The Hinnom Valley – Redeemed Just Like You

Jerusalem's infamous valley reminds us nobody is too far gone for God.

Some people, it seems, are too far gone. We pray for them for years, but they still refuse to walk with God. After so long a time, we feel it’s hopeless. But Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley gives us reason to hope.

The Hinnom Valley - Redeemed Just Like You

(Photo: The Hinnom Valley curves around Jerusalem’s southern side. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some places in Jerusalem are as infamous as others are famous. The Hinnom Valley is such a site. It represented a place where evil atrocities occurred. Like, really evil.

One of the best places to see the Hinnom Valley is from a balcony in the southwest corner of the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. Inevitably while I stand there, I think of King Manasseh and the horrific acts he committed in the area before my eyes.

The infamous valley reminds me of more than Manasseh. It also represents my redemption.

And yours.

King Manasseh and the Hinnom Valley

King Manasseh ruled in Judah for 55 years—the longest reign of all the Hebrew kings (2 Chron. 33:1-2). Even though Manasseh had one of the godliest fathers in history, Hezekiah, King Manasseh was Judah’s worst king.

  • He lived just like the godless nations God destroyed in bringing Israel into the land.
  • He adopted a pagan worldview—idolatry, astrology, child sacrifice, witchcraft, and sorcery—violations stated in Deuteronomy 18.

The Hinnom Valley served as the place where the evil occurred:

He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger.—2 Chronicles 33:6

Map of Old Testament Jerusalem

(Map of Old Testament Jerusalem, courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

It’s impossible to know why, but Manasseh sought to break God’s law with as much passion as his father, Hezekiah, had sought to keep it.

  • Manasseh rebuilt the high places where one would worship idols.
  • He built altars in the temple to idols.
  • He built altars to the stars.

In a literal sense he rebuilt what Hezekiah had torn down. Look at how the prophet Jeremiah put it:

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.—Jeremiah 7:31

Hinnom Valley from Mount Zion

(Photo: Hinnom Valley from Mount Zion. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

How did God respond to Manasseh? He spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So God brought in the Assyrian army, “and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains, and took him to Babylon” (2 Chron. 33:10-11).

  • When it says they captured him with hooks, the Hebrew word refers to a hook that was put through the gills of large fish.
  • It is used of a ring used in the noses of wild beasts to subdue and lead them.

Manasseh’s life is revealed as an out-of-control, unmanageable beast, which the Assyrian generals took and subdued by a ring in the nose.

Attitude Adjustment—and Redemption

What a great change occurred at that point:

And when he was in distress, he entreated the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.—2 Chronicles 33:12-13

Hard to believe, isn’t it? In his distress, he called out to God, and Manasseh finally let go of the illusion that he was in control—and he humbled himself greatly.

Jesus and the Hinnom Valley

Perhaps because of the atrocities committed here, Jesus used the Hinnom Valley as an illustration of the eternal torment of hell (Matt. 18:9). Here also, Judas, the betrayer of Jesus took his own life. Hence, the residents later named the place “Hakeldama,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Scroll around on Google Maps and see the Hinnom Valley from my favorite vantage point.

The Hinnom Valley—A Picture of Redemption

The valley gave us one of archaeology’s greatest finds. In 1979, Dr. Gabriel Barkay discovered the amazing Ketef Hinnom Amulets in the Hinnom Valley.

  • These two small silver scrolls have the priestly benediction Numbers 6:24-26 etched on them.
  • They date to the First Temple Period (586 BC) and represent the earliest copy of Scripture we have.

Today when we see the Hinnom Valley, it looks far different from the time of Manasseh. Today the valley hosts musical concerts and offers a park with lush, green grass for children with Frisbees.

How ironic: in times past, children were killed there. Today, they play in peace.

It’s almost as if the Hinnom Valley has been redeemed from the horrific acts of idol worship and child sacrifice. Just like Manasseh was redeemed. Just like you and me.

Hinnom Valley with green grass

(Photo: Hinnom Valley with green grass. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In Manasseh’s wickedness, he removed all the fences of God’s law, and thus he removed the protection and provision God’s law intended to provide. Only after Assyrian nose hooks did he discover the value of the fences, and to his credit, he began rebuilding them.

Do you know someone too far gone? Manasseh illustrates for you the awesome grace of God toward all who would turn to the Lord in sincerity. If the Lord can change Manasseh’s heart, He can change anyone’s.

Never give up hope. Never quit praying.

Question: Who are you praying for? To leave a comment, just click here.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just keep it kind and relevant. Thanks!

  • Dubonnet

    Dear Wayne,

    The Bible reveals that anyone who turns to God in sincere repentance, on the basis of the sin-atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, can be forgiven his sins. The Christian apostle John wrote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. . . . [Jesus Christ] is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 1:9; 2:2.

    Of course, if a person does not believe that God has forgiven his sins, he will continue to experience the hurtful effects of a troubled conscience. Hence, it is vital that the individual strengthen his faith in God’s willingness to forgive sins. This he can do by reviewing what the Bible says about divine forgiveness and the persons whose transgressions were pardoned.

    For instance, the Israelites were told: “Though the sins of you people should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow; though they should be red like crimson cloth, they will become even like wool.” (Isa. 1:18) Since the Most High was willing to forgive the sordid acts of unfaithful Israelites, we can rest assured that he will grant similar pardon to sincerely repentant ones today. The Bible tells us: “I am Yahvé; I have not changed.”—Mal. 3:6.

    King Manasseh “did on a large scale what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, to offend him. And there was also innocent blood that Manasseh shed in very great quantity, until he had filled Jerusalem from end to end.” (2 Ki. 21:6, 16) Later, he was taken captive to Babylon. This bitter experience brought Manasseh to the point of humbling himself before God. The Most High granted forgiveness to the repentant king and “restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship.” (2 Chron. 33:11-13) Few persons have made as bad a record of sin as did Manasseh. Yet, because he was repentant, he was forgiven. What encouragement this can give to individuals who are plagued with feelings of guilt!

    Another case in point is that of the man who became the Christian apostle Paul. Before his conversion, he was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” (1 Tim. 1:13) “Nevertheless,” Paul wrote, “the reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long-suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.” (1 Tim. 1:16) How faith-strengthening it is to contemplate what God, through Christ, did in connection with Paul! Though he had viciously persecuted Christ’s followers, had acted in an arrogant manner against them and had blasphemed God unknowingly, Paul was forgiven when he repented. Thereafter he was used marvelously in aiding others to become Christians and in strengthening fellow believers. Moreover, he had the inestimable privilege of writing more of the inspired Christian Scriptures than any other man.

    Individuals may at times feel condemned at heart, fearing that their sins are just too bad to be pardoned. Nevertheless, what the Bible states provides a firm basis for faith in God as the Forgiver of sins. This is forcefully expressed in the following statement of the apostle John: “We shall assure our hearts before him as regards whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (1 John 3:19, 20)

    Regards.

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  • Michelle thick

    There are people I have given up on or have prayed for a while then stop then pray. Thanks I will pray for these people and not stop. Very inspiring thanks. I will just pray with the thought God will do what I pray for. I won’t get discourage anymore and just pray. Wow I like this read and story. Thank you.

    • Good for you, Michelle. I think we should “Pray at all times,” like Jesus said, “and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Thanks.

  • ARM BAR

    I’m currently still praying for my own struggle,my problems etc,but i’m also praying for others,but that prayer has nothing to do with their repentance ,i’m praying for their protection,blessings and well being,but yes sometimes i pray for those who hurt me,especially the ones who are my own relatives.

    • That’s a worthy prayer. Thank you for caring enough for those the Lord has brought in your path to lift them up.

  • Stacey

    I’m praying for my daughter. Our only child. She had left the Lord, declared herself an athesist, feminist and actively tries to form young people from their faith. She remains very kind and open to us. I am reading your book Waiting On God. Thank you for your kind words.

    • I’ll join you in that prayer for your daughter, Stacey. I’m asking that the Lord protect her and guide her so that when the time is right, He can open her eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ and His infinite love for her. I’m honored that Waiting on God is encouraging you. Never give up hope.

  • Laurel

    My 93-year-old parents. They are still very much with it, and I have shared God’s truths with them many times, but they think the Bible can’t be all there is. There must be more that we just don’t understand….

    • The interesting thing is, Laurel, the Bible affirms that very fact: there is more than we possibly can understand—but God is the one who does understand. Thanks for never giving up on them. I also will pray God opens their hearts to Him soon.