The Crimson Cord
In Joshua 2, we meet a woman named Rahab, whose name translates as “sea monster; dragon; man-eater” and whose occupation could translate the same. Rahab was an Amorite prostitute who lived in the wall of Jericho at the time of Israel’s pursuit of the Promise Land. Rahab was a moral leper. At the time, the life of a prostitute came with gruesome implications. Rahab was likely forced into her work by poverty or loss of kinsman. This also meant the loss of any dignity or meaning that society could offer. Rahab was despicable and she was forgettable.
However, through entertaining many “guests”, Rahab was also in the know. Within the walls of her inn Rahab heard story after story of Israel’s undertakings. Fear of Yahweh was spreading throughout Jericho like a disease and Rahab was watching it happen. So, when two men from Israel’s army appeared at her door, trying to escape Amorite pursuers, Rahab did something unexpected. The woman once known as a man-eater became a protector, and, on behalf of the stories she had heard of Yahweh, Rahab betrayed her own people, sheltered the Israelites, and pointed them to safety. “Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land 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.” (Joshua 2:8-9) Rahab had heard of Israel, she had heard of Yahweh, and she made up her mind that this was the story to partake in.
In exchange for their lives, the Israelites save Rahab from the destruction of Jericho. “And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.” (Joshua 6:16-17) Rahab’s fate was sealed when she hung a crimson cord from her window, a sign to Israel that her house and everyone in it would be exempt from destruction.
Rahab’s story changed when she looked upon the God of Israel. She chose Him and He chose her back. From idolater to family. From forgotten to redeemed. This is the good news. Any and all of us who feel we can’t outrun our sin, who feel trapped by our failures, who can’t seem to shake the scarlet letter off of our identities, we have hope. There is a freedom and a huge, diverse, wonderful family waiting to receive us. Rahab’s salvation was her decision in faith and the crimson cord she hung from her window. Upon seeing the crimson, the Lord passed over her, protected her from destruction, and preserved her life. In the same way that Rahab was saved, we too will be saved.
God didn’t need to know anything about Rahab except for the presence of the crimson that covered her home. Despite her past, her sins, and her identity, the only thing that could determine her fate was the presence of the crimson cord. God looked upon the crimson and His mind was made up. In the end, it was not the scarlet letter that determined Rahab’s identity, it was the crimson cord.
Rahab became a redeemed woman. She was ushered into the family of Israel, married, and gave birth to Boaz, the great grandfather of King David. Rahab went from a forgettable Amorite, to a renowned Israelite, an ancestor of Jesus Christ the King.