This Easter is a glorious celebration for all Christians! I have been moved to tears, thankfulness and worship as I’ve read a picture of the Easter story in the life of Joshua and Rahab.
Hang on! Isn’t the Easter story in the New Testament? Isn’t the Easter story about Jesus? What do Joshua and Rahab have to do with Easter? Let me explain….
Way back in the book of Numbers, chapter 13:16, we learn something about Joshua. He is one of those special people in Scripture whom God chose to change his name. His name used to be Hoshea, but “Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.”
The name Joshua is a beautiful name. No matter which baby name book or dictionary you look in the meaning will be mostly consistent: Yahweh (or God) is salvation, or Yahweh Rescues. If there is any confusion about the name’s meaning the conflicting definition would be ‘Yahweh’s Gift’. As you will see through the story of Joshua I think all three hit the nail on the proverbial head perfectly!
Another thing you need to know about the name Joshua is that it is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus, and it is very likely the name that Jesus’ contemporaries used when they spoke to Him. (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Joshua.html)
So we ask… why would God have Moses change His name from Hoshea (depending on your translation it may have been Oshea or Hosea as well) to Joshua?
I believe that God was moving in history, in the lives of men and women of old, to give them and us a picture of His Son who was to come and who would carry the same name. I think as we read the book of Joshua, and get to know Him it should become very clear to us – and the name change should give it away – that Joshua would be a beautiful picture of Jesus yet to come.
So Joshua, along with Caleb, is sent by Moses into the Promised Land to scout it out. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who believed that with the Lord’s help the Promised Land could truly be overcome and that victory was possible. The other ten spies sent with them argued and said the giants were too big. The Israelites chose to believe the ten spies and with that lost the opportunity to live in the promised land during their life time. Instead, they wandered in the desert for 40 years, waiting until the last person would die so that the young ones could enter and take it as their inheritance.
And Joshua – the one who saves – became their leader.
So after Joshua became the leader he decided to go after Jericho. A city filled with giants and very, very high and thick walls of protection around it. Winning against such a formidable force seemed daunting, at the least, to everyone’s natural eyes. But knowing they fought with the strength of God Joshua obeyed. But before he did, he sent more scouts.
These spies went into Jericho and went straight to the house of a prostitute. Have you ever wondered why they went there? Doesn’t it seem strange that these mighty men would choose a prostitute’s house for shelter?
I don’t know, but I suspect they may have thought that as ‘tourists’ in the land it would only make sense that they visit the local ‘lady’ and so their purpose would be disguised. But alas, the Bible says, “The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”” I guess someone figured it out!
But Rahab the prostitute would not deliver these spies to the authorities. “Something” in her knew that the right thing to do would be to protect those Israelite spies. Before they retire for the night (they slept on the roof… I think their relationship was kosher) she says this:
“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. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 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.” (Josh. 2:8-11, NIV)
If you read that correctly you will have noticed that in her own words Rahab is worshiping God. She is giving credit where credit is due. It would seem that Rahab’s heart has been quickened to the work and voice of the Lord.
And that is where we should stop, scratch our heads and say, “What!?! Since when does God reveal Himself to prostitutes? And why does He allow this one to praise Him?”
And I rejoice on this Easter morning to say the answer is because that is who God is. He is the one who reveals Himself, the one who loves the unloved and unlovely, the one who whispers to the hearts of those He wants to rescue. Has He whispered to you?
And so, as the story goes, she realizes the spies are going to come back and take the city and she attempts to bargain with the spies. She asks them to remember her and her kindness to them when they come back. She asks them to save her and all her family from death.
The spies say yes.
And then they said this:
“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. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” (Josh. 2:17-20, NIV)
And in the very next verse it says that as soon as the spies had departed she tied the scarlet cord in her window. She didn’t wait even a moment… she wanted to be sure they didn’t miss her, no matter what day, or what hour they came.
Then Joshua, leader of the Israelite army, sends his people out. As he does there is another amazing and miraculous crossing of a sea… this time the Jordan. It took time for Joshua to get to Jericho, to be consecrated, to have celebrated the Passover again and to have made a plan with the Lord for how to capture the city. It didn’t happen right away.
Yet Rahab was safe… the scarlet cord was still hanging in her window. And I have to assume her family was gathered with her. They must have wondered if their daughter had been delirious, or if their sister had been taking drugs to numb the pain of her profession, or if their auntie was the coolest aunt in town because she had such great adventures and met such amazing people. Regardless though, if they were with her, if they believed her, they were safe.
So Joshua and his army march around Jericho six days in a row, then a seventh shouting the victory of the Lord God and they capture the city. Joshua takes time to give instructions to his army regarding the loot. That’s when he says to the spies who had met Rahab, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with our oath to her.” (Josh. 6:22, NIV)
And so Rahab and all her family that was with her was saved. The scarlet cord still hung as a reminder to both sides that a commitment had been made for Rahab to be rescued.
Joshua – the one who saves – saved Rahab from death.
After Rahab’s life and that of her family had been spared they were given a place outside the camp of Israel. They were not Jews, they were unclean. They could not live among the holy people of God’s chosen race. Yet… something beautiful takes place between Josh. 6: 23 and Joshua 6:25…
“But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho – and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”
Now, amazingly, Rahab could live among them.
Joshua – the one who saves – gave Rahab a people to belong to.
That would be a great story if it ended there. And if you stopped reading about Rahab when this story was done you might think that’s all there was to it. There is very little else about Rahab to be found in Scripture until you get to the New Testament.
New Testament? Really? Why would she be in the New Testament?
It’s a tiny little verse tucked into the first chapter of Matthew. Verse five says, “ Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…”
That’s it. But that verse holds so much power. Power and hope for Rahab, and even more for you and I.
Joshua – the one who saves – restored Rahab by giving her a husband, a family, as well as a place and position in a family and family tree.
And it was no ordinary family tree. From Rahab came descendants who made up the line of family from which another One who saves would be born. Jesus.
Joshua – the one who saves – brought beauty and holiness to a woman who didn’t deserve it.
Isn’t that what Jesus – Yeshua – does for us?
Jesus came, like the spies were sent by Joshua, to scout out the land. He went to the prostitutes, the outcast and the brokenhearted. He came to me. He’s come to you. And we are that prostitute. We dabble in this and dabble in that. We show our love once to the world and another time to the God we say we love. Yet we don’t show God love like that of a devoted wife. We are Rahab.
When Jesus came, He left a Scarlet Cord.
His blood smeared on and staining a wooden cross has become our thread of hope. We must hang on to that truth, we must display the truth and glorious hope of His blood shed for us. We cannot wait to ‘hang it from our window’ we must display it now for we don’t know the exact day He will return.
And He is returning. Jesus will come Himself and look to see whose hearts have been holding on to the hope of His Scarlet Cord. But the spies warning to Rahab holds true for us. The covenant of the Blood of Jesus will be true and binding, bringing us freedom, life and restoration if we hold to that Scarlet Cord He’s given us. But there will be no rescue for those whose hearts do not display that Scarlet Cord. Those who go out on their own, attempting to save themselves and find their own safety will not be saved and the covenant of Jesus’ Blood will not hold true for them.
Joshua – the one who saves – rescued Rahab, who became the mother, grandmother and ancestor of Jesus.
Jesus – the One who Saves – has left a Scarlet Cord. He’s coming back for the prostitute, for Rahab and all who dwell with her. With a trumpet shout – louder than the one that knocked the walls of Jericho to the ground – He will return to this earth to demolish the wicked and save Rahab. He is coming back to save you and me. But only if we have the Scarlet Cord displayed in our hearts.
Have you grabbed a hold of that Scarlet Cord? Are you trusting in the blood of Jesus to save you on that day that is coming so soon? Are you gathering your family, your mother, father, brothers, sisters and friends with you like Rahab did?
Salvation, restoration, redemption and hope is available to you and me today! Like Rahab we don’t know the day Jesus will return, but we have His word that He is coming again and I believe it will be soon. Are you ready?
Rahab, is your Scarlet Cord in place?