A certain valley in Israel is difficult for scholars to actually locate, but it is believed to be referred to in the Old Testament by three different names. The Valley of Weeping. The Valley of Trouble or Achor. The Valley of Rephaim. It’s a beautiful picture of what happens as our soul escapes the snare that has been broken and the defeat of the enemy. (You may want to check the previous blog for more on that from Psalm 124:6-7.) Today I want to share on the Valley of Weeping and the Valley of Trouble or Achor. Next week I will share on the Valley of Rephaim. (photo from pexels.com)
Our enemy is defeated and can no longer eat us for lunch. Perhaps you still feel like you are lunch. I want to share with you some thoughts on this valley in Israel. One of the singers writes about the valley in a psalm possibly sung during the celebration of grape harvest.
Sparrows and me
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 2 I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! Psalm 84:1-3 (NLT2)
The singer may have been one who traveled with David when he was on the run from King Saul who sought to kill him. Longing for home and the presence of God again. Yet, he still offered full out praise to the living God.
The sparrow finds a home there. A sparrow is considered the lowest of birds. Even those of us who feel like we are the rejects of society are most welcome there! I imagine the LORD standing in the doorway, holding out open arms, with a large and beautiful smile on His face, eager to welcome me to His home.
The swallow builds her nest there near the altar. What is so significant about that? Two things, actually. The swallow is known for flitting about. Sometimes that is me. Forgetting what I said I was committed to. Totally committed one minute, but slacking a bit the next. Yet, I can find a home near the altar. What does the altar represent? The altar is the place of sacrifice in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. Jesus was sacrificed for you and me. Even the lowliest can find a home in the presence of God because of that sacrifice. A key to knowing that our soul can escape and the snare is broken.
Psalm 84:4-8 (NLT) 4 What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Interlude 5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. 7 They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. 8 O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob. Interlude
What joy! What joy! Wait a minute, you say. You thought this was about weeping because we still feel trapped in the snare? Only a little bit. What I’ve learned is that what happens in the Valley of Weeping does not stay in the valley or in weeping. So where does the joy come from? First, from loving to be in God’s presence, through changing your thinking about what keeps you from God’s presence and discovering that you can live in close relationship with God Almighty!
Second, joy comes from setting our minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. No, you don’t need airline tickets to Jerusalem. Our strength comes from knowing the LORD, the God who dreams about our future and cares passionately that we find the path He has for us so we achieve His purpose for us. We stay strong by determining in our souls (our minds, will and emotions) that we will commit to this relationship. It is the soul that escapes the snare.
The pilgrimage is a word that means “thoroughfare or turnpike!” When we take this journey with commitment, we find that God smooths the rough places and accelerates His blessings. If you haven’t found that in your life, ask God to tell you what keeps you from the blessings. I always found that I had refused to change my thinking about something so I was stuck in some area. He gladly shows me where I’m stuck and then helps me be free so I move on. The LORD really wants to help free you and put you on the turnpike!
But now the Valley of Weeping. This valley is not the destiny for us; it is some experience of life that has trapped us in weeping. Did you notice we walk through it? God does not intend that we get stuck and stay in it! Hosea refers to the Valley of Weeping as a door of hope!
The Valley of Weeping is a Gateway of Hope
14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. Hosea 2:14-15 (NLT2)
Israel had failed to love God and had turned to loving idols again. I love the tender words God gave Hosea to speak to the people of Israel.
Those words are always a transition between something bad Israel (or you and me) had done and the mercy and grace God was about to show them (and you and me).
The Valley of Trouble is sometimes called the Valley of Achor because it is where Achor disobeyed God by keeping plunder that was to be set apart to God as a first fruits offering, a declaration of faith that God would complete what He had promised to do. Because of Achor’s disobedience, Israel suffered a major defeat. Achor and his family were punished, Israel recognized the error and God then gave them a great victory over the enemy.
I’ve been struck many times by how we often have to go through hard times to get to a place of listening to God speak with tender love. We, too, often have to go through something difficult in order to listen. When we listen and change our thinking and realize God is chastising with great tenderness and love, we also find that the valley of weeping/trouble becomes a gateway of hope. A future expectancy of all God promised.
It is finished
Perhaps you still doubt it is possible for you. Can all your trouble really become a gateway entrance to hope? Is the snare really broken? Let me share with you a concept from a devotional several years ago.
John 19:30 (NIV) 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It is finished! “Jesus’ last word was “tetelistai.” It is the same word as “asah” in the Hebrew. It means “to complete something.” It also means “to create.” And, it means “to make war” or “avenge.” When Jesus shouted it out it meant, “The debt is paid in full. I have avenged and made war. Come forth, new creation!” He said all of that, all that the cross meant to mankind, all wrapped up in one word – asah!”
Can God take my miserable past and weaknesses and failures and make something new again? Absolutely! And He can do it for you as well. Jesus demonstrated this ability when He rose from the dead. You may be saying, “Yeah, but that was God. I’m human.” Jesus demonstrated it with a human, too. Lazarus had been dead for four days. (John 11:17) Jesus had the family and friends remove the stone that covered the burial area, then He simply shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43) And a dead man walked out alive and well.
Yes, Jesus can create a new you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!
Today may you begin to acknowledge that truly your valley of weeping is a gateway of hope because of God’s unfailing commitment to love you and delight in you.
 Strong, James. The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. Hebrew #4546.
 http://givehim15.com/blog/ on March 26, 2016.