In the book of Joshua, the Israelites’ progress in conquering the land was stymied because of the sin of Achan (Josh. 7). Israel’s defeat at Ai was the direct result of Achan’s covenant unfaithfulness. When he was confronted about his sin, he confessed that he saw the treasure, he desired the treasure, and he took the treasure. Though he knew it was devoted to the Lord, he believed he deserved it more than God.
The stolen silver, the bar of gold, the cloak of Shinar, and all Achan’s other possessions and his family, were brought before the Lord at the Valley of Achor. Joshua asked: “Why did you bring trouble upon us? The LORD brings trouble on you today” (v. 25). There is a wordplay here. The Hebrew word for “trouble” is achor. They were in the “Valley of Trouble.” Achan and all his possessions were stoned, burned, and buried in the Valley of Achor. The remaining heap of stones became a memorial of the consequences of covenant unfaithfulness.
Some look at the consequences Achan suffered and think, “Wasn’t that a bit harsh?” But that opinion comes only from a low view of the holiness of God. If we view the holiness of God rightly, we will understand that covenant unfaithfulness lands us in the Valley of Trouble. Likewise, we’ll see that the trite instruction to stop being unfaithful brings no hope but only greater condemnation. If the answer to our temptations is “do better” or “try harder,” then we’ll all end up under a pile of stones in the Valley of Achor.
Sometimes, though, we find hope in unexpected places. In Hosea 2, the consequences of Gomer’s covenantal unfaithfulness to Hosea are laid out. The Lord’s response to Gomer’s unfaithfulness is threefold. In Hosea 2:6–15, the Lord says He will frustrate and then deprive Gomer. And then, just when we expect the full judgment of God to be poured out on her as the third part, the Lord does something remarkable. Instead of Gomer’s receiving the wrath of God as she deserved, the Lord says:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” (vv. 14–15)
God in His grace will transform the Valley of Trouble into a door of hope. God does this by sending Hosea to “go again, love a woman who is loved by another man” (3:1). He tells Hosea to go and win her back. Pay whatever price. Take your treasure and get her back.
Achan and Gomer found themselves in the Valley of Trouble because they saw, desired, and took what did not rightfully belong to them. They coveted treasures and pleasures that could not satisfy. Any treasure other than Christ will bring us to the Valley of Trouble. But if we treasure Christ, then our Valley of Achor will be transformed into a door of hope. The treasure we seek is Christ. Look to Christ. Desire Christ. And take Christ.