Her name was Rahab, and she was a prostitute. I must say, she is one of my favorite heroines in Scripture, and in the event that you don’t know her story, find a cozy chair and flip to the second chapter of Joshua. A little background on where we are in the Bible…
Moses has died without ever entering the Promised Land, and his successor is the mighty warrior Joshua. Joshua is planning to invade Canaan, and in order to scope out the land, he sends in two spies. We don’t know their names, but we do know that they were told to focus on Jericho (are you singing the song yet? Someone posted on my blog awhile back and said her son was singing, “Joshua fought the battle of cherry coke, cherry coke, cherry coke…LOVE it. I digress…).
While they were there, the spies stayed at the home of a prostitute named Rahab. It has been speculated that they chose this location because it was unlikely that they would be discovered in a brothel. One way or another, by the end of their time there, they have changed the course of her life, and in a sense, all of our lives.
The king of Jericho gets word that there are spies in the land, and he sends his representatives to Rahab’s house. Instead of turning them in, she lies to them and tells them that the spies were there, but have now left and are on their way out of the city. While the guards rush through the night streets, Rahab crawls up to her roof where she has hidden the men under stalks of flax. She whispers to them while they lie there, and she tells them that she knows what the Lord has done for them. She has heard about the parting of the sea, and she believes that God Himself is on their side. She tells them that she believes their God is “God of heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:11). Essentially, she believes in God more than she fears for herself. She lies to the authorities to protect these strangers, because she wants to be on the side of God, as they are.
She tells the spies that she will keep them safe as long as they will promise not to harm her family when they storm the city. They agree. She lets down a cord from her window and helps them with an escape plan out of the city. The men tell her that they will be back to battle shortly, and in order for her family to be kept safe, she must do one thing. She must gather her family into her home and then drop a scarlet cord from her window to signify that they are to be spared in the fighting.
It wasn’t the first time the Lord used a symbol like this, foreshadowing the blood shed by Christ. Remember when Moses was trying to convince Pharoah to let his people go and a series of tragic plagues swept the land as he refused to release them? During the last plague, God tells Moses that unless a family has taken the blood of a lamb and put it on the sides and the tops of their door frames, their first-born sons will die in the night. The houses with the blood on them will be “passed over (hence the holiday Passover),” and the children will live.
The blood of a lamb…the scarlet cord…the cross at Calvary…
This is one of the things I love most about my Jesus. He is the God of redemption. He loves to take the underdog and show them that they are not who they thought they were. He took a woman who made a scandalous living, and he blessed her because she believed in God with holy, reverent fear. He didn’t just “let” her into the story. He chose her for the story.
He chose you for the story.
The story of Rahab brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. The blood-red cord comes spilling from a window, desperately clutched on one end by a woman who believes in the God she has yet to meet. This is the cord that will save her and her family from disaster.
So where are we in all of this? We are the sinners who have the power of the scarlet cord, dropped in faith and held with utter conviction that He will save us.
I don’t always love my Lord the way I want to. I get distracted, my mind wanders, my fingers become busy, Old Navy has a clearance sale…oh, I get off task easily…
I have something I like to do when I feel like I am wandering from Him, drifting just a little bit (or maybe a whole lot). It has been one of the most powerful exercises I have done during my life as a Christian, and it never fails to move me to tears.
I find a comfortable place (usually my bed), and I get settled. I take a moment to just be still. This is a challenge in itself most days, but when I do it, I know that it is because He is going to make Himself known to me in the next few moments. I close my eyes, and the first thing I imagine is the thorn of crowns, cutting into His sweet, bloody brow. I look at the crown. In my mind, I run my fingers gently across the thorns and I whisper to Him. I just sit in the sorrow for a bit, and when I feel ready, I let my minds-eye travel to His face and His beaten body. His arms, aching from being stretched out and held up. I spend time studying His sunken cheeks, His hollowed eyes, His chest, His arms, and oh, Lord, His wrists. The blood that came from a nail, spilled for me…
I gradually see His back, beaten beyond human recognition. I move slowly, taking it all in. I trace the wounds, I pray for Him, I weep with Him. I thank Him. I see His legs, hung weightlessly into the base of the cross, nails driven through his ankles. I imagine what it must have felt like as the nails pierced His skin. I hear the shouting, the chaos, the overwhelming sense that the moment of death is near. I am another woman who stands at the foot of the cross, forgiven. I am another woman clinging to the scarlet rope.
And here is the best part of the story, and probably the least expected twist in the plot. At some later point in time, Rahab becomes pregnant, and gives birth to a son, whom she names “Boaz.” Remember Boaz? You may recall that he was symbolic of Christ as the “kinsmen redeemer” who married Ruth in the book of Ruth. Are you ready for this family tree?
Rahab is the mother of Boaz.
Boaz is the father of Obed.
Obed is the father of Jessie
Jessie is the father of David.
Let’s skip a couple of generations and see where we end up…
…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
She was a sin-filled woman with a controversial story.
She was a castoff.
She was imperfect, immoral, improper.
She was hand-picked to be part of His lineage.
She was redeemed by faith.
Seven and a half years ago, I opened a window and dropped a scarlet cord.
And my Lord, despite my hardships, has kept His promises to me. One day I will stand before Him and I will see the wounds with my own eyes. I will thank Him. I will bow down low and I will worship the One who wore the crown of redemption. I will spend eternity in a place where there is no more hurt. A place where my sweet Audrey waits for me. I cannot wait for that moment. I want to see Him, to love Him, to adore the One who saved me.
And maybe, just maybe, there will be a giant close-out at Old Navy up there…
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to us, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
P.S. I made a scarlet bracelet (shown at beginning of post) for each of the girls, Todd, and myself. We put them on as a family tonight to have a visual reminder of the power of redemption. I am aware that those who are Kabbahlists wear red strings on their left wrists, so we chose to add the “believe” bead and we wear it on the right to distinguish between the two beliefs. It just took a quick trip (actually 2, but that is because I am measurement-challenged…) to Michael’s…I hope you do the same if you think this is something you and your family would benefit from:)