"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me 'My Husband,' and no longer will you call me 'My Baal.' For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more." - Hosea 2:14-17 ESV
If you look in Joshua chapter you see what happened in the valley of Achor. One man's sin halted the progress of a whole nation and a family was buried under a heap of stone because of it. Greed and deception brought the momentum of a nation to a halt. Achan stole some silver, a cloak and a bar of gold and suddenly the nation was living in a contradiction. God promised them victory but now they were suffering defeat. They were losing when they should have been winning and warfare is no game where the score is tallied in some record book and the prize is bragging rights. When you lose in war people don't come home to their families. The blood was on Achan's hands.
Grace turns this loss into a door of hope. It doesn't write the justice of God out of the Bible nor does it remove the consequences of sin. It opens a door of hope for those who have transgressed in ways that had unimaginable consequences. It restores lasting durable intimacy with people. The bondage is real but the freedom is real also.
God uses the framework of our human depravity and opens a door of hope. That boggles my mind.
This is a message for the ones among us that have failed in big ways and not just many small ones. The ones who have hurt people along the way and their conscience smarts and pushes them to work harder to make up for what they did. Working harder isn't the answer. Seeing the door of hope is the answer. Grace is the answer. Grace that makes us free and as filled with joy as those leaving Egypt on dry land with water looming like cliffs on either side of them.
This Gospel is not only for the nice neat Sunday school student brought up in a moral home. It is for the most guilt ridden criminal rotting in a cell of his or her own making.
Both can partake and be free. Both can believe and be made white as snow.