A biblical valley that provides us with great encouragement is the Valley of Berachah (about six miles southwest of Bethlehem) referenced in 2 Chronicles 20. God’s people find themselves once again in peril, this time from a horde comprised of Moabites, Ammonites, and others attacking from the northern and eastern coasts of the Red Sea (2Ch_20:1-2). King Jehoshaphat, as he should have, turned to God, “proclaim[ing] a fast throughout all Judah” and encouraging the people “to seek the LORD” (2Ch_20:3-4).
It is then in 2Ch_20:15 that God, through His prophet Jahaziel, uttered the key words of the story: “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” In the verses that follow, He commanded that they were simply to go into the valley, stand still, and not fight. When they did so the next day, God miraculously turned the enemy soldiers against one another and they slaughtered each other to the last man.
2Ch_20:25-27 record the response of the people to what God had done. As they went down to collect the spoils of the battle, they “assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah.” Berachah is a transliteration of the Hebrew berāḵāh (H1294), a proper name from the feminine noun berāḵāh (H1293), “blessing, the bestowment of favor.” As one authority writes, “To bless in the OT means ‘to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc.” (Mark 9). In the present context, then, blessing God’s name takes the form of praising Him for what He has done (Mar_9:21-22; Mar_9:28).
In today’s atmosphere of “self,” we tend to think that we have to “do it all.” We perceive a “need” and immediately found a new organization, invent a new method, or start a new ministry. Much of our apologetics is simply arguing the evidence instead of proclaiming the truth. It seems we just don’t think God can accomplish His work.
Yes, He uses us, but He wants to use us His way, not ours. It has been said, when God’s people do God’s work in God’s way, they will receive God’s results in God’s time. How thrilling it is to trust the Lord and His Word, and what blessing and praise result when we do!
Scriptures for Study: Read and meditate on Psalms 103 today. Bless appears five times and is the Hebrew bāraḵ (H1288), the root of berāḵāh, and means “to kneel, bless, praise, salute.”
Yesterday we considered the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7), the “valley of pain and trouble.” We conclude today by noting that not only does its history demonstrate how sin subtly overtakes us, but it also shows us sin’s results.
First, sin defeats us. As noted yesterday, Israel relied not on God but on her own understanding of the situation and so took only a small army of “about three thousand men” to Ai (Jos_7:4). The result of that attitude of self-sufficiency, along with Achan’s action of disobedience, was not only Israel’s defeat—her men “fled before the men of Ai” (Jos_7:4)—but also her disgrace, as the army of Ai “chased [her]” as she retreated (Jos_7:5; Jos_7:12). Indeed, sin destroys, dishonors, and debases us.
Second, sin hinders fellowship with God. As God Himself declared, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people” (Jos_7:12-13). Accursed appears six times in Jos_7:11-15. The Hebrew is chērem (H2764), which speaks here of “devoted to destruction.” While Jericho itself was “accursed” (Jos_6:17-18), Israel had permitted that accursed thing to enter the camp, so God demanded that it be purged before she could know full fellowship again. While God “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb_13:5), and while the true believer does not lose fellowship with God, since such fellowship is part of salvation (1Jn_1:3), fellowship and communion are certainly hindered by sin.
Third, even with confession, the results of sin remain. While Achan admitted his sin (Jos_7:20-21), he and his family were still put to death (Jos_7:23-25). While this might seem harsh to some today, it is a consistent principle. Even though God forgives us, the “wages of sin is death” (Rom_6:23), which is why Jesus had to die for sin. While God can certainly forgive, each sin can still have consequences.
Fourth, sin affects others. Achan’s sin affected his entire family (who were probably accomplices, see Deu_24:16), as he led them astray into sin. Even his innocent livestock and possessions were destroyed (Jos_7:24). One of Satan’s most effective lies is reflected in the often-used phrase, “My sin only affects me.” Families, churches, and entire nations are affected by the sin of individuals. Let us steer clear of the Valley of Achor.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following, noting what each says about sin: Jer_17:9-10; Jer_23:24; Amo_9:3. What is our provision for sin in those times it does overtake us (1Jn_1:9)?