Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place. Jeremiah 19:3
In 1979, archaeologist Gabriel Barkay unearthed two small silver scrolls. It took years to delicately unroll the metal scrolls, and each was found to contain a Hebrew etching of the blessing from Numbers 6:24–26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Scholars date the scrolls to the seventh century bc. They’re the oldest known bits of Scripture in the world.
Equally interesting is where they were found. Barkay was digging in a cave in the Valley of Hinnom, the very place where the prophet Jeremiah told the people of Judah that God would slaughter them for sacrificing their children (Jeremiah 19:4–6). This valley was the site of such wickedness that Jesus used the word “Gehenna” (a Greek form of the Hebrew name for the “Valley of Hinnom”) as a picture of hell (Matthew 23:33).
On this spot, about the time Jeremiah was announcing God’s judgment on his nation, someone was etching His future blessing onto silver scrolls. It wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, but one day—on the other side of the Babylonian invasion—God would turn His face toward His people and give them peace.
The lesson for us is clear. Even if we deserve what we have coming, we can cling to God’s promise. His heart always yearns for His people.
What discipline from God have you deserved? How might you accept His discipline and cling to His promise of salvation?
Father, I confess my sin and the judgment I deserve and cling to Your promise to forgive and restore.
The first time Jeremiah warned of the atrocities of Topheth, or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, was in Jeremiah 7:30–34. Topheth was the city’s rubbish dump and graveyard where garbage and the dead were burned. Here, the Israelites burned incense to idols and burned their children as sacrifices (19:4–5). God would use the Babylonians to discipline them (5:15–17; 6:22–23). It would be renamed the Valley of Slaughter because the destruction of Jerusalem would fill this valley “until there is no more room” to bury the dead (7:32). In Greek, this Valley of Hinnom is known as “Gehenna”; Jesus compared hell (Gehenna) to the fire that burns continuously in that valley (Matthew 5:22, 29–30; 18:9; 23:33). The Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna is synonymous with hell, the place of eternal punishment.