In the book of Hosea, we have the account of faithless Israel departing from God and the Lord wooing her back. This is also pictured by Gomer's and Hosea's relationship. There are lessons here that we can apply to the life of the Christian.
This passage is about the Valley of Achor, which means trouble. I call it the Backslider's Valley. This is the valley the Lord uses to get the attention of His children who have wandered from Him. In light of this, I believe we can also make a general application regarding His dealings with the lost. (I will deal with this aspect of the valley at the end of this study.) What does it take sometimes for the Lord to get our attention? How far will Jesus go to bring a rebellious soul to Himself?
In Hosea 2:2-5, we have the Lord pleading with the nation of Israel to forsake their spiritual adulteries and return to Him. What idols do we have in our heart that keep us from Him, that occupy the first place in our lives?
Hosea 2:6-7 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
The Lord is stating here that He will do what it takes to make sin grievous to the backslider. He will show that the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25) are not worthwhile - they are detrimental, painful (in the long term), vain, and empty. Truly, there is a "God-shaped vacuum in our lives that only the Lord can fill"! All else will not satisfy. The idea here is that the Lord would hinder the believer's headlong flight into sin, would make it difficult to pursue. It says that she will follow her lovers but will not be able to overtake them. The mercy of God holding back the reins of sin! He wants the backslider so filled and disgusted with the futility of their own ways that they will get tired of pursuing them. (See Proverbs 14:14)
Like the prodigal son (Luke 15, especially verses 17-19), there comes a point in many backslider's lives where they say, "I will go and return to [the Lord]; for then was it better with me than now." Rebellious Israel returning to her husband; the prodigal son returning to his father; the lost sinner returning to the Saviour who died for their sins.
In Hosea 2:8, we see that all that she had was from the Lord - her food, her riches, all her blessings. She did not give God the glory for all these things, but, in fact, she forgot Him! (See verse 13) In verses 9-12, the Lord says He will take away these blessings. Out of love for His wayward children, the Lord will do what it takes to get their attention, even if it means that He has to take away what is most important to them. Often it is only when we hit rock bottom that we repent and turn to look back up to Him. When a Christian gets backslidden and refuses to repent of their sin, the Lord will bring them to their knees in the Valley of Trouble. In this valley, He speaks to them.
Hosea 2:14-15 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
In the Bible, the wilderness is always a place of emptiness, lifelessness, a dry barren land. Spiritually, there are times when the Lord has to bring us to the Valley of Trouble - the place where we are dry and barren - and cause us to see our poverty and lifelessness, make us realize that we must look to Him to quicken us, to strengthen us, and to restore our souls.
In the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), the tribulation, the Lord will bring the nation of Israel through the wilderness to get their attention and bring them to Him.
Ezekiel 20:35-38 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
In a similar fashion, what the Lord will one day do to the nation of Israel physically, He will also do to the backsliding Christian spiritually - bring them through the Valley of Trouble, plead with them, bring them face to face with their rebellion, convict them of their sin, and then offer them hope of restoration and forgiveness if they return to Him.
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins - that He paid the complete penalty, that He was buried, and that He literally, physically was resurrected from the dead - according to the Scriptures. Jesus did all that was needed to provide salvation for us. If there was a time and place in your life that you repented of your sins, and turned to the Saviour alone for salvation, then according to the Bible you were adopted into God's spiritual family.
Our Heavenly Father loves us, and chastises us for our own good, to correct our wilderness wanderings in sin.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
For further study: Two other chapters dealing with the Lord chastising His people when they stubbornly walk in sin are Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. Notice the words "if" - the blessings of the Lord are conditioned upon our obedience, the withholding of blessings (or even cursings) upon our disobedience and willful rebellion.
There is a difference between the way the Lord deals with His children (chastisement and correction for their good), and the way He deals with the lost (punishment and the consequences of their sowing in sin). Notice the end result of the Christian's chastisement:
Hebrews 12:10-11 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Christian, if you are wandering in the Valley of Trouble, and you know that your Heavenly Father is correcting you for sin in your life, I plead with you to turn the Lord and make things right, repent of your backslidings and return to Him with all your heart. He is waiting, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, to restore you to fellowship and grant you His blessings once again. The Valley of Trouble is the door of hope.
And I will give her… the valley of Achor for a door of hope:
When you realize that it is the Lord Himself that has brought you to this place of trials, to this wilderness, then remember that it is evidence that He has not forgotten you, that He is offering you mercy and pardon upon your repentance. The door of hope is now open.
If, after praying for wisdom and searching your heart, you cannot find any specific sins that you were holding onto in your life, then choose to cleave to and trust your Heavenly Father during this trial. He knows what He is doing, and He does have a purpose for all things, even when we can't see what it is. Let this trial achieve the purpose for what it was intended, and learn from it. Like Job, the Lord may simply be testing our faithfulness to Him, and strengthening our faith.
James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
…and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
When we return with our whole heart to the Lord in repentance for our sins, the peace and joy are back. We realize anew the love that Jesus has for us, and our love for Him is rekindled, and given the fervency it once had in the days of our youth (in the early days of our Christian walk), in the day we came out of Egypt (the world) and came to the Saviour for salvation. He is the Christian's first love. Is He yours?
Jeremiah 2:2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.
Only a humble Christian walking closely to their Lord will have a song in their heart. A new song, a song that springs up from the well within them. Is there a song in your heart? Has the Lord given you a song in the night? Can the world see the joy and contentment in your life, even in the midst of your trials? If not, there is something wrong.
Colossians 3:15-16 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Job 35:10 …God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;
Psalms 42:8 Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Every trial in the Christian's life is to draw us closer to our Lord - whether by chastisement or by testing, by refining or by pruning, the Lord has a purpose for it all. Let's trust Him, and let this trouble have its perfect work. Keep looking unto Jesus, and He will give you the grace and strength you need to go through this Valley of Trouble and return to the mountaintop again.
If you are unsaved - if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour - and are going through this valley right now, please stop and consider that the Lord is trying to get your attention. He is allowing these troubles to humble you and bring you to the point where you realize that your course of sin is empty and vain, that there is no true satisfaction in life without the Giver of Life - Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for all your sins; He arose again three days later; He has done everything that was needed to bring you to Him. Will you come to the Saviour today in repentance and faith?
2 Corinthians 6:2 (For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
To you, this Valley of Trouble is truly the Door of Hope.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.
John 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Jesus Himself is the Door to eternal life in Heaven. He is the Door to the Father in Heaven.
He is the Hope for the repentant sinner. Will you receive Him today?
The Door Of Hope
When your soul is deeply anguished,
And your way, hedged about with thorns,
Though you know the Lord has smitten -
He will bind up what He has torn.
Dwelling in the Valley of Trouble,
Convicted, you hear God's Spirit's cry,
"The Door of Hope is now open -
Despair not - the Lord your God is nigh."
He will heal all of your backslidings
When you seek Him with all your heart;
Though you've wandered in your wilderness,
His mercies will grant you a new start.
Turn from the Valley of Weeping;
Forsake your wanderings in sin -
The Door of Hope has been opened,
Jesus is calling - return to Him.
Though your spirit is so heavy,
And your heart is scarred by sin,
In repentance, hope is promised -
Rejoice with singing and enter in.
Poem written December 7th, 2003
Study written February 8th, 2004
Eagle's Wings Ministries
The Christian Counter