Posted by: Michael Dewalt | February 14, 2009

Calvin on Rahab and true faith

Rahab is a colorful example of conversion in the OT. Calvin contrasts her faith with those around her who melted with despair. He notes: “Here, too, we have to observe how in a common fear believers differ from unbelievers, and how the faith of Rahab displays itself. She herself was afraid like any other of the people; but when she reflects that she has to do with God, she concludes that here only remedy is to eschew evil by yielding humbly and placidly, as resistance would be altogether unavailing. But what is the course taken by all the wretched inhabitants of the country? Although terror-struck, so fare is their perverseness from being overcome that they stimulate each other to the conflict.”

Rahab “does not dream . . . that some one, out of a crowd of deities, is giving assistance to the Israelites, but she acknowledges that he whose favor they were known to possess is the true and only God. Here the image of Rahab’s faith appears, as if reflected in a mirror, when casting down all idols she ascribes the government of heaven and earth to the God of Israel alone. For it is perfectly clear that when heaven and earth are declared subject to the God of Israel, there is a repudiation of all the pagan fictions by which the majesty and power and glory of God are portioned out among different deities; and hence we see that it is not without cause that two Apostles have honored Rahab’s conduct with the title of FAITH.” She distinguished “the one true God from all fictitious deities, and at the same time so to extol his power as to declare that the whole world is governed at his pleasure. Rahab does not speak hesitatingly, but declares in absolute terms that whatever power exists resides in the God of Israel alone.” “Her voluntary surrender was, in fact, the very same as embracing the promise of God and casting herself on his protection.”

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