The Heart of the Valley of Achor

Title: The Heart of the Valley of Achor

Bible Book: Hosea 2 : 15

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Hope



Last week, we started a short sermon series about a little known place in the Bible called “The Valley of Achor.”

In Hosea 2, after highlighting a message of judgment for wayward Israel, Almighty God gave this prophet a message of hope. And God’s message through Hosea included these words…

(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.

G. Campbell Morgan said…

Three times we find that phrase, “the valley of Achor,” in the Bible. First, in the Book of Joshua, in connection with the story of Achan. And, by the way, observe the relationship between the words Achan and Achor. That relationship is not a mere coincidence. Achan means trouble, and Achor means troubling. It was so that the valley gained its name (Joshua 7:26). It was there that judgment swift and terrible fell upon a man who had troubled the whole nation by compromising with evil things, and disobeying God. The second occasion of its occurrence is in Isaiah (65:10), who was contemporary with Hosea. He linked the valley of Achor with Sharon as a place of rest for those who seek Jehovah. Then finally we find it here in Hosea.

Cf. (Joshua 7:26) 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.

Cf. (Isaiah 65:10) And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says…

The expression “valley of Achor” probably became proverbial for that which caused trouble, and when Isaiah (Isaiah 65:10) refers to it he uses it in this sense: “The valley of Achor, a place for herds to lie down in;” i.e., that which had been a source of calamity would become a source of blessing. Hosea also (Hosea 2:15) uses the expression in the same sense: “The valley of Achor for a door of hope”; i.e., trouble would be turned into joy, despair into hope.

Dr. J. Mike Minnix wrote…

Perhaps you are going through a deep valley at this moment in your life. As a Christian, you may be prompted to question God's concern while you are going through your personal valley. … Adoniram Judson, the great missionary to Burma … was in a Burmese prison and was taunted by his captures. They asked him again and again, “How does your future look to you now?” Judson with strong faith in God and His Word replied, “My future is as bright as the promise of God.”

That’s the message in the Valley of Achor. The future is as bright as the promise of God. There may be trouble in your life and my life, but God can turn things around! As one songwriter put it, “God can make this trial a blessing”!

Last week, we looked at the History of this Valley from Joshua chapter 7. We saw that this valley was named for Achan of the tribe of Judah who took of the spoils of Jericho when God had forbidden it. His crime was ultimately discovered …

(Joshua 7:25) 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.

Today we’re going to think about the Heart of this Valley as it is seen in Hosea chapter 1 and 2.

The prophet Hosea, whose name means deliverance or help or safety or salvation, is almost as obscure and little known to us as the Valley of Achor.

As Easton’s Bible Dictionary states…

This book stands first in order among the “Minor Prophets.” “The probable cause of the location of Hosea may be the thoroughly national character of his oracles, their length, their earnest tone, and vivid representations.” This was the longest of the prophetic books written before the Captivity. Hosea prophesied in a dark and melancholy period of Israel’s history, the period of Israel’s decline and fall. Their sins had brought upon them great national disasters. “Their homicides and fornication, their perjury and theft, their idolatry and impiety, are censured and satirized with a faithful severity.” He was a contemporary of Isaiah. The book may be divided into two parts, the first containing chapters 1-3, and symbolically representing the idolatry of Israel under imagery borrowed from the matrimonial relation. The figures of marriage and adultery are common in the Old Testament writings to represent the spiritual relations between Jehovah and the people of Israel. Here we see the apostasy of Israel and their punishment, with their future repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. The second part, containing 4-14, is a summary of Hosea’s discourses, filled with denunciations, threatenings, exhortations, promises, and revelations of mercy.

The first verse of the book gives us the timeframe of Hosea’s ministry…

(Hosea 1:1) The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

Hosea wrote during the later years of Jeroboam II of Israel, sometime between 786-748 B.C. Under this powerful monarch, Israel had expanded its borders and experienced explosive prosperity. But the nation was bankrupt spiritually. Hosea would be the last writing prophet to minister to Israel before they fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. He has been called the prophet of “Israel’s zero hour,” because “the nation had sunk to a point of such corruption that a major stroke of divine judgment could no longer be staved off.” While the Book of Hosea gives no detailed information regarding the place of Hosea’s birth or his upbringing, the evidence given in the passages would indicate that Hosea, the son of Beeri, was a citizen of the Northern Kingdom, a land he dearly loved. According to Irving Jensen, this would make Hosea the only writing prophet of Israel to Israel. As another writer has said, “His book is the prophetic voice wrung from the bosom of the kingdom itself.”

Against this background and the background of his own agonizing experience with his unfaithful wife, Gomer, Hosea delivers his unique and deeply moving message. Even though judgment is a main subject of Hosea’s message, the book is remembered mostly for its vivid pictures of God’s love and grace. Someone has well remarked, “There is nothing of divine grace that is not found in the book of Hosea.”

The heart of the Valley of Achor and the idea that this gloomy gorge becomes a door of hope is woven into the personal account of Hosea in the first three chapters. As we discover the Heart of this Valley…

I. Let’s Consider The Problems In The Marriage

(Hosea 1)

A. Notice The Cheater In This Marriage

(Hosea 1:2) The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

whoredoms – Hebrew 2183. zanuwn, zaw-noon'; from H2181; adultery; fig. idolatry:--whoredom.

2181. zanah, zaw-naw'; a prim. root [highly fed and therefore wanton]; to commit adultery (usually of the female, and less often of simple fornication, rarely of involuntary ravishment); fig. to commit idolatry (the Jewish people being regarded as the spouse of Jehovah):--(cause to) commit fornication, X continually, X great, (be an, play the) harlot, (cause to be, play the) whore, (commit, fall to) whoredom, (cause to) go a-whoring, whorish.

I can picture the wedding, as Gomer came down the aisle, instead of playing the Bridal March; they probably played “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

A casual perusal of the program listing on television will reveal several programs that have to do with exposing cheating spouses, and Hosea’s marriage could have been featured on any of them.

Warren Wiersbe wrote…

No prophet preached a more painful “action sermon” than Hosea. He was instructed to marry a prostitute named Gomer who subsequently bore him three children, and he wasn’t even sure the last two children were fathered by him. Then Gomer left him for another man, and Hosea had the humiliating responsibility of buying back his own wife. What was this all about? It was a vivid picture of what the people of Israel had done to their God by prostituting themselves to idols and committing “spiritual adultery.”

Wiersbe goes on to say…

Not every Bible student agrees on the kind of woman Hosea married. Hosea either married a pure woman who later became a prostitute, or he married a prostitute who bore him three children. In the Old Testament, prostitution is symbolic of idolatry and unfaithfulness to God. Since the Jews were idolatrous from the beginning (Joshua 24:2-3, 14), it seems likely that Gomer would have to be a prostitute when she married Hosea; for this would best symbolize Israel’s relationship to the Lord. God called Israel in the idolatry; He “married” them at Mt. Sinai when they accepted His covenant (Exodus 19-21); and then He grieved over them when they forsook Him for the false gods of the land of Canaan. Like Gomer, Israel began as idolater, “married” Jehovah, and eventually returned to her idolatry.

Fred Wood used the lines of one of Isaac Watts’ great hymns and said, “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?”

B. Notice The Children In This Marriage

(Hosea 1:2) The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

Harold Willmington wrote…

Hosea married Gomer, and she bore him three children, to each of whom God gave a prophetic name:

* Jezreel (meaning “God will sow” or “God will scatter”), their first son, would remind Israel that God would soon punish Jehu’s dynasty for the brutal murders he committed at Jezreel. While Jehu’s destruction of Ahab’s family was commended by the Lord (see 2 Kings 10:30-31), Jehu’s wholesale slaughter of many others apparently went beyond the Lord’s intent.

* The daughter’s name, Lo-ruhamah, meant “not loved” and had a double significance:

God’s compassion for Israel, the northern kingdom, had come to an end; its judgment was imminent.

However, God still had compassion for Judah, the southern kingdom, and would deliver it through supernatural means (see 2 Kings 19).

* Their second son’s name, Lo-ammi, means “not my people.” This was not a denial of God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham. That covenant continues to the present day, unchanged though as yet unfulfilled. God was speaking through Lo-ammi to those Israelites who, while related to Abraham physically, were not related to him or his God spiritually.

This terrible situation in Hosea’s life was a living picture of Israel’s relationship with Almighty God. And, regrettably, it still reveals the spiritual waywardness of God’s people today. Listen to the words of James in the New Testament…

(James 4:4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

What are we cheating on God with?

II. Let’s Consider The Punishment In The Message

(Hosea 2)

In Hosea 2:1, the message is given to Ammi (my people) and Ruhamah (my loved one). And God uses those who are faithful to speak to those who are not. In this message…

A. The Pursuits Of The Wayward One Are Revealed

(Hosea 2:2-5) Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; {3} Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. {4} And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. {5} For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

(Hosea 2:7) 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.

(Hosea 2:10) And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.

discover – Hebrew 1540. galah, gaw-law'; a prim. root; to denude (to strip, uncover, or remove especially in a disgraceful sense); by impl. to exile (captives being usually stripped); fig. to reveal:-- + advertise, appear, bewray, bring, (carry, lead, go) captive (into captivity), depart, disclose, discover, exile, be gone, open, X plainly, publish, remove, reveal, X shamelessly, shew, X surely, tell, uncover.

lewdness – Hebrew 5040. nabluwth; from H5036 (a word that means stupid, wicked, impious); disgrace.

Wiersbe said…

God speaks to the children and tells them to rebuke their mother for her unfaithfulness. Israel was guilty of worshiping the gods of the pagan nations around them, especially the Canaanite rain god, Baal. Whenever there was a drought or a famine in the land, the Jews repeatedly turned to Baal for help instead of turning to the Lord. (See 1 Kings 18-19.) Pagan worship involved sensual fertility rites; and for these rites, both male and female prostitutes were provided. In a literal as well as a symbolic sense, idolatry meant prostitution. Since the people were acting like prostitutes, God would treat them like prostitutes and shame them publicly. He would no longer claim the nation as His wife because she had broken the solemn marriage covenant and consorted with idols. According to Hebrew law, adultery was a capital crime, punishable by death, but God announced that He would discipline Israel and not destroy her. Unfaithfulness to the Lord is a serious sin, just as unfaithfulness to one’s mate is a serious sin.

B. The Pleasures Of The Wayward One Are Removed

(Hosea 2:3) Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.

(Hosea 2:6) Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.

(Hosea 2:8-9) For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. {9} Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary states…

The figurative portrayal of Israel as the Lord’s wife is carried along in these verses. Without wool and linen (cf. v. 5), which were used to make clothing, she would have no means of covering her nakedness. Through this deprivation the Lord would expose her lewdness.

(Hosea 2:11-13) I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. {12} And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. {13} And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

God said He would bring thirst and thorns, famine and forest (barren bushes instead of productive plants).

Albert Barnes wrote…

[I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, or Baals] When men leave the one true God, they make to themselves many idols. They act, as if they could make up a god piece-meal out of the many attributes of the One God, and create their Creator. His power of production becomes one God; His power of destroying, another; His providence, a third; and so on, down to the very least acts. So they had many Baals or Lords; a “Baal-berith (Judges 8:33), Lord of covenants,” who was to guard the sanctity of oaths; “Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2), Lord of flies,” who was to keep off the plague of flies, and “Baal-Peor” (Numbers 25:3), who presided over sin. All these their various idolatries, and all the time of their idolatries, God threatens to visit upon them at once. “The days of punishment shall equal the days of the wanderings, in which she burnt incense to Baal.” God spares long. But when persevering impenitence draws down His anger, He punishes not for the last sin only, but for all. Even to the penitent, God mostly makes the chastisement bear some proportion to the length and greatness of the sin.

III. Let’s Consider The Promise Of Mercy

(Hosea 2:14)

(Hosea 2:14) Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

The “therefore” in verse 14 doesn’t seem to make sense. Compare it to the “therefore’s” in verse 6 and verse 9. These previous verses are understandable responses of God’s judgment towards a wayward people, but the transition to verse 14 suggests that He would display mercy!

Cf. Hosea 2:6 - God no longer utilizes the Hedge but the Hinge.

- We no longer face a Wall but a Way.

- He doesn’t Abandon us, but He Allures us.

Remember that when you find a “wherefore” or a “therefore” in the scripture, you look to see what it is ‘there for.’ And in order to understand verse 14, we must look at the prior statement in verse 13…

(Hosea 2:13) And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

They had forgotten Him, so He said that He would remind them of Who He is.

Albert Barnes said…

[Therefore] The inference is not what we should have expected. Sin and forgetfulness of God are not the natural causes of, and inducements to mercy. But God deals not with us, as we act one to another. Extreme misery and degradation revolt man; man’s miseries invite God’s mercies. God therefore has mercy, not because we deserve it, but because we need it. He therefore draws us, because we are so deeply sunken. He prepareth the soul by those harder means, and then the depths of her misery cry to the depths of His compassion, and because chastisement alone would stupefy her, not melt her, He changes His wrath into mercy, and speaks to the heart which, for her salvation, He has broken.

He said that He would not have mercy upon her children in verse 2. In other words, He would not tolerate what has been produced in the life by the waywardness of Israel.

(Hosea 2:4) And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.

But He indicates that He would have compassion on her. God hates sin, but God still loves the sinner.

A. There Will Be Compassion In The Ways Of God

(Hosea 2:14) Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

Warren Wiersbe said…

The repeated “I will” statements in these verses assure us that God has a wonderful future planned for the Jewish people. Let’s note His promises. He begins with “I will allure” (v. 14). God doesn’t try to force His people to love him. Instead, He “allures” (woos) them as a lover woos his beloved, seeking her hand in marriage. Certainly God spoke tenderly to His people through His Word and through the manifold blessings He bestowed on them in their land. Just as He led her through the wilderness and “married” her at Sinai, so God will meet His beloved in the wilderness in the last days and lead her into her land and her glorious kingdom.

“Allure” suggests that God would entice Israel and woo her. He says that He would “bring her into the wilderness.” Notice that in verse 3, the wilderness is one of woe. But now it is a wilderness of wooing. He is no longer condemning her, but He is courting her. When there is sin, God must show His punitive correction towards His people, but then when the judgment has ended, He will show His precious connection towards His people.

To “bring” has the idea of walking with her as if they are hand in hand. And just as they would be walking hand in hand, they would be talking heart to heart.

B. There Will Be Comfort In The Words Of God

We would expect a word of rebuke, but instead, as Will Thompson wrote in the late 1800’s…

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me;

See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching, Watching for you and for me.

Chorus: Come home, come home, You who are weary, come home;

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

There He will speak tenderly (comfortably) to her (literally, “speak to her heart”). This Hebrew idiom refers to gentle, encouraging words, such as a man speaks to his desired bride.


A few years ago, Rebecca Peck and Amy Marie Unthank wrote a song that was recorded by The Whisnants. The song is titled, “Even In The Valley.” It says…

Verse 1: High upon this mountain – the sun is shining bright

My heart is filled with gladness here above the cares of life

But I’ve just come through the valley of trouble, fear and pain

It was there I came to know my God enough to stand and say

Verse 2: The road of life has lead you to a valley of defeat

You wonder if the father has heard your desperate plea

But there is hope in the rugged place where tears of sorrow dwell

Can’t you hear Him gently whispering “I am here and all is well”

Chorus: Even in the valley – God is good; Even in the valley – He is faithful and true

He carries his children through – like He said he would; Even in the valley – God is good

And this is the message of Achor … “Even in the valley, God is good!”

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