A scarlet cord in the window? Really? How about a big, flashing, neon sign over the house? After all, this is a life and death situation. When the battle’s a raging and the walls are a tumbling, I’m going to trust my life to a scarlet cord hanging in the window? Really?
Hovering over the account of Rahab in Joshua 2, this morning. And I’m thinking about the cord Rahab was counting on to save her life.
Okay, so maybe “cord” meant something different in Joshua’s time. Maybe it referred to a really, really, really thick rope. You know, the type used to moor a cruise ship to the dock. Something with a girth that no one’s gonna miss when they’re pillaging and plundering the place. Paint that red and hey, now maybe we’ve got something to count on. Maybe that’s what “cord” means in the original language.
Nope! Not even close. My handy-dandy online lexicon says that the root for the original word means “to sew.” To sew? That doesn’t sound like a mooring rope. That sounds more like a thread. Maybe a string, at best. Looking at some others places where the word is used in the OT and it’s actually translated as “thread” (Jud. 16:12, So. 4:3). The “strongest” use of the word is when it is combined with other “cords” so that “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12). But we’re not talking a threefold cord here. Rahab was counting on a “one-fold” cord, just a red thread, to save her and her family when God’s judgment was ready to fall upon the city. (Did I mention I’d be more comfortable with a neon sign or something?)
But reading the account this morning, it’s clear that her hope wasn’t just tied to a string in the window but that, by faith, she was willing to tie her life to the Sovereign God who had revealed Himself to her.
Before the men fell asleep, [Rahab] went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. . . . for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.”
(Joshua 2:8, 11b CSB)
I know that the Lord has given you this land . . . for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. I shaded those verses with my light green colored pencil as I read them because those are faith statements.
Many in Jericho feared the Israelites who were coming, but Rahab believed in the God who led them. She KNEW that the Lord God was the One who would transfer title of the land for she confessed Him as God over all, heaven above and earth below.
Hanging a red thread in the window was her act of faith, not her object of faith. She wasn’t trusting in the string to save her. She wasn’t counting on the Israelite army to see the thread. Instead, she believed that the God who sees all would see the thread and that the God who is over all would rescue her. She didn’t need a neon sign flashing on earth below. She believed in the God who sees all things, knows all things, and ordains all things from heaven above.
How were people saved in the Old Testament? The same way they are in the New — by faith.
By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.
(Hebrews 11:31 CSB)
Just a scarlet cord in the window? Really? Yeah, really.
Just a blood-stained cross 2,000 years ago? Really? Yeah, really.
Just received by faith? Just acted on by faith? That’s it? Yeah, that’s it.
Hanging on by a thread. — a red thread. Confident concerning my future — my eternal future. Resting in my present — my less than predictable present.
By grace alone.
Through faith alone.
In Christ alone.
According to Scripture alone.
For God’s glory alone.
Yes, Brother! Amen.
What a wonderful, uplifting commentary on faith.
Thank you, Pete
Thank you for sharing.