The Scarlet Cord of Hope
The Scarlet Cord of Hope

The Scarlet Cord of Hope

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. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible… “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Joshua 2:17-21
“…and she [Rahab] tied the scarlet cord in the window” (Joshua 2:21).

Jericho was about to be destroyed. Rahab and her family lived in a house joined right to the wall of the city. She had heard of the miracles wrought on behalf of Israel and about the God of Israel—she had heard about all that the Lord had done to Egypt and to the nations that had challenged Israel along the way. She was convinced that Israel’s God was the true God, and at the risk of her own life she decided to cast her lot with Israel and their God.

The book of Hebrews tells us that “by faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Heb. 11:31). She confessed her faith in the God of Israel to the two spies. She begged them to spare her and her family from the destruction shortly to take place. They gave her one condition. She must leave the scarlet cord hanging out the window of her house. Only if that scarlet cord could be clearly seen by Joshua and his troops would she and those of her household be spared from death.

Rahab kept her faith and her promise. The scarlet cord remained outside the window every day until that final moment came. Days and weeks may have gone by, but her confidence stood firm and the cord was a continual token of her faith.

When the troops finally arrived, the city was shut up tight. There was a whole week of silent marching around the city and then, suddenly came the shout of victory, and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down:

The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given us you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared…” …Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her…and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Joshua 6:16-17,25

In the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word for “cord” is “tiqvah” which means a cord or attachment of some sort. What makes this Hebrew word of interest to us is that this same word, “tiqvah,” can also be translated as “hope.” In other words, in the Hebrew way of thinking, hope is like a cord which attaches one object to another! What a wonderful description for something so important to us as hope.

In the following Old Testament passages this same Hebrew word, “tiqvah” for the “cord” which Rahab hung out her window is translated as “hope”:

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety (Job 11:18).
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. (Psalm 62:5)
For You have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord my confidence since my youth (Psalm 71:5).
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you… plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11).

Hope is what keeps us attached and connected with the energy and stamina needed to go on each day. Before coming to Christ, we may have had certain hopes, expectations and dreams, some more far-reaching than others. Whatever those hopes might have been, they provided us with the encouragement needed to urge us on toward our goal. But they were only hopes for wishes and stuff on this side of eternity’s door. Our “cords” were only attached to things in this life. Concerning eternity, the Word of God tells us that we were “…without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

“…hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure…” (Heb 6:19)

After we came to Christ, something wonderful happened! Suddenly a “cord of hope” stretched right on into eternity held in the very hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! An eternal life-line! The writer of Hebrews tells us that “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf…” (Heb 6:19-20).

What could be more comforting than to know that the anchor of our little storm-tossed ship has been safely cast into the arms of Jesus for eternity! Regardless of how hard the wind blows, or how high the waves rise, we are anchored in our Savior. In fact, every yank and tug on that cord during the storms only reminds us that He is holding us safe and secure!

How foolish we are sometimes: as God’s dear children, we know that our life-line has been safely cast within the veil into the arms of Jesus, and yet we still feel unsteady and insecure about so many things pertaining to this life.

We throw out our futile little anchors of human hope and try to land them on something that feels solid. A nice bank account, iron-clad insurance policies, and a job with all the benefits including a wonderful retirement plan.

While it may be necessary to deal with these things throughout the course of our life here on earth, we must realize that they are only temporary “hopes” at best. When we begin to give these things priority, they will soon become “cords” and attachments which tie us down in bondage to a miserable lifestyle. Such vain attachments were never intended by God for His dear children. He has something so much better for us!

Jericho’s Doom

Jericho was a city destined for destruction.

Even though the whole world may be crying out, “peace and safety,” Paul told the Thessalonians that at just such a time, sudden destruction will take place upon this earth, and all of those who are taken by surprise will not be able to escape. Jesus also spoke of the need to be watching and waiting in prayer that we might be “worthy to escape” all the things that will come upon th is earth (see 1 Thess 5:3 and Luke 21:34-36).

Turning back to the story of Rahab, we can imagine that she must have realized this very thing—time was short. Her modern-day Jericho lifestyle was about to be terminated, and Rahab had to make a choice between the immediate now and the hereafter.

Since we know the end of this story, it may seem to us that such a choice would have been easy for Rahab to make. But in actuality, it would have taken true sacrificial faith on her part. Her whole lifestyle had been born and bred in Jericho. All those around her, including her relatives were probably quite confident that their houses and their city would abide forever. Surely they would have invested in their future security in that city and would have refused to allow themselves to consider anything else — blinded to the imminent destruction which was about to take place. Yes, for Rahab, it would have surely taken a real leap of faith to see beyond her whole world of Jericho.

This same problem exists today. Many people have chosen to completely avoid the subject of eternity. Securing themselves in this life is all that they think about, as the Bible tells us in the Psalms:

Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names… Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49:11,20 KJV

The book of Job compares the frailty of earthly hopes to trusting in a flimsy spider’s web:

Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.

Job 8:13-15

Without doubt, the enemy is at work in the world today—by blinding men and women to the vision of eternity, he can cause them to procrastinate until it is too late:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Cor 4:4

As God’s children, our eyes should be opened wide to our glorious and eternal hope! Paul prayed for one church that the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” would enlighten their eyes to know the “hope of their calling” (Eph 1:16-19). Concerning death, Paul told the church in Thessalonica that Christians should not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13-18). Death for the child of God is a beginning, not an ending.

Unlike Rahab, we can “read ahead” in God’s Word to know the ending of her story, and in the same way we can also “read ahead” in the Bible to find out what happens to this present world. In referring to the hope we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul gave this exhortation to the Corinthian church concerning where the Christian’s hope should rest:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men….But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

1 Cor 15:19,23,24

Rahab knew that Jericho was doomed. Though just an unworthy prostitute, Rahab trusted in God and was saved. Joshua and his armies came right on schedule just as the spies had promised and Rahab was ready and waiting with her little cord of hope!

This ”Jericho-world” in which we live today is also doomed for destruction! The days here on planet earth are numbered! But Jesus is coming back right on schedule! And He is coming back for those “who belong to Him” (—those who are waiting and hoping for His soon return. Those who, like Rahab, have kept that scarlet cord of hope hanging out of their window as a moment-by-moment reminder of that blessed hope.

“Helmet of the hope of salvation ” (1 Thess 5:8)

The Helmet Of Hope

It is not clear exactly how much time elapsed from the moment Rahab put her trust in the God of Israel until the time that Joshua and his army overthrew Jericho. But we can safely assume that Rahab had only one thing upon her mind: Joshua is coming soon!

Certainly Rahab’s daily activities would have changed drastically. Previous priorities would be dropped from her list. Her whole life would have centered around that one single thought: Joshua is coming soon!

When the Spirit of God enlightens the eyes of our understanding to behold the blessed and eternal hope of God’s calling upon our lives, something peculiar begins to happen. Suddenly our thought patterns begin to change. The things that used to hold such importance for us no longer attract our attention.

Paul described this concept by explaining that the “hope of salvation” is like a helmet which in time of war protects a very important and yet vulnerable area of our body:

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober… But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thess 5:6,8

Isaiah expressed the importance of our our mind in this wonderful promise:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is statyed on You, because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3

Proverbs tells us “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7). In other words, our thought-life dictates our way of life. As with the Thessalonians, Paul often taught that maintaining our thoughts in Christ is the basis of strong Christian living:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Rom 12:2

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

2 Cor 10:4-5

Just as Rahab’s whole way of life would have been transformed by her new concept of Jericho, so our lives will drastically change when our foremost thought becomes: Jesus is coming soon! Putting on the helmet of hope will make a dramatic difference in our way of thinking and living, and our minds will be preserved from satan’s attacks!

The Cord That Draws Us

When the anchor of our soul is secured in the arms of Jesus, we will surely find ourselves living a life progressively more pure and holy—the life which God desires us to live here in the midst of a “crooked and depraved generation” (Phil 2:15-16).

Jesus continues to gently tug and pull on that cord, drawing us ever closer to Himself. Perhaps this was the very essence of what both Jeremiah and Hosea prophesied about concerning God’s love:

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love… (Hosea 11:4)
…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness (Jer. 31:3)

Peter referred to this hope as a “living hope” (1 Pet 1:3) — something that should be alive and growing within our lives day by day. John wrote concerning the hope of Jesus’ soon return in his epistle:

Dear friends, now we are children of God… But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

1 John 3:2-3

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:11-13

In these last moments of time, surely Jesus, the One holding the Anchor of our Hope, is tugging more and more frequently upon that cord tying us to our hope. The only thing that can hinder and prevent this purifying process from taking place in our lives is if we allow other cords to attach us to anchors in this life. In Hebrews we read:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1

Paul admonished the Colossians with these words concerning the importance of cultivating a heavenly-minded lifestyle:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, ap- pears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Col 3:1-4
Our Joshua is coming! Let everyone know!

Let Everyone Know!

Rahab had an important duty to perform. The two spies made it clear to Rahab that only those found in her house would be preserved from the destruction of Jericho. She had to clearly warn others of the impending doom and convince them that there was safety in her house alone.

We are not told how the people responded to Rahab’s message, but the promise of those two men remained true, and all that were with Rahab in her house were saved.

We, too, have a similar duty to carry out. It is our solemn responsibility to warn, exhort, preach, and compel men to hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech (2 Cor. 3:12 KJV).
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… (1 Peter 3:15).

Our “Joshua” —Jesus Christ— is coming soon! Let’s make sure that our “scarlet cord” is hanging out of our window in full view for all to see! May we be purifying our lives according to this living hope, letting go of every other anchor that attaches us to the things of this life and weighs us down. Let’s give full permission for Jesus to yank, tug, and pull upward on our “cord of hope,” drawing us ever closer to Himself. And finally, until Jesus comes in glory, let’s fervently preach the Good News of the Gospel to all creation!

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