One of my favorite movies is “Galaxy Quest,” about the real-life actors of a canceled sci-fi TV series. On the show, whenever the situation looked dire, Commander Peter Quincy Taggart (Tim Allen) urged his crew on with the words, “Never give up! Never surrender!”
The Bible likewise encourages believers with hope. Hebrews chapter 11 is a Faith Hall of Fame filled with heroes who exhibited an unshakable confidence in God. They serve as role models whenever we’re ready to quit.
Hebrews 11 begins with a definition: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (verse 1, NIV). Faith is not the blind acceptance of myths or a gullibility to accept everything we’re told.
We base our faith on the evidence we can see: changed lives, good works, the complexity of nature, the inward peace of the Holy Spirit and the survival of the church against persecution.
For those who have trouble believing, take heart. Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20b).
Obviously the verse is not about physically uprooting hills through telepathy. “Moving mountains” was a proverb that meant to remove difficulties. Those of little faith, if they persevere, will be rewarded with more faith.
The list of the faithful in Hebrews 11 is too long to discuss here. But I want to highlight one interesting person, Rahab—a prostitute. What! How did she get in there?
When the Israelites were ready to enter the Promised Land (Joshua, chapter 2), two spies slipped into Jericho to reconnoiter the land. The men stayed in Rahab’s house. When the king of Jericho ordered her to surrender the men, she hid the spies under the stalks of flax drying atop the flat roof and told the city officials that the men had left town.
When the coast was clear, Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you the land” (Joshua 2:9) and that the townspeople were terrified of them.
She also confessed, “The Lord, your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:11).
Homes in ancient times, like Rahab’s house, were often built into the thick city walls. Rahab helped the spies escape by lowering them from her back window with a rope. In return for saving their lives, the spies gave the woman a scarlet cord to tie on her window. When the Israelites attacked, they would spare her and her family if they were inside the house and the cord was visible.
The red cord perhaps harkens to the lamb’s blood placed on the Israelites’ door frames on Passover to spare their families from the angel of death (Exodus 12:21-23). Indeed, when the battle began, the prostitute and her kin were saved (Joshua 6:17, 25).
But Rahab has a deeper legacy. She and her husband, Salmon, had a son named Boaz, who was the great-grandfather of King David and also part of the lineage of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:5-6, 16).
God’s mercy can transform even a woman like Rahab into a heroine of faith. Read Hebrews 11 and reflect how your seed of faith might grow and prosper.
Sally Carpenter, M.Div., is a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Moorpark. Reach her at email@example.com.