Hosea was a prophet who married an adulterous woman. And it wasn't any accident, God told him to marry an adulterous woman. He married a woman named Gomer. As with many prophets in the Bible, Hosea's life reflected the message God spoke through him. Even the three sons Gomer bore represented part of the message. With names like Jezreel (God scatters), Lo-Ruhamah (not loved), and Lo-Ammi (not my people) it would seem the message is one of despair. Gomer represents Israel who, over and over again, turned to the worship of false gods and in essence committed spiritual adultery against the One True God. Israel was driven into a period of exile as Gomer was driven from her home. But it was for the purpose of purifying. Like only God can do, the message is not, "You've screwed up, so get out." God longs for His people to turn from their sin and He always takes them back. Hosea is ordered to continue loving Gomer. Not to tolerate her, not to put on a happy face for the outside world, not to lie about her, to continue loving her. And to go get her and bring her back. This is the message of what God does for Israel and for us.
God even changes the names of the sons to represent what He does. In Hosea 1:11, 2:1-2, He changes "God scatters" to "God sows", He changes "not my people" to "my people" and "not loved" to "my loved one". Incidentally, the name Gomer means "to complete". It comes from the root word, gamar, which means "to perfect or to finish". Cool, huh? It's easy to be hard on Gomer though. It's easy to think we're better. But Gomer represents us. We may not actually commit adultery in the sexual sense, but how often do our hearts turn to something else instead of God? He brings us back and we always find him the faithful one. Like always, it is not a story of what we do for God, we are the adulterous Gomer, it is a story of what God does for us. And one of the things He does for us is that thing I learned that I can't stop thinking about...
I can't get over Hosea 2:15.
There I will give back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
Let me explain. While Gomer/Israel is in exile, God says "I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope." The word "Achor" means "trouble". I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope. I will make your Valley of Trouble a door of hope. I can't get that image out of my mind. And I can't help but think of where that door leads. How cool that Jesus says in Revelation 3:19-20
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Our hope is in Christ. And he's not just waiting behind that door, he's knocking! He's calling out, "Here I am!". Oh how I pray that when I am in the Valley of Achor, I will quickly go to the door of hope.
Now the Valley of Achor in our lives may not always be a place of discipline. Maybe sometimes it is illness, or job loss, or unexplainable tragedy, or a million other difficult and confusing times we find ourselves in. I heard a story recently of a pediatric nurse who lost some fingers on her left hand in a lawnmower accident. She is still able to work because her right hand was not affected and she often deals with children who have suffered similar injuries in lawnmower accidents. Although she has suffered with her loss, she has said she will be a nurse like never before. God says He will turn the Valley of Achor into a door of hope.
I challenge you to write a post about a time when God turned your Valley of Achor into a door of hope.