The Scarlet Cord
(Today, we are going to take communion together. You may want to pause the video and get your communion elements ready.)
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” (1) These are the opening lines of the song, Solid Rock, written in 1834 by Edward Mote, a Baptist pastor from England.
The well-known refrain states:
“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.” (2)
The refrain of this hymn is based on Matthew 7:24-27, which anyone who’s attended Sunday school will recognize as the parable of The Wise and the Foolish Builders. The passage says:
“Anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!” (GNT)
Most of the words of this song, not just the refrain, are based in Scripture. Edward Mote must have been a man who loved God’s Word. He had come to understand that hope was found in Christ, and clearly embraced this truth in his life. I’m sure Mote had no idea the powerful song he ended up writing would become a classic, reminding the millions who would sing it that hope is found in Jesus.
The Lord tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has good plans and a hope-filled future for us. The hope He gives motivates us to pursue the future He has planned. This allows us to also impart hope, which puts wind beneath the wings of others. Hope looks past any fog or darkness that may encroach on our path and lights our way forward.
In my book, The Power of Hope, I state that “Hope does in our hearts what seeds do in the earth. Without hope, life is sterile and unfruitful; dreams won’t be conceived; destinies won’t be realized. Hope is essential because it is the seed, the starting line, the genesis, and the launch pad. It is, in fact, the incubator where faith is birthed: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” God tells us (Hebrews 11:1 KJV, emphasis added). If there is no hope for the future, there will be no faith to face it - let alone build it.” (3)
Strong’s concordance tells us the word “hope” in Jeremiah 29:11 is the word “tiqvah”. It has two meanings: “an expectancy;” and “a cord, as an attachment.” The second definition is especially fascinating. Hope connects us to our future.
This brings us back to the words of Mote’s song, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” At some point, while walking along life’s path with the Lord, this powerful truth became a revelation, and he shared it with all the world in his hymn.
Tiqvah’s definition as a “cord or rope” is used this way in Joshua 2:18. A woman named Rahab hid the Israelite spies when they came to check out Jericho. Because she helped them, they agreed to save her and her family from the destruction coming to Jericho. The spies gave her a red cord and told her to hang it in her window. They cautioned her to be sure all of her extended family members were in the room with the cord, and all would be saved. In verse 21, she accepted their offer. It was a very good thing she did. The entire city and its inhabitants were destroyed; only Rahab and her family survived. The passage reads, “When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet cord [tiqvah - hope] hanging from the window through which you let us down… ‘I accept your terms,’ she replied. And, she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope [hope] hanging from the window” (verses 18-21 NLT).
Rahab was being asked to place her hope in these men and the God she knew was with them. Their promise to her was a covenant expressed in the blood-red cord. Most biblical scholars see this as a prophetic picture of Christ’s shed blood, which is where we place our hope and trust. This symbolism seems even more likely when we realize Rahab later married an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, Salmon, and became the mother of Boaz. Boaz and Ruth gave us Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. King David was one of Rahab’s descendants; she was part of Christ’s lineage! That Jesus descended from Rahab makes it almost certain that the scarlet cord symbolized the redeeming, covenantal blood of Christ, through which we are saved.
One verse of Mote’s song says, “His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood; when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” Let’s put all our hope in God’s covenant with us, knowing we are saved by, tethered to, and anchored solidly in His love and plan.
Communion is our declaration that when all around us gives way, Christ is our hope and stay. We are foundationed on Him, our rock, which will never fail to support us. His blood, the scarlet cord, “hangs” from the windows of our hearts and is the surety, the guarantee, of our covenant with God (Hebrews 7:22). He cannot and will not fail.
Christ’s blood grafts us into God’s family, just as the cord grafted Rahab into Israel. And not as a second-class citizen - Rahab became a carrier of the royal seed, one of the mothers of Messianic redemption. Put your hope and faith in the blood of Christ - it will not fail!
Pray with me:
Father, we ask You to restore Your people from hope-deferred. You tell us hope-deferred makes our hearts sick (Proverbs 13:12). Heal them, spiritually and emotionally, so they can be hope-givers to those around them. Many have been in a season of disappointment; some have even abandoned hope, and lost faith in You. They’ve allowed circumstances to determine how they see and relate to You. But hope can spawn faith, correct our vision, and bring us into right relationship with You! You are good, faithful, and have a plan to bring us into a hope-filled future.
As we take the bread of communion together today, we break off of Your people fear, disillusionment, hope-deferred, weak hearts, and confusion. We declare Your promise of “no fear,” and release “power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We declare over them the spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13). Through Your covenant, our hope and faith are strong for ourselves, our families, and our nation. (Eat the bread)
And as we take the cup today, representing Your blood, we declare, as Rahab did for herself and her family, that we are no longer outsiders, outcasts. We’re in the family now, the household of faith, Your family. As Your kids, we’re Your heirs, joint-heirs with Christ. We stand in this truth today, declaring that we and our families, like Rahab, shall be saved, by the scarlet cord, the blood of a better and eternal covenant - Christ’s. (Drink the cup).
We declare that a hope-filled church will reflect Jesus, rejoicing in hope, standing patient in tribulation, and remaining constant in prayer.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
“My Hope is Built” by Edward Mote. Public domain.
Dutch Sheets, The Power of Hope, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2002), p 3.