A book I read recently suggests that, given the increased use of electronic media (television, cell phones, social media, iPad, the internet) our collective attention span has shrunk. Although we might like short commercials, the fifteen-second ads of recent years have decreased our ability to remain focused on a particular point. News briefs move from one to another at lightning speed. The internet moves information across our computer screens as quickly as we can absorb it. This ease of access to information has also affected our capacity to recall information because our brains are in a constant state of saturation.
Although most of our reminders come in the form of digital notifications on our cell phones, or perhaps still yellow sticky notes, you may be too young even to remember the practice of tying string around your finger. “That reminds me, it’s my wife’s birthday. I better remember to buy flowers!”
This month’s reading includes a cord as a reminder, not for flowers but rather for rescue and salvation. We will learn how this points to Jesus and how our heavenly Father, who needs no reminders, always keeps His promises.
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Joshua 2:15–18
- Having freed the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, our Lord brought them through the desert, sustaining them with manna, quail, and water. He nourished them spiritually with the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai. Now God would keep His promise to bring the people into the Promised Land, Canaan. Although Moses and the people were prevented from entering the Promised Land due to their disobedience, God kept His oath to their children, and under the guidance of Joshua, the armies of Israel were poised to conquer one of Canaan’s chief cities, Jericho.
- Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to take inventory of its goods and to gauge the strength of its armies. Rahab, a Gentile prostitute, took the two spies into her home and then lied to her king, telling him that the two men returned from where they came. She knew that the Lord would deliver Jericho into the hands of the people of Israel and so begged for her life and that of her family. Rahab and the spies agreed that if she would hide them and release them into safety through the window, she and her family would be spared at the invasion. However, she would have to hang a red cord from the window.
- Recall the Passover account in Exodus. To avoid the final plague against the Egyptians—death of the firstborn—each household was to cover the doorpost and lintel with lamb’s blood, initiating the Jewish ceremony of Passover (and more important, pointing to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in whose blood we are marked for salvation—the red cord around our necks).
- It is also noteworthy that Rahab charged the two spies to hide in the hills for three days, then proceed to their camp. Remember that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days before the Lord brought him forth onto the coast of Nineveh. More important, Jesus rested into the tomb for three days before the Lord brought His Son forth.
Law and Gospel
- Help students understand that, although Rahab recognized the futility of resisting the people of Israel, we must assume that most, if not all, of the people of Jericho did not and therefore perished. In similar fashion, those who never come to know Jesus or reject Him will face judgment without the red cord of Christ’s blood and will perish eternally.
- Encourage students with these two truths. First, while prostitution is sinful, God chose such a woman to facilitate His work for Israel. Second, He saved Rahab and her family and brought Rahab into the family line that led to Jesus. Likewise, God offers forgiveness to all, even those the world would reject.
Tips for Teaching
- Tying into the issue of electronic media, discuss with students its benefits and potential dangers. What types of social media do students use? How many hours or days do students spend using them? What benefits does electronic media have? How about potential dangers? Consider the life of a Christian. When studying God’s Word, is there any difference between reading from paper versus a screen? To what degree should electronic media play a role in worship?
- Help students locate verses in the Bible that relate to Jesus’ blood. Give each student a piece of red yarn or string. Encourage them to memorize one verse each week, reciting the verse out loud each time they see the string on their finger.
A Sunday school curriculum that guides your youngest to your oldest to take charge of their faith.