Originally scheduled for March 24
Weaving in and
out of the Old Testament there is a subtle theme around a simple bit
of material: the scarlet cord. It’s found in the Tabernacle, but
it’s most familiar use concerns the conquest of Jericho and the
spies interacting with the prostitute known as Rahab.
It is likely
enough that Rahab is not the innkeeper in this establishment; that
would have been a man’s job those days. She was likely enough a
prostitute; and it is entirely possible that her father was the
innkeeper. In those days a bed at the inn included a girl. The color
of the cord at the time was probably thought to be just something
convenient; some scholars have speculated that it was scarlet
colored because this color would tell people where the prostitutes
were — sort of like a red light district in our time. But for Rahab,
it became the sign of changing sides.
don’t think that’s important. Let’s consider a little bit more
contemporary example. Suppose you were a devout Christian in Nazi
Germany. You figured out who this guy Hitler really is and what he’s
really doing. And now you want to change sides! This is going to be
neither easy nor safe. When it comes to the great decisions of life,
this is quite similar. When you become a Christian, you change
sides. You leave Satan’s side of rebellion and cross over to the
side of obedience. As each of us knows, it’s not easy. Perhaps it
was little easier in those days for a prostitute to do it; she
likely was considered an outcast in her own society — a woman both
despised and commercially patronized. That can breed a deep
probably saw the cord simply as a method of escape from the city.
But Rahab had to look at it as a sign of her salvation. The
symbolism of this cord is very much like the symbolism in communion.
In both instances, the symbolism is borrowed from things that are at
hand. Rahab had the cord, perhaps as advertising. Christ had the
Passover and adapted it to communion. The symbolism is borrowed. It
is also a symbolism which is quite simple. It doesn’t take much to
understand that the bread is his body and the cup his blood. Like
us, she would not see her sins as being a barrier to this salvation.
Our sins are forgiven and therefore count no more.
But there is a
condition: she had to be faithful. She had to fulfill the terms of
her agreement with them so that they could rescue her. We too, must
be faithful. It is worse than nonsense to take communion as a
One last thing:
if you hang a cord from a high window it goes straight down. It is
not just a way of access but something which tells you where the
path is. If you want to get from sin to salvation, you have to
follow the scarlet cord of the atonement. Be faithful; be honest;
take this communion with its full meaning in your heart.