“Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.”(Josh 2:18-21)
Rahab was a harlot who saved the lives of two spies that Joshua had sent into the city of Jericho to determine its disposition. She let these two down by a scarlet thread from the walls of Jericho to make their escape from the city. She was told to tie the scarlet thread in her window as a signal to the Armies of Israel so that her life, and the lives of her family with her, would be spared when Jericho fell into their hands. I do not believe that these men knew the spiritual and prophetic significance of their counsel, but the Lord speaks through unwitting mouths at times such as those words uttered by the High Priest Caiaphas concerning the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ: “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” (John 11:49-52) Rahab, thus, became the great grandmother of King David and came into the reckoned line of Jesus Christ! (Matthew 1:5)
From the day that God sacrificed an innocent animal in the Garden at Eden to cover the nakedness (sins) of Adam and Eve, the Scarlet Thread has been the connective tissue that follows through all of the Scriptures – both Old and New Testament. It represents both the prophesied, and actual, shed blood of Jesus Christ for our sins. It was represented in the blood of the Pascal Lamb that was sacrificed in Goshen to spare the eldest male child in each home from the Angel of Death that swooped down over Egypt. When that Angel saw the blood on the lentils and doorpost, He passed over that house – therefore, the first Passover in Egypt was observed signifying that ultimate Passover Lamb (Jesus Christ) who would die for the sins of many that they might be spared that death that plagued Egypt and the world. That Crimson Thread can be traced throughout Scriptures from Genesis to Revelations.
I will address three distinct colors and there meanings in this devotion: Crimson, Blue, and Yellow. These may be compared to Battle Streamers on the staff of an Army, Division, or Regiment in the US Defense Forces. For example, the Colors of the 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne and Normandy (Presidential Unit Citations), and a Green and Red Ribbon Streamer (French) awarded to the Unit for Normandy Campaign. A Red Streamer is affixed for the Belgian Campaign (awarded by the Belgium Government). These Streamers proudly proclaim the valor and conspicuous bravery of the men of that unit.
The Crimson Thread of the Bible, and the Blue Cord, serve the same purpose of acknowledging courage and sacrifice. The Yellow Streak in Scripture, however, symbolizes the presence of sin and cowardice. It is not likely that the 7th Cavalry has a Battle Streamer for the Battle of the Little Big Horn, for they lost their colors to the Sioux – a grave disgrace. That would be very much like the Yellow Streak mentioned. Though each of Custer’s command may have fought bravely, their engagement and actions led to defeat in the face of the enemy. Yellow, representing sin, causes the innocent of a nation to suffer along with those perpetrators of it. Think of Peter who denied Christ the third time, and saw Jesus turn and look him squarely in the eyes. He went out and wept bitterly for his weakness. Being cowardly, or yellow, is much more common than we might believe. What of Christians who hide behind the colors of separation of church and state rather than take a public stand against the incredibly abominable sins of abortion or homosexuality? What of those who fear to intervene when a woman is being publicly attacked on the streets of our major cities/ Do we fear to speak out as Christians? Will our colors forever bear a Yellow Ribbon to describe our lack of valor and courage?
We all know that God compares the physical effects of leprosy to the spiritual effects of sin. Leviticus reveals the means of checking for leprosy: “Then the priest shall see the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.” (Lev 13:30) Leprosy comes to men without distinction, especially in olden days. So does sin. No one is born without it. No one is so full of courage that he lacks any degree of cowardice whatsoever. Cowardice, or being yellow, cannot be remedied by determination, but by a spiritual reliance upon God to both save and defend us. Though we all despise cowardice, we all have had our portion of it. It grows with lack of Bible study and faith, and it is extinguished by the Light of God’s Word. If a man is yellow, he seeks to save his own skin to the disregard of all others around him. He has spiritual leprosy!
It is to be hoped that our ensigns of life will bear the Battle Streamers of the Crimson Thread and the Blue Cord. Blue illustrates courage and faithfulness in Scripture. The three colors of our Star Spangled Banner are Blue for Vigilance and Justice, Red for Valor and Patriotism, and White for purity of intent. The same illustrates the colors of the Church.
See how Blue symbolizes our faith: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” (Num 15:38-41) REMEMBER ALL THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD BY BLUE!
Now, if we proudly lift the Ensign of Christ high with those Battle Streamers of Blue and Red affixed, we shall go from victory to victory. But if we stand down, and put the colors in storage, their use and purpose will decay. I read a story of the great violinist, Paganini, who left his wonderful violin to the City of Genoa on condition that it never again be played. Within a few years, the violin went into decay and ruin because fine wood needs handling, and so does the Word of God.
Under which Battle Streamer do you march – the disgraceful Yellow, the Valorous Red of Faith, or the royal Blue for vigilance and steadfastness? If we have the Red, like the 506th Regiment, we shall also have the Blue, Streamer. But Yellow is a disgrace to be drummed from the field.
Here is a quote from the Rev. Maltbie Bacbcock, D.D.: “Loyalty to God alone is fundamental. Feelings, words, deeds, must be beads strung on the string of duty. Let the world tell you in a hundred ways what your life is for. Say you ever and only, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God.” Out of that dutiful root grows the beautiful life, the life radically and radiantly true to God – the only life that can be lived in BOTH worlds.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.