Door of Hope
River of Life Weekly Summary
May 26, 2000
Pastor Francis Frangipane

Faith is the substance of the things hoped for. Without a living hope in God, our faith is meaningless. The first stage of deliverance is the restoration of hope.

The Lord was about to prosper Israel with the wealth of the Canaanites,
but only if the spoils of their first battle at Jericho were completely
dedicated  to God. One man, Achan, defied the Lord's edict and took
silver, gold, and a garment from Shinar, and then hid the spoils in his
tent. As a result of his sin, thirty-six Israelites died in their next
battle-defeated and humiliated by the tiny city of Ai.

After the Lord exposed Achan as the perpetrator, Joshua took him, along
with his family and possessions, and brought them all to a valley. There,
Israel's leader said, "'Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble
you this day.' And all Israel stoned them with stones; . . . Therefore the
name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day" (Josh.

The word Achor meant "troubling." It represented the trouble and pain
caused by one to others. Certainly, the most terrible thing Achan
experienced was  that his sin caused his wife and children to die with
him. As they huddled together awaiting this horrible judgment, the guilt
and regret flooding Achan's mind must have been insufferable.

Personal Failure
In time, the valley of Achor came to symbolize the worst of punishments.
It was a place of death and desolation. Today, of course, we do not stone
those whose sin or irresponsibility has caused others grief. Still, sin
has consequences, and though we may not be physically stoned for our
failure, the effects of public condemnation can be just as crushing to the
human spirit. The fact is, too many of us have known a personal valley of
Achor, where our  moral negligence or ill-advised actions caused another's

Perhaps you committed adultery and your spouse and children are
devastated. It might be that your anxious or careless driving caused an
accident, resulting in great suffering, or possibly even another person's
death. Or maybe your lack of Christian example has caused your children to
turn from God. The possible ways of falling are endless, but the result is
nearly always the same: it is as though a curse rests on your life.

Not only does your own heart condemn you, you have been convinced by the
words and attitudes of others that you deserve your present misery. Public
censure has the same effect on your spirit as Achan's stoning had on his
flesh, only what died in you was hope. Where once you could look with
anticipation toward the future, now heartache and regret block your view.
Only virtue, made pure and strong by true repentance, can displace the
burden of self-condemnation. Thus, the only correct response to wrong
actions and their consequences is the transforming work of the Holy

Unfortunately, the enemy has many Christians trapped in unbelief and
self-condemnation. They know what they did was wrong and they hate it, but
they cannot unburden themselves of the guilt. Remember, in the previous
chapter we read that our Redeemer came to proclaim liberty to those who
are "prisoners." Is He speaking only of those who are incarcerated in
jails? No, His mission is for all of us who are prisoners of their past.
God wants us to learn from our failures, not be held captive to them. He
came to deliver and restore those whose dreams lie buried in the valley of

Personal Tragedy
The burdens we carry may have nothing to do with moral failure. They might
have come from any number of life's calamities.

One of the worst ordeals for the soul is the death of a loved one. Such a
loss can leave us excessively burdened and trapped in the past. The story
of  Abraham's father, Terah, gives us an insightful picture of a man who
could not depart from the loss of a loved one.

Terah had three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. The Bible tells us, "Haran
died in the presence of his father" (Gen. 11:28). To lose your son can
produce terrible heartache; to have him die in your arms can be utterly

In time, Terah took his family and left Ur of the Chaldeans in search of a
new destiny in Canaan. En route, however, Terah had to pass through a city
with the same name as his deceased son, Haran. Instead of continuing on to
Canaan, the Scripture says Terah "went as far as Haran, and settled there"
(v. 31).

Longing for a deceased loved one is normal. However, life's tragedies also
have a way of obligating us to a false loyalty which prohibits the release
of  our pain. Without notice, a face in an airport or a song on the radio
unlocks our hearts and, suddenly, we are enveloped in sorrow. How quickly
we re-enter the place of our grief; how easy it is to settle there!

"And Terah died in Haran" (v. 32). Not only did Terah settle in Haran, he
died there. The wording is both prophetic and significant. Perhaps it was
a  false sense of guilt that held him hostage: If only I had done such and
such, my son would not have died! Whatever the reason, Terah was never
able to live beyond Haran's death.

We must also see that, as painful as the loss of a loved one is, we cannot
permit the wounds of our past to nullify what God has for us in our
future. Even if we enter limping, we must not settle for something outside
our destiny. God's grace is here now. With His help, we must choose to
journey on to Canaan, or we, too, will die in Haran.

A Time For Healing
These two things, personal failure and personal tragedy, can place cruel
burdens of oppression and guilt upon our souls. God's response to our need
is that, in addition to forgiving our sins, He has laid on Christ "the
guilt of us all" (Isa. 53:6 nab). Whether our guilt is justified or not,
it must be lifted from our shoulders and placed on Christ.

Today, a renewal is occurring in various parts of the world; God is
restoring joy to His people. Many whom the Lord has touched were weighed
down-just like you might be-with either moral failure or tragedy. In the
very place where our deferred hopes produced heart sickness (Prov. 13:12),
now Christ has come "to bind up the brokenhearted" (Isa. 61:1). Where once
sorrow and heaviness reigned, He gives a "garland instead of ashes, the
oil of gladness instead of  mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a
spirit of fainting" (Isa. 61:3). No longer will church attendance be a
penance for your failures. From now on you shall enter His gates with
thanksgiving. Indeed, to every Christian struggling with an unbearable
burden, the Lord says, You are still My bride. Indeed, speaking of this
very valley of troubling, the Lord has promised:

I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.
Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as
a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her
youth. -Hosea 2:14-15

The fruitfulness of God's blessing, from this day forward, shall increase
in your life. And there in "the valley of Achor," the scene of your
deepest wounds or worst failures, the Lord has placed for you a "door of
hope." His goal is nothing less than to restore to you the song of the
Lord, that you might sing again "as in the days of [your] youth."
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