Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Valley Of Achor As A Door Of Hope

Joshua 7:24, And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. Hosea 2:15, “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.

There is an amazing deep and profound truth found in the Old Testament book of Hosea. The Lord said that He gave Israel the valley of Achor for a door of hope.To understand the beautiful meaning of this passage you need to go back and read Joshua chapters 6 and 7. The Lord had given the Hebrews victory in war over the city of Jericho. But the Lord strictly forbade for the Hebrews to take any of the silver or spoils for themselves. It was all to be taken into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:19). But Achan didn't listen. He got greedy and stole some silver, gold and a Babylonian garment. Joshua 7:1, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.” Joshua 7:21, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.”

The following Bible verses are very sad, explaining what happened to Achan and his entire family because of his sin. Joshua 7:25-26, “And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger.  Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.Times sure have changed in 4,000 years. I just learned today that anybody caught shoplifting less than $50 is not taken to jail anymore in California, they are just fined $250. Consequently, shoplifting has increased statewide. Literally, people just pick up items and walk out the door.

The Lord commanded Achan and his entire family, even all his livestock, to be stoned to death and burned. That sure seems cruel doesn't it? That is only because in America we don't hate sin like God does. Most of us as Americans have grown up watching thousands of murders, robberies, rape, thefts, taking the Lord's name in vain, dishonoring parents, adulteries, substance abuse and assaults on television. Consequently, we have become desensitized to the awfulness of sin and evil. All crime is sin, but not all crimes are evil. Evil is premeditated sin. If a man snaps in an argument and kills another man, it was a crime of passion, a sin, but not evil, because he didn't plan to do it. That is why in many cases, men who murder someone in a fit of road rage receive lighter sentences. But the 67 year old man who went into a Minnesota medical clinic yesterday, shooting 5 people and murdering 1 so far, planned to do it. What he did was evil. When a woman has an abortion, it is evil. She scheduled it.

Anyway, God made an example of Achan for the rest of the Jews. In the aftermath of the stoning, there was a big pile of rocks left in the valley of Achor. This became a memorial of Achan and his family. For centuries to follow, when people walked by that place where Achan and his family were stoned to death, the people were deterred to make the same foolish decision. I get creeped out watching episodes of Forensic Files, prison life documentaries and true crime stories, but I like to watch them to remind me of what can happen if I break the law. I think every teenager should be required to visit a jail cell, to see what it is like, and then taught what laws if broken can land them in prison. Prison is a scary place!

I read about a young man in Colorado recently, who was sharing his magic mushroom hallucinogens with his friends and anyone who wanted to buy them. He was promoting it online in his ignorance, not realizing how serious the matter was. The man was arrested and could have faced 30 years in prison, but the judge showed mercy and gave him 3 years of probation and a $6,000 fine instead. That young man got very lucky. Dear friend, always obey the law. Do good and it will be good! I learned that statement from Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995). DO GOOD AND IT WILL BE GOOD.

Or as another Baptist preacher taught me, what his father taught him: “If you obey it will be well, if you disobey it will be hell!” That is some good advice dear reader. Never break the law! You're a fool if you do. I love something that my favorite preacher Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001) said: “If you want to never do anything that is terribly wicked, then you never do anything that is slightly wicked.” Every crime began as a thought in the human mind. Some people are accidents waiting to happen! My favorite Bible verse in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” That means guard your thought life. Do not allow evil thoughts to exist uncontested in your mind. We are commanded by God to bring every thought into captivity unto obedience to Christ (2nd Corinthians 10:5-6). That is not secular mind control, it is walking in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). An unsaved person CANNOT walk in the Spirit, because they don't know Him (Romans 8:9; 1st John 3:24).

Getting back to the valley of Achor being mentioned in the book of Hosea—that horrible tragedy became a doorway of hope to thousands of people. I won't mention the name of the preacher, but a famous pastor went into sin with a young girl several years ago. He was convicted and sentenced to serious prison time. That is sad and tragic, but in a good way, what happened to him has caused thousands of pastors all across the country to be very careful not to go down the same path of evil. His calamity has become a blessing to thousands of preachers. This is what the Bible means in Hosea by referring to the valley of Achor for a door of hope. What happened to Achan and his family deterred multitudes of Jews and Gentiles alike from committing evil for centuries to come!

Dear friend, has something really bad happened in your life? Is there something in your past that causes you intense pain in your soul? Is there a valley of Achor? We all have skeletons in our closet. We all have painful memories. We've all been deeply hurt by someone. We all have a handful of experiences, bad choices, heartaches, sin, evil and things that we wish could be erased. And yet, we need our pain, because it makes us who we are. I love something that Pastor Max Younce once said: “God only knows the things that would have happened, if the things that happened, hadn't happened.” That statement is precious to me and I think of it often. I love Pastor Younce as my older brother in Christ and look up to him as a wise mentor. Pastor Younce is the Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) of our generation. I encourage you to visit his church website and read his many books.

Dear friend, there is always something you thought you could have done to make things better! Only Jesus can make things right! That is what the cross of Calvary is all about! We are living in some wicked times in 2021. I never thought when I was a young man in the United States, that I would see such wickedness so quickly. I knew that each generation would progress worse and worse if our churches didn't have revival, but I am surprised how fast our nation has spiraled down into wickedness. Sin always undermines a nation.

American society as a whole is rotten today! That is simply because in the absence of light darkness prevails. Ever since the King James Bible was removed and banned from public schools in 1963, our nation has sunk deeper into sin each succeeding generation. I hear these fools in the newsmedia saying that education is the answer, but dear friend it is not the answer. If you educate a man without moral character, all you're going to have is an educated fool. Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Unless Americans seek the holy God of the King James Bible, we are doomed to destruction.

When Mr. Trump was U.S. President, he rightly banned transgendered people from serving in the military, because it undermines the moral integrity of our soldiers. The first thing Joe Biden did as U.S. President was overturn that law, allowing transgendered people to serve in the armed forces. It was in December of 2011 that U.S. President Barack Obama decriminalized our soldiers having sex with animals. Isn't that sick? Soldiers can mount an animal now. God will not bless this wickedness!!! Anyway, that is a different blog for another day. Our nation is going down faster each year morally, forgetting the holy God of the Holy Bible. Oh how we need citywide revivals in our nation once again, as it was a century ago.

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