Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Valley of Achor

I've been doing a new Bible study on women in the Bible. I learned something that first week that I haven't been able to get off my mind. We were studying Hosea and I came across a verse I hadn't read before. At least, I didn't remember it. But first, for those who aren't familiar with the story of Hosea, here's a little background.

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.

7 comments:

Susan said...

Great post, Tracy.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, what great truth! I'm so thankful you posted this today. I've been praying so much for a situation that this just spurs me on to hope. It's easy to get lost in that despair and forget that God literally CAUSES us to enter difficult circumstances/situations to show us His grace and faithfulness. I'm so thankful He put the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible. I love your reminder that it's not about what we do for God, but about what He has done for us. May that truly spur us on to living a life of total surrender.

Anonymous said...

Remember the Valley of Achor on the day of trouble. Read Jesus' introduction of Himself to the Philadelphia church in Revelation. Babylon will fall. Remember to set your face towards Zion, remember the valley of Achor.

Lizzie Beth said...

I really enjoyed this! I've been going through some of my own personal termoil and 1 night as I was praying He told me to seek Him in the valley. This completly matched up to what He told me. WOW!! God is an awsome God!!!!! Have a great day!

Tracy Bro said...

Thank you for sharing that Lizzie Beth. I just LOVE it when God does that. He is so faithful. What an encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Great commentary!
Here's my own:
Jesus is the vine, according to the Bible. He turns water into wine at a wedding. Scholars of antiquity point out that in his world, vines were placed over the wine as an advertisement of the product.

What does the snake advertise? They live in trees. What would Darwin say?

In Jesus's world ... Man has proven that Man is God (Augustus Caesar). It is not enough to be King (Julius Caesar was betrayed and murdered for claiming to be King on the last day of the Republic)

In Joshua's world after the exodus from Egypt... his men hide their heads in the sand to cover up shame of lost victory. Stoning was acceptable by God for defying him. Jesus disagreed. He was goin Rogue.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+7&version=CEV

Recommendations: In the Valley of Elah (movie 2007) and this music video probably made for the movie(2007):
PUBLIC ENEMY
Harder Than You Think
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMi-W3lcI-4

HARDER THAN YOU THINK (excerpt of lyrics)

SHOW NO LOVE SO ITS EASY TO HATE IT
DESECRATED WHILE THE CORONER WAITED
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY SO WHERE YALL RATE IT?
WIT SLAVERY, LYNCHING , AND THEM DRUGS INFILTRATED

REVOLUTION MEANS CHANGE
DONT LOOK AT ME STRANGE
YOU DONT STAND FOR SOMETHING
YOU FALL FOR ANYTHING
HARDER THAN YOU THINK
ITS A BEAUTIFUL THING

GET UP
HARD...JUST LIKE THAT

SO ITS TIME TO LEAVE YOU A PREVIEW
HOW YOU SELL SELL SOUL, G WIZ
PEOPLE BEAR WITNESS
TO KEEP THEM CRIME RHYMES ON THE SHELF
LIVE LIFE LOVE LIKE YOU JUST DONT CARE
5000 LEADERS NEVER SCARED
BRING THE NOISE ITS THE MOMENT THEY FEAR
GET UP STILL A BEAUTIFUL IDEA

Long Post. Merry Christmas.

Cindy M Jones said...

Hello Tracy,
A good friend of mine gave me this verse years ago. It was the beginning of my writing career. Thank you for writing this post, I enjoyed it very much! Would love for you to visit my blog. Always looking for guest bloggers.
Blessings,
Cindy M Jones