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THE SCARLET THREAD
Intro: In our last study, we examined the life of Rahab the harlot and her encounter with the two spies from the camp of Israel. The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. The first obstacle they had to overcome was the walled city of Jericho. We will study the dramatic fall of that city when we reach Joshua chapter 6.
As we looked at those wonderful verses we learned that God had touched the heart of a wicked, pagan woman. We saw how the Lord allowed the news of Israelís God to reach Rahab. We saw the grace of God in action as He touched her heart, caused her to hear about the God of Israel and drew her to Himself. We examined the clear evidence give in this chapter that proves Rahab was redeemed by the grace of God. She hid the spies. Her life was changed. She spoke of her faith in God. She put herself at risk for the glory of God. She even turned her back on her city because she had set her face toward Heaven. This passage proves that God can, and will, save anyone who will come to Him by faith.
Rahab had nothing going for her. She had nothing to commend her to the Lord. She was a Gentile. She was an idol worshipper. She was a harlot. She was a wicked woman who was headed to Hell, and who deserved to go there.
But, she was saved by the grace of God, brought into t he family of Israel, made a partaker of all the covenants and promises of God, and she became the mother of Boaz, the Great-great grandmothers of King David, and an ancestress of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure that we will meet her one day in Heaven.
That is the power of Godís saving grace. Donít think for a minute that He canít do the same thing for you, If you will come to Him, you too will be saved, changed and made ready for Heaven! Praise the Lord! That is the primary lesson from this passage.
Today, I want to consider more closely something we only touched on in our last study. I want to focus our attention today on The Scarlet Thread mentioned in verses 15, 18, and 21. For me, that scarlet thread is filled with meaning and we do not want to miss the blessings that are here. Letís take some time today to study The Scarlet Thread and take note of the amazing characteristics of The Scarlet Thread.
I. WHAT THE THREAD DEPICTED
In verses 8-11, Rahab proclaimed her faith in the God of Israel. She told the spies what she knew about Him, and she expressed her conviction that their God was a powerful God, v. 10, and that He was the only God, v. 11. In verse 12, her words declare her faith in the promises of God as well.
She asks the spies to save her and her family, vv. 12-13. The spies promise Rahab that when Israel attacks the city of Jericho, all those who are in her house at the time will be saved, v. 14. Rahab then helped the spies to flee the city by lowering them down the wall, from her window, using a cord, v. 15. In verse 18, the spies tell Rahab to bind that cord in her window when Israel approaches Jericho, and all those in her house will be saved. However, those who leave the house during the invasion will receive the same fate as the rest of the people of Jericho.
That scarlet thread that hung down the walls of Jericho from Rahabís has much to say. That scarlet cord was probably just a common length of flax rope that Rahab had made and dyed right on her roof top, v. 6. All it was a piece of rope, but it pictures so much more than that.
First, letís notice the thoughts that are plain to see. The word ďcordĒ in verse 15 refers to a ďrope.Ē The word itself can also be used to speak about ďa company, or group of people.Ē Thus, it refers to a ďbraided ropeĒ and not just a single thread.
This cord was more than just a length of thread. It had to be strong enough to hold the weight of a man, v. 15, and it had to be long enough to reach to the bottom of the wall.
Besides the obvious thoughts the scarlet thread presents, it teaches some spiritual lessons that might not be as obvious.
That scarlet thread represented Rahab and her lifestyle. We have all heard of ďthe red light district.Ē That is where Rahab lived because she was a harlot. That scarlet thread represented her wicked past.
Down through the ages scarlet has been a color associated with evil. Scarlet is a strong, vivid red. As a noun, it refers to a color, but as an adjective, it speaks of immorality and of wickedness.
Perhaps you have read The Scarlet Letter by Nathanael Hawthorne. In that book a woman named Hester Prynne becomes pregnant while she is away from her husband. She is arrested and sent to prison for the crime. When she is released, she is forced to wear a scarlet letter upon the breast of her garment. It is the letter A, and it stands for adultery. That scarlet letter pictured her sin and her secrecy in refusing to reveal the name of the babyís father. Throughout the book, the scarlet ďAĒ is a picture of Hesterís sin.
That scarlet rope that hung from Rahabís window spoke volumes about Rahab. It reminded everyone that she was a sinner. It would have been easy to see as it hung against that wall. The color was easy to associate with her lifestyle. That scarlet thread depicted Rahab in her sins.
Of course, this is a just a reminder of our condition as well. We are all sinners, separated from God by our sins, until we repent and are saved, Isa. 59:2; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 3:10-23. Isaiah said it this way, ďCome now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,Ē Isa. 1:18.
That scarlet thread represents something else as well. Scarlet, or crimson, is the color of blood. The scarlet thread that hung from Rahabís window was the color of blood. It is interesting to note that the means of her salvation took the same form as her sin. Her lifestyle could be represented by the color scarlet. The color scarlet was also the color of the very thing that promised to save her from certain death.
That scarlet thread that hung from Rahabís window represents the blood. It represents the scarlet thread of blood that runs throughout the Bible. It enters the picture in Gen. 3:21 when God slew an innocent animal to provide a covering for the naked bodies of Adam and Eve. The scarlet thread makes itself visible in the contrast between the offering of Cain and the offering of Abel. The scarlet thread shows up in the sacrifices of Abraham. It shows up at the Tabernacle, in the Temple and in the Law of God. It shows up every time a sacrifice is given and an offering is made in the Bible. It shows up on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would sacrifice a goat to atone for the sins of the people.
The scarlet thread of redemption weaves itself into the very fabric of the Bible, so that the book would unravel if the scarlet thread were removed. I see it in the sacrifices in Genesis. I see it in the demands of the Law. I see it in the daily life of the people of Israel. I see it in the preaching of the prophets. I see it as it weaves itself in and out of the characters, the places and the events of the Old Testament. I see it as it weaves its way from Genesis to Malachi, and on into the Gospels. Then, I see it as it reaches its culmination at a place called Calvary, where the very Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, took upon Himself the sins of the world and died in the place of sinners, 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2.
That scarlet thread was a picture of redemption. It was a picture of salvation that comes to the sinner through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, the Bible is a bloody book. All the way from Genesis to Revelation, there is a river of blood that flows from page to page. That mighty river of blood teaches us the only way of salvation.
Salvation does not come through the works of our hands. It does not come through dead religion. It does not come from professions and promises. Salvation always comes through the shedding of the blood, Heb. 9:22. When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, His was the ultimate and final sacrifice for sins forever, Heb. 9:12-14; 24-28; 10:11-14.
According to the Bible, we are all sinners. As sinners, we are under the wrath of God, John 3:18, 36. We need to be saved and we cannot save ourselves, Eph. 2:8. The only thing that would ever satisfy God is the death of an innocent substitute in the place of guilty sinners. This is just what God accomplished through His Son the Lord Jesus. Jesus came to this world for the sole purpose of dying on the cross at Calvary to pay for sin, Phil. 2:5-8.
Just as it was in Rahabís case, our salvation took the form of our sin. Jesus came into this world as a man. He loved as a man. He died on the cross as a man. In His death, he took the place of the guilty and was judged in our place. That is the picture we see in the scarlet thread. That is the image that weaves its way through the books, chapter, verses and words of the Bible. The Bible is a book of blood! It is a book of redemption!
The theme of the Bible is the blood. The teaching of the Bible is that no one is saved apart from the blood, but all those who place their faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Thank God for the blood!
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
I. What The Thread Depicted
II. WHAT THE THREAD DEMANDED
When the spies left Rahabís home, they told her to tie the scarlet thread in the window of her house, v. 18. That scarlet cord would tell the invading Israelites that everyone in that home was under the protection of the promises of God and was not to be destroyed. Before that thread could secure Rahab and her family, it had to be tied in the window. Thus, that thread, while free and full of promise, did no good at all until it was utilized.
Thus, that thread came with several demands. Let me share them with you.
∑ The Scarlet Thread Demanded Faith - It took faith to tie that cord in the window and to believe the promises of the spies, v. 14. After all, in a sense, those spies were the enemies of Rahab. It took faith to take them at their word. But, Rahab placed her faith in the promises of the spies. She tied the cord in the window of her house. She believed and she was saved!
To be saved from sin, a lost sinner must believe the promises God has made concerning the blood of Jesus Christ. The sinner must come to the place where he is willing to take God at his word. Like Rahab, he must understand that nothing he can do will save him. He must know that only faith in the Word of God will save his soul and wash away his sins. We must come to the place where we believe Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9; Rom. 10:13; and John 14:6. When we do, we can be saved!
I wonder if Rahab felt foolish as she tied that cord in her window? I wonder if she ever wondered if that would work for her? You know she was afraid. You know there were days when she doubted.
Isnít it the same for us? Satan tells us that we are fools for believing in Jesus Christ. He tells us that we had better work harder, do more, live better and try our best to make it to Heaven, because something as simply as faith will never save us. Faith worked for Rahab, and faith will work for you! Trust the promises of God and you can rest assured in your salvation!
Ill. Israel in Egypt during the first Passover, Ex. 12. Do you think they felt foolish as they wiped blood on the doors of their houses? Do you think that some refused to do it because it seemed so strange? Do you think that some mocked those who believed in the power of the blood of those lambs and tried to find a better way? Well, When God passed through Egypt that night; He passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels. All those who trusted Godís promises related to the blood lived, the rest died.
Some may have painted their doorposts red. If they did, they died. Some might have tried decorating them with jewels, gold and silver. If they did, they died. Some probably ignored the warning, thinking it too farfetched and foolish. If they did, they died! Every one who placed their faith in the promises of God and entered through the blood of the lamb was spared.
So it is with Godís salvation! Those who come to God by faith, trusting in the shed blood of Jesus, will be saved! Ill. Rev. 7:9-17. What are you trusting today?
∑ That Scarlet Thread Demanded Urgency - The spies told Rahab to tie the cord in the window when they came into the land, v. 18. If you will notice verse 21, she did not wait! She tied the cord in the window immediately. This pictures a sense of urgency on the part of Rahab. She did not know when Israel might be coming and she didnít want to take any chances. She wanted to be ready when judgment came.
So it is with the salvation God offers. The only time a person can come to Jesus Christ is while they are living in this world. If you wait until you die, it will be too late. You need to stop delaying! You need to come to Jesus so that you can be saved. If time runs out, and you are not saved, you will go to Hell! That is why the Bible tells us to have a sense of urgency regarding the state of the soul.
∑ ďFor what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?Ē Mark 8:36-37.
∑ ď...now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,Ē 2 Cor. 6:2.
∑ ďSeek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,Ē Isa 55:6.
∑ ď...My spirit shall not always strive with man...,Ē Gen. 6:3.
∑ ďAnd even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,Ē Rom. 1:28.
Do you care about the condition of your soul? You should! You will live forever in either Heaven or Hell, and where you go when you die will be determined by what you do with Jesus. If you reject Him, ignore Him, put Him off, and deny Him, you will go to Hell. If you will simply believe on Him by faith, you will be saved, 1 John 5:12.
∑ That Scarlet Thread Demanded Commitment - It took an astounding commitment on the part of Rahab. When she tied that cord in her window, she was making a statement. She was saying, ďI choose the God of Israel, over the gods of my people. I choose the people of Israel over my people. I am willing to commit to following this God I have only heard about, based on a promise I cannot verify. I believe what I have heard about Him. I believe in Him. If He will not have me, or if He will not save me, then I will perish. If I perish, I will do so believing in the God of Israel.Ē That was the level of her commitment.
Beyond that, she wanted to see her family saved, vv. 12-13. She had to go to them, tell them about the God of Israel, and convince them to come into her house to wait for the invasion of Jericho. That took quite a commitment to the Lord. But, she made that commitment and she stood by it!
It takes a real commitment to live for the Lord in this world. If you are going to walk with the Lord, you are going to have to commit to being different. You are going to have to commit to a life that is different from the world around you. You are going to have to commit to trying to warn others about the judgment that is coming. The Gospel of Jesus demands that Godís true follows be a people who are committed to Him, wholeheartedly, and without reservation, Matt. 16:24. Does that describe you?
I. What The Thread Depicted
II. What The Thread Demanded
III. WHAT THE THREAD DELIVERED
When the spies left Rahab, she was tying that cord in her window. All she had was a promise and the hope that it would be kept. A short time later, Israel invaded Canaan. They came to Jericho and marched around that city once every day for six days. In the seventh day they marched around it seven times. That was thirteen laps around that city. Everybody who walked around that city saw that cord hanging from Rahabís window. That scarlet cord was testifying to them as they walked.
You see, they were walking by a promise too. God had promised them that He would flatten that walls of Jericho and give them victory over that city. Just like Rahab, they were walking by faith. That scarlet cord reminded them that God was already working on the inside of that city. It reminded them that God was bigger than Israel. It reminded them that in the midst of wrath, God was a God of love, grace and compassion. That scarlet cord was preaching to Israel!
When they completed that seventh lap around the city, they shouted and the walls of Jericho fell down flat, Josh. 6:20. Israel entered the city and destroyed all the inhabitants of Jericho, Josh. 6:21. Oh, by the way, the whole wall did not fall down! An even greater miracle than the walls of Jericho falling down is the fact that part of the wall was still standing. That part of the wall just happened to be where Rahab lived. It just happened to be the part of the wall that had a scarlet thread hanging down it. That part of the wall did not fall, and everyone who was in Rahabís house; everyone who had come under the protection of the promises behind that scarlet thread, were saved, Josh. 6:22-25.
That scarlet thread delivered salvation, protection and security to Rahab and to all those who believed its promises. Lest you misunderstand, neither Rahab nor anyone in her home was actually saved by the scarlet thread. After all, it was just a length of rope. No, placing their faith in what that cord represented saved them. That cord represented the saving grace of God. That cord represented the promises of God to save those who believe in Him. When those promises were accepted by faith, salvation was the result!
Rahabís was saved, and so was her family. Rahabís life changed, and so did the lives of her family. God grace, appropriated by faith in the scarlet thread, brought salvation, life, and hope to the house of Rahab, and to all who came under her roof.
By the way, there were no restrictions who could be saved in Rahabís house, Josh. 6:22. It was a ďwhosoever willĒ situation. Anyone who came in and believed the promise was saved!
I am still talking about the blood of Jesus Christ. Everyone who comes to God through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross comes under the protection of the blood of Jesus!
∑ Their sins are washed away, Col. 1:13-14; Rev. 1:5; Eph. 1:7.
∑ They are eternally forgiven, Psa. 103:12.
∑ They are brought close to God, Eph. 2:13.
∑ They are taken into Godís family, Eph. 2:17-22; Rom. 8:15.
∑ They are given eternal life, John 10:28.
∑ They are eternally secured in their salvation, John 6:37-40.
Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus Christ! Are you washed in the blood? Have you been saved by His grace. Are you absolutely, 100% sure that, if you died today, you would go to Heaven? If not, please come to Jesus and be saved. If you are, then rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
Conc: What Rahab did was a very simple thing. All she did was tie a scarlet cord in her window. Then, she waited. It was so simple of an action, yet it guaranteed her salvation and the salvation of all the rest who came under its protection.
The salvation God offers in Jesus Christ is just as simple. All He asks you to do is believe. If you can believe that you are a sinner, that Jesus died for your sins on the cross, and that He got up from the dead three days later, you can be saved, Rom. 10:9.
Have you done that? Are you saved? Come to Jesus my friend! The scarlet thread that weaves its way through the Bible is still sufficient to save the soul. Come to Jesus! Come and be saved. Come and worship Him!