; Josh 2:1-9, 12-13, 17-18, 21

Have you ever considered what Rahab’s neighbors thought about her?

I’m not talking about her profession. There are plenty of possible scenarios in the ancient world in which prostitution is looked upon as not much different from any other trade. I don’t know enough about ancient Canaanite culture to offer an opinion here.

What I’m talking about is how Rahab’s neighbors looked at her when they discovered that she had given aid and comfort to the Israelite spies. These were, after all, the enemies of Jericho. What was she doing welcoming them into her inn, hiding them from the town guard, and providing them a way to escape Jericho and return to their camp with information that would help them conquer the city?

For that matter, how did Rahab herself feel about her act of betrayal? I’m sure her heart pounded as she hastily secreted the spies away and then bargained with them for protection when her city inevitably fell.

Rahab’s story in Joshua 2 casts her as a hero. From the Israelite point of view, that is exactly what she is. But maybe we should step back and ponder the inner conflict she must have faced.

What is it like to have to choose between doing what is right and doing what my family, my community, or even my nation expects of me? What is it like to finally grasp that God demands my highest loyalty—no matter what others say or think about it?

All of us feel the tug of competing loyalties. Followers of Jesus may understand that our highest loyalty must always be to God, but let’s also confess that we still sometimes tremble at the thought of disregarding lesser loyalties: our parents, our church, our nation. Living as if God alone is King can look and feel like betrayal of everything and everyone else. It certainly feels that way to others, but it can also feel like that to us.

The women in Jesus’s genealogy were all different, but there are certain common features in all their stories. One of those features is that, in the moment of truth, all of them seem to have found the courage to side with the God of truth and justice, even when doing so made things more difficult for them.

As we await the coming of the Savior, may we find it in ourselves to do the same.


• Were Rahab’s actions motivated more by faith or self-preservation? Explain.
• When has the desire to be faithful to God caused you a moral dilemma?
• When has it damaged a relationship?
• How has religious rhetoric about family or patriotism blurred the message that God alone is supreme?
• How can we create communities where people seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


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