The Help of the Valley of Achor

Title: The Help of the Valley of Achor

Bible Book: Isaiah 65 : 10

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Peace; Help from God



As most of you know, we have been studying a little known place that is mentioned in the Bible called the Valley of Achor.

In his commentary on the Minor Prophets, James Montgomery Boice wrote…

“Achor” means “troubling,” and the phrase that contains it (“the Valley of Achor”) means “the valley of troubling.” It occurs three times in the Bible. The first is in Joshua in connection with the story of Achan and his sin. When the people of Israel had conquered Jericho in the first wave of their invasion of the Promised Land, Achan had taken spoil of Jericho that the people had been told by God they were not to do. For this they lost the next battle at Ai. What was wrong? they asked. At last an investigation was made and the sin of Achan was discovered and judged. Achan and his family were stoned in the Valley of Achor, which took its name from this incident (Joshua 7:26). The second time this valley is mentioned is in Isaiah, when he speaks of a day when it will become a resting place for herds (Isaiah 65:10). The third time is in Hosea, and here the place of “troubling” is to become a place of hope for God’s people. How can a place of such swift judgment be hopeful? How can the destructive troubling be changed? We cannot change it certainly. But there is one who can and who does. God sets hope before us when all seems most lost. He does it by taking our trouble on himself.

Charles Simeon wrote that…

Achor was a very rich valley, so called from the circumstance of Achan being stoned there. It was the first portion of the promised land that came into the possession of the Israelites: and this was to them a door of hope. It was a ground of assurance, that they should in due time possess the whole land. It was, as it were, an earnest, whereby they were taught to expect the fulfillment of all the promises.

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.

As I mentioned this morning, we began this series by looking 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 7:25-26) 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. {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.

Last week, we looked at the Heart of this Valley as it is seen in Hosea chapter 1 and 2. And we talked about…

I. The Problems In The Marriage in Hosea 1

II. The Punishment In The Message in Hosea 2:1-13

III. The Promise Of Mercy in Hosea 2:14

God used Hosea’s unusual marriage and family as a living example of God’s own relationship with wayward Israel. And the nation would be taken into captivity as a result of the spiritual adultery that became rampant. But God promised that there would come a time when God would bring Israel back to the place she belonged.

This morning, we looked at the Hope of this Valley as it is seen in Hosea 2:15-17. And we discovered that…

I. This Hope Involves The Supply Of The Vineyards in Hosea 2:15

II. This Hope Involves The Song Of Victory in Hosea 2:15

III. This Hope Involves The Shifting Of A Viewpoint in Hosea 2:16-17

This evening, I want to use the only other reference to the Valley of Achor, which is found in Isaiah 65:10. At the same time that Hosea was prophesying and ministering in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Isaiah was prophesying and ministering in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And we find some similar themes in the books of Hosea and Isaiah because, as one writer indicated, the Southern Kingdom “was following in the sins of her neighbor to the north” (Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts).

And just as Hosea refers to the Valley of Achor in the context of talking about a restoration, Isaiah also uses the place to magnify the fact that God will bring back a remnant of His people from captivity and that He will make it a restful place for them. The verse in Isaiah (65:10) magnifies the Help of this Valley.

As we study this verse tonight, let me point out that…

I. This Help Involves A Place

(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.

A. Notice The Territory Of The Place

The prophet mentions two distinct places. And as The Pulpit Commentary says…

The two places seem to be selected on account of their position, one on the eastern, the other on the western border.

Adam Clarke said that these are…

Two of the most fertile parts of Judea; famous for their rich pastures; the former to the west, not far from Joppa; the latter north of Jericho, near Gilgal.

Sharon is about 66 miles to the northwest of the Valley of Achor. Sharon is in the north western section of Israel, and Achor is in the south eastern section of Israel, so that the territory encompassed between these two points of reference includes all of Israel.

Matthew Henry said…

Sharon lay westward, near Joppa; Achor lay eastward, near Jordan. It is therefore intimated that they shall recover the possession of the whole land, that they shall have wherewith to stock it all, and that they shall peaceably enjoy it and there shall be none to disturb them nor make them afraid.

Let me remind you tonight that the help of God is not limited in territory. It extends from border to border. It covers the whole land, and it is available to every inhabitant of the kingdom of God.

B. Notice The Transformation Of The Place

Of this place called “Sharon,” which means “a plain, or a pleasant plain” The Pulpit Commentary says…

Sharon is “the broad rich tract of land” which stretches southwards from the foot of Carmel, and melts into the Shefelah; noted for its flowers (Song of Solomon 2:1 – the rose of Sharon) and forests.

Isaiah 35:2 mentions the “excellency” of Sharon. But it is indicated that when God brings judgment upon His people that Sharon would be affected…

(Isaiah 33:9) The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.

But now, as The Pulpit Commentary states…

“Sharon,” instead of being “like a wilderness” (Isaiah 33:9), shall once more be “a place for flocks” – a rich pasture for the flocks and herds of the returned exiles.

There is a transformational idea associated with the Valley of Achor as well. We have talked much about the tragedy and sorrow of Achor, and how the very name of the place means the valley of trouble. But God declares that this place of troubling will be a place of tranquility! God can change things in our lives.

II. This Help Involves A Promise

(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.

A. God Promised That There Will Be Protection

a fold of flocks

‎fold – Hebrew 5116. naveh, naw-veh'; or (fem.) navah, naw-vaw'; from H5115; (adj.) at home; hence (by impl. of satisfaction) lovely; also (noun) a home, of God (temple), men (residence), flocks (pasture), or wild animals (den):--comely, dwelling (place), fold, habitation, pleasant place, sheepcote, stable, tarried.

When the invaders came from Assyria and Babylon, they would have left the pasture land and the sheepfolds in shambles, but God said there would come a time when the sheep would be pastured at Sharon again.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says that the word “fold” (OT:5116 – naweh) means…

Pasture, abode of shepherd, habitation, sheepfold. (In some cases, it has the idea of a cave or a fenced enclosure where the flock would be protected.)

The Barnes’ Notes commentary says…

[Shall be a fold of flocks] At the time contemplated here by the prophet-the close of the exile-that whole country would have lain waste about seventy years. Of course, during that long period it would be spread over with a wild luxuriance of trees and shrubs. Once it was celebrated pasture-ground, and was exceedingly beautiful as a place for flocks and herds. Such a place it would be again when the exiles should return, and cultivate their native land. The following description of Sharon, in the spring of 1824, by Mr. Thompson, an American Missionary, will give an idea of the natural appearance of that part of Palestine. The view taken was from a high tower in Ramla. ‘The whole valley of Sharon, from the mountains of Jerusalem to the sea, and from the foot of Carmel to the hills of Gaza, is spread before you like a painted map, and is extremely beautiful, especially at evening, when the last rays of the setting sun gild the distant mountain tops, the weary farmer returns from his labor, and the bleating flocks come frisking and joyful to their fold. At such a time I saw it, and lingered long in pensive meditation, until the stars looked out from the sky, and the cool breezes of evening began to shed soft dews on the feverish land. What a paradise was here when Solomon reigned in Jerusalem, and sang of the roses of Sharon!’

B. God Promised That There Will Be Peace

the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in

lie – Hebrew 7258. rebets, reh'-bets; from H7257; a couch or place of repose:--where each lay, lie down in, resting place.

down – Hebrew 7257. rabats, raw-bats'; a prim. root; to crouch (on all four legs folded, like a recumbent animal); by impl. to recline, repose, brood, lurk, imbed:--crouch (down), fall down, make a fold, lay (cause to, make to) lie (down), make to rest, sit.

Albert Barnes goes on to say…

The word Achor means properly “causing affliction,” and the name was probably given to that valley from the trouble or affliction which was there caused to the Israelites from the sin of Achan. The phrase, ‘the valley of Achor,’ would probably thence become a proverbial expression to denote that which caused trouble of any kind. And the sense here probably is, that that which had been to the nation a source of calamity should become a source of blessing-as if a place distinguished for causing trouble should become as celebrated for producing happiness. As that valley had been a source of great trouble on their first entering into the land of Canaan, so it would become a place of great exultation, peace, and joy, on their return from their exile. They would naturally enter Canaan near to that valley, and the place which to them had been once the occasion of so much distress, would be found a quiet and peaceful place where their herds might lie down in safety.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

“The valley of Achor,” proverbial for whatever caused calamity, shall become proverbial for joy and prosperity.

III. This Help Involves A People

(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.

A. This Verse Refers To A People That Are Possessed By God

my people

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says of the phrase “my people” (OT:5980 – ‘am) that…

The term seems to be derived from the common Semitic root ‘amam, meaning “to comprehend or include.” The unique emphasis of ‘am ‎lies in its reference to a group of “people as viewed by one of themselves.”

So God is saying that those to whom He refers are included, they are among HIS people! And He is associating Himself with them.

The root term has the idea of associating with or huddling together. The “people” refers to a tribe, a nation, a flock, or any congregated unit.

Do you remember the third child born in Hosea’s household? The name of the child was Lo-ammi, which meant “not my people.” The Hebrew word “am” means “people.”

(Hosea 2:23) And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.

I used to be an “am not,” but now I “am” part of His people!

B. This Verse Refers To A People That Are Pursuing After God

that have sought me

sought – Hebrew 1875. darash, daw-rash'; a prim. root; prop. to tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by impl. to seek or ask; spec. to worship:--ask, X at all, care for, X diligently, inquire, make inquisition, [necro-] mancer, question, require, search, seek [for, out], X surely.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says…

This word is often used to describe the “seeking of” the Lord in the sense of entering into covenantal relationship with Him. The prophets often used darash as they called on the people to make an about-face in living and instead “seek ye the Lord while he may be found…” Isaiah 55:6.


Thomas Andrew Dorsey (July 1, 1899, Villa Rica, Georgia – January 23, 1993, Chicago) was known as “the father of gospel music.” Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

In 1937, Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson, and it soon became a standard in gospel music. The song says…

Verse 1:

Well, I’m tired and so weary

But I must go along

Till the Lord comes and calls me, calls me away

Where the morning’s so bright

And the Lamb is the light

And the night, night is as fair as the day, oh yes!


There will be peace in the valley for me, some day

There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray

There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble, trouble I see

There will be peace in the valley for me

That’s the message of Isaiah 65:10! In spite of the trouble that you and I may experience in our valleys, God told His people that there would be peace in the valley some day.

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