Thursday, October 10, 2013
How often do you stereo-type someone? I can tell you as being a young woman starting out in my field of insurance fraud investigations, I was stereotyped – A LOT. It used to grind on my nerves when some body shop owner would talk down to me, call me “honey, “ “sugar,” or “sweetie.” By the time I was through with them they had realized their mistake in underestimating me, and that I was definitely NOT their “honey,” “sugar,” or “sweetie.” I wonder if Rahab was underestimated because of her profession. People saw her and immediately say, “Rahab, the prostitute.” They didn’t see a wise, discerning woman. They didn’t see a woman of courage and faith. They focused on the negative.
Do you judge someone you see pan-handling? What do you think when you see someone whose arms are covered with tattoos? Do you make assumptions about the kid with pink hair? The body is a package that contains a soul, a soul that God created and loves. Did God want Rahab prostituting herself? No. Does God want us having sex outside of marriage? No—He literally spells it out in His Word. But as for us as humans, we should really get to know a person. Rahab was smart, wise, discerning. She was intuitive and took care of her own.
Here’s something else about Rahab. She and her family went on to live outside the camp of Israel. She stayed with the Israelites. She believed in Yahweh, and Yahweh blessed her. Rahab got married and settled down, and she had a baby, a baby boy that would grow up to be one of my most favorite men in the Bible. Rahab married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz. (Matthew 1:2). If you don’t know who Boaz is, he is the kinsman redeemer of Ruth in the book of Ruth. Rahab is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. She was one of Jesus’ great grands. And in Hebrews chapter 11 where it talks about heroes of the faith, Rahab is mentioned in verse 31. James 2 notes how Rahab took action in her faith.
Tears well up in my eyes as I think about Rahab. What a great story! Her life took so many twists and turns, but when she believed in Yahweh and acted in faith on her belief, the best twist, the best turn in her life was made. You might as well slip a glass slipper on her foot. From prostitute to great – grand of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God can redeem you no matter where you are in life. God can take the mixed up, sick world you find yourself stuck in and make something beautiful from the ashes of your life. He can make something of value of your life. God is giving you the opportunity to act in faith and believe in Him. Confess to Him that He is Lord and ask Him to forgive you and save you. He is so faithful. Then as you grow in Christ, as you learn to follow Him and make the right choices, God will bless you. It won’t be easy, but it is so worth it.
There are many women and children in the sex industry around the world. If you’ve never walked in their shoes or sandals, if you’ve never gotten to know them, then you are not to judge. What you should be doing is praying for them and finding ways to get involved if this burdens your heart. A friend of mine volunteers in Thailand at RahabMinistries.com. This ministry is set up in the middle of the sex industry in this town in Thailand. They rescue women and teach them to make jewelry which is sold online. If you are in NW Louisiana, I recommend you contact Cassie at the HUB Urban Ministries at 318-200-0517 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cassie has a ministry called Purchased that ministers to women in the sex industry.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I told the men I knew that their Lord, their Yahweh had given them this land. Otherwise, people in the city would not be in such a panic. People running around like a chicken with their head cut off. I really had never seen it at this level before, almost frenzied. I had heard the stories about these Israelite people walking on dry land through the Red Sea and about how they destroyed other kings. I knew these things by listening to the men who came into my home and from people in the market place. Some people were skeptical about the walking through the Red Sea on dry land, but I wasn’t. How amazing would that have been! I wonder if that’s how God is going to get this group of people across the Jordan. I mean if He did it once, He can do it again, right?
I wanted to make sure that my family would be preserved and safe when the time came for them to conquer my city. So I asked them to swear to me by their God that they would spare our lives. “A life for a life.” I promised to keep their secret, their mission under wraps and to preserve their lives, and they would save my family’s lives. I couldn’t ask for more.
It is so scary but also so exciting. I lower the spies outside my window outside the city wall. It’s the same crimson cord I’m to hang in my window to signal the attacking army that my family is to remain unharmed. I told them to head to the hills for three days until the searchers returned to the city, and the spies headed in that direction. I knew I had at least three days before anything would happen. What would I do in those three days that I’m waiting for the inevitable to happen?
None of us wander far from home. We secure what we can to get us through the battle. We draw extra water and store inside the house. We keep the animals close by because at the first sign of attack we are bringing them in the house. I have boards to cover the windows. Grain that has been milled and some that needs to be milled. There were times that my family just sat in the quiet and the dark. I did not entertain any guest or have any company. The door was bolted anytime someone left or re-entered. I can’t help myself. I have to do something. I start sweeping and cleaning. All of my family is with me just waiting. Tick tock. Tick tock. The hours just slowly go by. One of my family members has chewed her fingernails down to the quick. We’re all just waiting. I AM NOT GOOD AT WAITING, and then word comes that the Israelites are on the move. I run to the window to make sure the crimson cord is still prominently displayed. I see them! I see them! They’re coming. Oh my goodness, they’re coming! Bring in the animals. Bolt the doors. Get in your spot by the wall and under the tables.
I see a lot of warriors marching. I’m a little giddy. I’m so excited – a nervous type of excitement. Then what appears to be priests blowing trumpets. Then I see what must be what is called the Ark of the Covenant. Some things you hear about. You never dream that one day you’ll actually see it. How beautiful! And then there’s the rear guard. Well, that was kind of a letdown. They marched around the city once. We waited for them to storm the city walls, but nothing happened. What in the world are they doing? We keep the animals in, and the door bolted just in case, but we can hear people panicking and yelling outside.
Day two and once again in the early morning hours, they are marching and blowing trumpets. For those who are not early morning people, these trumpets fray the nerves. This time while I watch I wonder about Yahweh. I know that He is able to do anything. I’ve heard the stories, but I wonder what it would be like to hear from Him or worship Him with the others. What is He trying to prove with all of this marching?
Day three. I have to tell you things are starting to get ripe up in here. We clean up every day getting rid of waste and all, but there’s no air circulating, and people are starting to smell fragrant much less the animals.
Day four. Is this the day they will do something more than just march? People inside the walls are going mad, crazy. We are sleeping in shifts, sharing beds and taking turns with watches at the window and on the roof. Every time they march by, I’m swinging my crimson cord. I think to myself, “Please see this cord. Please see this cord.”
Day five and day six. I’ve lost any sense of what is going on outside my home. Sometimes it’s loud. Sometimes it’s eerily quiet. And the warriors of Yahweh march. Someone once told me Jericho is only about seven acres with a circumference of 650 yards (1). I wonder if that Ark gets heavy. I wonder how much the Ark of the Covenant weigh. Their march is so precise and exact. It really is very impressive.
Day seven. Up again early and they are marching. Wait. I start to walk away from the window, but I see that they’re marching again! At the third time the noise outside my home has reached a fevered pitch. It’s about to get all sort of real in here. The fourth and fifth times. We all get into our secure places. No one is sleeping. No one is cleaning. I make sure the crimson cord is in place. The sixth time around. Then the seventh is a cacophony of sounds. Trumpets are blowing. People are yelling from outside the walls, from inside the walls, and I think I may have yelled too. A wall to the city collapsed, and the fighting had begun.
When it was over, someone came and pounded on our door. I have to admit I was fearful. Before I opened the door, my stomach was in knots, the men identified themselves as the spies. I was immediately washed in relief and cried tears of joy. My family had been spared. My joy was short-lived as we carried our things outside the city walls stepping over the corpses of acquaintances and friends, animals and babies. Then we watched the city burn.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Let’s just get this out of the way. I know you stand there judging me for what I do, for what I am, but you know what? It pays the bills, and I didn’t have a lot of other opportunities here. Yes, I am a prostitute, a hooker, a whore. Of course, when you say those labels it’s in hushed tones, and you do that goofy thing with your eyes. You think you are whispering it to your friend, but I can hear you. I can feel your eyes glaring a hole into me except when I turn to look at you, you won’t look me in the face. You think you know so much about me, but you don’t know me at all. And truth be known, I probably know more about you, your home life and your man than you do. I’m sorry for being so frank and brash, but without even knowing me or my story, people judge.
What you may not know is I have my own home. Some may even call it an inn. And part of my house is actually built inside the city wall fairly close to the city gate. If I see someone in need, if I think they’ll accept my help, I extent my hand to help. I am a problem solver and a quick thinker, and I’m wiser than you give me credit for. Never underestimate me. I take care of my own. Not every person who enters my home is entertained as a paying guest. Not every paying guest gives gifts. There are some who are not allowed in my home. I have standards. Like I said, I’m a smart business woman.
Right now, people around town are in a panic. Word on the street is that we are going to be attacked in the near future. I’ve been trying to buy up as much dry goods and things I’d need to survive the attack. I hate battles. They’re gruesome and trying to find things to eat during and afterwards is almost impossible. So I stock up on as much as I can. Whatever gold or fine jewelry I have, I hide or sew into the clothes I’ll be wearing. I try to keep my family close. There’s a lot of uncertainty. People are anxious and with good reason.
I listen to the people who enter my home, hear about what they’ve experienced or heard. There is one story though that went down in history. I opened my home to two non-paying customers. Did you catch that? Non-paying. I was glad to. I could see they weren’t from around here. My guess, which proved to be correct, was that these men were spies. Now, I’m used to getting knocks on my door by all manner of people – military, law enforcement, wives, spiritual leaders, and I’ve lied to them all at some point in time to cover the paying client. I sent people on more goose chases than I care to count. People are so gullible.
I was not surprised in the least that people came looking for the two spies. That’s why I hid them as soon as they got there. I took them to the roof where we were drying flax, and there we hid them beneath a pile of flax. I have more than one job. I have to in order to provide for my parents and siblings. I know it couldn’t have been the most comfortable place, but they were not found. And that was the point. I got them situated when the knock on the door came. After telling everyone to act natural, I put on my best face, while I confidently answered the door. My heart was pounding. I knew they could haul me in for treason and for harboring spies. Both of these charges would cost me my life. After I listened to their proclamation from the king, I explained that the men had been there but that I had sent them packing because I didn’t know them. I gave them as innocent of a look as I could give. I told the soldiers that the men had sneaked out the gate. I was so relieved when they left. I closed the door and bolted it shut for the night. Once the men seeking the spies had left the city to follow the lead I had provided, I went up to the roof to talk to the spies. I have to tell you, there is something very exciting about spies.
I told the men I knew that their Lord, their Yahweh had given them this land. Otherwise, people in the city would not be in such a panic. I really had never seen it at this level before. I had heard the stories about these people walking on dry land through the Red Sea and about how they destroyed other kings. I knew these things by listening to the men who came into my home and from people in the market place. Some people were skeptical about the walking through the Red Sea on dry land, but I wasn’t. How amazing would that have been! I wonder if that’s how God is going to get this group of people across the Jordan. I mean if He did it once, He can do it again, right?
I wanted to make sure that my family would be preserved and safe when the time came to conquer my city. So I asked them to swear to me by their God that they would spare our lives. “A life for a life.” I promised to keep their secret, their mission under wraps and to preserve their lives, and they would save my family’s lives. I couldn’t ask for more.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
WOW! Isn’t it so easy to get entrapped with the things of this world? Prada, Gucci, Coach. Harley, Maserati, Corvette. Starbucks, top end restaurants, and fine dining. The latest and greatest electronic gizmo, the most recent iPhone/iPad, travel, concerts and venues. Some strive for it. Some live for it. Others envy from afar never to achieve buying only knock-offs. Stepped on any toes yet?
Lot and his wife had stuff. They had a lot of stuff. They had so much stuff that they couldn’t keep track of it, and there were arguments with Abraham’s servants as to what was Lot’s and what was Abraham’s. Lot chose the prime real estate. Location. Location. Location. But the down side of the location was the neighbors, neighbors, neighbors. The neighbors liked stuff too. They liked all kinds of stuff. Stuff that Lot and his family had not been exposed to prior to moving to that location. At first, they may have been shocked by what they saw. Their skin may have even crawled at the things that they saw, but the longer they lived around the sinful ways of these men, they began to accept it. I, personally, don’t do it, but who am I to say that they shouldn’t live that way. They aren’t bothering me, but then the tables turn. They come and beat on your door and on your way of life screaming to get at you, your children, your guests, at the holy ones.
Things/stuff and complacency is what tears this woman apart. God spared this family for the sake of Abraham. This family was the only thing that remotely resembled a righteous family, and their vision had been obstructed and skewed by what they had allowed into their lives.
It jumped out to me that the word “guests” was used when Lot brought them home even though he knew they were angels. But the word “angels” isn’t used again until they grab the hands of Lot and his family. I don’t know if Lot’s wife really realized they were angels until then. We can become so blinded or numb to the work of God that we don’t recognize it as such until He has to lay his hands on us. Ever been there? YIKES! What does it take for God to get your attention? Have you become so numb and so blind to His ways that you wouldn’t know them if they were banging on your own door!? Seriously, it’s time for us to wake up. America is not a “BLESSED NATION.” We are NOT God’s chosen. We are His redeemed but NOT His chosen. The gay lifestyle is not okay with God. It isn’t something we should accept as normal and allow into our homes and in the influence of our children. We also shouldn’t accept extramarital affairs either or sex outside of marriage. God has spoken very clearly on these things.
Then there were the men beating on the doors trying to get into the guests. These men were sick, sick, sick. They were dark spiritually doing things that God had commanded them not to do, and when the time came, the guests struck them blind. They were physically in the dark. Blind as a bat. The door into the house could not be found by them. When Satan is banging on your door wanting to come in, wanting to spread his darkness, you better be praying that God hides the door. He doesn’t have to. After all, we put ourselves into these predicaments most of the time, don’t we? Lot CHOSE to move his family there. He knew before putting his family in the center of this degradation that his family would be exposed, and yet, he chose it anyway.
Then there was permanent darkness. Fire and brimstone literally fell from heaven like rain. Then keep in mind that sulfur is found naturally around the Dead Sea near these towns and possibly in the towns as a solid. Fire falling down like rain. Fire igniting up from the ground. In order for sulfur to be a liquid it has to be 245 degrees and becomes acid rain. The gas alone is toxic. The smell of sulfur permeates everything. It’s a smell that lingers in the nose long after the sulfur has dissipated. The ash from all living things being burned reminds me of what I saw on a movie about Auschwitz. Surrounding towns may have thought it was snow there was so much coming down on them, but it wasn’t. It was the remains of humans who died one of the most horrific kinds of death. Everything consumed. Nothing was spared, not even a blade of grass. There was no relief to be found. Ladies and gentlemen, that was hell on earth. The sounds that must have arisen from that town must have been dreadful and deafening.
And here’s another point I want to make. The angel told Lot to go to the mountains to be safe from all that was to come. Lot negotiated what he thought was best, a little town near Sodom called Zoar. Zoar was probably close enough that they could see Sodom from afar. The reason I think that because they were able to walk there from right before dawn till sunrise. The ash that fell probably poured down on Zoar. The smell of burning flesh and hair, that rancid, disgusting smell would easily reach this town. Had Lot been completely obedient to Yahweh, he would have been up in the mountains further away. His exposure to ash and stench would have been considerably less. His wife may not have heard the horrible, indescribable sounds, and maybe, just maybe, she would not have turned around. Lot’s unwillingness to follow God’s instruction to the letter cost him his wife and a closer exposure to the atrocity that happened that day. OH MY WORD! Have you ever done that? Has God ever told you or led you to do a certain thing, but you add your own touch to it? Seriously!? I have, and then I wonder why it didn’t work out. DUH! God knows what He’s doing and what He’s saying. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours (Is 55). He told Lot to go to the mountains for LOT’S OWN GOOD.
And then part of me wonders, was God turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt an act of grace? He knew what she would have seen. He knew what she saw would be something she would have to live with all her life. It wouldn’t have been something she could’ve ever forgotten. As men who come back from active combat in war. They never forget.
I apologize this is so long. There was just so much to glean, and there’s really even more that can be learned.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The conversations that ensued that night were some of the strangest by far. Of course, I wasn’t part of them, but I could hear what they were saying – not that I was ease dropping. The guests told my husband that he needed to get his family together and leave because Yahweh had sent them to destroy this place. Why would Yahweh send them to destroy Sodom? Sure, they got a little out of hand tonight, but really? He’s going to destroy the whole city? Then Lot went and spoke to our future sons-in-law and told them the town was about to be destroyed, and they would need to get their things together so we can leave. Those bone-headed men thought Lot was joking! Who jokes about something like that!? I mean it’s still hard for me to believe, but I would never joke about such a thing. Lot and the guys talk most of the night, but he can’t convince them to leave.
It had been a sleepless, fretful, stressful night, and as the sun started peaking over the walls of the city, it became evident that our guests were really angels. Why had I not recognized that before? Lot had brought home guests who are really angels, angels of the Most High God. I’m trying to process everything, but nothing is making sense. I’m so confused. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, stress, but why didn’t I see it before. They are telling us to go because they have a job to do, and they can’t do it unless we are safely out. Say what!? One of them grabs my hand and grabs one of my daughter’s hand. The other grabs Lot’s hand and our other daughter’s hand, and forcefully leads us out of the city just as the sun rises from the east.
They tell us to run. They tell us to go to the mountains because it just isn’t Sodom they are going to destroy. It’s the whole Jordan plain. Run. I’m supposed to run to the mountains, back to where Lot’s uncle lives. I can’t make it that far. I’ve put on a few pounds since moving to Sodom. Sodom. There was this butcher who kept his prime meat for me to buy on Wednesdays. My house servant made the best bread. Today is Thursday. I’m going to miss my women’s league meeting. I look down and realize I have on the same clothes as I did the day before. My stuff. All my stuff is still in Sodom. The girls’ dowry is there. My heirlooms from my mother and her mother. My silk tapestries. My designer shoes and bags and…It’s all gone. Just like that. Gone. All these things are swirling through my head at the same time.
Lot tells the angels we just can’t make it to the mountains. I didn’t want to go running back to his uncle anyway. Lot asks if we can just stay in Zoar. I don’t know why but that makes me feel a little better. Zoar is a small community outside of Sodom. Since we live on a plain, I will be able to make out Sodom on the horizon. I can go back to Sodom in time. The angels instruct us not to look back – do not turn back to Sodom. We enter Zoar, and the angels disappear.
Morning has come. We are safely in Zoar, this small, no-nothing town when we hear it. I hear cracking and rumbling. Oh my heavens! The stench is rancid and so sudden. When the wind blows, it’s horrible. I cover my mouth and nose with my clothes. We aren’t far enough away. I hear them. It’s faint, but I recognize it immediately, and I know my friends are in excruciating pain. All those people in Sodom and animals screaming out in the most horrific sounds I’ve ever heard. I don’t know that I’ll ever get that sound out of my ears. White stuff starts flying through the sky. It’s ash. All my things, all of my life is going up in smoke!? Really?
Why can’t we turn back? Why can’t we see what’s going on? What’s going to happen if we do take a peak? All these thoughts are bouncing around in my head at once, and I hear a large collapse, and I turn…
In the split second that I saw Sodom, I saw the most horrific, gruesome thing. Fire coming from heaven. Fire coming from the ground. People, babies, animals walking around, dropping in heaps of fire. All the buildings were on fire. The trees were on fire. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t on fire. I was hit by the smell of burning, human flesh and sulfur. It was the quickest of glances, and then nothing.