Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Near Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, there once existed a most horrifying place. First mentioned in Joshua 15:8; this deep and narrow ravine just outside the city walls served as a refuse dump. Day and night a fire burned in this terrible pit. Sometimes sulfur (or brimstone) was added to keep the flames going.

It was here that the dead bodies of executed criminals and others who were deemed unworthy of a proper burial met their end. They were cast out like the rest of the garbage and human waste. The Canaanites also sacrificed their children there to the false god Moloch or Baal, the one they called the “Sacred Bull.” The pagan priests would beat drums as loudly as possible so parents could not hear the screams of their children as they burned to death.

Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible Volume I, explains, “It became the common lay-stall garbage dump of the city, where the dead bodies of criminals, and the carcasses of animals, and every other kind of filth was cast.”

Above the heap was a steady stream of smoke, and the stench could be smelled by locals and travelers for miles. Around the edges of this forsaken place dogs lined up, gnashing their teeth as they attempted to get to the garbage.

What would someone call such a place? The Greek word was Gehenna, meaning “The Valley of Hinnom’s Son.” If you look for the word in your Bible you will not find it. But the English substitute is well understood, “hell.”

The Son of God used this word to describe the place reserved for eternal punishment. He said in Matthew 10:28 it is a place where both body and soul would be destroyed. He said in Mark 9:43-44 it is a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” He said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:33, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”

Gehenna was a real place. It was a place so awful that Jesus used it to foreshadow another real place even more terrifying: a place with no light, no love, no hope, and no God.

Jesus therefore issued a very important warning while on the earth, And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

Do we fear God? We should! Hell is being prepared (Matthew 25:41). If Gehenna was the last place on earth anyone would ever want to be, I can assure you it is the last place anyone would want to be in eternity.

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?” ~ (Hebrews 2:3)


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