I have studied my Bible on a very regular basis over my entire life. It has taken me time to observe the plan of God, as He reveals Himself through the written word. I believe the written Word becomes the Living Word as I allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate through my own mind and preconceived thoughts. There are certain parts of the Bible that are challenging to understand, and there are stories of people that make me ask, “why did this event get recorded in the Bible”? Read on.

Joshua had just taken the leadership role of Israel. They were poised on the banks of the Jordan river. Before them lay their first conquest, the city of Jericho. Joshua makes a decision without any direct order from God that has profound effect. He selects two men, and he gives them orders to go into the city of Jericho and do reconnaissance work and bring back a report of what they see. These two men enter the city and are immediately known. To understand this event, you must understand a bit about the efforts these ancient cities took to maintain security. The gates to a city were never left unguarded between sunrise and sunset. As dusk fell, the heavy gates of the city were closed and secured. These two men, who were sent by Joshua, went immediately “to a house on the wall”. Some commentators say this was a “inn” for overnight travelers. However, the Bible says, “So they went and entered into the house of a harlot, whose name was Rahab, and lodged there”. Now you may understand why as I read a story like this, I ask questions, “why did this story get included in Holy Scripture?  What in this story am I to learn? What are the principles being taught here?”

The gatekeepers begin an immediate search for these strangers that came into the city. They go immediately to Rahab’s residence and ask her if she has observed these two men. She says “no”, but in fact, she has taken them to the roof of her residence and hidden them under stalks of flax that she is drying, so the stalks can be stripped into fibers and woven into linen. By now as I am reading the story, I am really asking myself why this event is included in the Bible? Is it meant as just an incident contained in a bigger story, or, is this the story right here?

After the security guards leave, she returns to the men up on her roof. It is so interesting what she says to them. Now I am thinking “there is a real story here that I should see”.  Listen, as this pagan Canaanite speaks to these two Israelite spies. “I know that the LORD [Jehovah] has given you this land, and the terror of you has fallen on us, and all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the waters of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. We have heard what you did to the two kings of the Amorites whom you destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted away and no courage remained in us…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven and on earth. Now therefore because I have been kind to you, please be kind to me and my family; spare my father and mother, brother and sister and spare us from death”. This is now becoming more than a bit of history as I ponder it; I begin to observe that here, hidden in this Old Testament story God is sharing his plan for all mankind, and He is doing it through this unusual woman, Rahab. All she knows is what she has heard, and based on what she has heard ,she has come to the conclusion that Jehovah [how she learned that name of God is unknown] is God above all. Now, even though she is a pagan Canaanite, she wants to become a part of these people of God.

Based on her confession of who God is and what He will do, the spies make a promise to Rahab. They say, “Our life for yours…when it comes about that the Lord gives us this land, we will deal kindly and faithfully with you”. As I become better acquainted with the story, I ask myself “where did the spies get the authority to make this promise with this woman?” But they did under one condition. She had a scarlet rope that probably she had made from her Flax business. She would let them down over the wall, using this scarlet rope. If she would leave the scarlet rope hanging from her roof, when they came back to destroy the city, the section of the city wall where house was located would be spared and everyone in the house. As I read the story, I ask, why a scarlet rope? Why not blue or white? Could it be, that hidden here in this story, is a picture of the cross? Here, buried in an unusual story, is a picture of the cross, and the blood of Jesus. And all who are “…in the house…” shall be saved. Now my interest in the story increases.

The story jumps ahead. Now Joshua is leading the troops of Israel up to Jericho. The orders are: “we march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, we march around the city seven times. At the end of the seventh round, the priests blow the trumpets, and the people shout, and Jericho’s walls come crumbing down.” All the walls fall, except where the scarlet cord hangs from the roof of a pagan Canaanite. Those walls stand firm. Joshua orders the two spies to crawl up the walls to rescue Rahab and all who are in her house. Everyone else in Jericho perishes, all except those who have confidence in the scarlet cord. I come to the end of the story and find that the story is more than just one more incident in the history of Israel, but a picture of God’s plan of redemption. As I continue to read my Bible, I find that the story of Rahab does not end here in the hill country of Palestine. She marries a Jewish man, perhaps even one of the spies. Her linage is followed in Jewish genealogy. I find in Mathew 1:5 “…and Salman bore Boaz by Rahab, and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse was born David, king of Israel”. This pagan prostitute becomes a part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ because she knew that the God of these two spies was the great God of the universe. Her faith was in that scarlet rope.

But Rahab’s story does not end there. We, like her, live in a post-modern culture that does not honor God. Like her culture, ours is pluralistic, where we honor many things other than Jehovah. Just as Jericho was destroyed, our world will be destroyed. 2 Peter says it this way; “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and all that is in it will be burned up…according to His promise, we look for a new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells.”

The only way to escape this destruction is by hanging the scarlet cord from our heart. The cross becomes the only way to escape the carnage that awaits this earth.

Thank you Rahab, for the story you left for us.

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