Seven Bible Valleys
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 5 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, From Vapor to Floods)
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou are with me; Thy rod and They staff they comfort me." Psalm23:4
I met a lady on the airplane several years ago. I was flying, as I do every week. I was coming from Cleveland, Ohio, to Chicago. I sat down in a seat next to the aisle. The seat next to me was empty, and a lady was sitting in the next seat. I guess she was about my age. I spoke to her, and then I got out my Bible and began to read. When she saw the Bible, she began to weep. She said nothing for awhile, but when she saw the Bible she began to weep. She said, "Mister, when you get through with that Bible, can I read it?"
"Lady, I have two others in my briefcase. You can have one of them." I took out a Bible and gave it to her. She began to thumb through it. I could tell she couldn't find what she wanted. I said, "May I help you?"
"I want to read the twenty-third Psalm."
I said, "Let me read it to you." So I opened my Bible to Psalm 23 and began to read it, as tears streamed down her face and her lips began to quiver. I said, "You have a broken heart, don't you?"
She said, "Yes, my father is dying in Houston, Texas. I don't know if I will get there before he dies. I love the twenty-third Psalm."
In just a few moments, I told her about the Shepherd of that Psalm, and she received Him as her Saviour.
I guess of all the passages of the Bible that have comforted the hearts of troubled souls, strengthened the backs of weary travelers and encouraged the spirits of broken hearts, the twenty-third Psalm has done it the most.
"The Lord is my shepherd," as the little girl said, "and that's all I want."
The Psalmist goes on to say, and here is the text, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Why? "For Thou art with me."
There are seven great valleys in the Bible: Siddim, Eschol, Kidron, Elah, Achor, Gehenna and Jezreel. I want you to look at each of these. I want you to notice this morning that in each of these valleys God is with us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley...I will fear no evil: for Thou are with me."
1. The Valley of Siddim
This is the valley of the slime pits. Why? The valley of Siddim is on the very spot where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were. You recall the awful story in the Bible of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God looked down and saw the wickedness of those wicked and vile cities and said, "I am going to rain fire and brimstone on them." This is a valley where sin abounded. This represents a valley in our lives, the valley of sin.
Do you know that when you go out to the nightclubs and the pubs and go into the depths of sin, God still loves you and God is still there? Do you know that when you go down to the very bottom of sin and taste the last drop in the cup of the dregs of sin, God is there? Do you know that when you have gone to the bottom and no one else cares and you have spent all and have begun to be in want, God is there? When you come to yourself and have nobody to go to and you arise and say, "I will arise and go to my Father," God is always there.
God is here this morning. If you are not saved, He knocks on the door of your heart. He wants to be your Saviour. He wants to forgive every sin. He wants to come into your life. He wants to write your name in Heaven. He wants to make you His child. He wants to take you to Heaven when you die. God wants to make you a new creature. God wants to send His Holy Spirit to indwell you. God wants to say to you, "Your sins are forgiven." God wants to come into your life.
When I finished preaching recently, a little lady came to me and met me at the office. She was a lovely girl. As the world counts attractiveness, I think she would have been called beautiful. She said, "Could I see you for a minute, Mister?"
I said, "Yes, come in." She came into my office, was seated, and said, "I am what you call a 'call girl.' I wear the nicest of furs." She said that several men had gone together and rented an apartment for her. They bought her nice clothes and a Lincoln Continental. They would give her anything she wanted. When those wicked men would want her, they would come to her apartment, one after the other, to commit sin. She said, "I'm on dope. I don't have anybody that loves me. I heard you preach and I heard you say that God loves everybody. Brother Hyles, do you think that God could forgive me?"
I said, "Why, of course, He will forgive you. He loves you. He gave His son for you. God gave His Son for sinners. He died for you. Jesus went to the cross for sinners. Jesus came to earth for sinners. Jesus dipped His own soul into hell for sinners. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit for sinners."
It does not matter where you are this morning or how deep in sin you have gone; He is there. Are you in the valley of Siddim? Are you in the city of Sodom this morning? Are you in the city of Gomorrah in deep awful sin? Have you gone to the bottom? Is your life empty and friendless? Are you without anybody who seems to care? He says, "I am there."
This morning He knocks on your door and says, "If you will just trust Me as your Saviour, I will forgive you your every sin. I will make you My child. I will write your name in Heaven." Oh, dear unconverted friend, if you are in the valley of Siddim, come to Christ this morning!
2. The Valley of Eschol
Eschol is located just inside the Promised Land. Do you recall the grapes of Eschol? The Israelites came to the door of the Promised Land at Kadesh-Barnea and they appointed twelve spies. Those twelve spies went over into the Promised Land. They said it was a land that flowed with milk and honey. They brought back some grapes that were so big that it took two men to carry one bunch. Those were the grapes of Eschol. They were gotten in the valley of Eschol, one of the seven great valleys of the Bible.
What is the valley of Eschol? Eschol is where the Jews made the decision of their life. It was at Eschol where they had to decide, "Shall we go forward or shall we go backward?" It was in the valley of Eschol where they decided, "Shall we obey God, or shall we go back into the wilderness?" It was at Eschol that they decided, "Shall we be at our fullest or shall we be less than we ought to be?" The Valley of Eschol is the valley of decision. Yea, though you walk through the valley of Eschol, He is there in that valley of decision!
This week 103 people came by my office. Of those, at least 50% were young people with decisions to face. Oh, my young friends, right now you are in the valley of decision. Oh, God wants to make your choices! A young girl came by the other day, and I knew what she ought to do. I knew that she ought to give her entire life to God, but I was afraid she would not do it. I got on my knees by my office door and I said, "Oh, God, don't let her make a mistake."
Whenever you come to the valley of Eschol, the valley of decision, always do what God wants you to do. Ask God to help you. Ask God to lead you. Do His will!
3. The Valley of Kidron
The valley of Kidron is called now the valley of Jehoshophat. It is the valley just outside the east wall of the city of Jerusalem. It is the valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. The valley of Kidron is a big, deep valley.
How many of you have been to the Holy Land? Several of you have. Do you recall what is mainly in the valley of Kidron between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem? There is a cemetery there. Ever since the time of Josiah, it has been a cemetery. Samson is buried there. Samuel, I think, is buried there. James is buried there. Absalom is buried there. Many others are buried there in this cemetery in the valley of Kidron. This is the valley of suffering. David says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou are with me."
God is in the valley of Siddim, the valley of sin. God is in the valley of Eschol, the valley of decision. He is also there in the valley of suffering.
This morning, in the service, there are people who think the sun will never rise. There is a young man in this service this morning who has cancer all through his body. He is taking radium treatments. He is a fine young man who grew up in our church. He has a wife and a little baby. As I was saying, there are many here this morning that are in the valley of suffering, but our Lord is also there in the valley of suffering.
Have you come to the place in your life where you are at the bottom of sin? If you face a decision, if you are in the valley of decision, God is there. If you face suffering and heartache, our Lord is there.
A young preacher boy said to me the other night, "Brother Hyles, I am too critical."
I hate criticism. I mean it. There is nothing so unbecoming a child of God as criticizing. There is nothing as wicked as complaining, being critical, gossiping, etc.. It is pride at its height. It is you putting down another. Folks do not need to be put down; they need to be encouraged. I often say on our radio broadcast, "This is not a broadcast with a kick in the pants but with a pat on the back." The young man asked, "How do you keep from being critical?"
I said, "What do you mean?"
He said, "Well, you preach hard against sin. How can you help but be critical of people? How do you look at your people when they go into sin?"
I said, "I look at them the same way you look at your child when you know he has done wrong. It is the same way a mother looks at a child who has a high fever at night. The mother rushes to the bedside; she hates the germ, hates the sickness and hates the thing that would wreck the child, but she loves the child and tenderly watches him." I told him, "The other night I was asleep and began to dream. I dreamed about two couples in our church. (I won't call their names.) I know they have burdens and sorrows. I dreamed about them. I woke up crying, 'Oh God, help them. Oh God, help them.' I woke up, got down on my knees and prayed for them and their need for help."
Oh, young people, maybe you do not know about this valley yet. To you life may be one big ball game. To you life is one big laugh. It will not always be that way. The day is going to come when you will have heartaches, burdens, problems and valleys. You will be in the valley of Kidron, the valley of heartache. When those days come, our Lord is there!
4. The Valley of Elah
Elah is where David looked out and heard Goliath shout his challenges across the valley. David with his slingshot met Goliath in the valley of Elah. There he felled Goliath.
In the valley of Elah, the valley of battle, God is there. In the valley of decision, God is there. In the valley of suffering, He is there. In the valley of battle, He is there.
"What do you mean, Preacher?"
Is some battle or some sin about to conquer you? Is there one temptation you feel you cannot resist? God is there. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13
There is a young lady here this morning who has been into sin. She is just a teenager. I think very much of her. Her life was about ruined. I have been meeting with her and trying to help her. She has been facing the tempter. Every day she is facing two or three temptations to which she has been yielding. I am trying to help her. Each day I pray with her, encourage her and try to help her.
Do you go back to the job since you have been saved and find they are laughing at you and making fun of you? Lean heavy upon God. In the valley of battle, He is there!
5. The Valley of Achor
Achor is the valley of punishment. Achor is the valley where Achan was stoned to death. The Lord said, "Do not take anything that is in Jericho."
Achan saw a coat and said, "My wife sure would like to have that coat." The Lord said not to take anything. He knew he shouldn't. Achan saw $185 and said, "I sure could use that." Achan took the money and the coat, and sin came into the camp. Then the battle of Ai was lost. Joshua called all the people and cast lots. The lot fell on Achan. God said, "Take him out to the valley and stone him to death." They stoned Achan and his wife and his children. They named that place the valley of Achor (the valley of chastening).
You know, one of the sweetest things about being a Christian is getting spanked.
When I was a child my mother spanked me. She and I lived alone. Earlyne, eight years older than I, was married, so she moved away. My dad had left home. Mother and I were left together. If Mother had turned her back on me, there wasn't anybody else! We were very poor. I can recall when Mother would spank me. The spanking hurt, but it did not hurt the most. The thing that hurt the most was the broken fellowship. She would spank me and put me in the back bedroom on my bed, and I would cry. Then she would pull the door shut like she was gone. I thought mother was gone! I began to tip-toe (She told me not to get up, but since I thought she was gone, she wouldn't know that I was up) to look for Mother. When I could see her, I would say to myself, "She's still here!"
Even in the valley of chastening, the Lord is still there. He has to spank us, doesn't He? He has to take the rod of chastening and put it across our backs, but even when God has had to put us in the valley of chastening, spank us, put is in the hospital, cause us to lose a job, put us in the middle of a road in an automobile accident, or knock us down and spank us, it is always blessed because even in the valley of chastening, God is there!
In the valley of Siddim or sin, He is there. In the valley of Eschol or decision, He is there. In the valley of Kidron or suffering, He is there. In the valley of Elah or battle, He is there. In the valley of Achor or chastening, He is there.
6. The Valley of Gehenna
Gehenna was the garbage dump of Jerusalem. There was a fire going on there all the time. When our Lord spoke about hell, He said there shall be "eternal Gehenna." In other words, there is going to be eternal fire there. That is the way it will be forever. For those of you who will die without God, I am calling this the valley of death. You have to die someday. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou are there."
One night I was called from my study in Garland, Texas, to a home in the Lakewood section of Dallas. One of our dear men was dying. I walked into the back room. He had heart trouble for many years, and he was near death.
I walked in and said, "How are you feeling?"
He whispered, "I thought I died last night."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"The prettiest nurse came by my room. I looked up and said, 'Ooooo, I must be in Heaven, 'cause there is an angel.'" He and I laughed and laughed. Soon he died, and in dying he said, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me."
You know, death is highly exaggerated. It is highly overrated. Death is overrated as an enemy. It is no enemy at all! Do you know why? He is there. Look, it matters not where you go if He is there. If you suffer, He is there. If you are tempted, He is there. If you are in battle, He is there. If you are facing decision, He is there. If you are facing death, He is there if you are saved!
7. The Valley of Jezreel
The valley of Jezreel is important in the Bible because in that valley the great end-time battle shall be fought. Russia will come on the valley of Jezreel and fight against Palestine. Egypt will come from the south to the valley of Jezreel and fight against Palestine. China will come from the east to the valley of Jezreel and fight against Palestine. There the armies of the world will be gathered together in the great end-time battle. Russia and her horses, a great cavalry, and the nations of the East and the North shall be gathered together in the valley of Jezreel against Palestine. All of a sudden, the Western powers, the United States, England and the revived Roman Empire will come and fight against Russia in the valley of Jezreel.
It is in the valley of Jezreel where there is found Mount Megiddo, from which comes the word "Armageddon." It is in the valley of Jezreel where the battle shall be fought. It is in the valley of Jezreel where the Antichrist shall rise up as the victor and conqueror of the entire world. The man of sin shall be king of all the world. The valley of Jezreel is where our Lord shall descend from Heaven and shall come back with His own people, coming back riding on white horses. He shall come back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and forever we shall be with Him. Even in the valley of Jezreel He is there.
Thirty-five years ago last fall, as a little poor boy (if I had be in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, I would have been a "bus kid") I walked down the aisle of the Fernwood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and said, "Dear God, if You will have a poor little boy like me, I'll take You." I trusted Christ. From that day as long as I live, He will be there!
He said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." There are five negatives there. "No, I will not never, never, no never, leave thee nor never forsake thee." It is bad English but it is good Greek. In Greek excessive negatives underline importance. He will never leave.
When I was an eleven-year-old boy, my drunkard dad came home at five o'clock one morning. I heard dad as he drove in and as he turned, he missed the driveway. He hit a tree and all the neighbors came out. I said "Dear Lord, why can't I have a daddy like everybody else?" Even then, Jesus was there.
When I was in World War II, I left home to go into the army. He was there! When I have faced the darkest hours of my life, He was there.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me." Isn't that wonderful!
Someone this morning who is in the valley of sin, come to Christ; trust Him as your Saviour. Somebody who is in the valley of decision, obey Him; do His will. Somebody who is in the valley of suffering, depend on Him. Somebody who is in the valley of chastening, just say, "Thank God. If He is spanking me, He must be there." Somebody who is facing death, realize that He is there. Realize, too, that He is coming!
When He shall come with trumpet
O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
As long as there be a Heaven, as long as God lives, as long as the eternal God Who was and is and shall be forever, as long as God lives, He'll be with thee. In the valley or on the mountain top, He is there.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY