Valleys play an important part in the life of a child of God. A valley by definition means “a depression” or “a long depression in the earth’s surface,” “an area drained by a river” or “a hollow.” By the very definition we can see how the term valley would apply to the low places in our lives, to the times we feel drained by the trials or to times of depression and sometimes not just depression but a long depression that seems to go on with no end in sight. But there is a positive side to the valley experiences that each believer goes through that teach us wonderful lessons.
With that thought in mind, I’ve chosen seven valleys: The Valley of Blessing, the Valley of Watching; the Valley of the Oak or Strong Tree; the Valley of Thorns; the Valley of the Shadow of Death; the Valley of Weeping; and the Valley of Refreshing. Each of these valleys can be found in scripture and each can be applied to experiences we go through and in each valley can be seen a wonderful victory and overcoming for the child of God!
The Valley of Berachah (II Chron. 20:1-26). “Berachah” means “blessing,” therefore this valley is The Valley of Blessing. It’s hard to think of a valley experience as a blessing, but this is exactly what it is. It is a valley of blessing because of the praise and blessing given before the battle and it is a valley of blessing because at blessing received after the battle. This is the valley that Jehoshaphat had to face, and it began with the news that “there cometh a great multitude against thee.”
Jehoshaphat knew there was going to be a battle and he knew the enemy looked greater and stronger than God’s people and he was afraid. But he also knew what to dowhen he was afraid, and this is what we do today when we face this valley. “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord’ (v. 3). What did he do when he was afraid? He sought the Lord! Here is the beginning of the blessing and the beginning of the victory; it is seen in what we do when we are afraid. Fear can paralyze us or it can energize us. There are times when there is nothing we can do, when all we can do is “seek the Lord” but that is enough for victory.
When Jehoshaphat sought the Lord, he didn’t do it with doubt, he did it with faith, and he did it publicly in the house of the Lord. His prayer shows that he knew just how great the Lord was and this is seen in three questions he asks: “Art not thou God in heaven?” (v. 6). “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land?” (v. 7). “Wilt thou not judge them?” (v. 12).
The answer to each of these questions is Yes! The Lord responds to this godly man’s prayer with a wonderful message for every child of God who is facing a battle and must go into the valley to face a great multitude. What we do in the valley, our attitude when as we walk through the valley makes all the difference. What turns that valley into a place of blessing is what they do, as they get ready to face the enemy. The Lord speaks to them and what He says fills their mouths with praise. It is the Word of God that encourages us, lifts us up when we feel defeated and takes our eyes off ourselves or off the enemy and puts them on the Lord.
The Lord said to Jehoshaphat, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude: for the battle is not yours, but God’s (v. 15). Sometimes we forget this simple but profound truth. The battle is not ours, we belong to the Lord and He will both fight for us and enable us to fight the battle. The Lord doesn’t deny the multitude is great and doesn’t deny that they must face the enemy, but the Lord says that the responsibility for fighting the battle rests upon Him!
When that wonderful truth is laid hold of and embraced in faith, then what is left is praise. All they are asked to do is stand still and see the salvation of the Lord (v. 17). They stand still in faith but they still have to go into the valley, but they don’t go into the valley afraid and they don’t go into the valley in defeat, they go into the valley rejoicing and singing! How can they do this? It is because they know the responsibility for the battle rests upon the strength of the Lord and not upon their own strength; they know that the battle is already won. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). Faith sees the victory before the battle begins.
At the end of the battle God’s people were left with the spoil of the enemy and they were blessed in another way, but the greater blessing, the one for which the valley takes it’s name is the blessing they give to the Lord. “And the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah: for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day” (v. 26).
To be continued