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A Land of Hills and Valleys

Deuteronomy 11:8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; 9 And that ye may prolong your10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: 11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:  

Geography plays a huge part in the panorama of Bible history and experiences of God’s people. We know about cities, countries, provinces, borders, kingdoms and specific points like wells, rocks and woods that all had names to signify important events in Bible history. There is another phase of geography that we call topography. Architects and builders know about this. Before a large building project gets underway, a set of drawings are usually called for that survey the tracts of land where the building is going to take place. Surveyors measure the rise and fall of the land, and take note of the features that will enter into the building placement or even the kind of building that can be built.

This topography feature is duly noted in the Bible. We read of seas, rivers, brooks, mountains, hills, valleys, plains, caves and deserts. Many familiar names and stories happened in connection with a particular topographical feature. Jacob went over the Brook Jabbok where he had his dream. Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the ten commandments. Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses on a hill in Rephidim so Israel could prevail against the enemy Amalek. Lot chose the well-watered plains of Jordan . Elijah sought refuge in a cave where God fed him by sending ravens with food. Moses fled to the backside of the desert to keep the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro.

It can be argued that the place where these events occurred had a definite effect on whatever happened there. Life does not happen as a series of random occurrences that make no sense. The reason God leads us to certain places is because we will learn something there…we will learn something because of the very circumstances surrounding the event.

Pathway Dynamics

I am always surprised that people are so surprised about the things that happen to them in life. Surprise happens when what you think is going to happen doesn’t. God (it would seem) aggravates people on a daily basis with a pathway filled with dips and turns, rockslides and icy patches, potholes and one-lane bridges, all of it simultaneously tantalizing and frustrating. The pathway plays no favorites. Motor vehicles come equipped with shock absorbers because any attempt to force the pathway to conform to the driver’s expectations meets with bone-jarring jolts. It’s up to you to adapt to the pathway, not the other way around.

The pathway to a growing life is a dynamic, not a static experience. Yes, truth remains the same and principles stay constant, but changing circumstances and too many variables along the way insure that you will never really figure it all out.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far you’ve come, you have not been this way before. Your experience has only qualified you to understand yourself to some degree; it has not licensed you to manage your pathway. As you negotiate the turns, curves and obstacles that constitute your pathway, you will change. Whether you move on enlightened or angered, helped or hurt, wiser or more puzzled, dead or alive depends upon how you react. Any reaction that suspends the learning experience, like anger or despair, brings your journey to a halt. You will not progress until you get these reactions in hand, overcome them and go on. And, when the road that unfolds before you meets the distant horizon, you cannot be sure which way it goes from there. You can be sure of only one thing: another learning opportunity awaits you.

M. Scott Peck begins his The Road Less Traveled with these profound words, “Life is difficult.” It will never get easy. Your guiding light must remain your faith in God and your commitment to lead your people into their best future.

The Valley

Most of us have a built-in bias for mountains and hills. We like to get up high where we can see what’s happening. We like the feeling of superiority, the sense of being in charge, the security of looking down on life and knowing what’s going on. We get that when we are on the mountain top.

The fact is, however, we seldom learn much on the mountain top. That’s why the bible carefully describes the promised land as land of hills and valleys. There is a hill for every valley, but there is a valley for every hill. The valleys are as much a part of the topography of the promised land as the hills.

Achan was judged in the valley. “ And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor f, unto this day.


After the victory at Jericho , Israel was defeated by the men of Ai in the valley.

Hell, or in the Hebrew language, Sheol, was symbolized by the Valley of Hinnom . All the refuse and carcasses of Jerusalem were burned in the Valley of Hinnom .

David spoke of the valley as a place of deep trial and testing.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in greena pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointestb my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for everc.


God leads us into the valleys for a purpose.

What is a valley?

It is a low place. It is surrounded by hills or mountains on either side. An army is very vulnerable in the valley because the enemy occupies the high ground and can ride down on those in the valley. A valley keeps you from seeing the big picture. A valley can be treacherous because of landslides, avalanches or flash floods.

When we look at this from a spiritual perspective, many of us chafe against the valley circumstances. We often operate under the illusion that we ought to be exempt from the spiritual topography of life. We can’t figure out why God wants us to be in a valley. We were doing fine…now this!

The problem is that we develop something that I call the valley syndrome.

Symptoms of “Valley Syndrome”

1.    Sensation that you are trapped or locked in to defeat.

God has not predestined you to defeat. You need to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy. (You can believe something so strongly that you unwittingly set yourself up for a defeat.)

2.    Suffering from and inability to consider anything above eye-level.

Are you becoming so paranoid, so negative that you have stopped believing in miracles, in prayer, in worship, in bible reading? Are you becoming convinced that God has something against you, that you are never going to get out of your adversity?

3.    Hallucinations that anyone rising above you has an unfair advantage.

This is where you begin to experience bitterness, jealousy and hatred against others around you. You deny the success or victory to anyone who seems to have gotten out of their valley. It is the victim mentality, the feeling that you have been denied something to which you were entitled.

4.    Cold sweats when anyone suggests you might do better.

You resent it when someone comes up to you and encourages you to hang in there or to pray a little harder. They are just making a superficial judgment that you are like everyone else. They even might think you deserve to be in your valley.

4.    Marked irritibility toward any tools or helps that may improve your state.

You want to be left alone. You don’t want to improve yourself. Why. Deep down, you believe that God must despise you and that you have no blessings coming your way. Resign yourself to defeat.

6.    Immediate recognition that anyone higher than you doesn’t understand.

People who have blessings that you want for yourself are suspect. They don’t understand what it’s like to be you.

7.    Feverish excuse manufacturing.

The easiest thing to do when you are in the valley is to excuse yourself for your circumstances. It is easier to complain than to pray. It is easier to lay down and pity yourself than to get up and keep moving.

Two Solutions to the Valley

1. Look for God’s blessings in the valley.

Psalm 84:4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them . 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca  make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

The valley has some secrets. You are always closer to the water supply when you are in the valley.

In the valley, you can dig a well. In the valley, you will discover strength that doesn’t come from the hills and the mountains. You will find out that God doesn’t need the conventional ways of blessing to bring healing, help and victory to your life.

Look for miracles of God in the valley of despair.

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valleya; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the windb, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. [4]

The experience of Sis. Becky Buckland. Bitten by a rabid dog, she was told that she was not going to live.  The doctors said bluntly that she would get progressively worse and die in ninety days.  She had passed beyond the stage where medicine could help her.   In the midst of the trial, the only thing left to do was go to church. She went to campmeeting in Indiana in 1993 and they gathered around her and prayed. God healed her and the Bucklands became missionaries in the Czech Republic where they are raising up a work for the name of Jesus!

[1] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Dt 11:8). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

f Achor: that is, Trouble

[2] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Jos 7:24). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

a green…: Heb. pastures of tender grass

b anointest: Heb. makest fat

c for ever: Heb. to length of days

[3] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Ps 23:1). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

a valley: or, champaign

b wind: or, breath

[4] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Eze 37:1). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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