A slim scarlet cord dangling in a window might not trigger thoughts of deliverance. That is, unless you were Rahab, a Gentile woman living in a home built into the wall of the ancient city of Jericho over three thousand years ago. Rahab’s scarlet cord was a sign to the approaching Hebrew armies to spare her family because she did not put her faith in walls, but in the God of Israel. When she encountered two Hebrew spies who had come to scout the city, she chose to be on the winning side.
That scarlet cord represented redemption for a handful of Gentiles. Yet it also symbolized a greater deliverance. Threaded throughout the Old Testament is a scarlet cord” of Scripture, foretelling redemption through Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Following are just a small portion of Scriptures that foretold Jesus, who came to hang on Calvary, even as that scarlet cord hung from the window. Through Him alone, Jews and Gentiles can find redemption from sin.
Too many Gentiles who have embraced the scarlet cord of the Messiah’s death have forgotten or ignored the scarlet cord in Rahab’s window. They have forgotten the Jewish role in bringing God’s salvation to the world, and that the God of Israel has graciously included us in His redemption. As we celebrate our salvation, we can show our appreciation by pointing our Jewish friends to safety in Jesus.
The first messianic promise,that the “seed of woman” (not a natural mode of conception) will bruise the head of the serpent, is found in Genesis 3:15; further elaboration on the miraculous birth of this future deliverer is seen in Isaiah 7:14; the fulfillment found in Jesus is written in Matthew 1:18-21.
The Passover Lamb described in Exodus 12:1-28 points to Christ as our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) and also provides a ceremony upon which our Communion is based (Luke 22:7-20).
The Day of Atonement, with the scapegoat and the ram described in Leviticus 16, pictures a messianic promise further elaborated upon in Psalm 103:12 and fulfilled by Jesus as described in Romans 5:11.
Rahab’s scarlet cord (Joshua 2:17,18; 6:17, 22-23) is a foretaste of how redemption will also come to faithful Gentiles. Rahab’s faith was rewarded with the astounding honor of being placed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), she is honored yet again by mention in the Hebrews 11 “hall of fame.”
The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, also detailed in Psalm 22,foretells the suffering of the Messiah Jesus described in Luke 23.
Jonah’s experience in the great fish (Jonah 1:17) is seen as a “type” for the coming Resurrection. Prophecy also points to the resurrected Messiah (Psalm 16:10). The link between Jonah and Jesus is revealed in Matthew 12:40.
The slain shepherd described in Zechariah 13:7 foretells what will happen to the Messiah, the “shepherd.” Jesus claims to be that shepherd in Matthew 26:31. Revelation 7:17 shows the Lamb and the Shepherd as One.
We are grateful to Carter Corbrey for sharing his insights. Carter is a part-time pastor and full-time writer as well as a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a Th.M. degree in Semitics and Old Testament. His wife Georgia volunteered his writing skills when she filled out a card to receive our newsletter at First Christian Church of Greensburg, Indiana. Carter’s first contribution to our newsletter was “What I Learned From Fish” (June, 2001). We look forward to hearing more from him!