“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 12:13
“Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.” – Joshua 2:18
“And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” – Joshua 6:25
I lead a small women’s counseling group at my church as part of a faith-based recovery and discipleship program. The program is often underestimated as one that deals solely with addictions, but my years of involvement have shown me that people are there for everything under the sun – marital problems, hard-to-raise kids, depression, abusive relationships, and eating disorders are just a few of the needs represented.
As we go around the table sharing our personal struggles, I often wonder what I need to talk about. Life is good. God is good, and my problems are few. And yet, when my turn comes, something shameful always spills out. It never takes me long to dredge up my inner rebellion, some regrettable attitude, or some resentment or relapse from the depths of this imperfect woman’s heart.
Maybe that’s why I love Rahab. She’s the poster girl for real women like me. In Joshua 2, Rahab is one of the most notorious residents of a notorious city – Jericho. She is a harlot, and word reaches the king that two Israelite spies are trying to blend in at the brothel (Verses 1-4).
But while you can question Rahab’s morals, you can’t question her intelligence. This girl has the fear of the Lord in her (Proverbs 2:5, 9:10, 10:27, 29:25, Isaiah 33:6, Revelation 15:4). She’s heard the stories of the Red Sea and miraculous victories. She knows that all of Jericho is running scared, and this harlot is ready to put her fate in the hands of the One True God (Joshua 2:9-13, James 2:25).
When questioned about her notorious visitors, Rahab sends the king’s men on a wild goose chase, telling them that the spies have already left the city. She then hides the spies on the roof of her house and offers them a different kind of proposition – she will save them now, if they will save her later. A deal is struck, and a scarlet cord serves as a way of escape for the spies and a signal of salvation for Rahab and her family.
Rahab’s redemption is a special foreshadowing of ours. The scarlet cord hung in her window is a sort of Gentile passover, a representation of how Christ would one day bring salvation to you and me. Just as the Jews sprinkled blood on their doorposts in Exodus 12, so that the Angel of Death would pass over their families, Rahab’s scarlet cord protected her family from the swords of the Israelite army (Exodus 12, Joshua 2:18-21, 6:17, 22-25, Hebrews 13:12-13).
And by God’s grace, Rahab would become a permanent fixture in Israel, eventually marrying into the house of Judah, giving birth to Boaz (the husband of Ruth and great grandfather of David), and finding her own place of grace in the genealogy of Christ (I Chronicles 2:11-12, Ruth 4:20-21, Matthew 1:5, Luke 3:32).
I love Rahab, but more than that, I love the God Who redeemed Rahab. Her life was a mess, punctuated by immorality of biblical proportions. But she was not beyond grace, not beyond saving. And she wasn’t just rescued, she was restored. All it took was a little healthy fear of a holy God (Psalm 20:6, 33:21, 42:1-2, Habakkuk 2:20, Hebrews 10:31, 11:31, Revelation 4:8).
Today, you and I live in Jericho, where sin and fear run rampant, and few people understand that redemption only comes in the color red – through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 9:22, I John 1:7). But you and I can know restoration. We can leave our personal Jericho behind, and we can find our place in the plan of God (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:8-10).
Take a page out of the story of our poster girl, Rahab, and start with a healthy fear of a holy God. We can go from being casualties of war to poster girls for grace. And with that grace, we can grow to be more than conquerors and all that God has planned (Romans 8:37-39).
Be a poster girl for grace. Take your whole mess to God, and let Him rescue and restore you through the power of His blood. Seek accountability and a place of grace where you can be honest about all your struggles.