What Would Rahab Do?

I think I might get a TShirt that says “What Would Rahab Do?”

Suppose you felt God calling you to be a missionary in a country hostile to Christianity. After saving up your hard earned money for a plane fare, you head out for the hinterlands. When you get off the plane, the immigration officer hands you a form to fill out and sign. The form states that you are not a Christian, you will not try to proselytize anyone, and that if you feel inclined to do so, you will report yourself to the authorities and leave the country immediately.

  • If you sign the form, and abide by it, you cannot do what you felt God calling you to do, and you bring shame to the name of Christ by denying Him.
  • If you don’t sign the form, you get sent back to your home country – unable to do what you felt God calling you to do.
  • If you sign the form and disobey it, you do what you felt God calling you to do, but – do you bring shame to the name of Christ by denying Him.

What would you do?

What Would Paul Do?

There are a number of stories in the Bible where people of God do something “less than honest” in the name of God – and are blessed by Him for it! Quick replies to the question would say “Those are all in the Old Testament! I’m a New Testament kind of guy, so I’m bound to obey authorities! Here – read Rom 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17.”

However, Paul had an episode not unlike the Hebrew Midwives, Rahab and Samuel. In his escape from Damascus, he disobeyed (imho) the local authorities. Some would quibble that he was not disobeying them, nor being dishonest. I think if we flesh out the story and think of it as if it really, truly happened, we’ll see that – he did.

But first, read Acts 9:23-25 and 2 Cor 11:30-33 to get some background information. Then read the following quasi-hypothetical…

City Magistrates: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Let it be known that the man, Saul of Tarsus (also known as Paul), is hereby wanted for heresy, insurrection, troublemaking and more. He is hereby commanded to turn himself in to the nearest magistrate office. In order to affect his arrest and prevent his escape, by order of the Governor, under the authority of King Aretas, we are placing guards around the entire city and at each city gate. A reward will be offered for information leading to his arrest.”

Paul: “BROTHERS!!! Check it out!! The Jews have gotten the governor to put out a warrant for my arrest. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!! Here’s what we’ll do instead: I’ll hop into a basket; you guys let me down the wall in the dark of night, cuz I’m outta here!! Watch out for false teachers! Godspeed, brothers!!”

Believers: “May it never be! You were told to do such-and-such and now you want to disobey the law of the land?! For shame! Know ye not that ‘whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation’!? We read these Words in Romans 13 where …waitasec – you haven’t written Romans yet. Hmmmm.. Oh, yeah! Our brother Peter hath said it be the will of God that we submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. For such is the will of God. Dear brother Paul – thou behavest not at all like an Apostle. Art thou sure thou didst receive thine calling from our Lord, or hast thou heard ‘another voice’? We darest not lend thee aid in thine disobedience lest wrath fall upon us!”

Paul: [blink, blink] “yougottabekiddingme! Guys… they’re going to be here any second now. You gonna help, or do I have to jump?”

Believers: “Fine! But thou durst not say that we warned thee not!” (muttering under breath while lowering basket) “..and lay not his sin to our account…”

City Magistrates: [BAM! BAM! BAM!] “Open up! City Magistrates! We have a warrant for the arrest of Saul of Tarsus, also known as Paul! If you are in there, in the name of the Law, COME OUT NOW and keep your hands where we can see ’em!!”

Believers: “This place shall be no hiding place, nor shall we tell a lie: he wast here, but he hath just now fled, giving himself but nary half an hour headstart under the cover of darkness. But if thou makest haste and goest on the road to Jerusalem, thou wilt find him there, for he hath fled thereunto.”

Magistrate Deputies: “All clear, sir. He’s not here. We did find a rope outside their window.”

City Magistrates: “Ya don’t say! You Believers don’t leave town any time soon. We might want to ask you some questions about that rope.”

Believers: “Thine law is our command. Thou can countest on us to stay put.”

In other words,
a) the government had set forth a law (“Paul – turn yourself in”),
b) set out soldiers to see to it that it gets done,
c) and Paul defied it, running away instead of turning himself in.

And Paul boasts about it.
Which means it can’t be sin.
Which means a simplistic view of “dishonesty” doesn’t satisfy the concern.

I’m open for suggestions.

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