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“A Door of Hope”
When we go through the valleys of life, the Lord doesn’t sit up in heaven saying, “Gee, I hope they get through it okay.” The hope the Lord gives us isn’t wishful thinking as displayed by this world we live in, rather it is to give us a future and a hope we can look forward to.
Further, God isn’t apathetic to our situation; instead He will guide and protect us.
This is seen in what Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life,” (John 8:12 NKJV)
There’s a saying that I have used quite often, it states, “When we look at the world around us we’ll be distressed. When we look within ourselves, we’ll be depressed. But when we look at Jesus we’ll be at rest.”
There’s a beautiful worship song that always seems to help when we find ourselves in the dark valleys of life. It’s called, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The chorus states, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus – Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of the world shall grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
There is also a beautiful scripture that brings comfort during these times. And what I find interesting is that it is found in what the Lord says to the prophet Hosea about the unfaithfulness of his wife, and please know that He was in reality referencing Israel’s unfaithfulness.
“Therefore, now I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” (Hosea 2:14-15 NIV)
What I find comforting is that when Hosea saw the Valley of Achor, which means, the Valley of Trouble, he saw it as a door of hope.
How will we confront the valleys of trials, tribulations, and troubles that we find ourselves in? This is especially the case since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the multitude of problems that have come about in our lives. These valleys are putting pressure on all of us, as many of us are wrestling with depression, disease, and discouragement through the many side effects of what we are seeing.
How can our hearts be filled with joy, which the Bible says is some of the best medicine we can have (Proverbs 17:b ), especially in these dark days?
God gives us a way through this valley of Achor, this valley of desolation and despair, and he references the way out as a door, an opening, that is, a doorway.
But it raises an interesting dilemma, how can God make this valley of Achor, this valley of trouble, into a doorway leading to hope?
Now, before we can move into that answer, it might be beneficial to look at this valley and how it got it’s name.
Picture – Valley of Achor
The Valley of Achor derives its name from a man by the name of Achan. The story is found in the book of Joshua chapters 6-7. What happened is that God delivered the city of Jericho into the hands of Israel. It was their first victory in taking the Land of Promise given to them by God.
God gave them the strategy and when they implemented it, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Israel won a great victory over the most fortified city in the land. But God told them that everything was to be destroyed, but the items of gold, silver, bronze and iron were to be devoted and dedicated to Him.
“But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them.” (Joshua 6:18 NIV)
But one of the men, Achan, was unfaithful and took some for himself. And the result was disastrous. From Achan’s sin, Israel was defeated by a small insignificant city named Ai.
God’s anger was kindled against His people, and the hearts of the people melted with fear. Joshua and the elders fell on their faces in despair, confession, and repentance before God.
After seeking God’s guidance, it was revealed that Achan was a culprit, and he, and his family, were taken to this valley and put to death. Now, while this may seem extreme, that is, his family also dying, what should be noted is that they were complicit in the crime, for the items were stored in the same tent they lived in, and there was no way that such items could be hidden without their knowledge. In other words, they were considered accomplices.
And it is from this event that the valley got its name. The name “Achan” means, “trouble.” And the valley’s name, “the Valley of Achor,” means “the valley trouble,” or “The valley of the one who troubled us”.
Afterwards they piled up a heap of stones as a memorial to remember and never to forget this lesson.
With this in mind, let’s take another look at this beautiful description of the valley for our lives.
“Therefore, now I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hosea 2:14-15 NIV).
Now it’s important to understand that throughout the book of Hosea, God was using Hosea’s unfaithful wife to get a message across to His people who themselves were unfaithful.
And what we see is that God led her into a wilderness place, that is, a place of solitude where there were no distractions. And in this place He wasn’t going to punish her as her sins deserve, but rather He will “speak tenderly or kindly to her.”
Further, He gives her vineyards, that is, blessings that are directly from Him and not from her worldly lovers, and then He said that He would make the troubles that she has caused for herself “the Valley of Achor” into “A door of hope.” And while the Lord leads her into these various problems and trials due to her sins, he also promised that He would lead her through them, that is, these trials and troubles are in reality a door of hope, and not a door of despair.
Israel was unfaithful to God. She was a spiritual adulteress. She had been caught in the act, but instead of leading Israel into this valley of trouble to punish them as their sins deserve, remember, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a), instead He brings out His big guns, that is, He brings out His grace and mercy saying, “I will allure her.” The Lord is saying that He is going to speak kindly to Israel to attract her back unto Himself. He is going to continue to court Israel in order to draw her back. And what are these words of kindness; they are words of comfort and words of love.
What this is saying is that God doesn’t give up on us. His love knows no bounds. He keeps reaching. He keeps on pleading. He says, “I will allure them by speaking words of comfort and of my love, and I will give them blessings and turn this valley of trouble and desolation into a door of hope.”
God was committed to Israel’s redemption. He was committed to her deliverance. And that is what we see for our lives. God is committed to our redemption and deliverance, therefore He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins, and then gives us the Holy Spirit along with His gifts.
In this verse, we see the tenderness of God’s heart revealed, the God who takes what was meant for evil and turns it into good. Now, a valley is quite literally a “low place.” God says, “I will make this lowest place in your life into a door of hope.”
The Hebrew word for hope comes from a root word that means “to wait or to look for with eager expectation.” Waiting in hope is then an expression of faith. It means enduring patiently in confident hope that God will act decisively for our salvation. Further, this Hebrew word has within this root meaning a picture of a rope being attached to the thing that is longed and hoped for.
And so, what we could say is that in the midst of these problems that we face in life, the Lord is throwing us a lifeline, a door of hope. And this door of hope is no one less than the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ; our Redeemer who calls Himself the door.
Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NKJV)
Finding pasture is all about resting in the Lord and finding our provision in Him. We see this beautifully illustrated in Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3a NKJV)
Now, going back to what Jesus said about Him being the door, He gives us this warning and assurance.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)
Jesus then goes on to say, that not only is He the Good Shepherd, but that His sheep hear His voice and follows Him, and that’s because as the Good Shepherd he gave His life for us. (John 10:11-27)
Jesus is not only the door, but He is also standing at the door of our hearts knocking so that we will let Him in.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)
Jesus is at the door of our hearts knocking, will we hear Him calling? We can either let Him in and the eternal hope He brings, or we can continue to stay defeated and in despair, never tasting the victory He brings, and thus always fearing the valley of the shadow of death.
When we open the door, God’s power, presence, protection and guidance are ours when we walk through these valleys of trouble, and then through our door of hope.
Similar Valleys in the Bible
We see similar valleys of trouble with a door of hope attached at the end throughout the Bible, although not literal valleys, but metaphorically.
A good example is when the Israelites found themselves trapped with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army in back, and there was no way of escape, that is, humanly speaking. But God turned this “Valley of Trouble” into their “Door of Hope” when He parted the Red Sea and the Israelites were able to walk through it to the other side and freedom; but He drowned the Egyptian army who were pursuing them.
Look at the words of comfort and love that He gave them through His servant Moses.
“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” (Exodus 14:13 NKJV)
And the Lord opened a door that extended all the way across the Red Sea.
And then there was Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego, who went into their valley of trouble, that is, the fiery furnace, and there they met with no one less than Jesus Christ, whom Nebuchadnezzar rightly identified saying, “I see a forth, one like the Son of God.” Their door of hope was the Lord, and he led them through the fire and when they came out the only thing that was burned was the ropes that bound them.
But then there were some valleys that the Bible talks about.
Psalm 84 uses the imagery of people passing through the Valley of Baca, or weeping.
“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:4-7 NKJV)
Literally, this valley of weeping becomes a well of water where they can go and be refreshed.
But the valley that most people think about when it comes to being one of trouble that is turned into a door of hope is the Valley of the Shadow of Death from Psalm 23.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4a NKJV)
Key in on that word “through.” Valleys are what we go through, they are not to be permanently camped out in. Valleys are not dead ends, rather they’re tunnels with light on the other side, that is, there is a door of hope.
This is what David goes on to say in the rest of verse four saying, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4b NKJV)
And this door of hope then leads directly to God’s house in heaven, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6)
This leads me to another verse that references the Valley of Achor, which reveals the beauty of it being a door of hope.
“Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me” (Isaiah 65:10)
The Plain of Sharon, is a large area along the Mediterranean Sea. Earlier, Isaiah likened this area as a wilderness (Isaiah 33:9), but no more. Now it is a place for flocks, a rich and fertile pastureland for those returning from their Babylon exile.
And so here is the picture I’d like for you to see. The Valley of Achor runs into the Plain of Sharon, and therefore it is a door of hope.
Show side by side the Valley of Achor and the Plain of Sharon.
And so, it doesn’t matter how dark and deep our valley of trouble may be, it will lead us into God’s wonderful blessing of fruitfulness.
But if I could, I’d like to end this segment looking at the deepest and darkest valley of them all, and that is the valley of sin. But there is a door of hope in this valley as well; it’s Jesus Christ and the cross.
Now, talk about a troubling valley for the disciples. Here was their master, the one they called the Christ, the Messiah, and instead of taking over as king, He was unjustly tried, beaten, scourged, and crucified. And all their hopes were dashed.
But as Jesus went through His valley of trouble in what He suffered, He came out victorious, as He rose from the dead. And so as we have mentioned and seen, Jesus is the ultimate door of hope, where all those who believe in Him, although they will die, yet shall they live forever in heaven.
Jesus is our door out of our trouble and sin. He is the door to life, love, joy, and peace. He is the door to our salvation, healing, and victory!
This is a hope that cannot be found any place else but in Him. Jesus is our only hope!
He became that door because of us. He stepped out of eternity into time, and opened a door for us to pass through to eternal life! He went to Calvary for us. He went to the grave for us! He was resurrected for us!
God wants to tell somebody here that He will take your valley of defeat and trouble, where you’ve stumbled and fallen, and make it into a door of hope! He’ll turn your situation around! He’ll give you an open door so you can get out of your valley!”
Biblical hope wraps itself around whatever suffering and sorrow we may be experiencing, and transforms it into rest and quietness bringing with it a confidence in God’s ability to heal (Isaiah 30:15).
Now, they had built up stones in the Valley of Achor to be a memorial as to what Achan did, and how God’s brought His judgment upon the sin. But I don’t think that is what we should be doing. If we have, I think it’s time we tear it down, because when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, confessing our sins to Him, then He will forgive them all, and will no longer remember them against us, therefore it’s time that we stop remembering them against ourselves.
He will remove these stones that marks our past defeats in our valleys of trouble and make them into a door of hope, and a door of new beginnings.
As we end, I’d like to once again look at that word hope, and as we saw, within its root meaning is the picture of a rope being attached to the thing longed and hoped for. In the midst of these problems, the Lord is throwing us a lifeline.
Let’s take hold of the rope and let Him pull us to safety through the hope of His promises.
And so, this door of hope is open today! It’s time for us to leave the darkness behind. It’s time for us to leave our past sins and mistakes and move through God’s door of hope, through Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness that He brings.
Maybe I can say it like this, it’s time to leave our valley of anguish and trouble and pass through God’s door of hope, Jesus Christ, and into eternal life.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study