“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:14-20).
“Hope is a waking dream.” Augustine
The Bible is filled with messages using paradox as a means to communicate a deeper truth that causes our heads to go just a little cock-eyed for a moment. Jesus was especially known for this, saying, “the first will last and the last, first”, “the greatest must be the servant of all” and “to save your life you must lose it”, just to name a few. God through Hosea states a truth in a similar manner by saying that the Valley of Achor will become a door of hope.
What a contrast!
If you don’t know the whole story check out the sin of Achan and Israel in Joshua 7. In a nutshell, the Valley of Achor (“trouble”) was a place of great humiliation and judgment brought upon Achan and all that was his. Think of the most humiliating time in your life; when you were caught “red handed” doing something wrong or shameful. For some of us that has included a shame brought to our family or larger community. They were innocent of any wrong doing but by association with us were disgraced along with us. Remember the depths of the emotional despair during that season; the gravity of sin’s judgment? That was our Valley of Achor.
Somewhere in this darkest of moments a secret grace was hiding. In the middle of the worst time in your life God was preparing to make it a moment of great mercy and hope. You thought you would never breathe again, but God infused you with newness. It is just like God to bring a song to our hearts right in the midst of a time of brokenness and shame. That’s grace! That’s the Jesus message. Notice Hosea doesn’t say Israel would sing a new song when they achieved some future place of holiness. He says that it is right in the midst of your valley of trouble new dream and visions will spring forth. Hosea compares it to what the Israelites may have experienced as they were launching from Egypt. Yes, they were uncertain; yes, they saw the Egyptian army in their rearview mirror but they must have been filled with a great heart of worship and anticipation as well. Do you remember the early days of faith? Everything was filled with hope and expectation. There is no way to go back and live those days again. Yet as we come down from the mountaintop of new faith and dwell in the inevitable valleys of sin below, God declares that He is able to make the valley as the mountain; the old as the new; the “troubled” with a passion-filled hope.
How can this be? There is a kind of evolution that has occurred in our relationship with God – an evolution wholly initiated on His part. Our relationship was once based upon the ever-enduring fact that “God is God and we are not”; He is wholly transcendent to us. While there is still a sense where this has not changed, Hosea declares to Israel that God has taken this whore of a nation as His wife while they remain in the Valley of Trouble. Again – check out the contrast and level of intimacy that Israel will be anointed with. They move from a Master-slave relationship to the familiarity of husband and wife. This same relationship is inherent in the New Testament as the church is described as the Bride of Christ. This reality is too big for us to wrap our minds around but is nevertheless true.
The promise is not only of marriage but that the “old lovers” will be removed and indeed not even remembered. There is now in Christ a new covenant, a union and bond that “man cannot separate”. “Behold the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is not a leap for me to acknowledge that ALL of our marriages have seen the Valley of Achor. There has been a season – perhaps a long one – wherein you could see no way through the maze of hurt, misunderstanding, and doubt; perhaps even a time of betrayal of old and new lovers who have defiled the purity of your marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4). Your emotions were (are) raw from the pain of your shameless ways – both “his and hers” or perhaps just his or just hers. The valley feels the same.
But in this very place God is prophetically speaking to your marriage today and says there is a hope you can have for this “tired and broken” union. There is a supernatural movement of God even as you read these words that will cause you to have eyes that see what is invisible to your eyes of flesh. There before you is the wife of your youth, the husband of your dreams and God has made it so.
Coming out of this valley, you currently find yourself in, begins with choosing to know that there is doorway, an opening and you are choosing to walk through it. Will you make that choice right now?
“And you shall know the Lord.”
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Oh Lord, that we would “know” You more! That we would want to want! That we would lay hold of the fullness of the gift you have afforded us. It is a shocking mercy you give us in this marriage. Thus may we keep our vows and lay intimately with You. Give us hearts of expectation that draws near to You and to the one we have pledged ourselves to. In the authority of Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. Amen.