Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on May 29, 1977
“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 she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
- Hosea 2:15
TAKE YOUR BIBLES AND TURN TO THE BOOK OF HOSEA. I wish to lift out a phrase from Hosea 2:15: “I will give her . . . the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there.” Underline that phrase. Where is this valley of Achor that Hosea references? Whether you know it or not, you may have been there or are there right now. This message is good news: you sing there. If you feel like singing because of your circumstances, then you aren’t there; it’s not a singing kind of circumstance at first glance.
Hosea was a prophet to the northern tribes of Israel. Jeroboam was the king of the northern tribes who led God’s people into sin. The people of the north began to go back across the boundary into Judah to worship at Jerusalem. Jeroboam took notice, and, while he didn’t have any religious motivation, he was worried that as the people joined together in worship they might reunite as a kingdom. Jeroboam feared he would lose his throne, so he said, “Let me provide temples for you close at home; it’s too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.” He put images at Dan and Bethel, and the people began to worship idols. (I Kings 12:26-30) As the people grew more corrupt in their idolatry, Hosea tried to lead them back onto the right path.
Out of the midst of his prophecies comes an eternal utterance; something that’s true all throughout God’s book. My authority for lifting this promise out of Hosea’s prophecies is in 2 Corinthians 1:20: “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.” If you’ve ever sung the old chorus, Every Promise in the Book is Mine, then latch on to this one. It is your promise.
Achor is introduced in Joshua 7. The Israelites had taken the city of Jericho with a miraculous deliverance: after marching around the city and blowing a trumpet seven times on the seventh day, the walls of Jericho fell down. God had ordered that not one of His people would take spoil out of Jericho. Achan disobeyed, taking spoil and hiding treasures in the floor of his tent that he wanted to keep.
Ai was the next city the Israelites attacked, and they got the stuffing knocked out of them. There were two causes for their failure. One was overconfidence after God had given them such a miracle at Jericho. Spies had been sent to Ai, and when they returned with their report, God’s people said, “Aw, they’re just a little town; we can take them with a handful of men.” Overconfidence caused them to go in their own strength to attack Ai without first seeking the Lord. Joshua flung himself on the ground and began to seek the face of the Lord. After their defeat, the Lord told Joshua the other cause of their failure was Achan’s sin. God revealed to Joshua that it was Achan, who had “taken of the accursed thing, and has also stolen, and dissembled also . . .” Achan, one who had not yet turned loose of the things of time, had taken blessings that belonged to God and would use them to further his own gain. In stringent Old Testament justice, God gave the order to stone Achan. “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.” (Joshua 7)
Some of you will have a note in the margin of your Bibles where scholars have helped you in translating the meaning of the word achor. Hebrew and Aramaic are languages with a small vocabulary, and the words lend themselves to many alternatives; but almost every scholar agrees the meaning of the word achor is trouble. The valley of Achor itself is a narrow valley somewhere to the north of Temptation Mountain, where Jesus was tempted for 40 days. It is one of those valleys leading out of the oasis of Jericho that cuts through the hills that the Israelites had to go through in order to take the Promised Land.
Hebrews 5 describes the Promised Land, Canaan, as the rest of God; “God’s rest” signifies a promise obtained by His people. When God has given a promise, and we obtain it by acting in faith, we have rest in the promises obtained. Canaan’s land was promised to the first band that came out of Egypt. Joshua’s band labored, they “hasted over Jordan,” and they had to conquer that land. (Joshua 4:10) Jericho was on the border by the river. Ai was the second city. They went on to conquer 31 cities, but the valley that led out of the place where Achan had sinned would be known as the “valley of trouble.” It was the doorway to the Promised Land.
God has not put any of those things in His book accidently; they are all for our example. Hosea seizes on that and states an eternal truth: “I will give the valley of Achor for a door of hope.” God’s ways are not our ways. In the verse that I have lived in for so many years, “Blessed is the man who passing through the valley of weeping,” the “valley of weeping” became a door to strength. The very stress of the circumstances that drives a man to God makes a man find out, when he runs out of his strength and begins to tap God’s strength, that God’s strength enables you to go “from strength to strength.” And “every one of them appeareth at Zion before God.” (Psalm 84:5-7)
The valley of trouble is a door of hope. What kind of hope? The book of Hebrews speaks of riveting ourselves into the house that God is building, the house not made with hands, the living temple. What you talk about drives the nails, riveting you into the permanent temple of the Living God. (Hebrews 3:1-6) Literally, we become a permanent part of that house by our frank speaking-forth and exulting and boasting about the hope. There are many hopes: there is a hope of the gospel, there is a hope of Heaven, there is a hope of His appearing; but this promise is that trouble is the door to a specific kind of hope, and as the New Testament says, “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20)
Trouble is a door to hope for you, but that will only be true if you get your hope properly focused. God’s ways are not our ways. God has never changed. God hopes for one thing more than every other hope that He has for us. His first utterance about man was, “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26) That is what God set out to do in the beginning. We messed it up, and ever since, He has been trying to make it right.
Many of us are familiar with God’s promise in Romans 8. The King James Version reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” What is His purpose? “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son . . .” (Romans 8:28-29) I’m not the only one who has tried my best to beat God up with this verse. I’ll say, “God, I’m in trouble, but You promised to make it work to my good.” Then I’ll offer Him my blueprint of how I think He should achieve my good. It doesn’t work that way. God said, “For I am the LORD, I change not… “ (Malachi 3:6)
Periodically, we have to come back to first principles. What is all this “church-ness” about? What is all this activity for, this coming and going and building and fighting and working? It is His church, not my church. When we became His, we offered ourselves to Him for Him to do with what He will; we are in His church. What does He will? That we might all be conformed to the image of His Son.
It seems as though that which is central to God does not get top billing in Christian testimonials in today’s world. The reports tend to put their weight on the exciting things that God does, like healings. God has been healing for a long time; that is one of the easiest jobs He has to do. Changing you is the tough one!
God is not my servant, nor yours: we belong to Him. Trouble is His servant, and it only becomes our servant when we tune into Him. Literally, Romans 8:28 says, “God entereth in to and mixes all things to make His good come out.” God worketh together all things for good: the good that He names. It will only be good to those who are called according to His purpose. If you’re going one way, and He puts the pressure on the circumstances to send you another way, it may not look good to you at all. Only when you have turned from your way to His way, called according to His purpose, will His pressure toward His good also look good to you. His good is to make us like Jesus.
In fighting busy schedules, in dealing with human pressures, in facing perils on all sides and in working together just to exist, it is very easy to lose perspective. It is very easy to forget that God is hovering over it all, putting His hands in and mixing every ingredient to mold it and push it. God is more interested in you and what He can do in you than He is in what you can do for Him. The jobs will get done en route, but there’s no way you are going to be able to look at your pressure or trouble as a door of hope until you see it from God’s perspective. God is above it all, entering into it all, and will make that trouble a door for hope, if you get your hope straightened out.
Let me add another verse to the mix, Romans 5:1. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” Is that what being a Christian is or not? If God does nothing else for you, you who are weighted down with a problem today and ready to shake your fist at God and hit Him on the head with a promise, and you feel you have something due you, you need to reread that verse. Until the righteousness that is of faith was introduced and made clear and brought nigh by Jesus through grace, your only hope was your performance. (Romans 3:21-31) But Jesus performed the law, fulfilled it and died in your place.
The word justified is very clear in the New Testament Greek: God holds me as though I am just. The word has as its root dike (pronounced dee-kay), which means straight: God is straight like a plumb line. I am crooked, I fall short, I do not measure up, but God holds me as though I were as straight as a plumb line. Glory to God, He looks at me like I’m Jesus. You are supposed to “know no man after the flesh;” you’re supposed to know me as Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:16) That’s the wonder of what He provided. “Therefore being justified by faith…,” that is, hanging your body on that promise, not your visible performance. Now “we have peace with God . . .” We have “cessation of against-ness;” there is no enmity between us and God, “through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we access by faith . . .” That means you do not have to earn it. All you have to do is faithe it: hang your body on the belief that God will back His Word, and keep your confidence in His Word, not in your performance. You have access by hanging on His promise “into this grace,” that’s “unmerited favor.” We don’t deserve anything from God.
By faith we move into the sphere of God’s grace. It’s like moving out of darkness into a spotlight on a stage. When you move into that spotlight, you are doing nothing to light yourself: the light comes from the bulb. But if you will stay there, you are in the light. By faith, you move into that sphere, which is literally a different dimension of being. You move into the dimension where you become a recipient of unmerited favor. You don’t have to dererve it; just move on in by faith. That is why I’ve run that flag up around here: I say if Jesus accepts you, we do, too. Don’t stand out on the street and ask, “Am I dressed right?” or “Do I look right?” Come on in! When you get in, act like you are in the presence of a King, because you are. He let you come into this grace unmerited by faith, “wherein we stand.”
Let’s read on in Romans 5. “And rejoice in hope.” Rejoice in hope! Hope of what? “Hope of the glory of God.” What is the glory of God? Paul said to the Corinthians, “with open face” we are to behold Him and “we are changed,” metamorphosed “into the same image from glory to glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) John says, “We beheld his glory.” (John 1:14) In the Old Testament, the Shekinah glory was spoken of; it was bright light over the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. It was always known that light symbolized the presence of God. “God’s glory is God’s presence on Earth, and Jesus was called by the writer of the Hebrews letter, literally, “the out-raying of God’s glory.” (Hebrews 1:3)
We stand by faith, unmerited, in the light, but we rejoice in hope of the coming light. We’ve moved out of darkness into light by faith; and God takes us as though we are something that we are not. That is what justification is. I am still “me,” falling short. The old man in me will be here until I die. I have a daily task of putting him off and bringing forth and putting on the new man. Paul says, “but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) One day “this mortal shall put on immortality” and we shall be with Him. (1 Corinthians 15:53) John says,“we shall be like him.” (1 John 3:2) God presently takes me as though I’m not and imputes to me what I am not, viewing me as though I am Jesus.
God said, “Let us make man in our image,” and God does not fail in that which He starts. (Genesis 1:26) He is not satisfied to just take me forever as though I am what I’m not. He wants me to come into this light and offer this vessel given to Him through faith. I am a recipient of His grace and all of its benefits without merit; but, like a piece of clay, I give Him a chance to start doing something with me. More and more what is hope will become fact, and more and more you and I will actually become like Jesus. The hope will become experience “and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” How? “And not only so, we glory in tribulation also.” (Romans 5:2-3)
The word tribulation comes from the Latin word tribulum, which is a rod that was used to thresh or beat wheat, to beat out the chaff and separate the chaff from the wheat. I like to call it whacking. Paul is saying, “We are justified by faith; we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this sphere of unmerited favor and we stand there receiving the benefits and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And, not only so, but we glory in tribulum.” Whack! Now, how many of you have really been rejoicing this past week over the tribulum? If you’re like me, maybe you’ve yelled at God a couple of times this past week. But I know where the promise lies, and I know who the ultimate Faither is: Jesus. I know that the more faith I’m called upon to exercise and seize as my possession, the more like Jesus I become. And, if the pain and the trials make me work a little harder at faith, the more I’m moving toward Him.
There are some things available in God that you can seize by covenant right. For example, I believe that healing is in the Atonement, but unless I’m sick, I don’t think so much about it. Trouble forces the focus. I don’t know what trouble you face, but Paul says we should glory in the whacking, “knowing that tribulum worketh patience.” Strike out the word “patience” and write the literal Greek in the margin: endurance. Whackings produce a certain ability to endure.
I like simple illustrations. How many of you have ever had to diet in your life? If you lasted three days or four days, it got easier, didn’t it? It’s that first day that kills you; you see that banana split and you just sort of lean into it as it goes by. About the third day, you wonder why those idiots are still eating it. You feel so good you start to kill the appetite. That is the perfect illustration of this Greek word. “Tribulum produces endurance.” You think the first whacking is going to kill you; hang in there a while. If you thought you wouldn’t make it through this last week that’s the flesh talking. There’s no saint of God who has ever been under the rod who hasn’t thought he wouldn’t make it. That beating process that pulls the “old man” aside hurts, but the tribulum process produces endurance. You suddenly discover you can endure more today than you could take yesterday; you think you can’t, but you can. The tests we are facing today might have killed us 20 years ago.
“And endurance worketh experience . . .” Strike that word out and write the Greek translation: triedness. You turn into “spiritual beef jerky” after a while; you become tough enough to bear up under anything. You can last through any change of spiritual temperature. “Tribulum worketh endurance; and enduring the tribulum produces triedness.” You can look back and see that you made it. The man who has sailed through a storm has a triedness about him that means he can face the next storm. Though it may be tougher, it will not cause him to cower quite as much as the first one. Paul goes on to say, “and the triedness results in hope.” We are going to make it! There isn’t any power in hell that will prevail against God’s church. How would we know that if we hadn’t gone through the tribulum?
Remember the message of the Song of Asher in Deuteronomy 33. If you are going to have those promises apply to you, then remember that the iron shoes God gives us are not for the seashore; they are for the mountains. If you want the church to have spiritual children, saints born into the Kingdom, and oil on your shoes, which is a type of the Holy Spirit, we must tackle another mountain. (Deuteronomy 33:24-25) Because the valley of trouble is the door to hope.
Listen to what Hosea says about those who really understand this valley: “she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth . . .” That’s the proper posture when in trouble. Some of us envy the youth, but I’ve come to be frustrated because youth has to be wasted on youth. The spiritually young are like “spiritual gooney birds.” They’re born and then they have their mouths open; everything exists for them. But when God hits them with a rod of tribulation, they squall their heads off. Here is a paradox: “Sing as in the newness of youth, but sing in the door of hope,” which is trouble. If God’s ways can ever be seen, we will have the outburst of joy as a child in a valley of trouble.
If you don’t believe that God puts a footnote on every single truth in His book, go to Philippi. Paul and his fellow preacher were in the inner prison, with blood running down their backs: that’s as good a picture of tribulum as I can see. They had done nothing but preach God’s Word. In the inner prison, about midnight, the literal translation of the passage is, “they hymned praises to God.” The line that grips me is, “and the prisoners listened.” (Acts 16) The prisoners are still listening, Christian friends. They’re still listening, and there is too much complaining in trouble. The world needs to hear the song of faith. God says, “I will make the valley of trouble for a door of hope,” and I have this hope that every time the heat is on God is going to make me a little more like Jesus.
Are you in trouble? Are you in distress? Start singing! It is the door to hope.
- From Dr. Gene Scott’s PULPIT, Volume 3. Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott.
Prayer Requests for September, 2013
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX). He just learned that the cancer has spread further into his lungs and hip.
For Isaiah Robinson (Menard, Illinois).
For Wade Miller (Wewahitchka, Florida), who wants to get approved for a “faith based program.”
For Freddie Gray’s Mom (in Oklahoma) who is having cataract surgery.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona). He wants everyone to know that he does not have diabetes.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health. He has Sciatica nerve pain and needs cataract eye surgery, also.
For William McAllister (Taylorville, IL) who just lost his Dad.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). The judge has ordered another new trial for Frank.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas) who wants to be transferred.
For Robert Russell’s (Sumner, Illinois) Mom, Billie Rose, for health.
For Michael Small’s (Illinois) step mother Suzanne. She is still being treated for vision problems.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who is being treated for heart disease.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Anthony Grayson (Elmira, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free. (His lung cancer has been in remission since 1998.)
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
HUFFINGTON POST – October 13, 2012
“Does Israel Have No Roots In History?” [Excerpts]:
On Sept. 24, the president of Iran informed reporters that Israel has “no roots there in history” in the Middles East. [H]e recognizes that Israel’s historical presence in that world since antiquity matters – matters enough to deny it. Now, the Bible pictures an Israel-Jewish population and government there starting in the 12th Century B.C.E. and continuing until the end of the [Old Testament] history about 800 years later. But how do we know if this is true?
[T]he land is filled with Hebrew inscriptions . . . These are not just an occasional inscription on a piece of pottery or carved in a wall. Nor should we even start with one or two of the most famous archaeological finds. Rather, there are thousands of inscriptions. They come from hundreds of excavated towns and cities. They are in the Hebrew language. They include people’s names that bear forms of the name of their God.
The inscriptions also refer to their kings. They include stamps and seals from official documents. They come from tombs where the land’s people were buried. They name people who are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. They include wording that also appears in the Hebrew Bible. Right below the Church of Scotland in Jerusalem, in a Jewish tomb from the seventh century B.C.E., was a silver cylinder with the words inscribed in it: “May YHWH bless you and keep you. May YHWH make his face shine to you and give you peace.” It is the words of the Priestly Blessing in the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 6:24-26).
That’s just one inscription . . . As for those foreign inscriptions, texts from the neighboring lands refer to the people, to their kings, to their government, to their armies and to their cities. The basic fact: everybody knew that Israel was there: the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Arameans, the Moabites, the Persians. Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203 B.C.E.) refers to the people of Israel in a stone stele. Pharaoh Shoshenk I (c. 945-924 B.C.E.) describes his campaign in which he refers to cities in Israel (including Ayalon, Beth-Shan, Megiddo, Rehob and Taanach). Assyrian king, King Shalmaneser III names King “Ahab the Israelite” among his opponents in his Kurkh monument and names and pictures King Jehu on his Black Obelisk. Seven other Assyrian emperors also refer to Israel and Judah and name kings who are also mentioned in the Bible. The Babylonian sources, too, refer to the Jews and their monarchy in the years after the Babylonians replaced the Assyrian empire. And the record continues when the Persians replace the Babylonians, as documented in the Cylinder of Cyrus, the Persian emperor. Cyrus’ decree of 538 B.C.E., let the exiled Jews return to their land; it was followed by an influx of Jewish population. There was population growth from the reign of Darius I to Artaxerxes.
The country that the Babylonians had conquered was reestablished as a state of Judah (yehud medintha) within the Persian umbrellas. You want irony? Persia, now called Iran, the country that re-established the Jew country in Biblical times, now has a president who says that Israel has no roots there.
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