Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Selah

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2:15
The Valley of Achor.

It's referred to a handful of times in Scripture, a little geographic name location that barely registers with us. It doesn't have the notoriety of the ark's resting place, Mount Arat. It doesn't have the geographic oddity of the Dead Sea. It's not a notable tourist spot on a Holy Land tour.

The Valley of Achor is first mentioned in the book of Joshua when Achan is discovered to have saved some of the plunder from the battle of Jericho for himself, even though the Israelites had been specifically commanded to burn everything in the toppled city and to take the gold and silver to the tabernacle. The Lord's anger had turned on Israel in response to Achan's secret sin, and Joshua and the Israelites deal with Achan's hedonistic hoarding by taking him to the Valley of Achor, along with all his family and possessions. There the group is stoned and buried for Achan's iniquity.

Not a pleasant place.

It becomes a geographic metaphor for the Israelites. They saw the Valley of Achor as a place of 'trouble', a place where sin and rebellion keep one from the presence of the Lord.

But it seems to me that the Lord delights in taken what we assume is a place of no return and making it new.

It is in the book of Hosea, that we find a reference to the Valley of Achor. But now it is cast in a new light. The book of Hosea records the life of Hosea the prophet and his marriage to a promiscuous, ever-wandering wife. The Lord uses this fractured marriage as a picture of Israel's infidelity to the Lord and the Lord's willingness to forgive and take her back. The Lord says through Hosea in the second chapter and fifteenth verse, "There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope."

A door of hope.

I keep reflecting on that, meditating on it, turning it over and over in my mind.

A valley of trouble being translated to a door of hope.

And I suppose that's a thing with a valley. The mountains may seem incredibly high. The light of the sun may seem darkened in the shadows. But it is a valley. Not a canyon. Not a pit. And every valley eventually has a way out.

Even if it's the Valley of Achor.

Because the Lord has placed a door there.

The Door of Hope.

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