The Scarlet Cord
INTRODUCTION: In studying the life of Joshua leading the children of Israel into the Promise Land, some of the greatest spiritual lessons we will learn revolve around people who cross his path. Such is the case of RAHAB the HARLOT in Joshua chapter 2.
Here is a little background. RAHAB stands out as an object of God's redeeming grace. Only two women are personally named in “The Hall of Faith” of Hebrews chapter 11.
Number 1 was SARAH, the wife of Abraham in verse 11, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” SARAH was a GODLY WOMAN, the wife of the founder of the Hebrew race; and God used her dedicated body to bring Isaac into the world.
Number 2 was RAHAB, the harlot of Jericho in verse 31, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” RAHAB was an UNGODLY GENTILE WOMAN who worshiped pagan gods and sold her body for money.
Humanly speaking, Rahab and Sarah had nothing in common. But from the DIVINE viewpoint, SARAH and RAHAB shared the most important thing in life: "They both had exercised saving faith in the true and living God."
Not only does the Bible associate RAHAB with SARAH; in James 2:21-26, it also associates her with ABRAHAM. James used both RAHAB and ABRAHAM to illustrate true saving FAITH which always proves itself through action. In James 2:25 we read "In like manner … was not Rahab justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way."
But there is more, the Bible associates RAHAB with the MESSIAH! When you read the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 1, you find Rahab listed there along with 3 other women and the likes of Jacob, David and other famous people in the Messianic line. She certainly came a long way from being a pagan prostitute to being an ancestress of the Messiah. What an illustration of Romans 5:20, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."
Rahab lived in Jericho, a very immoral city on the border leading into the Promise Land. But in the midst of this den of iniquity, Rahab exhibits faith in the living God even BEFORE the spies ever arrived in Jericho. Like the people of I Thessalonians 1:9, she had "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God."
In Joshua 2:1 we read, “And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.”
Interestingly, Joshua sent only TWO spies, whereas Moses had sent TWELVE spies 40 years earlier. You recall 10 of those spies came back and said the taking of the land could not be done. Whereas Joshua and Caleb said let's go for it. Now Joshua is saying "Two will do."
In Joshua 2 we have the story of one woman's faith in the midst of a hostile, heathen world. Rahab took her life in her hands and evidenced that faith in these ways.
FIRST: Rahab had a COURAGEOUS FAITH. Joshua 2:1-7,
“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. (2) And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. (3) And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. (4) And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: (5) And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. (6) But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. (7) And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.”
RAHAB is living in a pagan city, a prostitute by profession, worshipping the false heathen gods of the Canaanites. Her knowledge of the one true God was based only on what she had heard. She was responding to the LIGHT she had. And yet God honored her FAITH in spite of her SIN and FAILURE. She passed the test. By receiving and hiding the spies she had already changed her allegiance.
In many respects RAHAB was already ahead of many of the children of Israel. Their LIGHT was far greater.
The children of Israel had experientially seen miracle after miracle; whereas RAHAB had only heard about them.
The children of Israel had received the law of God by means of direct revelation to Moses; whereas RAHAB had only heard indirectly about God.
Even with all this LIGHT, Israel turned their backs on God again and again, indulging in horrible sins.
Why does it appear that God was giving greater attention to RAHAB'S faith? Because she was more faithful to the LIGHT she had – dim as it was. Compared to Israel, her faith was greater. And she proved it by risking her life for the people of God.
Stop right here and listen carefully. I have seen new Christians with far less knowledge live a far greater faith than older Christians who possess a greater knowledge, but little faith. That ought to be a shameful rebuke to those who sit here week after week and soak up the Word of God, but refuse to live a life of faith in action. You have the light, but don't let it shine. Think about that.
ARE YOU LETTING YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE THAT OTHERS MAY SEE CHRIST LIVING IN YOU, OR ARE YOU HIDING IT UNDER A BUSHEL? Remember Jesus is the LIGHT of the WORLD. How is this world going to see His light, unless it sees Christ living in you?
FAITH IN ACTION IS GIVING OUT WHAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED. As you receive the Word of God on Sunday's, give it out, live it out. REAL CHRISTIANITY DOES NOT JUST KNOW ABOUT FAITH, IT PUTS FAITH IN ACTION!
Perhaps you are thinking, since she was a believer at the time, HOW DO WE DEFEND RAHAB’S LIES? Is a lie acceptable in some situations?
Fact: A lie is always a sin. Exodus 20:16, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Proverbs 12:22, "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord…" The fact that God had RAHAB'S lies recorded in scripture is NO proof that He approved of them.
Fact: Remember RAHAB had a pagan background. Perhaps we are expecting too much from a new believer whose knowledge of God was adequate for salvation, but certainly limited when it came to living the Christian life.
Fact: If seasoned believers like Abraham, Isaac as well as David resorted to deception, we had better not be too hard on RAHAB. This is not to EXCUSE or encourage lying, but simply to accept the young believer in light of her present understanding.
Fact: God commended RAHAB for her FAITH. He did not condemn her for her sin. God is sovereign and could have protected the spies even if Rahab had told the truth.
Fact: God never says "Do evil that good may come of it." We cannot argue that "the end justifies the means." For example, if a man cheats on his income tax so he may give more money to the church, that is lying. That is dishonesty. God can support His church without depending upon the gifts of cheats. God is perfectly able to work out His purpose without any dishonesty on your part.
What lessons should we gleam from Joshua 2 on this issue? Shall we say that lying is proper under some circumstances? NO, NO, NO!
Let us NOT ALLOW the Demon called EXPEDIENCY to TEMPT us. We have the LIGHT. We ought to tell the truth and let God in His sovereignty take care of the rest of the story.
RAHAB'S faith, weak as it was, was tested. She passed the test. She dared to believe that this God she had heard about would now protect her.
SECOND: Rahab had a CONFIDENT FAITH. Joshua 2:8-11 unveils some simple and yet profound theology.
“And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; (9) And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. (10) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. (11) And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
Notice the certainty with which she spoke to these men.
RAHAB saw the fear of her own people. She had heard about the miracles of God at the Red Sea. This was some 40 years ago (Exodus 14:21-26) She also heard of the victories over the Canaanite kings. (Numbers 21:21-35).
RAHAB showed more faith in the Lord than the 10 spies 40 years before, when she said, in verse 9 "I know the Lord hath given you the Land…" Her faith was based on FACTS not just FEELINGS.
But there was a difference between RAHAB and the others in her city. She ACTED on what she knew. Notice her statement in verse 11, “… for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” What a confession from the lips of a woman whose life had been imprisoned in pagan idolatry. RAHAB believed He was a great and awesome God.
She believed in One God, not a multitude of gods.
She believed He was a personal God, "YOUR GOD."
She believed He was the God of Israel, and of heaven and earth.
Her countrymen had the same knowledge. Yet they would not respond to the LIGHT they had been given.
Consequently we again read in Hebrews 11:31, "By FAITH the harlot, RAHAB, perished not with them that believed not …” RAHAB put faith into action as Matthew 10:32 tells us to do, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven."
THIRD: Rahab had a CONCERNED FAITH. Joshua 2:12-24,
“Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: (13) And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. (14) And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. (15) Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. (16) And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. (17) And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. (18) Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. (19) And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. (20) And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. (21) And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window. (22) And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. (23) So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: (24) And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.”
In the interest of the length of this message I just want to briefly point out the SCARLET CORD Rahab was to hang out.
This SCARLET CORD was an identification mark. It would identify the "house of safety" to the army of Israel when they came to take the city. However the color of the rope or cord is significant for it reminds us of BLOOD. Just as the blood on the doorpost in Egypt marked a house that the angel of death was to pass over (Exodus 12:1-1-3) so the scarlet rope marked RAHAB'S House.
The SCARLET CORD reminds us of the BLOOD of CHRIST! His shed BLOOD is our redemption from sin. Ephesians 1:7 tells us, "Christ… in whom we have redemption through His BLOOD the forgiveness of sins…" Praise God when we by faith put our trust in CHRIST OF CALVARY we are under His BLOOD forever.
The blood of Jesus is so precious,
because it saves me from all sin
He shed His BLOOD for my salvation,
To cleanse and make me pure within.
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the BLOOD of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the BLOOD of the Lamb?
All stories have an ending, so does this one. The city was destroyed by God but RAHAB and her family was saved. God had honored her FAITH. The story is simple. Yet out of it comes some profound lessons for us in this day in which we live.
God wants all people to be saved from their sins. Notice in verses 12-13 Rahab was concerned for the salvation of her household,
“Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: (13) And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
In II Peter 3:9 we read, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
There was a soul to be rescued and there were others that needed to be saved. In order to do this the judgment of God was held back.
One righteous man lived in Sodom and God could do nothing until he had gotten LOT out of the city.
One little man ran up the sycamore tree to see Jesus and that day salvation came to Zacchaeus.
One feeble, sinful woman touched the hem of the Lord's garment and his progress toward Calvary was arrested that He might save a soul and heal a body.
There are others. This has always been the way of the Lord. He is not willing that one should perish.
Folks we live in a world under the judgment of God. There can be no question that you and I must come to terms with the GREAT COMMISSION in Mark 16:15, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
We must be about God's business wherever we LIVE or wherever we WORK to give out the gospel of the DEATH, BURIAL, and the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have got to deliver to the world the message of the cross.
Joshua 2 tells the story of RAHAB the harlot. In the New Testament, we have a parallel story found in John 4 of a woman at the well who had 5 husbands. Both of these women were of ill repute. Yet both responded to the LIGHT they had and both became immediate witnesses of their FAITH.
Perhaps the greatest lesson that jumps off the pages of Joshua 2 and John 4 is that GOD CARES ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL. In this case individuals, had fallen into a state of deep sin. Why else would he give so much space in the midst of divine history to record the conversion of two such people?
Look, never forget, God's desire is that all people come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. There is no individual outside the sphere of His love and grace. What is the secret? There is none. All you have to do is, "… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” Acts 16:31.
The most powerful factor in the saving of a soul is the supernatural evidence of the presence of God in our own lives.
Let me ask you, WHAT EVIDENCE OF GOD do people see in you that draws them to ask, "Tell me about the saviour that can cleanse and save my soul.” I Peter 3:15 tells us, "…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…"
The evidence people look for is not WHAT WE BELIEVE, but rather HOW WE BELIEVE. They are not looking for "WHAT we say as much as HOW we live what we say."
Living for Jesus becomes one of the most powerful ways of witnessing to the fact JESUS IS ALIVE and SAVES and SATISFIES.
Being a phony Christian is not only a disgrace to the grace of God, but it relays a powerful message to the unsaved world to blaspheme the cross of Jesus Christ.
There was a soul in Jericho, in fact a number of souls, that needed to be saved. This woman's faith resulted from the evidence of the supernatural results of which she had heard.
God honors true faith. Faith is not a STATIC word, it's an ACTION word. James 2:17 tells us, "Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead…" RAHAB had an active faith. In a sense she was "justified by works". NOT that she was SAVED by works, but rather she PROVED her faith by her works.
As you look over Joshua 2 again, you discover RAHAB proved her FAITH in at least 3 ways.
1. Rahab took God at His Word. In Joshua 2:9 her first words were, "I know." There was no doubt in her belief. In Romans 10:17 we read, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." In I John 5:13 it says, "these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the son of God, that YE MAY KNOW, that ye have eternal life." Can you say I KNOW I am saved?
2. Rahab's faith produced a refusal to go along with the rest of the world. In receiving the spies, she by her very act of faith renounced everything in her past. Unless you are ready to renounce your past, your testimony will never make its mark in this world for the cause of Christ.
3. Rahab's faith caused her to be very bold in asking for God's help. Joshua 2:12-13, “Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: (13) And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” Her theology was simple, but her faith was great.
For some of us, our knowledge gets in the way of our faith. How unfortunate!
The more we know about God, the more we should believe God. The more we know about God, the more our light should shine for God.
Let's not allow ourselves to get lost in a theological maze, trying to unravel all the mysteries of God's great plan, and miss His greatest desire for us that we trust Him with all our hearts and act on that faith. Oh how often, in looking for the profound things of God, we trip over the simple faith in God.
In light of this I close with the key verse to Hebrews chapter 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that HE IS, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “The Scarlet Cord” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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