Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Door of Hope

I have had a couple of verses on my heart for a couple of weeks.  "Therefore-behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her the vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope:  and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt."  Hosea 2:14-15

Sometimes we have to enter into some Jewish historical imagery to understand something.  For Americans, it is no problem to pull up an image of 9/11 in our minds.  We vividly see planes heading towards buildings, people jumping, children crying, firemen and rubble, chaos, utter destruction, and a picture of despair.  We can enter into the hopelessness just by seeing one single image.

It was the same way with the Israelites and the Valley of Achor.  Achor means "trouble" or "to cause affliction."  For them, just like us, it was a picture of the harmful effects of sin. Picture this with me:  the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, are defeating the enemies and claiming their promised land.  They are taking the land that God is giving, one battle at a time.  Jericho has just fallen and God has commanded that the silver, gold and all valuables be put into the treasury of the Lord.

Achan, an Israelite, takes matters into his own hands.  Greed and lust consume him as he takes some of the devoted things for himself.  He directly disobeys and he is directly held accountable.  He and all that belongs to him are brought into the Valley of Achor and stoned.  Everything...his wife, children, treasure, oxen, sheep, tent, everything that he had was brought to the valley and stoned.  (I am sure that our post-modern minds are screaming that this isn't fair, but that is how much we whitewash sin these days.)  It was then set on fire.  God wanted the accursed to be destroyed.  He needed his children to know that he didn't take sin lightly.  After the ashes settled, they raised up a great heap of stones...a dreadful visual reminder of the nasty effects of sin.

So why on earth are verses like Isaiah 65:10 so amazing???..."Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me." If I understand the Word correctly, the valley of Achor lay between Jericho and Jerusalem.  The Israelites had just conquered Jericho and were in the valley about to continue the conquest, when sin interrupted their journey.  Because of one man's sin, the people lost the battle of Ai.  It seemed as if the door of inheritance had been closed forever.  Was God no longer on their side?  Had He brought them this far just to leave them to themselves?

But, after sin is dealt with, and because of grace, the valley of trouble becomes the door of hope.  They must enter into this valley to claim the promises of God.  Their dead end, where everything seems a loss, the place where they couldn't escape the visual reminder of grief...this is the very place that becomes their door of hope and entrance into the vineyards of promise.

What if God desires the same thing for us?  Hosea 2:14-15 says he is wooing his bride out to a place where he can speak comfortably with her.  "Comfortably" in Hebrew is "leb" which means "heart."  God is getting us to a place where He can literally speak heart to heart with us.  When we experience the God who talks heart to heart, then our valley of trouble, heartache, and disappointment can be redeemed and become our very door of hope and entrance into our inheritance.

God is all about restoration and making all things new.  He can take that very thing that makes you cringe and turn it into a place of rest.   He loves to take the source of calamity and turn it into a source of blessing for us. 

What is the Valley of Achor for you?  I am sure you have your own images that play through your mind.  You probably want to run as far away from this place as possible.  But, what if we allowed God to redeem this place of trouble and turn it into a door of hope?  "It is as if a place distinguished for causing trouble should become as celebrated for producing happiness."  (Barnes)

God wants to turn your place of sorrow into a place of entrance into blessing and promise; joy and restoration.


Michelle said...

Thanks Becke for the encouraging word. Sometimes its hard to see that "Valley" as a door of hope.

Erica said...

Wowsa. This is awesome.