The Scarlet Strand

Joshua 6:17 —– The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prositute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

Today was like any other day for Rahab. She awoke with the sun beating down upon her window. Just another day. Another day of shameful acts…”It’s for survival,” she tells herself. “I am not worth anything more than this anyway,” she convinces herself. “This is my reputation and its too late to change,” she believes. Yes, just another day of bondage. One more day of walking the city streets and enduring the judgemental glances from the women – and the lustful, illicit looks from the men. There is not enough makeup or fancy clothes in the world, to mask the pit of despair inside, or to hide the despravity she sees in the mirror. How do you make a better life for yourself, when the ugly reflection staring back at you is only a reminder that you simply are unworthy of any life other than this? “Rahab the prostitute.” That was who she was. That was her identity. There was no changing that.

Until today. When her life would be turned upside down by two unexpected Israelite spies. Two unannounced visitors into her home. Did they not realize whose home they were stepping into? Did these spies of God not know that this was the defiled home of a defiled woman? What was she to do? Well, she may be unworthy of true love from a man…but she was not incapable of showing love to others! She hid the foreigners, and cleverly dismissed the King’s men who were looking for them.

“I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” (2:9) She heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea when the Israelites left Egypt. She heard how the power of God let them completely destroy Sihon and Og and the Amorites. “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (2:11) How did she know this? How was Rahab able to make such bold claims and confident statements about a God she did not know, and about a group of people she had never met before? Maybe she had this one thing most of us tend to struggle with…willingness. She was willing to listen when the Spirit of God knocked on her soul. She was willing to believe the great stories she heard on the streets about the mighty works of the God of the Israelites. She did not question how a sea could be parted or how 300 men could defeat 3,000. She was just willing to believe that it happened. She was willing to accept two complete strangers into her home. She was willing to accept their promise that her and her family would be spared, in return for her safe keeping of the spies.

She was a harlot and a liar. But she was willing to believe that God could use her. Even though she was clearly defiled, broken, dirty, guilty.

I just love how God works! The life of a guilty prostitute was completely overhauled! And used in a mighty mighty way, to bring about the powerful works and glory of the Lord! God interrupted her day and she received the unexpected change in plans.

“The men said to her, ‘This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.” (2:17) It probably took ever ounce of gumption inside of her to gather her family together – on the hopes that this God truly was real – and toss that scarlet strand outside her window. It made more sense to run, right? She was told of the impending doom to come to Jericho. Why not gather her family and try to escape? No, she was going to stay, and stand on her faith. Just as the Israelites marked their doorposts with blood during the Passover in Egypt, Rahab let that scarlet rope down, marking her home as one to be saved.

Matthew 1:5 reveals that Rahab is in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. She even makes it into the “hall of faith” in Hebrews chapter 11. A prostitute? Yes! Praise God! For then there would be no hope for me! Being a sinful, far from perfect, flawed woman who allows her emotions to take the driver’s seat all too often, this story is near and dear to my heart. We are all like Rahab. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we are sexually impure, we make mistakes, we have bitterness, we hate, we manipulate, we act in anger…we look in the mirror and struggle to see anything beautiful staring back at us. Believe today that God just loves to use the broken and imperfect! We can read the story of Rahab and walk away with the promise that NO MATTER WHAT, we will never be too far gone for God to light up His love in our lives. We will never be too sinful, that the blood of Jesus can’t wash us clean. We will never mess up enough that God just can’t reach us anymore. If we are willing, God’s power can be intertwined within our lives. Be brave enough to believe (even when you may not understand) and toss that scarlet strand outside your window. Mark your home, your marriage, your family, your children with the blood of Jesus! Then receive the salvation and victory of the Lord!

 

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