Devotional: ‘Rahab’s Faith and the Scarlet Thread’

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Rahab is one of those characters found in the Bible with whom we have a difficult time understanding how God could commend them. Yet the Bible says of her – “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” (Heb 11:31 ESV)

As I consider the story of Rahab, I find three very important aspects of her conversion experience:

She Feared God

The Bible says that the the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Pr 9:10) Though there was much about Rahab that was sinful and needed to change, she feared God. This truth is found in her words to the spies –

Joshua 2:10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house…

Rahab’s reverential fear of God must have pleased the Lord and no doubt that is one of the reasons the Lord helped her find salvation.

She Sought Mercy

Rahab’s fear of God caused her to seek His mercy.

Joshua 2:12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house…

Ephesians 2:4 tells us that ‘God is rich in mercy.’ Hebrews 4:16 refers to God’s throne as a ‘throne of grace where we may find mercy and grace.’ Though Rahab’s actions were not as polished as the average church goer, I believe that this poor woman’s simple desire for mercy pleased God very much. Perhaps this is also what drew Jesus to the sinful of His day. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt 9:12-13 NIV)

She Had Faith in God

Joshua 2:15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Though Rahab probably did not realize the symbolism of the scarlet color, I assure you that the two spies did. They could have chosen anything for a marker of her house, yet they chose a rope woven of scarlet threat. No doubt the scarlet color reminded them of the blood that had been painted above their doors on the night of the Passover and the Lord’s promise – ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’ (Ex 12:13)

I love to study the story of Rahab for it reminds me that our salvation is because God is gracious, and not because we are good. The Bible says –“By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient…” (Heb 11:21)

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