“…Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.”
Joshua 7: 26
New International Version
“The Door of Hope”
“In times of trouble, remember that God is:
Too kind to be cruel,
Too wise to make a mistake, and
Too deep to explain Himself.”
Is there a place in my life that is so painful and dark it is like a Valley of Achor that is filled with a double heap of pain and destruction?
“The eternal stars shine out as soon as it is dark enough.”
“There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope….”
Hosea 2: 15
New International Version
This past weekend, I heard someone on television who claimed to have no Christian association say that Jesus in the New Testament seemed like a “nice guy” while the God of the Old Testament was a “big meanie.”
Quite frankly, as a Christian who has read the Bible from beginning to end I’d have to agree with the above sentiment if the only thing you chose to do was read one text here and one there and not study the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and watch God at work all through history.
How often as a young person, after hearing the story of Achan, I, too, shuddered and thought God sounded awfully unkind, not only to Achan, but his family, as well. The story of Achan taking what wasn’t his, hiding the loot in his tent and then finally confessing when his theft was discovered, is a very painful story indeed.
But as we have studied together, I’ve come to realize that if I take what is accursed, and hold it close to my heart, even bring it into my tent – my home, the “accursed,” or as we found out from the Hebrew, those things which are to be destroyed, will bring heartache and destruction to me and quite possibly to those I love. This is what happened to Achan and his family. The “accursed” contaminated all of them and when any of us hold onto what God has said is not ours, we too, risk falling under the shadow and destruction of the “accursed” things. We do have a choice in this. We have two ears and can listen to God and choose to follow Him and reside within the protective hedge of His love.
But there’s more to the story of Achan and his family than failing and futility.
This is why it is so important to study the Bible as we do together at Transformation Garden. We find buried in the most unusual places many lessons that give us courage as we face the trials and troubles of daily living.
Let’s for a minute think about the children of Israel who witnessed the failure of their army at Ai, then watched as Achan reaped the harvest of the seeds of covetousness. Think how everybody in the camp of Israel felt. The Bible gives us a hint when God came down to Joshua and used words like “despair” and “dismay.” After such a stunning victory in Jericho, and such a crashing defeat at little old Ai, I know if I had been in the camp of Israel, I would have felt like a big flop. A loser. And I may easily have asked myself, “Where do I go from here? I’ve failed miserably! Now what am I to do?”
Have you ever felt as though this, maybe even as a result of a deliberate choice you made which has run your life off God’s path and down into a ditch where you are stuck and unable to get yourself out of the mess you’ve gotten into?
Have you ever felt as though you were in the Valley of Achor buried under a heap of stones?
Well, before we write off the God of the Old Testament as the meanie, the unforgiving, the arbitrary, the demanding Man in the sky, who is ready and willing to hold against us all we have done wrong, I want to show you something, that today, should lift your heavy heart and make you shout for joy!
You see, God didn’t forget the Valley of Achor. Now you might say, “Dorothy, if God didn’t forget the Valley of Achor, that means He hasn’t forgotten the “valleys” in my life, either. What am I to do?”
I’ve got fantastic news for you!
If we go to Isaiah 65: 10, the prophet says that our God promises the Valley of Achor will be, “a resting place for herds, for my people who seek Me.” (N.I.V.)
The first thing our gracious heavenly Father tells us is that when we fall into the ditch, “Seek Him. And He will give us rest.” This is what Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before the words of Jesus in Matthew 11: 28, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (N.I.V.)
When we seek our God, He promises rest. God tells us that for every Valley of Achor we fall into, if we seek Him, He will transform this valley into a place of rest!
But there’s more bounty to be poured upon God’s daughters and sons who find themselves in the Valley of Achor.
In Hosea 2:15, the Old Testament prophet says that God will, “make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” (N.I.V.)
Don’t you just love it!?! God doesn’t forget the Valleys of Achor in our lives, instead He turns them into something beautiful for us – a place of rest and a door of hope. He transforms what’s been a heap of rocks into a haven of hopefulness. I have to say, “Thank you, Father,” for I have plenty of Valleys of Achor in my life, those times when I have made choices that have hurt not only me but those I love, and yet, rather than leaving me in a valley, my heavenly Father, when I seek Him, has opened His loving arms and turned my valleys into places of rest and doors of hope.
In a sonnet penned by John Addington Symonds there are these beautiful words. “God abides and in man’s heart speaks with the clear unconquerable cry, of energies and hopes that can not die.” Our promise from our Father in heaven for today: “I will take your Valley of Achor, and turn it into a door of hope.”
“Hope, the paramount duty that Heaven lays,
For its own honour, on man’s suffering heart.”
“O God, who never forsakest those that hope in thee: grant that we may ever keep that hope which thou hast given us by thy Word as an anchor of our souls, to preserve us sure and steadfast, unshaken and secure in all the storms of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”