Advent Devotion 2: This second week of Advent we look to Rehab.

Advent Devotion 2: This second week of Advent we look to Rehab.

Pastor’s note: this Advent, I am asking you to consider some of Jesus’ distant relatives, and what they might tell us about him, teach us about our own faith, and change about our daily practice. 


This second week of Advent we look to Rehab.  Please begin by reading Joshua 2:1-22 and Joshua 6:24-25

The Israelites had escaped from slavery in Egypt, but didn’t arrive in the Promise Land right away. Instead, they took a long and winding road – for a whole generation – before arriving at the edge of the Promised Land, on the far bank of the Jordan River. 

Before they crossed into Canaan, the people’s leader, Moses, appointed his successor, a young and faithful soldier named Joshua. Joshua selected a small squad of spies to enter the land of Canaan and scout the lay of the land. The story of the spies, and the faithful courage of a few, as opposed to the doubt and fear of the majority is an epic story in the history of the Jewish people and for our faith. 

Two of those spies in their reconnaissance stayed at Rahab’s home in the wall of the city. That’s the story we read today.

From the moment those spies step into her life, Rahab finds herself on a new path. The Israelites represent trouble and destruction to her – or at least to her Canaanite people and her city of Jericho. The Israelites do not share the Canaanites’ religious or moral convictions. And in the biblical narrative, they don’t really mean to live peacefully alongside of the Canaanites. Instead, the Israelites mean to conquer Canaan. 

Had Rahab been discovered harboring the Israelite spies, she would have been seen as treasonous and put to death. She could have avoided them or even turned them in to the authorities. 

But Rehab gives them hospitality and protection instead; she gets involved with them to do her part to accomplish God’s mission. In return, when the city falls, only Rahab and her family are spared.

Think about this, Rehab, before the spies showed up needing her help, was a prostitute whose home was part of the wall of the city. Her position on the edge of the city is probably symbolic – how do you think she was seen by her neighbors? How do you think she saw herself before God? 

You may be wondering why this story matters to the genealogy of Jesus. Rahab is not an Israelite, after all. In Matthew 1, the gospel writer identifies Rahab as the mother of Boaz, the landowner who marries Ruth, whose story you’ll read next week. Rahab enters the biblical narrative as an outsider. She becomes an ancestor of Jesus. 

Rehab doesn’t live the unrecognized life of just another inhabitant in Jericho or the unseen life of an undocumented person in Israel any more than she had shied away from a courageous stance in her native Canaan (actually the same territory under different regimes!). Instead, she becomes an active agent in her own life and in the story of human salvation. The part she plays begins with an act of hospitality and bravery given to the spies doing God’s work.


REFLECT  : What unexpected alliances or acts of courage in your life can lead you deeper into God’s story?

PRAY: God, when you send a visitor, help me open the door. Help me show kindness to people who are unknown, different, or even feel risky to me. Help me to see how loving the stranger and our enemy can change the course of our future. Amen. 

FIND: We are invited to create “Jesse Trees” during Advent this year. They will be hung or decorated with memorials to the people in Jesus’ family tree and to the kinds of lessons they teach us. 

People participating in the Midweek Service and people reflecting on these Advent Devotions are both invited to “deck” a Jesse Tree for Advent. You can use an old table top Christmas tree, a bare branch, or even a coat hanger. Michael is just going to use the Rubber Tree and the Madagascar Dragon Plant in the temporary office window.  

Find something that you use to welcome others (perhaps even enemies?).  Examples include candles you light at the dinner table when there are guests, a certain pan you use for baking a specialty dish, your good towels, or even the cleaning supplies you use to prepare your home. Place your item near your Jesse tree (you might also consider taking a picture that you could just hang on the tree!).