A Door Of Hope
By Keith McEwan
Passing through these last few years has been what some might call a difficult season. Job loss, loss of family or friends, or just the sense of loss of community. Many have said that their faith has been put to the test and that they were discouraged.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred (postponed, delayed or withheld) makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
I recall a young man I met years ago while I was teaching at a youth conference. He too was discouraged, questioning why a good God would allow bad things to happen. I had just spoken out of Joshua 7 and stated that the Bible was God's love letter to us. But in that story in Joshua, we read how one man, Achan, had sinned by keeping some of the spoil of a battle Israel had just won. This affected Israel, as a nation and the next battle they went into they were defeated. When it was discovered what he had done, Achan, his family, all their livestock and even their tent were taken outside the camp of Israel and stoned then buried beneath a heap of stones. I asked the young man if this sounded like a love story and he replied no. Then I explained that it wasn't Achan's story but that he was only part of it. In fact, this was God's love story toward Israel as a nation, and ultimately us as well, and that He did not want any sin in them at all. So God removed the sin from their midst by destroying it and covering it over with a great heap of stones. The place where this happened was named the Valley of Achor.
I was very much like this young man in my youth. Discouraged, doubting and with no vision for a future, I lacked hope. But then I heard about Jesus and the promises of God toward me and I found my hope in Him.
I read in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.'”
John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
To someone struggling, these became words of life to me, and truth that through Jesus my sin could be removed. This promise was not for me alone but to all who would hear of it. As we read the stories in the Bible we are introduced to a loving God who wants nothing else but to have a relationship with us. We learn of God's desire that “none should perish” but all would come to the understanding that we may have freedom from our sin through Jesus.
In Isaiah 65:10 we read, “Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me.” God creates from our places of struggle and battle; places of rest when He enters in and His peace remains. Because of Achan’s sin, the Valley of Achor had been a place of shame and defeat for Israel. But because of God's compassion it is now referred to as a place of mercy.
Continuing God's love story we read in Hosea 2:14-15, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her (Israel), and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”
The Valley of Achor was a place of God's judgment and punishment for sin. But in light of the love story of Easter, it becomes a picture of Golgotha and the cross of Calvary, and of sins being removed. It is the story of God sending His Son Jesus, to take the punishment for the sin of the world on His own shoulders and dying on a cross for our sins. It becomes a tomb carved in a rock where Jesus was laid to rest, covered over with a stone. And through this door of hope we see the resurrected Jesus, the stone rolled away and an empty grave and a hope in life eternal.