unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father's household.Joshua 2:18(NASB)
Rahab the prostitute, secretly hid the two men that were sent to spy out the city of Jericho. She concealed them from the authorities in some stalks of flax on her roof and when questioned, told the guards they had already left the city. Hearing they had fled before nightfall, the king's men pursued them.
Rahab set about planning an escape-route for the spies and informed them that the king and citizens of Jericho were panicking. They had heard how Israel's God was the Lord of heaven and earth and that He fought for them against many mighty enemies. They heard how He dried up the Red Sea when He brought them out of Egypt and how Pharoah's army were drowned in a watery grave.
"I know that the Lord has given you this land," she confessed, and pleaded with the Israelites to spare her life and that of her extended family. "Please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to me and my family... and spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them. Please save us from death, because I showed kindness to you," she begged, "and give me a sure sign."
Rahab's request demonstrated her faith in God and before leaving, the men swore an oath that if she faithfully carried out their instruction... and did not report their visit to the authorities, they would show her kindness and faithfulness when God gave the city into their hands. "Our lives for yours," they promised. You protect us from the Jericho authorities and your lives will be protected in exchange.
Rahab's house was built into the city wall, and the men instructed her to tie a crimson cord to her window to identify her home during the attack. They promised that she and all her relatives would remain unharmed, on condition that they stayed inside her house. Anyone who ventured outside would be left unprotected, and if she reported their spies' mission to the authorities, they would be free of their pledge.
The scarlet cord was the sign given to Rahab. The spies insisted, "when we come into the land, tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house, together with your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father's household."
Apart from being highly visible to the Israelite army when they came to conquer the city of Jericho, the cord in the window is a beautiful expression of faith. Her action demonstrated Rahab's faith in the Lord and testified to faith of all who were with her in her home. They took God at His word and were credited with righteousness. The scarlet thread represented her own individual trust in God - a sanctifying faith that put into practise the faith that had already justified her in the sight of God.
For Rahab, the crimson thread represented life and hope. It signified salvation for this sinful woman and deliverance all her family who believed God's word. The men had told Rahab that if any of her family ventured outside the door and away from the promised protection the crimson cord afforded - their blood would be upon their own heads.
Although this scarlet thread in the book of Joshua is not identified as a true, Old Testament 'type', with its New Testament 'antitype', it has often been used in Christian circles to represent the cleansing life-giving blood of Christ, which atones for a man's sin - and through Whom a justified sinner is declared to be righteous in God's sight - by faith.
Rahab can be likened to the Philippian jailer who cried out, "what must I do to be saved?" and was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - you and your family." You are to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and each member of your family are to believe on Him to be saved. Rahab believed on the Lord for her salvation... and every member of her family, including her father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and all who trusted the God of Israel and joined her in her home, were also saved through faith.
Both Rahab and every member of her family who believed the promise of salvation from God and joined her in her home with the crimson cord hanging from the window, were declared righteous in the eyes of God - and saved. They were saved by grace through their initial faith and then demonstrated their faith by obeying the command they were given.
May we not only hear God's word but allow it to percolate into our heart so that we trust His word of truth with every fibre of our being. All who are justified by faith in Christ's atoning work at Calvary are wonderfully saved... but justification is the first step towards a life that is lived by faith - day after day - a life that stands firm on the promises of God and refuses to be shaken by the circumstances that surround us, for to do so honours our God and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Rahab's example of faith when she chose to trust Your word and place that crimson thread into her window - believing that you would fulfil Your promise to her. Thank You that even when surrounded by bitter enemies, I know that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ Jesus in Whom I trust. Give me the grace to withstand the advances of my enemies who would seek to shipwreck my faith and keep me ever looking to Jesus - the Author and Finisher of my faith, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.