Hosea, prophet of mercy—Chapter 10: The Door of Hope
Nov 29, 2016
Hosea 2:15 says,
15 Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope…
Achor (akar) means “trouble, stir up, disturb, oppress, bring evil upon,” and Hosea was referring to the troubling incident in Joshua 7, when Achan betrayed the Israelites by stealing gold, silver, and a Babylonian garment during the battle of Jericho (Joshua 7:21). His actions brought sin into the camp and resulted in the deaths of 36 men (Joshua 7:5) in the next battle. The name, Achan, means the same thing, “troubler, trouble-maker.”
When Achan’s sin was discovered, he was tried and stoned to death in the valley of Achor. We read in Joshua 7:24-26,
24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to them; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled [achor] us? The Lord will trouble [achor] you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day.
Apparently, this valley was named after Achan himself and for the troubling incident that Joshua had judged at that time. The heap of stones remained as a witness, so that parents could explain the incident to their children in succeeding generations. Centuries later, Hosea remembered this incident, as did Isaiah, for Isaiah 65:10 says,
10 And Sharon shall be a pasture land for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds.
Although the valley of Achor was a place of horrific judgment, the prophets treat it in a prophetic way as a positive sign of things to come. The door of trouble will become a door of hope. So the real question is how to read this through the eyes of prophecy.
The Zerah Connection
First, Achan was the great grandson of Zerah, “a rising (of light).” Though Joshua’s account calls Achan “the son of Zerah,” we are to understand that Zerah was his ancestor, not his son as we normally use the term today. Achan was actually “the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah” (Joshua 7:18). Nonetheless, for prophetic purposes, he is called the son of Zerah, one of the twin sons of Judah. The story of their incestual birth is found in Genesis 38.
Scripture thus tells us that even as Judah had troubled his tribe by his sin with Tamar (his daughter-in-law), so also had Achan troubled Israel. His lust for Tamar, who he thought was a prostitute, was matched by Achan’s lust for gold, silver, and the Babylonian garment. When Judah discovered that his daughter-in-law was pregnant outside of wedlock, he ordered her to be burned (i.e., stoned and cremated). Genesis 38:24 says,
24 Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
We instantly recognize the similarity between Tamar and Gomer. Both “played the harlot,” (Genesis 38:24 and Hosea 2:5). Tamar was “with child by harlotry,” while Gomer had “children of harlotry” (Hosea 1:2; 2:4).
Judah’s Judgment on Tamar
Judah spoke judgment upon Tamar before knowing all the facts in the case. His judgment was that she should be burned, a judgment which the law sets forth only the case of a daughter of a priest. Leviticus 21:9 says,
9 Also the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by harlotry, she profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.
It was understood, of course, that she was first to be stoned and then cremated, with her ashes left on the ground, so as not to obtain an honorable burial. But there is no biblical statement that Tamar was of a priestly family. If she had been a daughter of Levi, Judah’s brother, surely the Scriptures would have told us.
Nonetheless, there was another priesthood in those days, for Melchizedek was a priest of the city of Salem (i.e., Jerusalem). Melchizedek was his title, “King of Righteousness.” His name was Shem, son of Noah, and he lived to the age of 600. He died when Jacob was 50 years old, so none of Jacob’s children saw Shem. Nonetheless, when it came time for Jacob’s sons to marry, we are told in Jasher 45:23,
23 And in those days Judah went to the house of Shem and took Tamar the daughter of Elam, the son of Shem, for a wife for his first born Er.
We cannot say for sure if Tamar was the actual daughter of Elam, or perhaps a granddaughter, but the point is that she was the daughter of Elam, who, by this time, had succeeded his father as King-Priest of Jerusalem. No doubt it was for this reason that Judah condemned her to be executed and burned for harlotry. Yet Judah acted too hastily, and when he discovered that he himself was the father of her child, he confessed that “she is more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:26).
He recognized his mistake in judging her, and so she was not executed. Nonetheless, his rashness set into motion the laws of false accusation found in Deuteronomy 19:18, 19, as well as the principle that Jesus set forth in Matthew 7:1, 2,
1 Do not judge, lest you be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
God often allows men to judge themselves. When a man is guilty, God often holds back judgment for a time. He then presents the guilty man with another person who has committed a similar sin and asks him to judge the case. This uncovers the guilty man’s heart to see if he has a heart of mercy or of judgment. If he shows mercy, then God shows mercy. If he judges, then God judges him by the same standard of measure.
Judah chose to judge Tamar, not realizing that he himself was guilty of the same crime. If she was a harlot, then he too had prostituted himself. So his original sentence to have her burned with fire was carried out—not upon himself, but upon Achan, his descendant.
Judah himself was spared, probably because he spared Tamar. But he had brought trouble upon Judah, for his twin sons were ineligible to receive the scepter promised to the line of Judah. In fact, his descendants were disqualified for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:2). Achan was the fourth generation from Judah, and Judah’s iniquity was visited upon his fourth generation, as Exodus 34:7 says.
David was the tenth generation from Judah, and for this reason he was eligible to become king of Israel and fulfill the calling given to Judah in Genesis 49:10 and 1 Chronicles 5:2.
Spiritually speaking, Achan committed the same sin that his forefather, Judah, had committed. It was the sin of covetousness, lust, or idolatry. Judah lusted after the “prostitute,” while Achan lusted after gold, silver, and the garment. Essentially, it was a violation of the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet.”
Their iniquity manifested in different acts, but both came from the same inner condition of the heart.
Hope for Judah
Hosea says that the valley of Achor was to become “a door of hope.” How could such a tragedy be turned into an occasion for hope? The answer is evident when we view it from the perspective of the law and its judgments. The iniquity of Judah (the patriarch) had to be cleared away before David could become king. Without a king, there can be no kingdom. This is the underlying reason why, for more than 300 years, Israel was ruled by judges. They had to wait until the tenth generation.
Beyond that, someone had to pay for Judah’s rash judgment upon Tamar, for he had unjustly judged the daughter of a Melchizedek priest. David himself was to become a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). Achan died for his own sin, but on a higher level, he also paid the price for Judah’s sin, thus ending the curse upon Judah’s line. Hence, the valley of Achor became a door of hope.
Hosea then extends this hope to Israel as a whole. Israel and Judah were to be reunited under one leader (Jesus Christ), and the Kingdom was to be established through a New Covenant. Even as the valley of Achor had become a door of hope for Israel under King David, so also did it prophesy of a door of hope for the greater Kingdom, when Christ would come as King Joseph in His second coming.
Times of Betrayal
We are all familiar with the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus. But the pattern of Judas goes back to his ancestor, Judah. (Judas is the Greek form of the name Judah.) Judah betrayed Joseph in Genesis 37:26, 27, for it was his idea to sell Joseph for 20 shekels of silver. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3).
Achan betrayed Joshua (Yeshua) by his covetousness. Still later, Ahithophel betrayed David by siding with Absalom (2 Samuel 15:12, 31). Ahithophel’s story was replayed by Judas in the New Testament, as I have shown many times elsewhere. Each story is a little different, and we are given prophetic pieces in each story. As for the story of Achan, I explained this from a doctrinal standpoint in the 10th chapter of my book, Creation’s Jubilee, showing how Judah (the church, Romans 2:28, 29) had a tendency to betray Christ by desiring to deny Jesus the right to own the nations (silver, gold, Babylonian garment).
Christ is betrayed when men persecute those of the Melchizedek priesthood, or who seek to re-establish the Levitical priesthood to replace that of Melchizedek.
Christ is also betrayed by siding with those who killed Him in order to usurp the throne of Judah. He is further betrayed by siding with those who have usurped His Birthright in our own generation. There are many betrayals, but the judgment dispensed in the valley of Achor has also opened the door of hope to those who look for His appearance.
This is part 12 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Hosea." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones