Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’
3So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’ 4But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6(But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)
7So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. 8Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.’
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
15So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.
16Now she had said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17The men said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
21“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, and the first obstacle they had to overcome was the walled city of Jericho, and it was during this episode in Israel’s history that God touched the heart of a wicked, pagan woman.
God intervened and the news of how He had worked and who He was had reached Rahab.
His grace touched her heart, and caused her to hear about the God of Israel as He worked to draw Rahab to Himself.
And as a result of this, her life was change dramatically.
Rahab risked her life by hiding the Israelite spies. Her life was changed, she spoke of her faith in God, and put herself at risk for the glory of God. This passage proves that God can, and will, save anyone who will come to Him by faith.
Rahab had nothing going for her. She had nothing to commend her to the Lord. She was a Gentile. She was an idol worshipper and she was a prostitute. She was a wicked woman who was headed to Hell, and she deserved to go there. But she was saved by the grace of God.
That is the power of God’s saving grace. Don’t think for a minute that He can’t do the same thing for you. Rahab’s salvation is the primary lesson in this passage of Scripture, but today I’d like to focus on the scarlet cord or thread mentioned in verses 15, 18, and 21.
That scarlet thread is filled with meaning.
Rahab had proclaimed her faith in the God of Israel. She told the spies what she knew about Him, and she expressed her conviction that their God was not only a powerful God, but that He was the only God.
She then asked the spies to save her and her family, who promised Rahab that when Israel attacks the city of Jericho, all those who were in her house at the time would be saved.
She then helped them to flee the city by lowering them down the wall, from her window, using a cord. She was told to leave that cord hanging outside her window as a sign that her house was to be spared.
But what did that scarlet rope really represent?
Firstly, it represented Rahab and her lifestyle. We’ve all heard of ‘the red light district.’ That is where Rahab lived because she was a prostitute, and that scarlet thread represented her wicked past.
That scarlet rope that hung from Rahab’s window spoke volumes about her. It reminded everyone that she was a sinner. It would have been easy to see as it hung against that wall. The colour was easy to associate with her lifestyle. That scarlet thread depicted Rahab in her sins.
Of course, this is a reminder of our condition as well. We are all sinners, separated from God by our sins, until we repent and are saved.
Isaiah 1:18 puts it like this: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
That scarlet thread represents something else as well. Scarlet, or crimson, is the colour of blood. The scarlet thread that hung from Rahab’s window was the colour of blood. It is interesting that the means of her salvation took the same form as her sin. Her lifestyle could be represented by the colour scarlet, but at the same time it is also the colour of the very thing that promised to save her from certain death.
It represents the blood. It represents the scarlet thread of blood that runs throughout the Bible. It starts in Genesis 3:21 when God killed an innocent animal to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. We see it in the contrasting offerings of Cain and Abel.
The scarlet thread shows up in the sacrifices of Abraham. It shows up at the Tabernacle, in the Temple and in the Law of God. It shows up every time a sacrifice is given and an offering is made in the Bible. It shows up on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would sacrifice a goat to atone for the sins of the people.
The scarlet thread of redemption weaves itself into the very fabric of the Bible, so much so, that the book would unravel if it were removed. Of course that thread reaches its climax at a place called Calvary, where Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world and died in the place of sinners.
That scarlet thread is a picture of redemption. You see, the Bible is a bloody book. All the way from Genesis to Revelation, there is a river of blood that flows from page to page. That river of blood teaches us the only way of salvation.
Salvation does not come through our feeble attempts to please God. It doesn’t come through dead religion.
Salvation only comes through the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:22 says “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, His was the ultimate and final sacrifice for sins forever.
The Bible tells us that we are all sinners, and consequently we are under the wrath of God. We need to be saved and we cannot save ourselves.
The only thing that would ever satisfy God is the death of an innocent substitute in the place of guilty sinners, and this is precisely what He accomplished through His Son the Lord Jesus. Jesus came to this world for the sole purpose of dying on the cross at Calvary to pay for our sin.
In His death, Jesus took the place of the guilty and was judged in our place. That is the picture we see in the scarlet thread. That is the image that weaves its way through the books, chapter, verses and words of the Bible. The Bible is a book of blood, a book of redemption.
The theme of the Bible is the blood. The teaching of the Bible is that no one is saved apart from the blood, but all those who place their faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
It took faith for Rahab to tie that cord in the window and to believe the promises of the spies. After all, in a sense, they were her enemies, so it took faith to take them at their word. But, Rahab placed her faith in their promises. She tied the cord in the window of her house. She believed and she was saved.
And for us to be saved from the consequences of our sin, we must believe the promises God has made concerning the blood of Jesus Christ. The sinner must come to the place where we are willing to take God at His word. Like Rahab, we must understand that nothing we can do will save us. We need to know that only faith in the Word of God will save our souls and wash away our sins. We must come to the place where we believe. Nothing else will do.
satan tells us that we are fools for believing in Jesus Christ. He tells us that we had better work harder, do more, give more, live better and try our best to make it to Heaven, because something as simple as faith will never save us. Faith worked for Rahab, and faith will work for you. It is only when you put your faith in the promises of God that you will find the blessed assurance that you are at peace with Him.
In Exodus 12 we find the account of the Passover meal. It is here where the Lord gave the Israelites the rather strange instruction to take some of the blood of the Passover lamb and put it on the tops and sides of the doorframes of their houses.
I’ve often wondered what they must have thought when they heard this. Do you think they felt foolish as they wiped blood on the doors of their houses? Do you think that some refused to do it because it seemed so strange? Do you think that some mocked those who believed in the power of the blood of those lambs and tried to find a better way?
Well, the next morning they received their answers: When the angel of death visited Egypt that night, he passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels. All those who trusted God’s promises related to the blood lived, while the rest died.
Some may have simply painted their doorposts red. If they did, they died. Some might have tried decorating them with jewels, gold and silver. If they did, they died. Some probably ignored the warning, thinking it too farfetched and foolish. If they did, they died!
But everyone one who placed their faith in the promises of God was spared, and those same promises apply to us today.
Put your faith and your trust in the blood of Christ, the blood which was poured out on the Cross of Calvary. When you do, the angel of death will pass over you too, and you will live. No human alternative will suffice.
It took an astounding commitment for Rahab to do what she did. When she tied that cord in her window, she was making a statement. She was saying, “I choose the God of Israel over the gods of my people. I choose the people of Israel over my people. I am willing to commit to following this God I have only heard about, based on a promise I cannot verify. I believe what I have heard about Him, and I believe in Him.” That was the level of her commitment.
We’re not told of the ridicule and criticism she faced, but she clearly didn’t listen to them. God stirred her heart, and she responded.
How utterly foolish it is for people to hesitate to come to Christ for fear of the ridicule and criticism of their friends and family.
It takes a real commitment to live for Jesus in this world. If you are going to walk with Him, then you need to know this: You are going to have to commit to being different. You are going to have to commit to a life that is different from the world around you. You are going to have to commit to trying to warn others about the judgment that is coming.
The Gospel of Jesus demands that God’s true followers be a people who are committed to Him, wholeheartedly, and without reservation.
Do the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24 accurately describe you and your commitment to Him? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
When the spies left Rahab, she was tying that cord in her window. All she had was a promise and the hope that it would be kept. A short time later, Israel invaded Canaan. They came to Jericho and marched around that city once every day for six days. On the seventh day they marched around it seven times. That was thirteen laps around that city. Everybody who walked around that city saw that cord hanging from Rahab’s window. That scarlet cord was testifying to them as they walked.
You see, they were walking by a promise too. God had promised them that He would flatten that walls of Jericho and give them victory over that city. Just like Rahab, they were walking by faith. That scarlet cord reminded them that God was already working on the inside of that city. It reminded them that God was bigger than Israel. It reminded them that in the midst of wrath, God was a God of love, grace and compassion.
That scarlet thread delivered salvation, protection and security to Rahab and to all those who believed its promises. Of course, neither Rahab nor anyone in her home was actually saved by the scarlet thread. After all, it was just a length of rope. No, placing their faith in what that cord represented saved them. That cord represented the saving grace of God. That cord represented the promises of God to save those who believe in Him.
This morning we will be remembering the sacrifice of Jesus as we share in Communion together. The bread and the wine serve as reminders to us of Calvary.
We will be reminded yet again of the scarlet thread, the scarlet blood which was shed for us, so that we might find salvation in Christ.
Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Have you been purified by His blood? Have you been saved by His grace? Are you absolutely, 100% certain that, if you died today, you would go to Heaven? Will the angel of death pass over you?
If not, turn to Christ before it is too late.
In the opening chapter of Matthew’s gospel he traces the family tree of Jesus all the way back to Abraham.
There are only four women named in that list, and Rahab, this reformed pagan prostitute, is one of them.
If you think you are not good enough for God, and that you have no significance in His eyes, then think again…
If God in His mercy can save a wretched person like Rahab, then He can certainly save you and I.