The Valley of Achor

The valley of Achor is mentioned three particular times in scripture. The first time involved a man named Achan who was in the army of Israel that attacked Jericho. In spite of the clear directions that the LORD had given to the contrary, Achan took some of the spoils of Jericho. The next battle was against Ai. Israel lost, and thirty-six men lost their lives. That battle was lost because of Achan’s disobedience of the LORD’s command.

With God’s help, Achan was found out. Joshua 7:20, 21 records Achan’s admission, “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: when I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” God’s command was that they were not to touch the spoils of Jericho.

In Joshua 7:24 we read, “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.” The account continues in verse 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.”

So, the valley of Achor was a place of judgment in the days of Joshua. Achan’s disobedience resulted in the death of himself and his family, and all of his animals. He lost everything. Somewhere there is a pile of stones that stands as a monument to Achan’s sin, and God’s judgment upon it.

In Hosea 2 the LORD referred to Israel as His wife. He also told of His great provision for her. He then told of how Israel had turned her back on Him Who had blessed so greatly. He spoke of Israel committing adultery against Him. In scripture, adultery is a picture of idolatry; it is spiritual adultery. He then told that He would judge them for their idolatry. But, in Hosea 2:7 God told what would be the result of His judgment, “… then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better for me than now.” His judgment would bring repentance.

Then God spoke of restoring Israel to Himself. Hosea 2:14, 15 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 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.” Notice God’s kindness and tenderness toward His people!

Here, the valley of Achor is called a door of hope. The judgment Israel endured, as described in Hosea 2, was because of their idolatry. They turned their back to God, Who had faithfully removed them from Egypt and brought them to the land He had promised to give to them. God’s promise was that He would allure her and speak comfortably to her and the valley of Achor would be a place of hope.

Then, in Isaiah 65:6, 7, we read, “Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.” This is a description of idolatry. While Israel was guilty, so is everyone who worships something other than the LORD. The first of the ten commandments is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) God’s feelings about idolatry are clear not only in this verse, but in many, many others. This was the essence of Achan’s sin against the LORD, too, not to mention the problem that God revealed in Hosea 2.

But, in Isaiah 65:9 we read, “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” In spite of the idolatry of which they were guilty, God promised a blessing, even an inheritance from Him. These were people that sought Him, instead of idols. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

This is a turn from idolatry to the Living God and His ways. Further, Isaiah 65:10 tells us, “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.” The LORD called the valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down in. Animals do not lie down, they do not rest, where they do not feel safe. So, the place of judgment described in the book of Joshua is now a place of rest; a place of safety.

What a picture of the cross of the LORD Jesus Christ! Like the valley of Achor, the cross stands as a monument to mankind’s sin, and God’s judgment against it which fell on the LORD Jesus Christ. That place of judgment, where the Bearer of it had nothing for which to be judged, now stands as a door of hope to anyone that enters. That place of judgment now stands as a place of eternal rest and safety for everyone that comes to Him. Any other place is a place of idolatry and rejection of God. Once the judgment was complete, and God’s justice satisfied, the place of judgment was transformed into a place of hope, rest, and safety.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter,
O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love
And Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch
That wondrous dream was giv’n,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me,
A ladder up to Heav’n.

Upon that cross of Jesus
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears
Two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love
And my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine
Than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross. (Elizabeth C. Clephane)