The Valley of Hell

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 eerily similar to the reality of holiness. It is hidden in the clothes of daily life, so that its horror is disguised, and the evil that seeks entrance is 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 be irreversible.

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 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 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.

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 Himmon, 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).

Later, in the same valley where Israelite children had 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. 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 the “Valley 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, 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).

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.

It is one of the most abominable acts of idolatry in the Scriptures, the temple of the body desecrated and destroyed by the worship of foreign gods. Yet what is most stunning about the issue of human sacrifice in the Scriptures goes back to the root account of Abraham and his God.

In maybe the most moving prophecy in the whole of the Scriptures, Abraham reveals something unspeakable, saying to Isaac, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering…” (Gen. 22:8). It would not be Abraham who offered a child sacrifice; in a stunning reversal God would sacrifice His son, His own Self, to be wholly consumed for even the nations and individuals who practiced this evil.

“Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided’ (Gen. 22:14). God has provided the solution for this awful evil; we know it is the sacrifice of God’s human Son, “for though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3-4).

He conquered the worst evil humanity could imagine, yet it was “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zec. 4:6). It is at the foot of Golgotha that abortion continues in the Valley of the Children, infant sacrifices to Molech of the underworld, in abortion clinics all over the world within horrified sight of the Cross and the Church.

It is imperative that we continue to denounce the political drumbeat of pro-choice propaganda that drowns out the wailing of the mothers left to suffer, keep vigil at clinics, offer counseling and sonograms and all the tireless work Christians and other concerned citizens all over the world commence in defense of our smallest neighbors. We must.

But if, as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta says, Jesus is in the distressing disguise of these tiny babies considered enough an enemy of society to deserve death, what else can we do to love Him in them? Can we have their bodies treated as other corpses are, and rather than thrown on the burning Topheth, the garbage heap of society, can we also work to have them separated from “medical waste” and offer them a real burial?

Every state and municipality has different requirements, codes and practices. Is there some way, through us Jesus bearers, that we can carry Him directly into the facilities, to request the bodies of these tiny aborted babies, finally cradle them away in tender arms and treat them with love?

The world worships the appearance of youth, but denies it a real existence, seducing children to play at adulthood in innumerable ways through TV and advertising, introducing them to adult issues at increasingly younger ages in schools and other institutions, and robbing babies of the right to life, then dumping the used up carcasses of our children on the trash heaps of society, all strategies of sacrificing their innocence to the underworld.

What is your part in the issue? Do you participate in the political chatter, read about the horrors, but do nothing else? Do you live a holy, dedicated life, so that your prayers and other charity for children are as effective as possible? Can you pray the Rosary for them regularly and commit them to Our Blessed Mother; fast for the weakest of the weak, the ones with no voice but ours; have Masses said for victims of infanticide?

It is an almost overwhelmingly morose state. It seems such an enormous travesty we are almost tempted to do little or nothing and leave it to the activists. But “if you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one,” a little wrinkled peacemaker once said, one who was not an activist, but a lover of Jesus in the weakest.

Everyone can do something. If we are not literally and measurably for them, we are literally and measurably against them. We cannot be content with head shaking and derision. What will you do?

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  • Christi Derr

    WOW! Amazing, insightful and challenging piece! Thank you!!!

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