March 2019

March 2019

“I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope”

Hosea 2.15 (RSV)

In this prophecy, Hosea’s voice, pleading with his unfaithful wife through his children, becomes one with the voice of God addressing Israel. God has previously been complaining about the unfaithfulness of the Israelites to their covenant with him and their worship of Baal – they believe that, rather than the true God, it is this false god who gives good crops and plentiful harvests. But now, speaking to Israel as to a bride, he changes his tone and says that he will speak tenderly to her, restore her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. Achor or Trouble Valley was near Jericho, and the place where Achan sinned and was punished (Joshua 7). The NEB version translates this as “turning the Vale of Trouble into the Gate of Hope”.

As we begin Lent, we may ask how often do we find ourselves in a desert spiritually? We long to find a way to spiritual richness again, to discover God's unsearchable riches pouring forth as light from the sun in boundless profusion and generosity. God is promising that we will find the way. With his help to open the door we can find this way, and, surprisingly, it is the very door that had been a trouble to us before. God re-names trouble and brings transformation.

In Revelation 3.20, the church in Philadelphia is assured of the hope that God will give them because of their patient endurance: “Behold, I have set before you an open door”. They are a small church, with little power, but the reward is not to the strong, but to the faithful and they will be given the opportunity to do effective work. (See also 1 Cor 16.9)

We can also consider the various other doors of the New Testament: the door of the sheep in John 10.17, the door of faith for the Gentiles in Acts 14.27, the door of the heart at which Jesus knocks in Revelation 3.20.

As we spend time praying this Word in our contemplative prayer it may be that God is asking us to consider what doors of opportunity are opening to us. Even in the midst of setbacks and adversities and challenges seemingly too great for us, we can find the future hope that our God promises.