Seeing the Family Resemblance
You may be familiar with the story of Rahab the prostitute, but I know it’s not the most familiar Bible story, so here’s the synopsis:
When the Israelites were ready to cross the Jordan and take over the Promised Land, Joshua sent two spies in to case the joint, so they checked out Jericho. They almost lost their lives, but Rahab hid them and covered for them. Then she tied a scarlet rope out her window to lower them down to the outside, because her house was part of the city wall. The spies told her that, because of her kindness and risking her own life for theirs, they would save her when they invaded the city. But she had to leave that red rope hanging out the window so they would know where she lived and be able to protect her. (The “scarlet thread” is used by some to symbolize the thread running throughout the Bible of the blood of salvation, from the animal sacrifices of Abraham and God as they covenanted together to the blood of Christ.)
There’s some passage of time here before they come back. They hide for three days, then get back to Joshua, then the Israelites break camp and cross the Jordan, then there’s this circumcision ceremony and time to heal before they actually start marching around Jericho, and that takes 7 days, remember. And all that time Rahab has that scarlet cord hanging out her window because she doesn’t know when they are coming back.
Don’t you think it’s funny that the red rope hanging out her window didn't raise any suspicions or cause her any problems? I mean, it’s SCARLET, for Pete’s sake, not city-wall-colored. You can’t get any more obvious. And it’s out there for weeks, best I can tell. And the townspeople are on edge because they’ve heard the fantastical stories about these Israelites and their God and they are “melting in fear because of you [the Israelites].” Joshua 2:9 They’re totally paranoid about Israel, and here Rahab, who was suspected of sheltering the spies (v.3), suddenly hangs a red rope out her window? Wouldn’t you think someone would have suspicions and ask questions? But apparently nobody did. It doesn’t seem the Jerichoans noticed it.
But the Israelites did. It was clear to them, and Rahab and all her family were saved. This may be stretching the point here, but this is what I see: that those who were separated from God and steeped in sin and lost couldn’t see the clear sign of salvation, but those who were God’s people saw it immediately. And I think this often holds true for us today: we who are God’s children often know each other intuitively (or Holy Spirit-edly). We can see the clear signs of salvation, the fruits of the Holy Spirit in other believers, and we know they are connected to us by that scarlet thread. “For by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matt. 7:20. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve met a stranger but recognized something in them immediately and I asked them if they were a believer, or subsequently found out they were a Christian. I believe that the Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in them. Be watching, and find your brothers and sisters.