THE SCARLET SIN
Dr. Tom Berry
At the time of this writing many
news outlets are reporting the story of Amina Lawal being
convicted of having sex outside of marriage by an Islamic court in
Nigeria. Following the precepts of Islamic law, or Shariah,
Amina was sentenced to be buried in sand up to her neck and then
stoned to death. Amina gave birth to her daughter, Wasila,
two years after she had been divorced. The prosecutor argued
that Amina's pregnancy and divorced status were enough evidence of
a crime. Following the 1999 elections Nigeria adopted
Shariah as the law of their legal system. Muslims believe
that Shariah was given by revelation from God to Mohammed
Amina's lawyer pled for her
acquittal before an appeals court. One of his arguments was
that she was a poor, uneducated woman from a farming family and no
one had explained to her the nature of the offense or the
punishment. At the trial on August 27, 2003, Amina appeared
overwhelmed by the mass of riot police, journalists, and rights
workers as she arrived. She said, "I've never been this
afraid" as tears rolled down her face.
BIBLICAL TEACHING ON
One of God's Ten
Commandments is, "You shall not commit adultery." (Exodus
20:14). This was confirmed by Jesus (Matthew 5:27;
Luke 18:20) and other New Testament writings. (James 2:11).
God did reveal that adultery had a corrupting effect on those who
committed it and on the moral fabric of society. (Leviticus 19:29;
Proverbs 6:27-33, and others). It is also true that in very
specific instances the death penalty was to be carried out for
adultery. (Deuteronomy 22:13-27).
DOES GOD PROVIDE MERCY FOR
It appears that
Islamic law provides no provision of mercy for the female who
commits adultery. Few people disagree that the New Testament
provides mercy and grace for all sins except blasphemy of the Holy
Spirit. Our objective at this point is to see if God had any
provision of mercy for adulterers under the Mosaic law.
Perhaps the best example is Rahab, the harlot.
RAHAB, THE HARLOT OF
Rahab operated an
inn built on the city wall of Jericho. She provided lodging
for travelers and favors to satisfy fleshly lusts. She was a
product and mirror of the culture in which she lived. In
Genesis 15:16, God told Abraham that Israel would not return to
Canaan for 400 hears "for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet
complete." The 400 years had passed and the iniquity of the
Amorites was now complete. Israel was camped on the east
side of the Jordan river. Rahab could see them from the wall
of Jericho some five miles to the west.
SPIES SENT TO JERICHO
successor of Moses, sent two spies secretly to spy out Jericho.
This the first city that Israel would attack. It had a high
and massive wall around it and was heavily fortified. Joshua
wanted all the information about the city he could get.
Why did the spies
to go an inn operated by a harlot? The spies had to figure
out a way to get into the city and locate a place where they could
gather information. They decided to enter just after
sundown. This would be when travelers would be entering the
city and mixing with many people who lived there, but worked
outside during the day. It would also be the time when
patrons of Rahab would enter and make their way to her inn.
All this provided them a way to enter the city under the guise of
travelers or patrons; have a place of lodging and be in a location
where common talk was shared. It would also be a place of
quick escape because it was located on an outside wall.
RAHAB'S STATE OF
Rahab was an
immoral person among a people of immoral practices...even in
their religion. She carried on her immoral practice with the
consent of Jericho's king and civil authorities.
Rahab bore a stigma for her immoral life. We find
that her parents, brothers and sisters lived inside Jericho but
she lived alone. None of her family wanted her living with
them while she carried on her trade as a harlot.
Rahab's lifestyle had left her ungratified. There had
been countless expressions of affection but she knew they were
meaningless. She felt that she was not really loved by
anyone. The money she received from her trade enabled her to
purchase "things" and spirited camaraderie provided moments of
enjoyment, but her heart was still empty.
Rahab was fearful and felt trapped for judgment. She
lived on the wall but she did not consider it a place of
protection and safety. There were over 601,000 warriors of
Israel preparing to attack her city. The wall she lived on
would be the first point of the attack. To her that wall had
become a prison that held her captive under a wicked ruler until
the hour of judgment arrived. That wall shut her in with
God's enemies and grouped her with those who were under the
sentence of death. To Rahab, that wall was a flimsy obstacle
before an Almighty God. It was also a source of inner
conflict because it marked the division between her countrymen for
whom she had natural affection and the people of God with whom she
had a desire to be identified.
"We have heard
how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you...and what
you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other
side of Jordan..." (Joshua 2:10).
From the lips of
pagan patrons; from shoppers in the market and those who gathered
to share news at the city gate Rahab heard these things and
probably much more. Most important of all, she believed what
she hears. "I know that the LORD (YEHOVEH) has
given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us...for
the LORD (YEHOVEH) your God, He is God in heaven above and
on earth beneath." (Joshua 2:9, 11). What a
powerful Old Testament illustration of New Testament truth this
is! "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the
word of God." (Romans 10:17). And now it is more than
coincidence that the one person to whom these Israelite spies come
is Rahab. Surely, it was with great excitement that they
shared what God had revealed to them...God's perfect law, the
priesthood, the sacrifices and atonement for sin.
She made a
decision for the God of Israel. She
clearly expressed this to the two spies. Moreover, she hid
them from the king of Jericho's search party and lied to the
search party in order to save the lives of the spies. In all
this she was risking death to herself. Understandably, many
people have had a problem with her telling a lie. There is
no way to honorably justify it. We must remember, however,
that her entire background had been pagan and she knew nothing of
God's perfect law. She was under heavy duress and had to
make an instant decision. Her decision was that saving the
lives of the spies, her life and the lives of her family was more
important than telling the truth to her pagan countrymen marked
for destruction. The spies were most likely very happy that
She made a plea
for salvation. "...Show kindness to my father's
house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother,
my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our
lives from death." (Joshua 2:12, 13).
It is true that
this was a plea for physical salvation but her previous words and
following developments indicate she desired physical salvation in
order to find spiritual salvation among the people of Israel.
She asked for a
true token and the spies gave her a scarlet cord to hang in her
window. This she did and when the warriors of Israel began
marching around Jericho she gathered her family into her inn.
When another portion of the wall fell the wall under her inn held
firm. That scarlet cord in her window gave her and her
family total protection from the warriors of Israel.
Her faith lifted
her out of her sinful life. She continued to be known as
Rahab, the harlot. (See Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).
However, she laid aside the life of a harlot and became a redeemed
and accepted believer in Israel. A prince in the tribe of
Judah by the name of Salmon was so impressed with her that he took
her to be his wife. She became one of the respected mother's
Her faith lifted
her to great honor. She became the great, great
grandmother of David, the greatest king of Israel...and her most
notable descendant was Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:5 unashamedly
records her name as an ancestor of the Son of God.
Hebrews 11 in an
Honor Roll of Old Testament Heroes of Faith, there are only two
women listed. In verse 31 we find that Rahab is one of the
The glory of God's
mercy and grace is portrayed in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, "Do you
not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor
extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were
some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified,
but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the
Spirit of our God."
Yes, there are many
today who believe there are some sins so bad that they cannot be
forgiven by God nor man. However, the truth of Scripture is
that when the worst of sinners turns from sin; accepts the
sacrifice Jesus made for them on the cross and sincerely trusts
Jesus to save their soul, that God will give them His mercy and
grace. They will be washed, sanctified, and justified and
seen in God's eyes as if they had never sinned at all.
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.