“She bound the scarlet line in the window” (Joshua 2:21).
Rahab received and sent away the spies in peace. They are her friends, her sworn friends, for they have sworn unto her by the Lord, calling upon him to witness and to establish the covenant between them. When in dire needs, when in the deeps, when as outcasts, as the vilest, the chief of sinners, distracted with hellish temptations, what shall satisfy us, lift us up, inspire us once more to hope for salvation? If for help we must look to our creature resources, then we must despair, for we have learned and are still learning in our soul’s humiliations that we are without strength. Must then the chief of sinners perish? Our hope is in the new covenant, in Jesus’ precious blood. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.” O, a sight of this by faith will be as streams in the desert; here we shall find our strong consolations. Hearken to one of the ambassadors of God, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6:17-20). O, ye tried ones, here we have the sworn, the sure mercies of the Lord. This is admitting us into the secret of his presence, this is opening to us the bosom thoughts of the everlasting God. Here the Lord is revealed contemplating all the woes and weaknesses of his people, and he is overflowing in his love and pity toward them. O, ponder each word: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed with an oath.”
The two spies are a lively representation of the ministers of Christ. “Behold, when we come into the land thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window.” This, O Rahab, shall be the true token unto thee that thou shalt not perish, and that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. Rahab has faith in the God of Israel, she has faith in these two spies, and she has faith in the token they have given her, and obedient, to her faith “she bound the scarlet line in the window.” No doubt she often looked upon this scarlet line with tears of gratitude to the Lord: This true token quieted her fears, and was her support until the day of her salvation, and thus within her heart she might speak, Who am I that I should be singled out to be remembered with the favor that the Lord bears unto his people, that I should be saved, that I shall rejoice with the gladness of thy nation, and glory with thine inheritance? O Jericho! fair and beautiful in thy situation, thou city of palm trees. No longer I love thee, city of my nativity, city of my harlotry. Thou art an offense unto me; O let mine eyes be turned from thee, let mine eyes feast upon this scarlet line, true token of the covenant of life and friendship with the Lord, and with his chosen. My heart is toward thee, O Israel, beloved of the Lord. O, mine eyes and my yearning heart are unto thee, O Lord God of Israel.
“Witness, all ye host of heaven,
My Redeemer’s tenderness;
Love I much? – I’ve much forgiven,
I’m a miracle of grace.”
The line of scarlet thread was the true token of the covenant between Rahab and the Israelites. Let us now consider its signification unto us in the gospel. The scarlet line is a figure of the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. This scarlet line of Jesus’ blood runs all through the book of revelation, from Genesis to Revelation, and has been, and will be to the end of time ever gloriously manifested in the faith of God’s elect. By faith in the revelation of God, Abel offered unto God the firstlings of his flock (Genesis 4:4). The Lord thus early gave the scarlet line of blood unto his people, who through the grace given unto them, worship him in Spirit and in truth. Noah displayed the scarlet line when on coming out of the ark he builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offering on the altar (Genesis 8:20-21). This was all acceptable unto God, and was fragrant as sweet flowers. The sacrifice of Christ is so a sweet smelling savor unto God, and to sinners called by grace (Ephesians 5:2). Job presented continually before the Lord the scarlet line, in behalf of himself and his family (Job 1:5). Abraham often shed the red blood in his sacrifices to the Lord (Genesis 12:8), and he gave utterance to a glorious prophesy concerning the true scarlet line, saying, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8). Isaac and Jacob displayed in their worship the scarlet line of blood (Genesis 26:25; 31:54). Then Israel and his household went down into Egypt and sojourned there, but during the long night of the bondage of the twelve tribes the scarlet line was only dimly seen, the Israelites were generally sunken in idolatry, and when they would have worshiped the Lord with the scarlet line, it was not meet to do so in Egypt, for the Egyptians would slay them (Exodus 8:26). But on the last night of their bondage in the land, a night to be much remembered, behold on all the houses of Israel the token of the scarlet line of the Passover blood! “The blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will Passover you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:13). Thenceforth in that favored nation how magnificently the scarlet line is exhibited. Every day, in the morning and in the evening, a lamb was slain (Exodus 29:38-39). In the yearly commemoration of the Passover, on the great day of atonement (Lev. 16), in all the multitude of personal offerings, in all this typical worship of the Almighty so signally prominent is the scarlet line of the blood of beasts. Now we come to God by the blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, by this precious blood we are made night to God (Ephesians 2:13). We are come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
But that scarlet line bound in the window of Rahab, the harlot, was unintelligible to the inhabitants of Jericho, it had no voice to them. All the tribes of Israel that encompassed the city could read its meaning, and thus they interpreted that line of scarlet thread, “There upon the wall is the house of the blessed, while all the rest of Jericho are accursed. This is the household to whom we are related in covenant bonds, and in the day of Jericho’s doom this house shall stand. Thou, O Rahab, and all thine, shalt be saved, and we will deal kindly and truly with thee. So to multitudes today the scarlet line of Christ’s blood has no signification, they turn aside from it as from a thing of naught, but to believers Jesus’ blood is exceeding precious. Have our hearts heard the voice of Jesus’ blood? His blood speaks so blessedly to the children of God; it declares their at-one-ment with God. This then is the signification of the scarlet line of blood that runs all through the Scriptures. “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). In our earthly standing we are far off from God, depraved and vile, outcasts, for we are alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works (Col. 1:21). Is this an overdrawn picture? Ah no, as you are taught of God your eyes will be opened to see, and your heart will most painfully feel that the description is so dreadfully true, and then with what heart-felt appreciation you will cleave to blood of atonement. Christ Jesus in his great love hath reconciled us to God in the body of his flesh through death, to present us holy, unblamable and unreprovable in his sight (Col. 1:22). Could anything be better? No wonder that we cleave to the scarlet line and bind it fast in the window. Our gracious God laid all our iniquities upon his dear Son, and he gave himself a sacrifice for our sin, and poured out his soul unto death; thus he put away all our sins, shedding for us his reconciling blood (2 Chron. 29:24; Heb. 2:17). O, it is so comforting to look upon the scarlet line, and its voice is most sweet to a poor sinner’s heart. Do you believe in the scarlet line of Jesus’ blood? It speaks to the believer of his redemption, and that all his sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). The blood of God’s dear Son cleanses from all sin, and in this fountain opened for sin and uncleanness we are washed and made whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7). We are justified by his blood, and we shall be saved from wrath through him. The scarlet line gives us the victory over all the powers of darkness, it stops the mouth of our accuser (Rev. 12:11). The scarlet line of Jesus’ blood is faith’s song in the believer’s heart, and it will be our theme in glory. This line of scarlet thread lines all the way from sin to holiness and God, from bondage to eternal liberty. O, Emmanuel’s precious blood has consecrated all the way from earth to heaven (Heb. 10:19), and thus we draw nigh to God, ever looking with all affection to this scarlet line. If the scarlet line is so significant, what shall the child of God do with it? Look once more at the picture portrayed upon the walls of Jericho. There stands the house of the one who received and sent away in peace the two spies; at the window she stands, Rahab the harlot, with hope welling up in her heart, with eager hands of faith and love she binds the scarlet line in the window.
Daniel kneeled down upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10). There was a window in the ark (Gen. 6:16), and the ransomed of the Lord fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows (Isaiah 60:8). Shall we look upon this window in Rahab’s house as expressive of the worship of God? Whenever Rahab looked forth, there to her heart’s comfort and delight she beheld the scarlet line bound in the window. So in the window of the believers praises and prayers unto God the scarlet line is seen. In seasons when guilt is so conscious to our spirit, when accusations roll in upon us like a flood, when sin-stained, with a wounded heart and with a blushing face, how shall we look forth at the window unto God? I Ah, when in my soul’s conflicts, when so buffeted by sin and Satan, imploringly I would look to the Lord, let the Holy Spirit ever instruct me to bind the scarlet line in the window. Let others aspire after the fleeting things of earth, if thou wilt reach forth thine hands after wealth and fame, but give, O give to me, a perishing sinner, a true token of thy everlasting love; give me, O Lord, the scarlet-line, the priceless token, the blood of the new testament shed for the remission of sins.
“She bound the scarlet line in the window.” God commanded Israel to bind his words for a sign upon their hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes (Dent. 6:9). Solomon says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother; bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest it shall talk with thee” (Prov. 6:20-22). So the called of God are effectually taught to bind in their window the scarlet line of the Savior’s blood. Examine yourself whether you have the scarlet line bound in the window, for that religion which lacks that personal, experimental knowledge of the blood of Christ, is valueless before God. The elect are chosen unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:2). Without this scarlet line we cannot known our election of God. What have you bound in your window? Is it your self-righteousness? What! filthy rags? (Isaiah 64:6). Some bind in the window of their religions profession their supposed work for the Lord, the many wonderful works, which they declare they have done for Christ. Such religionists very fitly sing to themselves,
“A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.”
But Christ will say in that day, “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:27).
Others display in their windows the doctrines of men, and the doctrines of devils, some in the bare theory may mention Christ’s blood, but there non experience, heartless religion will avail them nothing in the day of God’s wrath. But you, poor souls, who fell so unworthy, sinful, polluted, who long for freedom from all sin, whose hearts crave reconciliation with God in the free remission of all your sins, to you how sacred is the scarlet line. With all desire you contemplate Emmanuel’s blood, and muse with affection upon its efficacious fruits, (yielding to believers so richly redemption and forgiveness of sins, and everlasting peace with God) so with believing hands you bind the scarlet line in the window. “Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
That language in Leviticus 1:3 is very descriptive of the spirit in which God’s people worship him in the shedding of blood. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.” It is written, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3). So we are brought with all willingness of heart to bind the scarlet line in the window.
Day by day in our journey we are being wounded and bruised by temptations amid sins; it is therefore needful for such poor ones as we are to constantly have in our sight the cleansing blood of the Lamb, the precious scarlet line. And as we look again and again upon the Savior’s blood, all is well, we have a comfortable trust and taste the sweetness of the atonement, Jesus’ reconciling blood heals all our disorders, and sheds upon us its consoling fragrance, our hope is renewed, and our hearts are inspired with sweet gratitude to him who remembered us in our low estate, and gave us the true, token of the everlasting covenant, the scarlet line. The scarlet line also very beautifully presents to our faith all the blessed revelations of Christ’s gospel, all so gloriously, divinely interwoven, and made so infinitely strong by the immutable decrees, the promises and oath of God, and all scarlet colored with the precious blood of the Lamb.
Let us return to Jericho, and glance again at what is transacting there. “Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in” (Joshua 6:1). Once a day for six days the men of war compassed the city, following the seven priest with trumpets of rams horns, and the ark of the Lord; on the seventh day they compassed the city seven times. During these days there streams from the window of Rahab’s house, upon the wall, the significant scarlet line. All Israel took affectionate notice of it, and of the house upon which was this mark (Ezek. 9:4-6). While all the inhabitants of Jericho are in restless suspense, and their spirits faint within them in apprehension of their coming doom, in Rahab’s house there is supporting hope, her house upon the wall is sanctified by the scarlet line, all within that house are in covenant safety, and shall be saved in that day. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not.” She looks forth upon the host of Israel, but she fears no evil of them, for her heart is toward them, and toward their God, and if at any time her heart wavered, and unbelief and fears intruded, there, to strengthen her hope, she sees that true token of the sworn friendship between herself and Israel, the scarlet line bound in the window. One affectionate glance at this and her hope revives, and all is blissful peace. “Thou wilt keep him in a perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
At length the day of Jericho’s doom is come. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city. * * * So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” When the noise of the tumbling walls is hushed, and the dust of the ruins is fanned away, there unshaken stands that house upon the wall, that monument of God’s sovereign grace, the sanctuary of the saved ones, the house of Rahab the harlot.
“And in the window still bound fast,
Above the fatal ram’s horns blast,
There streams the precious covenant sign,
The token true, the scarlet line.”
“But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein; only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
Thus Rahab came forth in sacred blessedness, with gratitude filling her heart, and then in due time she is adopted into the family of Israel, for she is united in marriage to Salmon, a prince of the house of Judah, by whom she gave birth to Boaz, who married Ruth, the Moabitess, who gave birth to Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed forever. Amen. (Matthew 1:5; Ruth 4:21-22)
The grace of our God is exceeding abundant, for it lifts up the poor from the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, causing them to inherit the throne of glory. Our Savior hath washed his people from all their pollutions, in his own blood, and his church is without blame in his sight. Who shall lay anything to the charge of Rahab, the wife of Salmon, the prince of the house of David? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
May this, dear reader, be our consolation, and when we draw near our journey’s end, and our exodus from the earthly house of this tabernacle is at hand; when the things of time, our dearest earthly friends, and all nature swoon away, recede and fade from our view around our dying bed, what then? Then, O thou gracious Redeemer, give me a true token, hold thou before mine eyes the scarlet line; enable me with eyes of faith and love to look upon thy precious atoning blood. O Lamb of God, smile upon me; then with this true token a passport into heaven’s glories shall be mine, and everlasting praises shall be thine.
FREDERICK W. KEENE
NORTH BERWICK, MAINE
THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES,
Volume 71, No. 17
September 1, 1903