Chapter 16 A Door Of Hope

I will give…the valley of Achor for a door of hope (Hosea 2:15).

The prophets of old were raised up to speak God’s message in the nation’s darkest hour. Thus was Hosea called to plead most intently and urgently to his nation which had departed from the living God into idolatry, worldliness, and unbelief. There was to be in his pleading a Divine threat to reduce the prosperous nation to economic disaster (2:1-3). But a new note appears in 2:6 and 2:14, 15—“I will give … the valley of Achor for a door of hope”—and “she shall sing there.”

The Story of Hosea

Hosea had married a woman by the name of Gomer. In her youth she may have been beautiful in outward appearance, but perhaps of a light and frivolous nature which Hosea might have thought marriage would correct and elevate. Verse 2 of chapter 1 is probably prophetic of what she would become rather than what she was at the time of her marriage. But, alas, Gomer was to bring trouble, pain, and anguish of heart to Hosea. She played false ‘to him by constant infidelities until at last she departed from him. Leaving him, she sank lower and lower in moral degradation until she was sold on the open market for the half price of a slave. But Hosea was commanded by God to seek her out, buy her back, that she might be restored to Hosea again as the wife of his love.

That is an amazing story. The first part of it is common enough but not the second. Hosea went after Gomer at God’s command and for him it became an exercise in divine love. In this very personal and domestic tragedy, Hosea learned the suffering that was in the heart of God and that God yearns for the restoration of His fallen people. Thus while God in His holiness must punish sin and all human infidelity, yet the supreme revelation of this book is one of bleeding love—“God so loved.”

The Valley of Achor

The valley of Achor took its name from the incident recorded in Joshua 7. Israel had moved into God’s inheritance—the land of Palestine and promise. There they met the concentrated force of enemy power at Jericho. But there is a divine order of things. Jericho was to be compassed around till its walls fell flat. Before going into battle Israel was warned not to put hands on any spoil and to bring all gold and silver into the Lord’s treasury—these precious metals being His by right of creation. One man by name of Achan (meaning “trouble”) stole a goodly Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, and hid them in his tent.

When Israel’s men were defeated by the people at the small village of Ai, Joshua trembled for the future existence of his people. Unknown to him, there was sin in the camp and God could no longer be with them while it remained. By the divinely ordained method of casting lots in those days, Achan was found to be the culprit. Confession was forced from him and he and his family, having connived together, were taken down to the valley of Achor (meaning “troubling”), stoned to death, and buried. Thus sin was dealt with by death and burial. When the sin was expiated then Israel was returned to God’s favor and never again lost a battle until the whole land of promise was in their possession.

Hosea then goes on to say that through an effectual dealing with sin, God swung open a door of hope in the valley of Achor and Isaiah says that it became a place of rest and contentment.

The Door of Hope

Sin has no door of hope. No sinner can make for himself a door of hope. The question is: how can God, who is most holy and must punish sin, make for sinners a door of hope? To answer that we will have to go to John 12:27. Our Lord was on His way from being glorified on the mount of Transfiguration to the cross. On the way He said, “Now is My soul troubled.” Why should His holy soul be troubled? He did no sin. But He was moving to the cross as our Sin-bearer and Substitute. Our iniquities were to be laid upon Him. He was therefore troubled with an infinite troubling—as if a whole universe was being shaken. The punishment of every sin was to be endured by Him. He was being taken, as it were, to the valley of Achor that our sin be punished and taken into His death and burial. Thus through the cross of shame and reproach a door of hope was to swing open for every man.

If, however, a door of hope is opened, there is also a human responsibility—the responsibility being to go through that door. As we do so, we find that the valley of Achor, which we dreaded, does indeed through the sacrifice of our dear Saviour, lead into sweet rest and contentment of heart.

Art thou weary? heavy laden?
Art thou sore distressed?
“Come to Me,” saith One, “and coming,
Be at rest!”

Hath He marks to lead me to Him,
If He be my Guide?
“In His feet and hands are wound-prints,
And His side.”

Is there diadem as Monarch
That His brow adorns?|
“Yes, a crown of very surety,
But of thorns.”

Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
Is He sure to bless?
“Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,

—John Mason Neale