Today's Reading: Joshua 1-4
There are some surprising stories in the Bible. These are the stories where, as you are reading along, you think, "Did I just read what I thought I read?"
Today, we have the tribes of Israel pledging allegiance to their new leader with words like, "All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go." These words in and of themselves are shocking, but the words that follow really make me scratch my head. "Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you."
Have they been in the same story I've been reading all these last 40+ days? I surely have not seem much "obedience in all things." Have you?
Then, Joshua sends out a scouting group; and where do they lodge for the night? Not the Best Western. They lodge with a known prostitute. Can you imagine sending the leaders of your church on a journey and finding out later that they stayed at a cat house!
These stories are really shocking. I find that I read along, read along, and because I've heard them so many times, I sometimes miss the irony; the shocking, naked truths so blatantly expressed.
And don't you love the "deal" between the harlot and the spies? The Israelites allow the harlot to lie for them, they promise to save the harlot and whomever she can get in her home, and vow their lives to her if she hangs a scarlet cord out her window. Talk about intrigue. This reminds me of a James Bond film.
The red light district now has a red cord hanging out the window. It would have had to have been some sort of signal unnoticed by the rest of the visitors to the house of ill repute. It was a house of women. The cord could have been a menstrual cloth, soaked in blood.
The house of the scarlet cord--bet shawnee khoot.
The theological images run rampant in this story. The lowest and most outcast of society become the heroes of the story. People gather under a roof to be saved from the angel of death. Red/blood is the signal of salvation.
In this story we hear the echos of stories past and yet to come. Sounds a little like the ark story---salvation to all under one roof. Sounds like Passover all over again---red blood markings to signal the messengers of death to avoid anyone within the walls of this home. Sounds like the tabernacle sanctuary where scarlet curtains hung representing the sacrifices. Sounds like baptism---you shall be saved; you and your household by the blood of the lamb. Sounds like most of Jesus' stories where those outside the faith community in positions of disdain become the ones who act faithfully and are lifted up as examples.
So who are you in this story?
Are you the James Bond spies, chosen as the leaders of the church on a dangerous mission?
Are you the outcast "harlot?"
Are you someone who hears death is looming and so you run to a house for sanctuary?
Are you in the Bet Shawnee Khoot?