Rahab lived as a prostitute in a house that was built into the massive wall that surrounded the great pagan city of Jericho. The people of that city had been hearing about the Israelites ever since they left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, leaving the Egyptian army drowned in their wake. They had heard how the Israelites had overcome and destroyed the great armies of Og, king of Bashan and Sihon, king of the Amorites. And when they learned the Israelites were camped just across the Jordan River, fear filled their hearts. Rahab was afraid too, but unlike the rest of that sinful city, Rahab decided to align herself with the God of Israel rather than cling to the immoral and pagan ways of the city she called home.
So when Joshua sent two men to spy out the city, Rahab invited them into her home and provided them with shelter and protection. She also gave them vital information to take back to Joshua, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you…..and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9, 11).
When the king of Jericho heard there were Israelite spies in the city, he sent men to search for them. They were directed to Rahab’s house, but she did not give them up. Instead, she hid them and sent the king’s men off on a wild goose chase in search of them. When night fell and the city gates were closed, Rahab helped the spies escape by letting them down by a rope through her window on the city wall. She also gave them instructions on where to go to avoid the king’s men.
But before they left, Rahab asked the spies to spare her life and the lives of those in her family when they came back to take the city of Jericho. The spies agreed and gave her a red cord to tie in her window. The cord would identify Rahab’s house and the Israelites would not harm her. Rahab was to gather all of her family into her home and all who were inside would be saved on the day of destruction. She agreed. And then she waited.
She waited through the days it took for the spies to return to Joshua.
She waited through the days it took for the Israelites to prepare and then cross the Jordan River.
She waited through the days when Joshua circumcised all the men of Israel who had not been circumcised during the march in the wilderness.
She waited, looking out through her window at the encampment of Israel spread across the plains around Jericho.
She waited six more days as the people of Israel marched once daily around Jericho in silence.
She waited and her faith endured.
Then, after completing their march around Jericho on the seventh day, the priests blew the trumpets, and the people shouted, and the walls of the city fell down flat. There was nothing left except one house on the wall with a red cord hanging in the window. It was Rahab’s house, a house of faith. God judged the sinners but He spared those who believed in Him.
The red cord in the window was a symbol of Rahab’s faith. Do you remember, on the night God led the people of Israel out of Egypt? They had painted the blood of a lamb on their doorposts to avert the angel of death and to spare their firstborn. That blood was the sign of their faith, the sign that they believed God would do what He had promised. In the same way, Rahab’s red cord proclaimed her faith in God. That red blood and the red cord also look ahead to the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the only thing that cleanses and saves us. God’s grand plan of redemption, like a scarlet cord runs through the entire Bible.
The story of Rahab in the book of Joshua ends with these words: However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6:25). But that is not the end of her story. Rahab became a part of the people of Israel, marrying Salmon, from the tribe of Judah (perhaps one of the spies). She gave birth to a son, Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess who gave birth to Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of king David: the line of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1). And that is the marvelous part of this story. It was not only Rahab’s life that was saved through faith - her soul was saved too. She became, not just a part of the nation of Israel, but a part of the family of God - by faith. Rahab's was a simple faith in God, tested by helping the spies, waiting patiently for God’s timing, and obeying the simple command to hang the red cord in her window. Through faith Rahab's life testifies to that scarlet cord of redemption
Rahab's exemplary faith in God is recorded in His Word and she is cited among the heroes of faith in the Book of Hebrews. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (Hebrews 11:21).
May God bless you with faith like Rahab’s