Joshua 2:14-21 (NIV) 14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.” 15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 Now she had said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” 21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
On verses 14-21: So that the Israelite army would know which house to spare, the Israelite spies tell Rahab to tie a scarlet cord to her window. That way when the Israelites were attacking the city of Jericho, they would see the scarlet cord in Rahab’s window and know to leave that house alone.
This reminds me of an earlier incident in Exodus 12, where Moses instructs each Israelite family to take the blood of a lamb and put the blood on the doorframe of their house. That way, when God was going through the land, He would see the blood of the lamb, pass over that house and spare the family inside.
What can we learn from this? Both the blood of the Passover lamb and the scarlet cord that Rahab hung are powerful pictures pointing us to the blood of Jesus which saves us from God’s wrath. Just as the Israelite soldiers knew to spare Rahab and her family when they saw the scarlet cord in her window, so God spares us when He sees the blood of Jesus covering our lives.
Joshua 2:22-24 (NIV) 22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
On verses 22-24: Though we don’t know the identity of these two spies, they should be commended for their courage. At their leader Joshua’s command, these two spies risked their lives and went ahead of God’s people in faith, preparing the way for God’s people to enter the promised land. In so doing, the faith of these spies was stretched.
I bet when Joshua saw these two spies return from Jericho, saying “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands” (v24), he was reminded of the time decades earlier when he and his friend Caleb were sent along with 10 other Israelites as spies to explore the same promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb came back with an encouraging report saying, “We can certainly do it” (see Numbers 14:6-9).
It makes me think: maybe the reason Joshua only sent two spies was because Joshua learned from personal experience that sending two faith filled spies with can-do attitudes is more effective than sending 12 spies, most of whom lack faith and a can do spirit. In other words, it’s not the quantity of people you have, but the quality of faith in the people you have, that matters most.
Also, if Joshua had presumably already seen the city of Jericho himself, why did he bother sending two new spies to see it again? I believe it’s because (1) Joshua was leading a new generation of Israelites and he knew that in order for this new generation to own the vision they needed to see for themselves what they were fighting for; and (2) it had been years since Joshua had seen the land, so to make sure he had up to date information, he did a real time search as opposed to relying on old information.
What can we learn from all this?
1. When making a big decision that will require a big investment of your time, energy and resources, get the most up to date information you can. Don’t just rely on old info.
2. When leading a team, consider taking your team to places that will help them more clearly envision where you want to go as a team. Maybe it’s taking them to a conference, doing a site visit, or showing a video of what your end goal looks like. Let them see for themselves what you’ve been talking about. It’s part of casting vision as a leader.
3. Often to prepare the way for God’s people, God will choose and use courageous, faith-filled individuals to go ahead of God’s people, to pave the way. May you be one of those whom God sends to prepare the way for Him and His people — courageous, full of faith, and armed with a can do attitude.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your blood which is my scarlet cord that spares me from perishing. Please give me greater wisdom to know how best to make big decisions and how best to lead those in my care. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!