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The Hinnom Valley was the place Jesus had in mind when He talked about Hell. The Hebrew word for this valley is, "Gehinnom", and the Greek word is, "Gehenna." The Hinnom Valley was located on the south and west side of the city of Jerusalem. It was a very dark place and many believe it is the valley that David thought of when he wrote in Psalm 23:4 of the "valley of the shadow of death".

Hinnom Valley was a place where horrific things took place. Paqans worshipped the god, Molech, there and, as part of their worship, they would take their babies and children and sacrifice them. Molech was merely an evil spirit that was carrying out the scheme of Satan to "kill, steal and destroy" (John 10:9-10). This is the practice the Old Testament calls "passing through the fire" (Deut. 18:10) which Israel begin to fall into and evoked the hot wrath of God who loves children.

After the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile, the valley became a garbage dump where anything considered unclean was placed. Dead animals and bodies of executed criminals would be put there along with all trash. It was a sanitation dump because the city of Jerusalem was above the valley and the filth was allowed to flow into the valley. In fact, fires had to be burned there non-stop so the stench of the waste would not take over.

Because of the smoke and darkness, this valley was very scary to pass through. It was often so dark that one could not see their hand in front of their face.

Jesus thought of this kind of place when he talked about Hell. It was a place of death, darkness and, above a place of waste. It was the valley of the shadow of death, an evil place.

But David said that even when we place through a valley as dark as this.......we fear nothing because He is with us (Psalm 23:4).

Ironically, the one good thing that grew in Gehenna was MUSTARD TREES born from miniscule mustard seeds. Jesus said that we are to "have faith as a grain of mustard seed" which can mean that big things can grow from even a small faith. But, in addition, it may also mean that the smallest faith that grows in the darkest valley can find its way through the filth and death of this world and can shine as a light so that others may see His glory and not be afraid!

- Dr. Larry Petton

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