Another Kind of Quarantine
Jericho. The massive, walled city that Joshua and the people of Israel faced as their first obstacle to overcome after Moses died. To man's earthly point of view, it looked impossible to penetrate. The men of the city were trained soldiers, armed and ready for battle. They had years of knowledge under their belts and knew how to deal with their enemies.
Then came the whisper. A tiny thought or conversation that began as a small spark of news which suddenly caught fire and spread throughout the entire country. Burning fear into the hearts of the people. Fear that has a way of holding a grip so tight that it paralyzes from the inside out. And that was how it was when the two spies entered into the city, which still had their gates open at the time.
Rahab. A woman often talked about, even looked down upon because she was just one of the city's many harlots trying to make a living. I say one of the many because in a city that size, I am positive she was not alone in her profession. For some reason she was not married and had to make a living. So she found a way. The only way she knew how.
And so the fire spread. From one house to the next the word got out that Israel's God had helped them escape from slavery in Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and defeat the kings of the Amorites. The fiery fear grew so hot that it caused their hearts to melt, disintegrating any courage that may have remained in even the strongest men. And the city bided their time, knowing that one day it would be their turn to face the nation established by Jehovah God.
Then the two spies arrived at Rahab's doorstep. Why did they go there? Did they end up there because they were simply looking for a room to stay, or were they there to give her business? The Bible does not say, but for reputation's sake, I would hope they were on the up and up and just wanted a room. Maybe they had overheard that it was a hotel and not a brothel. Yet, for whatever reason they chose that home, it is obvious that God specifically led them to her door. Maybe Rahab had even prayed to Israel's God when she had heard they had crossed the Jordan and were not too far away. She knew what was coming in the near future and was prepared for the men.
So she took them in. She heard the soldiers were searching for the spies and hid the two men between the stalks of flax drying on her roof. She misdirected the soldiers when they questioned her and sent them out of the city in pursuit of the men she was hiding. It gave her time to talk to them. It gave her time to share her heart and plead with them not to hurt her, or her father, mother, sisters and brothers. She knew God was in control. She knew He was going to give them her massive city. Nothing was too big for the God of Israel.
Thankful for her help, the two spies agreed to spare her life.
"When God gives us the city, we will deal kindly with thee. Anyone who is gathered on this side of the door will be spared. But anyone who leaves or is found outside, they will be killed and it won't be our fault."
Rahab agreed. She knew they had listened and she would do her part in helping them escape. When it was safe for them to leave, she took a red cord and tied it to her window in her house. The window that was on the very edge of the wall of the city. An easy escape. Who said God was not in this?
"Leave this cord in the window," one of the spies told her before climbing down. "That way we will know which house is yours and it will lead us to come rescue you and your family. Remember, anyone not in the house will die."
"According to your words, so be it." She would do what they said. She watched as the two men escaped into the woods near the city and left the cord in the window as a marker of her home. She trusted their word and their God.
People must have noticed the cord hanging there. Someone probably questioned her, wondering why she left a long, bright red cord dangling out her window?
"Are you trying to draw attention to our city?" they may have asked. "Why red?"
She did not say why. She probably just shrugged. The people left her, thinking she was crazy. And as her city was closed up tightly due to the rising fear of the coming Israelite's, she did not worry. She held onto a secret that nobody else, except her family, had. The red cord meant salvation. It was her lifeline of hope in a world of fear and panic. It was her one way out of fiery destruction. They were shut up inside the walls of the city, with the fear raging through all the hearts of the people, dreading the morning when they would wake up and find the enemy at their doorstep.
And that morning came much too soon, though the enemy just marched around the walls one time and left. The next morning they did it again. For six days they marched once around the city only to head back to their camp. Maybe it set the people on edge inside the walls. Maybe they began to think they were safe. But Rahab kept hanging onto the promise that she would make it out alive. And she did! Because on the seventh day, the enemy marched around seven times, and this time made a lot of noise. The walls began to tremble, and the ground shook as God took His hand and flicked the walls down, like a toddler with a tower of blocks. Yet, the house of Rahab remained untouched. The spies hurried inside to rescue her and her family. They brought them out to a safe place and returned to pillage the rest. It must have been a hard thing for Rahab to watch everyone she knew die, but she knew in her heart that God was the One true God and He was the reason for saving her. It was her faith that saved her.
After reading this story the other day, I could not help but see a lot of similarities of our current situation. The news is full of 'horror stories' that can quickly turn a spark into a full fledged fire that consumes an entire nation. But here is something to think about: in this time of fear and panic, with our country "walled up" just waiting for the "enemy" to attack, is your heart melting in fear because of the fiery news or are you hanging onto the promise the scarlet cord has to offer? That red cord represents Jesus and His salvation. Our way out of death and destruction. God is so much bigger than any fear or enemy! He is in control and always has been! Just keep the faith and keep your eyes on HIM!
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash