Scripture Reflection: The Valley of Hell
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The reality of evil is sometimes hidden in the clothes of daily life so that its horror is disguised.
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BETHPAGE, TN (Catholic Online) - Because modern life is so marked by prosperity for the greater portion of the earth, we rarely grasp the full impact of our spiritual position as a people, nation, or global family. Tragedy and evil seem so removed simply because it does not dwell in our own homes, or does not seem to.
The reality of evil is sometimes hidden in the clothes of daily life so that its horror is disguised, and the evil that seeks entrance is often casually allowed and even ignorantly embraced by those who would resist it if they could see it more plainly. Like a cancer, it does its deadly work undetected until the damage is so extensive as to seem irreversible.
No Human Sacrifice
God called Abraham, the Hebrew Father, out of pagan, idolatrous people toward an area inhabited by pagan, idolatrous people, their idolatry characterized most grossly by human sacrifices to their gods. God promised to displace them and make Abraham the father of a new nation in their place, a godly people through whom He would reach all the families of the earth. The fulfillment of this promise would begin with a son, Isaac.
Because of his cultural heritage, it would not have come as a surprise to Abraham that God commanded him to sacrifice his only son, the son of the promise, in this new land, for the Canaanites were known to offer such human sacrifices to their gods as were all the surrounding nations. The Lord was simply proclaiming His dominion over all that was Abraham's in a way that would have been familiar to him.
Obedient even to death, Abraham went to the mountains of Moriah to sacrifice the son through whom the promise rested. In arguably the most shocking narrative in the whole of Scripture, God commanded, waited, and watched while Abraham prepared Isaac to be a burnt sacrifice, and only revoked the command upon the raising of his hand for slaughter.
This revocation revealed a lasting principle: unlike the surrounding peoples' pagan worship and that to which Abraham had once been accustomed, worship of the One True God would not include human sacrifice.
Centuries later, when Abraham was long with God but the Jewish nation he fathered had conquered and inhabited the Promised Land for years, the holy area of Moriah became the temple site (2 Chron. 3:1). Some even believe the altar of burnt offering in the temple was situated on the exact site of the altar on which Abraham intended to sacrifice Isaac to God.
The Valley of the Children
This makes what God's people commenced in its vicinity more heinous, for at the foot of the alleged mountain upon which God prevented Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac was the Valley of Hinnom, the Valley of the Children.
Notorious in the history of Israel, this valley included a specific place called Topheth, meaning "to hit," and it is said that its name signified the drums idolaters beat in order to drown out the sound of their infants' cries as they were sacrificed to Molech, the god of the underworld.
Interestingly, the prophet Jeremiah delivered a devastating prophecy of God's complete judgment upon this particularly nefarious idolatry, so that the Valley of the Children and the whole area would be so destroyed by conquering nations that it would be renamed the Valley of Slaughter as it overflowed with corpses, and those remaining would be reduced to cannibalism to survive (Jer. 19).
The Valley of Hell
Much later, in the same valley where Israelite children had once been sent to "to burn their sons and daughters alive in honor of Molech" (Jer. 32:35), a constant fire smoldered to incinerate garbage and refuse from the city of Jerusalem.
The notorious valley became the city trash dump. Smoke rose from the burning debris in the Valley of the Children day and night so that Hinnom became a graphic symbol of woe, disaster, and hell, the place of eternal judgment. The Greek translation of Hinnom is gehenna, a word Jesus used 11 times, and each time it is used in the New Testament it is translated hell (Matt. 5:22; Mark 9:43, 45, 47).
In the United Sates the bodies of our aborted babies are treated as potentially infectious biomedical waste, which also includes human tissue such as tumors, amputated body parts, blood-soaked rags left over from surgery, and single use plastics and disposables. Ninety percent of this medical waste is incinerated, according to the EPA's website, (http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/industrial/medical/mwfaqs.htm), producing dioxin as a byproduct, a known human carcinogen. And so begins the destruction and cannibalism of judgment:
"Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They have the dubious distinction of belonging to the 'dirty dozen' - a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants. Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems. Once dioxins have entered the body, they endure a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body.
"Their half-life in the body is estimated to be seven to eleven years. In the environment, dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. The higher in the animal food chain one goes, the higher is the concentration of dioxins" (World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/index.html).
Though the destruction is slow and hidden, the judgment for the horrific practice of infant sacrifice is inexorable and absolute. The smoke from Topheth, our medical waste incinerators, testifies against our nation's and the world's apathy toward abortion, and by association God's people always suffer the temporal consequences of such policies even as they are persecuted for their protest of them.
Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic Scripture teacher, study author and speaker. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her at www.pursuingthesummit.com and www.pursuingthesummit.blogspot.com.
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