Month: December 2012

Joshua

There is a literal scarlet thread in the book of Joshua which ties into the theme of the Scarlet Thread.  As the Israelites were preparing to take Jericho by force, they sent spies into town.  The spies stayed hidden in the house of a harlot named Rahab.  At the end of the spies’ stay with Rahab, an extraordinary interaction occurred.

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.  When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.  Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”  So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”  Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.  She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return.  Then afterward you may go on your way.”  The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you 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.  It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.  But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.”  She said, “According to your words, so be it.”  So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.  Joshua 2: 9 – 21

Just like the Passover, just like Moses and the serpent in the wilderness, this account of Rahab the harlot foreshadows elements of the gospel; salvation from the coming wrath was achieved through faith.

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11: 31

Yet Rahab did more than serve as a participant in the prophetic foreshadow of the gospel.  She literally participated in the extension of the line of Judah, and paved the way for the line of David, for she was the mother of Boaz, who was an ancestor of King David.

Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.  Jesse was the father of David the king.  Matthew 1: 5 – 6

Rahab’s participation in extending the line of Judah and establishing the line of David is significant because the Old Testament Scriptures teach that the Messiah would be from the line of David.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9: 6 – 7

And the New Testament teaches that Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, is a Son of David.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.  Matthew 1: 18 – 25
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Deuteronomy

In the days of Moses, the LORD promised the people a prophet, an Israelite.  The people were admonished to listen to the prophet God sent.  Moses wrote:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.  This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’  The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well.  I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.  It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.  But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’”  Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20

The remainder of the Old Testament Scriptures bear witness to God’s general fulfillment of the promise to send a prophet.  Just consider the prophets who have a book of the Bible named after them:  Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.  And then there are Elijah and Elisha, and many other prophets, who were sent but did not write a book that made it into the Bible.

The prophecy from Moses, however, has a more specific fulfillment in the Messiah.  In addition to all the prophets in the Old Testament, who in general fulfill God’s promise to speak through men, the Messiah is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s oath to raise up an Israelite in the manner of Moses.

Since the New Testament teaches that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, we can also say that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15.  Peter referenced the Deuteronomy prophecy in a message he preached to his countrymen after he had healed a lame beggar in the name of Christ:

And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.  But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.  Moses said, ‘The LORD God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.  And it will be that every soul that does not need that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’  And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.  It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’  For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.  Acts 3: 17 – 26

And Stephen, right before his execution for preaching Jesus, told the people of God’s promise to Moses to raise up a prophet, as he recounted the history of Israel for the people and tried to show how Jesus was part of it.

This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’  Acts 7: 37

So the New Testament teaches that Jesus is the promised prophet; the one that God told the Israelites to listen to.  At the transfiguration of Christ, when Jesus was standing with the two great prophets of God, Moses and Elijah, the Father said this about the Son:

“This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”  Mark 9: 7

And the Scripture says that after the voice spoke, Moses and Elijah were gone.

All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.  Mark 9: 8

Jesus is greater than Moses and Elijah; He stands alone.  He is the beloved Son and the promised prophet of God.