The Scarlet Hope

Another one of the Bible’s marks of Divine inspiration is its tremendous unity. Within the subject of the unity of the Bible, several other interesting characteristics emerge: the absence of contradictions, typology, numerology, and the law of first mention.

The law, or principle, of first mention is a hermeneutic device that can be employed on many (but not all) occasions of an important biblical word’s first appearance in scripture. Henry Morris, in Many Infallible Proofs, explains:

The very first time an important word or concept of scripture is mentioned in the Bible, its usage in that passage provides the foundation for its full development in later parts of the Bible.

Such is the case with words like “light”, “blood”, and “faith.” What is really amazing, though, is the first appearance of the word “hope.”

 The first time the word “light” is used (Genesis 1:3), it refers to it being dependent upon God’s Word, something we witness all throughout the rest of the Bible. The first time the word “love” is used (Genesis 22:2), it refers to the love that Abraham has for his only begotten Son, undoubtedly the premier concept of love throughout the Bible. The first time the word “faith” is used (Genesis 15:6 – the verb believed), it refers to the doctrine of justification by faith. Again, this is not a hermeneutic device that can always be used, but it certainly is one of particular interest.

The word for “hope” first appears in this verse of scripture:

Joshua 2:18 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.

Did you see that? If not, read it again. . .

Well, I couldn’t find it either. But it is there, I promise. First, a bit of context:

After a long delay and wandering, suddenly and miraculously Joshua crosses the Jordan to destroy the wicked inhabitants of Jericho. Rahab, former harlot, had come to faith in God. She and her family were saved recognized only by this line of scarlet. (Morris)

The line of scarlet indeed is what provided salvation. Many preachers and students of God’s word have recognized this as a typology of the blood of Jesus Christ, our only hope of salvation. Certainly, this is true, and it points to what some have called “the scarlet line that is woven throughout the Bible.”

But what about the law of first mention? Where is the mention of the word “hope” here? It is actually found in the word translated “line.” It is also translated as “cord” in other versions. These translations, of course, are not wrong, but the interesting fact is that the word used, tiqwa, actually means “hope.” I checked Strong’s for this word, and how it is used in the KJV. It is translated “hope” 23 times, “expectation” 7 times, and once each for “expected” and “the thing that I longed for.” So, the word hope does appear here, yet it is clothed in the literal context, only to be uncovered by a little bit of study. Thank God for study tools like these!

Our only hope for salvation is in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. This little word study proves that Jesus’ ministry was not some radical grassroots movement, but something that would fulfill that which was spoken of by men of old.

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