The Valley of Achor had a reputation. Its name literally meant “trouble.” On the heels of an astonishing victory in Jericho, God issued a command: no one was to take the spoils of the city. Silver and gold were brought into the house of God but everything else was destroyed. Or so they thought. A man named Achan simply could not resist the luxurious leftovers. He hid them among his belongings, hoping no one would notice. When their next battle produced a horrific defeat, Joshua sought the Lord, who instructed him to root out the thief. It was after Achan’s punishment that the valley earned its sad name.
The stones marked Achan’s grave for many years. They had built altars in the early years to remember God’s miracles but Achan’s grave commemorated trouble. It was etched into their minds as a continual reminder of the judgment for sin, seared into their memories as a place of failure.
We find the Valley of Achor again in a somewhat unlikely place. Isaiah was nearing the end of his prophecies. Directly after a passage on judgment, he began to describe redemption, recasting a vision of a valley that had been associated with trouble for so long:
“And the Valley of Achor [shall be] a place for herds to lie down” (Isaiah 65:10).
The valley bore a mark of trouble, but Isaiah promised it would become a place of peace where cattle and sheep could be nourished.
Hosea reiterated the promise. He had described a relationship in which his people constantly failed God. They had promised to be faithful and had strayed time and time again. Hosea wrote about God’s justice but then immediately reminded them that God’s love and mercy are unfailing:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her. I will give her the vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope” (Hosea 2:14-15).
Of all the transformations God has wrought, how beautiful it is that He turned the Valley of Trouble into a door of hope.
Perhaps the old song says it best: “In the valley He restoreth my soul.”
You may have a Valley of Achor in your life – a moment that seemingly marks you and tells you that you will forever bear the burden of your mistakes. Perhaps you are simply going through a season of trouble and there’s no end in sight. But God specializes in both creation and re-creation. Trouble may have defined your life for a time but He can take the most troubled valleys in our lives and turn them into gateways of hope.