The Scarlet Cord of Redemption

The Scarlet Cord of Redemption

A sermon entitled “The Scarlet Thread of Redemption” has been preached in pulpits across the country for the last century.

In Joshua 2, two Israelite spies entered the city of Jericho, to gauge its strengths. The king learned of the spies and sent soldiers to capture them. Rahab had heard of the power of God and believed Israel would conquer the land of Canaan. Rahab hid the spies on the rooftop under sheaves of grain. Rahab begged the Israelite spies to remember her favorably when they came to destroy Jericho.
The spies listened to her faith and agreed to save her, but they made this demand:

Tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household (Josh. 2:18).

True to their word, Israel spared Rahab and her household, though all the city and its inhabitants were destroyed. Rahab’s family lived amongst Israel and became a part of the covenant people. In fact, Rahab became part of the Messianic line, which produced David and finally Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Her deeds are counted amongst the most powerful examples of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

This thread, colored scarlet, the sign that by faith protected Rahab’s household from destruction, was not just bright enough to see, but fittingly represents a theme that winds its way through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation: redemption from sins and salvation from death can only be obtained through the scarlet blood of sacrifice.

In Leviticus 17:11 God told His people regarding animal sacrifices, “it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” Sin causes death, and only by death may the penalty of sin be paid. God permitted the animal sacrifices to substitute for the death of the sinner. According to Hebrews 9:22, “all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

• In Exodus, as God prepared to rescue the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, He warned them that the angel of death would pass through the country and destroy the firstborn son of every household. He instructed the Jews to spread a lamb’s blood upon the doorposts and lintel of their homes. “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you” (Exodus 12:13). The blood protected the nation of Israel from the tenth and terrible plague that ravaged Egypt that night. Only those with blood on the door were spared.

• When the children of Israel assembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai to receive the law and enter into covenant with God, “Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you” (Exodus 24:8). Moses sprinkled the same blood on the altar, and on the book of the Law. Once again, blood paved the way for sinful humanity to enter into a right relationship with God in heaven.

• Every single time an Israelite committed sin, he was compelled by the Law to offer sacrifices to cleanse the guilt of his sins. Once a year the Jews observed a day of special sacrifices, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

The old Law of Moses was but a shadow, a forerunner, of the gospel of Christ. Hebrews 10:4 remarks that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Although the blood of animals sufficed for the time to provide justification, they were never able to complete it. Instead, they point to the one final sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:13-14).

If you were to begin at the start of the Bible and trace, hand over hand, the scarlet thread of redeeming blood, you would find the end anchored firmly to the cross of Jesus Christ. The thread leads to Christ’s statement in Matt. 26:28, “this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” In Him alone, we have redemption, “through His blood” (Eph. 1:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19).

So, tie this cord of scarlet in your window, admonish your family to come under its shelter as well, and be saved from the wrath that is to come!
–John Guzzetta