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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Wake Up!

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you. ~ Isaiah 60:1 ~

The book of Isaiah is the announcement of God’s surprising plan of grace and glory for His rebellious people. It’s a story of rebellion, judgement, sacrifice, and redemption.

In Genesis 12:2-3, the Lord promises Abraham that through his descendants, the world would be blessed.

2“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

But by the time Isaiah came into the scene, the descendants of Abraham had grown to no longer trust in the promises of the ever-faithful God. They instead aligned themselves with the false promises and the fears of this world. Isaiah recalls that the Israelites saw the very presence of the Lord, and yet their faith was so fleeting. They were epically rescued from the hands of slavery. The people of God saw manna come down from heaven, they saw seas part, they saw enemies fall in defeat, they saw the Lord in a pillar of clouds by day and fire by night…and yet still they so easily wandered from the Lord and His commandments. (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

THEY HAD FALLEN ASLEEP!

THEY HAD FALLEN ASLEEP TO THE PROMISES OF GOD.

LIKE A MARRIED WOMAN WHO SELLS HERSELF ON THE STREET — WE HAVE BELIEVED THE LIES OF THE ENEMY AND WE HAVE FORGOTTEN THE PROMISES OF GOD AND WHO WE ARE IN HIM! (Exodus 16:2, Numbers 11:1-15, 14:2)

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But there is one strong theme that runs through this story. For this is not just a story of rebellion and disobedience. This is a story of pursuit, passion, forgiveness, and an undying longing for God to be with the one He loves, His chosen people. The Word of God describes our human condition of being prone to wander from God, and His glorious forgiveness, always available and ready to welcome us home.

Close your eyes. Picture the perfect Garden of Eden. Perfection. Beauty. It was not just good, but “very good.” The ultimate creation in communion with the Creator. But…temptation. A choice to sin. Doubt that God really is who He says He is. One thought. What the world can give us is better than what God can give us. And now…imperfection. The original design taken by the enemy.

And what does our majestic Father do. He calls us into the open. He clothes us. And He engages with full force on the journey of redemption for our sins. And, out of His great love for us, He does not turn His back on us. Even though we so very much would deserve it! Rather, He makes a way for us to be in constant and perfect communion again. Oh yes, death will be defeated. The enemy will be overcome!

The answer…

Jesus Christ!

In 2 Samuel, the Lord promises David that his throne would lead the world into salvation

12“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14“I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My loving-kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16“Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”

The restoration of Israel is our restoration. As God redefined Israel for His glory, He is redefining us. O chosen people of God, remember who you are!

Isaiah 44:21-22      Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant. I have formed you; you are My servant. O Israel, I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

O chosen people of God, remember that you have been pursued with a great love! Remember that your opportunity to live once again in perfect communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, has been bought with a great sacrifice!

Isaiah 53:5     He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.

And now, you may once again wear that white bridal gown!

Isaiah 61:10     I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.