Joshua chapter 2 tells us the story of Rahab and the two spies that were sent to Jericho. The Israelites were camped just a little distance away. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that the spies intentions were found out. So they made way to the house of a prostitute by the name of Rahab to seek protection.
This makes great sense when one understands how Jericho was built. There was an outer wall and an inner wall. The king’s palace was in the middle of the town. The more important you were, the richer you were the closer to the middle you lived.
Now, a moment ago we mentioned that there were two walls, an outer and inner wall. These walls were about 15 feet apart. The lower class, the undesirables lived within this 15-foot separation between the two walls. In the case of Rahab, she lived in or on the outer wall.
Earlier in the chapter (vss. 9, 10) shows us that she had become a believer in the Israelite God. It was on account of the miracles God had done on behalf of the Israelites that caused her to become a believer, but these same miracles had caused panic in the hearts of others that lived within the city (see vs 11).
Rahab struck a quid pro quo (this for that deal) with the two spies. If I protect you, then I want you to protect me when you and your God come and invade the city. In verse 14 the men answered, “Our lives for yours if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”
Verse 15 gives us the details by which they were to escape and that was by letting down a cord through an open window from the place where she lived which was on the outer wall.
The spies instructed Rahab that for her and her family to be saved, they must all be gathered together in her house, and that she must have a scarlet cord hanging from the window of her house.
Now this scarlet cord was not the same cord as used to lower them down. And interestingly enough the word used to describe the two cords is different. In vs. 15 the Hebrew word for “cord” or “Rope” is chebel, whereas the word in vs. 18 the word used is tiqwah. It comes from a root ward meaning “to twist,” “to bind,” and consequently, “to be firm,” “To be strong,” or figuratively, “To be confident,” “to hope.”
It would have been crazy to think the spies had her use the same rope as she used to lower them down. No the scarlet cord was most likely made of silk and was used in her trade as a prostitute as a signal that she was busy in her trade and others wanting to be serviced would have to wait.
Consequently, the scarlet cord would not have attracted the attention of the authorities in Jericho, yet would draw the attention of the Israelites because of what the spies told Joshua.
But if Rahab had not been faithful in hanging the scarlet cord from her window then she and her family would have lost their lives.
That scarlet cord, was Rahab’s hope and she was confident, she was strong in her conviction that what the spies said would be true.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have prostituted ourselves to sin. We lust after the things of this world, but there is hope. The spies gave Rahab and her family hope and that hope was in the scarlet cord she hung from her window. It was a sign of the covenant made between herself and the spies.
There is another covenant that brings us hope. This covenant is the promise that another would come into enemy territory and through His sinless life, He would give hope to all the believed in the covenant promise that was made long ago, before Adam and Eve left the garden.
Interestingly enough in Matthew 1:5, 6 it states the following, Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jessy begot David the King.
Interesting that verse five gives us two women, non Jews in the linage of Christ. Rahab the prostitute of Jericho and Ruth the Moabite the daughter in law of Naomi from Ruth’s first marriage.
You see through Christ, and shown by the linage of Christ, the covenant promise is available to all, no matter your race, no matter how sinful you may be, Christ ransomed you from a life of sin. His covenant promise given to Adam and Eve and later to Abraham still holds true today. Genesis 12:3 is the promise, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Through Abrahams decendants the world would be blessed by the coming of the Messiah, but not just for the Jews, but for all the world, even for us living today.
For us, the story of Rahab gives us hope, for no matter what sin we are addicted to, for Rahab by being a prostitute is addicted to lust and sin causes us to lust after more sin, but her story gives us hope, for something better.
Christ is the cord of our hope and when we grab ahold of Christ, then we have the hope that when this world is destroyed, Christ and his angels will rescue us.
As we start this New Year, may we be reminded of our hope that is in Christ.