Wool. Raw wool, washed, then carded.
Yarn made thread, dyed scarlet.
Scarlet thread, spun sometimes superfine, but strong. So strong it never broke. Not in millennia of wear and strain. The Scarlet Thread of Promise…
A figurative thread—but represented at one time by a physical thread tied around a newborn’s wrist…
Though God had promised a “seed of the woman” who would crush the deceiving serpent’s power, from Eve on down the thread of redemption so often looked just ready to break. I am considering all these events that threatened it so far, in Genesis alone:
Adam and Eve’s first son kills their second, and a hundred years pass before a third son, a child of hope appears.
As mankind multiplies after that, it grows so bad that God must purge away the evil with a flood, and nearly all mankind is lost… except the slender thread of Noah’s family.
Then runs the Promise of the Seed down to Sarah and Abraham—who reach the ages of ninety and one hundred respectively, still childless, before at last, comes Isaac.
The thread threatens snapping once again when their two grandsons—one grown earthy, caring little for the promise, the other grasping and deceitful—nearly repeat the tragic end of Cain and Abel, the one planning murder against the other…
Yet the thread spun on…
Now, next in the Promise line: Judah, son of Jacob-renamed-Israel.
Did he realize his role? Even if he didn’t know he would be the one to carry the seed of promise, to move hope forward toward fulfillment in the One who would crush Satan’s power, surely he knew the Promise to his father and grandfather: “In your seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed.”
But Judah grew fearful and balked. Understandably…
Judah had three sons (Gen 38:1-5), three Promise possibilities. The first one, Er, married a girl named Tamar, and hope looked for an offspring. But Er was so wicked God cut him off dead. So second-born Onan was bound, if God enabled, to father a child in Er’s name, with Widow Tamar. But Onan, adverse to providing an heir for anyone but himself, threw away his seed—and, angry at this outrage, God struck him dead! (Gen 38:6-10)
Then Judah balked. He hemmed and hawed and made excuses. Afraid to lose his third son Shelah, he left the widow Tamar barren, the seed and promise lying good as dead.
It took conniving, at forfeit of her reputation, but Tamar got herself with the seed of promise by unknowing Judah himself, (Gen 38:11-15,16-19,20-23,24-26). And only that (humanly speaking) prevented the thin thread’s breaking.
Another womb in turmoil then—like the world outside it—twins discovered at birth-time, posing the question of which was “firstborn.” So, a nurse circled a scarlet thread around the tiny wrist of that first arm to shoot out into air (Gen 38:27-30).
Though it failed to tag the firstborn (Perez, who “broke out” ahead of his sibling Zerah), that blood-red line of fiber spoke of the bloodline, of the seed of Promise, advancing ever forward till God at last would give it Life Divine and Mysterious, to bless all peoples of the earth with their only hope for deliverance from sin and second death… (Rev 20:14, 21:8)
Thus began the imagery of the Scarlet Thread of Redemption (more of it to show up later): thread begun before time began, to weave unbroken through all eons, right down to The Manger, and the scarlet on a cross.
Praise God for His might and love and grace, in His unbroken redemptive thread!
Seeking the Christ Child (in the Old Testament)
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I am searching for prophecies and foreshadowings of the Christ child, book by book. I plan to post (nearly) every weekday (leaving myself some margin) a short peek at some hint or promise of the coming baby who would make all the difference. Like the wise men, I’ll be Seeking the Christ Child, but in Old Testament promises and foreshadowings, and sharing what I find. I hope you’ll join me, because if it turns out as rewarding as the past spring’s pre-Easter explorations, this focus could make this one of the richest, most blessed Christmas seasons yet.
Previous posts in this series: