Are You for Me or Against Me?

trust rahab scarlet cord

We don’t have to walk this earth too many years to discover trust is easy to break and difficult to mend.  

Most days lend an opportunity to affirm this mistrust. In the face of continual disappointment, we catch ourselves saying, “See, I was right, he can’t be trusted.” And we are left wondering who is for us and who is against us.

Over time we master the art of wall building, insulating ourselves by clinging to familiar routines, people, and spiritual rhythms that require little risk to our hearts. We hide, quiet our voice, and present a polished front, preferring the numbness of isolation to the possibility of pain.

I mastered this skill early in life. At each experience of broken trust and crushed spirit, I made vows, always beginning with “I will never let that happen again…”. Over time, my walls burgeoned, and trust waned until my hesitant heart asked of everyone it encountered, “Are you for me or against me?” Uptight, joyless, and isolated became the defining marks of my existence. One from which I desperately needed release.

Rahab and the Scarlet Cord

It turns out I’m not alone in my trust issues. The bible is full of hiders and wall builders longing for rescue. Rahab is one example. She was a prostitute in the city of Jericho who had trust issues. Not surprising considering her clientele. 

Do you remember Jericho? It was the city surrounded by a giant wall that fell flat when Joshua and his men sought to overcome it at the command of God. Amazing fact, Rahab lived in that wall; she ran her business there.

We meet Rahab, after the death of Moses, at a time when Joshua is ready to move the troops into the promised land and lay claim to it. He sent three spies into the city to scope things out. Rahab, the prostitute, hid these three spies on the roof of her home to protect them from the king (Joshua 2:1-7). Jericho’s sent word, asking these men to be turned out of her house and over to him. Rabah lies, stating she turned the men away and out of the city and sends the king on a wild goose chase in pursuit of them. 

The way clear for the men to escape the city, Rahab ties a cord of scarlet in her window as a means of escape for them. But not before she asks them to spare her life and that of her family. Rahab challenges the men hiding on her roof, wanting to know if they will be for her or against her. She had heard of the deeds of their God and declared faith in Him. saying, “for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (A trusting faith she is commended for in the book of Hebrews.) 

The men assure her they will treat her with fairness and kindness if she keeps quiet about their secret mission. And at the appointed time, Rahab follows the spy’s instruction to mark her home for rescue by hanging the scarlet cord out her window once again. During the great battle for the city, Rahab and her family are spared destruction (Joshua 6:22–23). 

The Trail of Blood to the Wilderness

It’s easy to dismiss the color of Rahab’s rope as mere coincidence, but the scarlet color is significant. The cord in her window was both a sign of her faith and the means of her salvation. The scarlet rope was for Rahab much the same as the blood painted on the doorposts of the Israelites’ homes during the first Passover as God prepared to lead them out of Egypt and into the wilderness on their way to the promised land. 

Before Israel escaped from Egyptian slavery, God brought one final plague on the Egyptians. The angel of death would pass over the homes, taking the lives of all first-born sons. Only homes whose doorposts were painted with the blood of a spotless lamb would be spared this plague (Exodus 12:13). Rahab’s scarlet cord, a shadow of the sacrificial blood of Jesus, hung from her window, marking her home as one to be spared the coming death.

The Trail of Blood to the Promised Land

Preceding the great battle of Jericho, a new generation of Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan River and at last enter the promised land. God miraculously parts this water as He did the waters of the Red Sea during Israel’s rescue from Egypt. They eat the Passover meal in remembrance of their ancestors’ great exodus from Egypt. They eat the food of the land of Canaan the next day, and the manna God provided for 40 years of desert wandering ceased.

At this point in the story, we hear Joshua, a man of God with trust issues, ask the all too familiar question, “are you for us?” 

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13-15 ESV Emphasis mine)  Joshua realized he was standing in the presence of God.

What an infusion of trust. Joshua lifted his eyes and looked and saw God. What an excellent anecdote for trust issues, as is his response to the sight of Him; He fell down and worshiped.

Joshua’s encounter with God precedes the great battle of Jericho. How could Joshua not believe those walls would come down?

And so it is with us, when our eyes see Jesus in all His glory – we worship. Our walls of self-preservation and isolation come crumbling down in the face of His faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Jesus, Our Scarlet Cord

At the root, it would seem, to trust is to believe that someone is for us and not against us. And thankfully, Jesus broke the cycle of distrust, displaying Himself faithful on the cross, proving He is for you and me.  

We were never meant to expect an eternal flow of faithfulness from each other to sustain us. Only Jesus can. He is our scarlet cord. 

Are you willing to experience the consequences of trusting Him?

For Rahab, those consequences equaled rescue and a place in God’s family. She is one of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew. This list includes Tamar, who seduced her father-in-law Judah to get herself pregnant, Ruth a Moabite from the line of Lot, who marries Boaz, son of Rabah, and Bathsheba, who had an affair with King David. A motley crew who would experience the faithfulness of God.

Have you tied the scarlet cord of the precious blood of Jesus to the window of your soul?

Charles Spurgeon said of Rahab and the scarlet cord, “Jericho’s walls fell flat: Rahab’s house was on the wall, and yet it stood unmoved; my nature is built into the wall of humanity, and yet when destruction smites the race, I shall be secure. My soul, tie the scarlet thread in the window afresh, and rest in peace.” (Spurgeon’s April 18th — Morning Reading)

Jesus, our scarlet cord, has shown himself to be trustworthy. He is for us, not against us. When we lift our eyes and see Him in all His glory, we cannot help but worship, and our walls of hiding crumble in the face of His faithfulness, mercy, and love. And we can let go of our grip on all we are afraid of losing, knowing the one who is holding us is for us and won’t let us go.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *