Rahab hastened the two strangers up the stairs to the rooftop, thankful for the shroud of nightfall.
“Quickly, under here,” she said, nodding toward the piles of drying flax. “The king’s messengers will arrive at any moment.”
The men complied, crawling beneath the heaps of withered stalks. Rahab set to covering them, circumspect in her efforts despite her haste.
Bang! Bang! Bang! The door moaned in protest, buckling slightly under the obstinate pounding of the intruders below.
“They’re here. Not a word, now, if you wish this to work.”
This must work, or all of this will be for naught. Treason is no small offense. If we are found out, the king will no doubt have my head.
She withdrew from the roof, removing all remnants of flax from her robe as she went.
“Woman!” The men at the door grew impatient. “Open this door at once, by order of the king of Jericho!”
Rahab paused for a moment, mussing her hair to suggest sleep. She took a deep breath and choked down the bile of fear that had arisen in her throat.
Make it convincing, Rahab! Your life depends on it!
Ever so slowly, she opened the door.
“Yes?” she answered, her voice thick with somnolence.
“Bring out the men who have come into your house,” the chieftain demanded. “They are spies sent here to discover the best way to attack us.”
Rahab rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn. “The men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from,” she replied. “They left the city at dusk, as the city gates were about to close, and I don’t know where they went.”
Are they believing this?
“If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them,” she added, feigning disinterest.
The chieftain considered her claim, his eyebrows furrowed in thought.
Please, let this be the end of it!
“Hmph. That will be all, harlot.” He spun on his heel and departed, his arrogance following him out the door.
Rahab closed the door and felt the color return to her face.
Gracious, that was close.
She pressed her ear against the door, waiting for the sound of retreating footsteps. Once she was convinced they were gone, she dashed up the stairs to unearth the fugitives.
No turning back now.
She grabbed handfuls of flax, tossing them aside as the Israelite scouts dug their way out of the pile.
“They’re gone for now,” Rahab said, giving them an account of her conversation with the king’s men.
“I know the Lord has given you this land,” she continued. “We have heard of your victories, and everyone in Jericho is paralyzed with fear! No one has the courage to fight you.”
The spies glanced at one another. They had the information for which they had come.
“I know that the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens and the earth—so swear to me by the Lord that you will spare me and my family when you return to conquer Jericho.”
The arrangements were made. In exchange for her continued fidelity, Rahab and her kin would be spared the massacre. The Israelites would know by the scarlet cord hanging from her window that all inside her home were to be left untouched.
Rahab, sealing her allegiance to the people of God, offered the scarlet cord of their pact as a method of escape. As the spies snuck down the wall of Jericho, she was struck by the utter irony unfolding before her.
These men cling to this one scarlet cord. It is their path to safety. By the grace of God, my family and I will be saved by this same cord.
And so it was that Rahab and her kin were saved by the scarlet cord of faith.
“By an act of faith, Rahab, the Jericho harlot, welcomed the spies and escaped the destruction that came on those who refused to trust God.” Hebrews 11:31 (The Message)
*Based on Joshua 2 (NLT)
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