************ Sermon on Joshua 2:21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 9, 2002
"The Scarlet Cord"
I Rahab Asks for Salvation
A Do you know what Rahab did? In hiding the spies she turned her back on her gods, her king, her city, and her people. In hiding the spies she committed an act of treason. This was a dangerous thing to do for if she had been caught there was only one punishment: death.
Why did Rahab do this? Why was she willing to risk so much to hide the two spies? We find the answer in Rahab's words to the spies:
(Josh 2:10-11) 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. (11) 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.Rahab and all the Canaanites are full of fear because they have heard about God's wondrous deeds of salvation on behalf of His people.
B Rahab knows what these acts means. She says, "the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below" (vs 11). In other words, "Your God is the one true God and my God is nothing. Your God is almighty and no one can stand in His way or stop His purposes." And in verse 9 she says, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you." Rahab is in mighty Jericho when she says this. She is surrounded by high walls and armed soldiers. Yet, she decides that Jericho's cause is lost.
This leads Rahab to make a request of the spies just before she lowers them to safety:
(Josh 2:12-13) Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign (13) that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.In the face of the coming destruction, Rahab requests salvation for herself and her family.
In Rahab we ought to see a picture of ourselves. We know that we, like Jericho, are deserving of God's wrath against our disobedience. On this Lord's Supper Sunday, Rahab's request becomes our request, her prayer our prayer, her cry our cry: Lord God of heaven above and earth below, show kindness and grace to us; please save us and our loved ones.
Bob Doyle, one of my cycling friends, was flying with his wife and another couple from Florida to one of the Caribbean islands. Something went wrong and their small plane crashed into the ocean. As the plane was sinking Bob had to make his way to the back of the plane to unbuckle his unconscious wife. He got her out of the plane just before it went down.Now I ask you, how was Bob Doyle saved? Nothing less than outside intervention was able to rescue him from sure death. And, Rahab knew that nothing less than outside intervention was able to save her too. Rahab knew that without that intervention, she and her family were doomed. That's why she made her request: "show kindness to me and my family." And we are exactly the same way. Without outside intervention we too are lost. That's why we pray to the Lord: Lord God of heaven above and earth below, show kindness and grace to us; please save us and our loved ones. We know that only by the intervention of the Lord can we possibly be saved.
Another plane saw them go down and quickly radioed for help. However, it would be hours before help arrived. So they had to somehow stay afloat. Then they noticed sharks. The sharks were moving closer and closer and even bumping against them.
Finally, after 14 hours or so in the water, the Coast Guard arrived and saved them.
II Rahab Saved by Grace
A The two spies swore an oath to Rahab. She and her family would be kept safe if she tied a scarlet cord in her window.
Why a scarlet cord? On the surface, at least, the answer is quite simple. Rahab and her family are to be saved by the same rope that will be used to get the spies to safety. The cord that saved the spies would save Rahab and her family.
This, however, does not answer the question of why a scarlet cord in the window would keep Rahab and her family safe. To answer that question we have to see the scarlet cord as a symbol for salvation.
The scarlet cord takes us back to Israel's last night in Egypt. On that night the firstborn male of everything Egyptian died: the firstborn of Pharaoh and every family, the firstborn of the prisoner, the firstborn of the slave, and the firstborn of all the cattle were struck down by the Lord (Ex 11 & 12). The Lord, however, passed over every house that had a stripe of scarlet on the door post. The Israelites had been commanded to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on their door posts. When the Lord saw this blood, this stripe of scarlet, He would pass over the home.
In the same way, when the Lord visits destruction and judgment upon Jericho, He would pass over the home with the stripe of scarlet, with the scarlet cord in the window. If Rahab would only obey, she and her household will be saved.
B In Joshua 6 we read the story of Jericho's destruction. It was awesome and terrifying at the same time. Seven times the Israelites walked silently around the city. On the seventh time there was a trumpet blast, the Israelites let out a mighty shout, and the walls of mighty Jericho collapsed on the defenders, killing and burying and injuring hundreds of them at once. Every Israelite soldier charged straight in, slashing and stabbing at anything that lived or moved so that blood must have flowed through the streets. Cries and screams filled the air. And, whatever was not killed by the sword was destroyed by the fire (except for the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron). Rahab and her family, however, were kept safe. She and her family were spared, they were passed over, because of the scarlet cord in the window.
What we have here, congregation, is another instance of God's wonderful, marvelous grace. God didn't have to save anyone in wicked Jericho – especially not the prostitute Rahab and her family. There was nothing about Rahab that made her worthy of salvation. Yet, God saved her anyway. How marvelous and wondrous He is. By grace, by a scarlet cord in the window, He saved Rahab and her family.
C This morning we are invited to the Lord's Table to eat and to drink. And, we are reminded in this Supper that there is a scarlet cord for us as well. What is this cord of scarlet? It is not a red rope handing from a window. Nor is it the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the door post. Our scarlet cord is the blood of Jesus upon the cross.
Because of this stripe of scarlet God, by grace, passes over our sins and saves us. And, like Rahab, none of us deserves to be saved. Rahab was a wicked prostitute. And our sins, though they are different, aren't they as great as hers? You were to examine yourselves this past week. So you know the truth about yourselves. You know you are a sinner undeserving of God's grace. Yet, by His grace God saves us anyway.
Topic: AtonementThat's what Christ has done for us upon the cross. He paid our fine, He suffered for our sins, so that we, by grace, could be saved.
One winter's night in 1935, Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York City, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. That night a tattered old woman, charged with stealing a loaf of bread, was brought before him. She defended herself by saying, "My daughter's husband has deserted her. She is sick and her children are starving."
The shopkeeper refused to drop the charges, saying, "It's a bad neighborhood, your honor, and she's got to be punished to teach other people a lesson."
LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the old woman and said, "I've got to punish you; the law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail." However, even while pronouncing sentence, LaGuardia reached into his pocket, took out a ten-dollar bill, and threw it into his hat with these famous words: "Here's the ten-dollar fine, which I now remit ..."
As you eat and drink, my brothers and sisters, think on that stripe of scarlet upon the cross; think on that stripe of scarlet whereby Jesus paid our fine and suffered for our sins; think on that stripe of scarlet whereby God passes over us with His judgment; think of that stripe of scarlet so that we, by grace, could be saved.
III Rahab Saved by Grace Through Faith
A It was God Who, by grace, saved Rahab and her family. Yet Hebrews tells us that Rahab had to have faith:
(Heb 11:31) By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
We see Rahab's faith right after the spies escaped. Scripture tells us, "she tied the scarlet cord in the window." Rahab didn't wait for the walls to come crashing down before she tied the scarlet cord in her window. Nor did she wait for Israel to cross the Jordan and come in sight of the city before she tied the scarlet cord in her window. Nor did she tie the cord in the window only after Israel started her silent march around the city. Right after the spies left she tied the scarlet cord in her window.
What an act of faith! Israel is not even across the Jordan River and already she ties the scarlet cord in her window. But, as she said to the spies, the God of heaven above and earth below would give Israel the city of Jericho and the land of Canaan (vs 9,11). She was so convinced of this she took immediate steps to save herself and her family. In an act of faith, Rahab tied the scarlet cord in her window, trusting that she and her family would be saved.
B In the Lord's Supper we are called upon to have the same faith as Rahab. We are called to believe that God, by grace, will save us by the scarlet cord, by the blood of Jesus upon the cross. And, without that faith there can be no salvation. Without that faith we can not sit at the Lord's Table.
Because Rahab tied a scarlet cord in the window, she was saved. She was saved by grace through faith.
The message of the Lord's Supper is that because of the scarlet cord, because Christ spilled His blood upon the cross, we are saved. The message of the Lord's Supper is that we, like Rahab, are saved by grace through faith. As we eat and as we drink, then, let us remember and believe that God saves us because of the scarlet cord.
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