Wednesday, February 29

Transformation in the valley

I read through the book of Hosea a couple days ago and thought of a handful of messages and/or blog posts that could be extracted from that little book of the Bible. Here is one thing that really impacted me when I read through this.

But first...let me back up.

Back in the time when Moses was leading the Israelites around the desert, for 40 years, God gave His chosen people a list of rules, one of which was to give God the firstfruits of everything...crops, first-born animals, first-born sons, an offering of dedication for God's use and to thank God for His abundant blessings. So moving on...

After Moses died, Joshua was commissioned to lead the Israelites into the awaited Promised Land, where they were to fight and kill all of the Canaanites and the other inhabitants, for God had given the Israelites this land. Part of the blessing for the Israelites was that in doing this, they would get to inhabit houses and cities that they didn't have to build. They'd have crops they didn't have to plant and possessions they didn't have to buy. BUT, the first city, the first battle, against the people of Ai, was to be the first-fruits offered to God. All the houses, city walls, crops, animals, gold, treasure...all of it...was to be burned and offering to God.

But in Joshua 7, we learn that a man named Achan takes some things and hides them in his tent. What he did was so grievous against God that his sin resulted in the death of Achan and his whole family. The valley in which the family was killed was called Achor (which means trouble).

Okay, skip ahead to Hosea.

Hosea was a chosen prophet of God's who was commissioned to marry an unfaithful prostitute. She conceives three children (presumably not Hosea's children?) and even ends up as a slave at one point, causing Hosea to buy her back. Hosea's marriage to Gomer was a portrayal of God's love for the Israelites, the unfaithful bride. A powerful, beautiful, oh-so-humbling portrayal. But in chapter 2, God gives Hosea a promise:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope."

God, so faithful and full of loving forgiveness for His unfaithful bride, Israel, promises to woo her back, to bless her again with undeserved possessions, and to transform the valley of trouble into a door of hope!! And all of this will happen while IN THE WILDERNESS!

I don't know about you, my friends, but when I'm "in the wilderness," I would typically describe that time as filled with weariness, being lost and alone, and dry in both body and soul. The heat oppresses and I don't know how long I can endure without finding an oasis or haven to restore my soul. Does this resonate with anyone? And yet(!) God promises to create a door of hope for His Beloved during that dry and troubled journey. Is that wonderful and exciting?!?!

I love that image. It creates hope and assurance that even in those times God is still good and will provide for our needs. Hope this encourages you too!

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