Excerpted from Lead: Leadership Lessons from the (Not So) Minor Prophets. Copyright © 2014 by William Attaway. Used by permission of Erial Press.

The Valley of Achor is tied to the events of Joshua 7. When the people of Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, began to move into the Promised Land, they first encountered Jericho. God fought for them, and the city was destroyed. The people were given very specific instructions not to claim any of the plunder of Jericho for themselves, but instead to devote it all to destruction as an act of worship and gratitude to God for what He had done. All the people obeyed except one, a man named Achan. Achan took some of the plunder for his own, unbeknownst to any of the other people of Israel, and he hid it under his tent. 

Next they came to the city of Ai, and the people were utterly confident. Some of the men told Joshua that it wouldn’t even take the whole army to go out this time. Joshua agreed and sent out a smaller contingent, but instead of victory, the people were routed! What happened?

Joshua went in prayer to God, asking Him that very thing. And God responded by telling Joshua what had been done; someone had taken some of the plunder of Jericho, thus bringing sin into the camp. God takes sin seriously.

Joshua immediately went out, sought out who had done this thing, and found Achan out. When Joshua confronted him, Achan confessed to taking a robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels and hiding them under his tent. Joshua sent someone to get the plunder, and it was brought back and laid out before all the people and God. 

Joshua then commanded that everything that belonged to Achan and his family was to be all put into one big area, and then he and all of his family and possessions were to be stoned, burned, and then covered over with a large pile of rocks. That place became known, even hundreds and hundreds of years later in the days of Hosea, as the Valley of Achor, which means valley of trouble, because of the trouble that Achan brought on the people of Israel in that place.

Why would Hosea mention that here? 

Because God is a God who turns failure into hope.

God said through Hosea: “I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” What they saw as a place of shame and failure, God would redeem and make into a door of hope through which they could walk into a new day. They had a long memory of failure associated with the name Achor. God would take that memory and transform it into a name associated with hope. 

Leaders, as long as you’re still breathing, failure is not final. 

God says He will make the valley of Achor into a door of hope! God can take the place and symbol of our greatest shame and failure and make it into a door that leads into a future beyond what we could ever hope for or imagine.

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