‘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. 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.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 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.” Joshua 2:15-18
Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Historically we light a candle and trace our way through the ancient history that led up to the day when Christ was born.
I didn’t light any candles today. But I did gather with my church and listen to the proclamation of the goodness and trustworthiness of the God of the Bible. We didn’t talk about the story of Rahab the prostitute and the spies she let down the window with a scarlett cord this morning. It’s not exactly the typical story from scripture we dwell on at Christmas. So I’m going sorta rogue with this Advent post- no candle, no normal scripture reading.
Last week I wrote about my discovery of the word tiqvah (pronounced tick-vaw), which is the word translated hope in the Hebrew Bible. The word really means cord. The tiqvah that let the spies escape their pursuers and signaled the rescue of Rahab and her family from destruction is the same word for hope.
In my day-to-day life, I get easily discouraged. As my pastor pointed out today, I doubt that God is good and question if he’ll really keep his word. I can’t see Jesus. I can’t see God. I can’t sit down with him and look in his eyes and let him comfort me with words of wisdom. I have dishes and laundry and kids yelling at each other and a husband who rejects the idea that Christ died for our sins. I have an aching body and history of mental illness in my family. I fight the lies of depression and anxiety. I feel overwhelmed with all the to-do’s and I hear the news and interact with people and start to wonder, “Are you good God? Do you care? Did you really send your Son? Are you really coming again?”
Rahab, an ancient woman in a life that had different circumstances, but surely similar questions, had no solid thing to lay hold of that would prove to her that the God of the Israelites is good or that he would do what he said he would do. All she knew was she had heard about what the Israelites God had done, rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. She put all her trust in the lives of two spies, representing the God and people coming to destroy the city where she lived. She believed their God was, “… God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11) and she wanted to live.
The very cord she used to honor the lives of the spies, was the cord the spies used as a sign to promise her and her families rescue.
I’ve heard what the God of the Israelites has done too. I’ve heard the old old story. I’ve heard about Jesus. I’ve heard the message from the God of the Bible, “You’re facing destruction, and your only hope is my Son.”
There’s a response of faith to that message that brings hope. It’s not a tangible cord. We don’t hang red cords out our windows to save us from God’s destruction. But that faith, God sees, like a scarlet cord. He sees it. We may not see it, but he does. Our hope is not a wish that life will be better or easier with Jesus. Our hope is that God has promised a rescue in Jesus, and he does not lie. He is good and we rest our lives on the solid promise the blood of Christ promises: our rescue.
‘Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. ‘ Hebrews 10:19-20,22-23