Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt (2:14-15 NIV).
Previously in God’s always relevant Word, we read how God announced judgment on Israel for falling away from the Lord. It looked like Israel was finished! What hope could there be for those who turn their backs on the living God? What hope is there for those whom God threatens to punish? Some would write off America and other western nations as beyond hope. But is that so? What passage of Scripture can they appeal to? Doesn’t the Bible and church history present the darkest scenes of human hopelessness as the best opportunities for God to show his power?
The message of the Bible is a message of good news for the undeserving. God speaks of confident anticipation and of free and full forgiveness for the darkest sins. When all seems beyond hope, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). God gives hope to the hopeless, joy to the grief-stricken, and peace to those torn apart by strife. The Lord is the God of new life and fresh vitality. And when he gives new life, it is a better life than previously known.
The Lord points to a new beginning (2:14-15). The key idea is unexpected and unmerited favor. God had just announced a just judgment upon Israel. She would be ruined! And now he speaks of leading her into the desert. How much worse could it get?
- Biblically speaking, the desert has been a place of hope for God’s people. In the desert God formed Israel into a nation. In the desert, John the Baptist preached repentance and pointed people to Jesus, the Lamb of God. In the desert places of your life, the living God can speak tenderly to you (cf. Psalm 119:71). If you’re in a dark place now, look around with the eyes of faith and see the rays of hope breaking through the clouds.
- God promises to reverse Israel’s fortunes. The destroyed vineyards (2:12) would be restored. The Valley of Achor, “Trouble”, which was always a dark memory because of Achan’s sin at Jericho, would become a door of hope. When you’re at the end of your rope, you’re at the place where God is able to untangle the knots in your life.
Sometimes God’s people go down into the “valley of trouble”, but in free grace God can open a door of hope unexpectedly before them. And when we walk through that open door, we have new opportunities to serve and enjoy the Lord. Remember Psalm 43:5: Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God (CSB).
The Lord foretells coming days of joy and celebration. Israel would sing to the Lord again, as she did at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21). The lost song can be restored. This is very important. Yes, we can mess up our lives because of our sins, especially the sins of unbelief and the lack of thankfulness and worship. But God gives overflowing grace. Get off the performance treadmill, follow the Lord in faith, and rejoice in him anew!
God’s people sing when God makes us glad because of his salvation (Revelation 15:1-4). Has the Lord been gracious to you? Do you have good reasons to sing his praises? Yes, you do when you remember his saving, redeeming, matchless grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace, David