My attention has been drawn inexplicably to some references in the Scriptures to the Valley of A’chor. From what I can determine, it was a valley, or deep ravine, south of Jericho on the northern boundary of Judah. That would be just near the North-West coast of the Dead Sea.
It was there that Achan was stoned because of his deliberate defiance of the Lord’s instruction, in stealing and hiding some of the banned treasures, thus resulting in defeat and humiliation for Israel in the battle at Ai. After Achan’s sin was discovered and dealt with, Israel continued the victorious take-over of the Promised Land. (Josh. 7:24-26)
In view of the trouble that Achan (his name means ‘trouble’) brought upon his people and upon himself, the place assumed a typical character, symbolizing an accursed desolation, and it was because of this that the place was called the Valley of A’chor (also meaning ‘trouble’ or ‘troubling’).
However, it would not always remain so. Such desolation would be redeemed at the coming of Messiah.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when “Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of A’chor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” (Isa. 65:10)
Also Hosea prophesied a time when God would give Israel the Valley of A’chor for a “door of Hope.” (Hosea 2:15)
We are reminded that all of these things recorded in the Old Testament were written for our admonition, and there is a truth hidden in this story that can encourage us today.
Our life’s experiences sometimes take us through the ‘Valley of Trouble’ but, as the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for us according to the will of God,” we know that He makes all things (even our troubles) work together for good, giving us a Hope and confident expectation of the outworking of good. Instead of the picture of death and desolation, Isaiah gives us the picture of peace and tranquility, and Hosea a “door of Hope,” so we find Hope and expectation of that which is good.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Church at Rome, reminds us that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
(Rom. 8:27,28) Even ‘troubles’ can work together for Hope and confident expectation of good. There in the valley of A’chor, the place of our deepest wounds or worst failures, the Lord has placed for us a door of Hope.
One of the most outstanding Scriptural examples of troubling circumstances resulting in much good and blessing is the story of Joseph. As we follow him through the betrayal by his brothers, the years of servitude in the foreign Egyptian court of Pharoah, the seduction and betrayal by his master’s wife, and the consequent years of imprisonment in an Egyptian dungeon, we wonder what his end could possibly be?!
“But God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform!” In the working out of His purpose, Pharoah’s favor was gained, Joseph was promoted to Prime Minister, and the whole nation of Israel was saved from the terrible famine that decimated the land!
We have other examples of troublesome experiences working ultimately for good, such as Esther, an innocent Jewish girl taken captive with her people to Babylon, being made a member of the King’s harem, but eventually becoming the Queen of the Persian Empire, wielding a great influence in effecting the deliverance of her people, and thereby carrying them further along the path of God’s purpose for them.
Then what about Job’s years of loss upon loss? But God blessed his latter end more than his beginning, and he regained double all that he had lost. He was able to say, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You.” We have David, the lowly shepherd boy, scorned by his brothers, but exalted by the Lord to rule over Israel. And consider the three Hebrew Children, taken as captives to Babylon, served as slaves in the king’s palace, but ultimately promoted to high Government positions.
The Apostle Paul, after suffering beatings, stoning, shipwreck, and perils of every kind, as well as lengthy imprisonment in a Roman prison, could say, “I would have you understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel…for I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ…so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (2 Cor. 11; Phil. 1)
“When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back:
this I know, for God is for me.
In God will I praise His Word;
in the Lord will I praise His Word.
In God have I put my trust;
I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
“The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
(Psa. 56:9-11; 118:6)
In Agape, Eulene