In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne conceives a child during an affair and is reluctant to name the father. In Puritan Massachusetts in the mid- 1600s, Hester’s punishment involved public shaming. She was ordered to wear a scarlet “A” throughout her life.
In Joshua 2 we meet Rahab who was essentially branded with a scarlet letter of adultery. She was one of Jericho’s well-known prostitutes, living inside its massive walls (v. 1). Joshua’s spies assumed that Rahab’s place would be the perfect hiding spot to remain anonymous. But rumors traveled quickly, and the king sent men to scope out her house (v. 3). After hiding the spies and turning the king’s men away, Rahab gives a confession of faith.
Rahab expressed that she and all the Jerichoans heard of what Yahweh had done to the other cities and were terrified. However, she turned her fear into reverence, proclaiming her belief in Yahweh’s supremacy. Her expression of trust would have been shocking to the spies, Joshua, the Israelite army, as well as the readers of the book of Joshua.
This woman, at whom others looked with judgment and scorn, put her transformed faith into action, kept her commitment to the spies, and tied a scarlet cord on her window to signify which home not to destroy. As early as the first century, commentators such as Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, and others indicated the scarlet cord as a symbol of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross. Only God can take our scarlet letter of sin and turn it into a scarlet cord of faith.
>> We all deserve to wear a scarlet letter that marks our sinfulness. But the good news is that Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us a second chance. If you have not accepted Jesus, turn to Him today. If you know Him, don’t hesitate to share how God has transformed your life. Your past may change someone’s future.
Overcome in us the fear or insecurity that prevents us from proclaiming the gospel to the lost. Remind us of what You have done for us and fill us with fervor for others to experience the same deliverance.