Or so they thought.
A man called Achan simply could not resist the luxurious leftovers. He hid them among his belongings, hoping no one would notice. When their next battle resulted in a horrific defeat, Joshua sought the Lord, who instructed him to root out the thief. It was after Achan’s punishment that the valley earned its sad name.
The stones marked Achan’s grave for many years. They had built altars in the early days to remember God’s miracles but Achan’s grave commemorated trouble. It was a mark of shame upon the people of Judah as the years rolled along. If the stones Joshua had commissioned be grouped as a memorial to their entry into the Promised Land, Achan’s grave was etched into their minds as a continual reminder of the judgment for sin, seared into their memories as a place to remind them of how they had failed God and one another.
But Achor’s story does not end in the Book of Joshua. It resurfaces in an unlikely place. Isaiah was nearing the end of his prophecies. Directly after a passage on judgment, he began to describe redemption, recasting a vision of a valley that had been associated with trouble for so long:
“And the Valley of Achor [shall be] a place for herds to lie down” (Isaiah 65:10).
For so long the valley had born a mark of trouble, but Isaiah promised it would become a place of peace where cattle and sheep could be nourished.
Hosea reiterated the promise. He had described a relationship in which his people constantly failed God. They had vowed to be faithful but had strayed time and time again. While Hosea wrote about God’s justice, he immediately reminded them that God’s love and mercy are unfailing:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her. I will give her the vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope” (Hosea 2:14-15).
Of all the transformations God has wrought, how beautiful it is that He turned the Valley of Trouble into a door of hope.
Perhaps the old song says it best: “In the valley He restoreth my soul.” You may have a Valley of Achor in your life – a moment that seemingly marks you and tells you that you will forever bear the burden of your mistakes. Perhaps you are simply going through a season of trouble and there’s no end in sight. Even if you feel your mistakes — or the mistakes of others that you have borne throughout your life — will always define you, God has greater plans for you. He is not only our Savior but also our Redeemer — our Restorer. He specializes in both creation and re-creation. Trouble may have defined your life for a season but He can take the most troubled valleys in our lives and turn them into gateways of hope.