01 July 2009

Precious Vessels Consecrated for the Sanctuary of the Lord

Rahab the harlot is set forth as an example of faith by both St. James and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and St. Matthew identifies her as an ancestress of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is some irony in that, but what a beautiful paradox and blessed comfort, that the harlot should become the Bride, sanctified and cleansed by the precious blood of Christ.

I've been struck in recent years by the specifics of her case. She lives in the wall of Jericho; which is all the more remarkable in retrospect. According to the Law of Moses, there should have been no treaty made with her. As a citizen of Jericho, in particular, her life was subject to destruction. Yet, upon her confession of the Lord, the treaty is made, which both Joshua and the Lord honor and uphold. When the walls of Jericho come down, the home of Rahab is preserved; and when the people of Jericho are put to the sword, Rahab and her family are not only spared, but given to live in the midst of Israel. The Lord's almighty power is manifested in such mercy.

Everything sings of the atonement, of the Christ who will eventually be born from this foreign harlot woman who is saved from the city of man for the City of God. Joshua leads the priests with the ark of the covenant, and all of these signify Jesus the Christ. The sound of the ram's horn marks the days, circumscribing the city, the enemy fortress; recalling the ram caught in the thicket by his horns, provided by God in place of Isaac, the beloved son of Abraham. Six days pass, then peace and rest are granted on the seventh day, the Sabbath, when our Lord would rest in the tomb after completing His work of Atonement. The people march and shout, but the Lord brings down the wall and defeats the enemy for them. Only not Rahab and those with her.

Every man, woman and child is to be destroyed; every living creature is to be killed; and everything else is to be burned, except the precious vessels of gold and silver, which are dedicated to the Lord for use in His sanctuary.

The consecration of those precious vessels parallels the salvation of Rahab and her family, who are not put to death but saved for life among the people of God. The whore becomes the Bride, not only rescued but redeemed, sanctified and cleansed; not simply tolerated, but truly precious and valuable in the sight of the Lord.

It is because the Lord Himself, who has become the flesh and blood of Rahab and of us all, has suffered the divine judgment and destruction of Jericho, wholly dedicated to His God and Father. He is the new and greater Joshua, the great High Priest, the Ram whose horn is mercy and compassion, whose blood poured out is the New Covenant of forgiveness. He dies the death demanded by the Law, that we might live by the grace of the Gospel. Neither the gates of Hades nor the walls of Jericho can prevail against His shout of victory; nor against the confession of faith in His Cross. Thus are we consecrated as vessels for the sanctuary of God, precious and valuable to Him. For He has brought us out of Egypt and through the Jordan into Canaan; out of Jericho into the courts of His new Jerusalem; out of our own little hole in the wall, to become a living stone in His holy Temple. All of our adultery and worse is forgiven, and we are spared, freely granted to live by the mercies of God in the midst of His people, Israel.


Rev. Adrian Piazza said...

Cool Devotional. The story of Rahab, Ruth, Esther, etc reminds us that God has mercy and consecrates those who we would leave outside and brings them inside. "That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis makes that point subtly but powerfully. Peace to you.

Debbie Theiss said...

"out of our own little hole in the wall"... God be Praised! Great post.