Women of Wisdom:A Scarlet Cord of Hope

December 2, 2008 at 10:52 am (W.O.W.) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

scarlet-cord

Adapted from Joshua chapters 2-6

Once upon a time a beautiful little Canaanite girl lived in the middle of the bustling metropolis of Jericho, unaware that her home had been promised to another people—by Almighty God Himself. As she grew up she discovered that her beauty earned her first attention, then praise and finally money. Soon she was selling herself to the highest bidder in order to gain independence, stability and a secure future. In her heart of hearts, her happily ever after must have been to finally find someone in whom she could trust—someone who cared for her, would protect her and would provide for her. And each night that she settled into the arms of a paying customer, she must have known she was betraying herself, deceiving herself, living an empty lie. Her beauty could never buy her peace.

Then one day she overheard the rumors—that a slave people had escaped from Egypt accompanied by signs and miracles, had wandered in the wilderness for years and had finally crossed into the land of Canaan, bent on possession. Within days they would arrive at the massive gates of Jericho. The people’s hearts melted with terror, but Rahab’s heart stirred with something more—fear, reverence, hope? Could the powerful God who rained down plagues on the Egyptians and led his people by a pillar of cloud find it in His heart to be merciful?

She knew the two men who had come to her home on the city wall were foreigners and she knew they had come to spy out the city, to measure its walls and to plan its defeat. Perhaps she longed to ask them more about their God—His power, His leadership, His purpose. She also knew they had been spotted, suspected and would soon be traced to her house and arrested. “Hide here,” she whispered breathlessly, shoving aside sheaths of flax from her rooftop. That night she met the soldiers at the door. Trembling between her torn loyalties—her girlhood home or the conquerors God had sent—she became a traitor to the world that had betrayed her and told a lie that could cost her her life. “Yes, those men came here—I didn’t know who they were. They left already. If you hurry, you may catch them yet!” The Lord’s protection stretched down from heaven on the trembling pagan woman as the soldiers listened to her words, believed her lie and left her house in peace.

Sitting in the pale starlight on the roof of her home next to two spies from a foreign country, gazing out across the land promised to someone else, Rahab made her declaration. “I know Yahweh has given this land into your hand.” She gathered her breath and forged her way onward. “We’re all melting in terror after all the things we’ve heard about your God. I know He is the God of heaven above and the earth below.” Then with a last leap of trust, she cast herself on the mercy of God Almighty. “So I beg you to swear to me by Yahweh, since I have protected you, that you will deal with me in truth, that you will save me and my family.”

Had she any reason to trust two strange men? Had she any reason to take the word of men? Hadn’t she been viewed as an object? A beautiful face to be purchased by a few coins. “Deal with me in truth,” she pleaded. “Swear by Yahweh.” Sitting cold and tired on the roof of her house, flax prickling into her legs, tears welling up in her eyes, she had forgotten about being beautiful, about independence or wealth. She sought only one thing—security. And she sought it in the right place. Gazing down at her from on high, God saw her humility, her reverence and her trust and in that moment she was beautiful to Him. When she cast herself on His mercy, she shone will the pure beauty of the saved.

“We swear,” the spies whispered huskily. “If you keep your family in your house and tie this scarlet cord from your window, we swear to protect you when Yahweh gives this city into our hands.” With a few hurried directions, Rahab lowered the men by the scarlet cord, looped it up through the window and left it to hang. Her hands were trembling as she let the end slide through her fingers. What if someone saw the rope and asked her about it? How would she explain to her family why they must stay in the house? What if the Israelites killed her by mistake? What if the spies felt that the word they gave to a foreign woman was worthless? Would the God who had sent them to destroy the land take any notice of her? Would He protect her?

The King’s men returned fruitless in their search for the spies, yet Rahab was never questioned. On their heels came the Israelite army, crossing the Jordan River on dry land and beginning a series of daily marches around the city. For six days Rahab stood watch by her window, her fingers brushing the scarlet cord, waiting, hoping, trusting. On the seventh day the men raised a mighty shout and screams erupted from around her. The ground began to quiver, then shake as a mighty roar swallowed out the Israelite shout. And then the world was ending, crashing down around her in a furious uproar as the clashing of steel signaled that the Israelites had rushed in to attack. Cowering in a corner, she heard voices and dropped her hands from her face. The floor underneath her was cool and firm, the wind rustled softly at the window, tugging at the scarlet cord. She leapt to her feet and rushed to the window, her heart beating furiously as she realized that only her house still stood. Only her house of the entire wall of Jericho, built to defy the largest armies—only her house stood firm—because she trusted in Yahweh.

Voices again and the door crashed open as the two spies rushed in, followed by Israelite soldiers. In a blur of tears and debris, Rahab and her family stumblingly followed them out of the ruins and down to the Israelite camp. As she watched the smoke rising from Jericho and heard the command of the Israelite general to spare no one, no animals and to burn everything, her heart quieted within her. Hadn’t she found Someone to care for her, to protect her, to provide for her? Someone in whom she could trust? Yahweh, Almighty God of heaven and earth had heard her plea for salvation and had reached out to her—a Canaanite harlot.

Rahab’s story goes on to picture the ultimate redemption—from a life of sin, self and destruction, God rebuilt a lasting legacy. She married into God’s chosen people and became the great-great-grandmother of King David, whose seed, it was promised, would rule the nations with a rod of iron. But even more importantly, would bring redemption to every tribe, tongue, people and nation—all those who put their trust in Him: Jesus, the anchor of the scarlet cord of hope.

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2 Comments

  1. Amy Jo said,

    I love this post! I am reading Joshua right now in my quiet times, and Rahab really caught my attention, too. I can’t help but be amazed at the imperfect people God chooses to do His work. A prostitute–possibly the single most unlikely source for enabling the fall of the mighty city of Jericho. Such a good reminder for me personally that there are no people that God shrugs off as “too far gone.” He sees, loves and wants to redeem the sinfulness in all of us. Thanks for this!

  2. Lessons from Wisdom:The Art of Trust « Pearls and Diamonds said,

    […] Uniting Christian girls, married and single, in the desire to become godly women. « Women of Wisdom:A Scarlet Cord of Hope Lessons from Wisdom:The Art of Trust December 3, 2008 Posted by […]

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