The Valley of Blessing

Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on June 26, 1977
     “They have taken crafty counsel against thy
     people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.”
     - Psalm 83:3
     “O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven?
     And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen?
     And in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none
     is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive
     out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and
     gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend forever?”
     - 2 Chronicles 20:6-7
     TAKE YOUR BIBLE, PLEASE, AND TURN to 2 Chronicles 20. “It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.” If you want the full list of those enemies who came against the people of God, you will find it in Psalm 83. “The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur . . .” That is quite a list of enemies. The psalm describes the manner in which they came, for it was written while Jehoshaphat was under attack: “Thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.” The enemies had one purpose: the total annihilation of God’s people. “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee.”
     It was a strange bunch of enemies. If you study their history, you find that they fought against one another all the time. But they came together “with one heart,” it says literally in the original, to get rid of God’s hidden ones, His people. That is the crowd described in 2 Chronicles 20. “Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared . . .”
     Let’s skip past all the events that occurred, and read verse 26. “And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD.” Now, we have taught many times about the valley of Baca, which means “valley of weeping” (Psalm 84:6). We have taught about the valley of Achor, which means “valley of trouble” (Joshua 7:26). Here, we have the valley of Berachah. Berachah means “blessing,” so this is the “valley of blessing.” Write that in the margin of your Bible. “On the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of blessing; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of blessing, unto this day.” Let me preach to all of us who are on the way to the valley of blessing.
     Jehoshaphat is one of those pure lights that shine for a while in the midst of darkness in the chronicles of many bad kings. You would think that he ought to receive better treatment than he is
     getting in this chapter. Turn back to chapter 17 and read that “the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” Now, that ought to deserve some good treatment, don’t you think?
     “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD . . .” Most people do not even know the ways of the Lord; they never discover them, much less are they lifted up about them. “Moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah,” which refers to the idol worship in the land. “Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.” As you study these few verses, you see three times it says this, “to teach in the cities,” “they taught in Judah,” and they “taught the people.” Jehoshaphat brought back the Word of God to its proper position, front and center.
     We read in chapter 19 that Jehoshaphat set judges throughout all the land, and gave them directions on how to judge before the Lord. And in Jerusalem, he “set of the Levites, and of the priests,” to judge spiritual matters, charging them to “do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.”
     Jehoshaphat followed in the first ways of his father David, the “man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14). If anybody deserved good treatment, Jehoshaphat did, so this message goes out to anybody who thinks God ought to be nicer to you than He is. “It came to pass after this also . . .” After what? After all these things that Jehoshaphat had done, “the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.” When you start walking a straight, right and good path, expect those under the control of the devil to rise up against you, sure as the sun comes up in the morning. We all forget that sometimes.
     When did the Amalekies come against God’s people? The battle came after Moses struck the rock and water poured forth at Rephidim, the place of rest (Exodus 17:6-8). What preceded “It came to pass after this also?” Jehoshaphat sought the ways of the Lord, was lifted up in the ways of the Lord, sent men to teach the law of God, and he set Levites and priests to judge rightly. Let me drive home in that context: “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.” They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones” (Psalm 83:2-3). You are in good company if everything is landing on you.
     Now, here comes those who relay the fiery darts of the enemy; they can be worse than the enemy. “Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria . . .” The message had its effect: “Jehoshaphat feared.” What did he do? He “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” That is a surefire way to fight according to the reverse laws of the Spirit. “And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”
     Now, if they had called a committee meeting, what do you think the committee would have said? “man the battle stations! Count the ammunition!” But Jehoshaphat led the people to set themselves to seek the Lord. “And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, O LORD God of our fathers, are not thou God?” That is going back
     to first principles. Do you have any problems today? All you who have problems, will you say with me, “Art not thou God?”
     The enemies make a tumult; they do all kinds of things. What “changes not?” “Art not thou God?’ That is a pretty good start. “And rulest not thou over all . . .?” Do you have pressure coming against you today? Okay, let’s say this one, “Art not thou over all?” Do you have some pressure outside of all? There isn’t even an adjective on the word all; all is all. There is nothing outside of all. The only thing outside of all is Him. “Art not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might . . . ?” When in pressure, the psalmist said, “Thou art my rock.” That is the fact. But he also said, “Be thou my rock” (Psalm 31:2-3). That is the cry for manifestation. God is God. God is over all. Establish the premise; then get ready to plug in. “In thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?”
     Again, verse 7, Jehoshaphat says, “Art not thou our God?” God’s Word says the same thing over and over again. David with no hope, hiding in the shadow of a rock, says, “Thou art a rock; be my rock.” Jehoshaphat with tumult around him says, “Art not thou God; art not thou our God?
     Then Jehoshaphat reminds God of His track record. Do you think God really needed to be reminded? But God liked to hear it from His servant: “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?”
     You might say, “Oh, I can’t say that now.” No, but what can you say? “Art not Thou our God, who did deliver me that time way back on such and so occasion when I thought I wouldn’t make it?” What is His track record with you? Hasn’t He proven He is your God? How many of you have almost cracked up over what you thought was going to happen at some time in the past? And how many of you were sure that you wouldn’t be able to stand something you thought was going to happen? You made it, didn’t you? The devil makes black look white and white look black. Say it with me, “Art not Thou our God who helped us make it here today? See the pattern: Are You not God? Are You not our God? Didn’t You do this?
     Now Jehoshaphat gets down to the supplication, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them?” The prayer is very simple if you study it. Spell out what you want God to do: “Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna” (Psalm 83:9-11). In ordinary language, that could be translated as “Knock the stuffing out of them as You have done in the past!”
     Lord, deal with those “Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind;” just roll them around, Lord. “As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; so persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish” (Psalm 83:12-17). That is a fighting spirit. “God, wilt thou not judge them?” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
     Here is the first paradox en route to the valley of blessing. There is no neutral ground with God. You either have faith or dis-faith. You are either going forward or in reverse. When you are going in dis-
     faith, you cannot have faith. But paradoxically, self-despair and God-confidence go together. It is a subtle difference; but it is important that you see it, or else the devil is going to beat you up because all you see is your own inadequacy. Look at these two phrases back to back: “We have no might against this great company that cometh against us,” and “neither know we what to do: but . . .” Now underline these words, “our eyes are upon thee.”
     Again, I cannot help but draw attention to the repetition of God’s Word. Another psalm says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 56:3). There is a difference between dis-faith and self-despair. Dis-faith puts God on trial and wonders whether or not God is able, while self-despair knows you cannot do it in your strength. The dis-faith, the unbelief that God hated from a people, was an attitude that questioned Him. Jehoshaphat is not questioning God’s ability. There is nothing more positive anywhere in this Holy Writ: Art Thou not God? Art Thou not our God? Did you not do, and have you not said? That is all a positive declaration, but we are worthless and helpless: “We have no might . . . but our eyes are upon thee.” That is the door to blessing. As F.B. Meyer has said, you never will be a candidate for God’s unlimited resources until you run out of your own.
     There is no sin in self-despair. That is what really sets you free: self-despair can bring you to the point where you will trade in that Model T Ford for a Lear jet. It makes you a candidate for God’s power: “We have no might . . . neither know we what to do.” Every saint in God’s book knows self-despair. Jehoshaphat is driven to a point where he has no answer, no formula, no magic button to push that brings instant deliverance. He tells God, “I don’t know where to turn, but mine eyes are fixed on thee.” Self-despair plus God-confidence sets the stage for victory. Get your eyes off yourself. It’s okay to come to the end of your strength, but set your face on the Lord.
     “And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones,” literally with their little tripping ones, “their wives, and their children.” Pay attention to this: “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation.” We have never heard any mention of this man before; he is virtually unknown in the cogregation. All his lineage had to be given with the hope that you might figure out who he is. “And he said, Hearken . . . Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s . . . Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed, tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high” (2 Chronicles 20:13-19).
     What has changed? The multitude was still there. They still had no might. The only thing that had changed was that they now knew what to do, because of God’s Word. “And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem . . .”
     Here is the second paradox. As you go forth on His Word, “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established.” The King James translators ruined it again trying to give us two different words so the
     style would be pretty. Circle the word believe and the word established; they are from the same original root word. Write in the margin of your Bible the more literal translation, stay: “Stay upon the LORD, and ye shall be stayed.” You “stay” a ship with an anchor in the old nautical meaning of the word “to stay.” Another way to say it would be “to cling, or grasp hard onto the LORD and lean on Him, and ye shall be grasped.” They are not the same word, but the root is the same, which is a clinging-fixation, fastening and holding-on. A better translation would be, “Believe in the LORD, lean hard on Him; faithe in the LORD, and ye shall be fixed in your position.”
     We are right back to those same truths: “Thou are a rock; be thou a rock to me.” The only salvation is the hand of the Lord. Visualize a parent with a little child, whose hand can barely cling around the parent’s finger. Now somehow project into this analogy a covenant relationship between man and God, because we have more understanding than a child. Unless the child, with his relatively weak grip, reaches to the extended hand of the parent, the parent’s hand will not do its part. Now imagine you are the child and you are hanging over a cliff. Once the reaching hand of the child has made contact, whose grip is saving the child, the parent’s or the child’s? That is the paradox. If you will “fix your trust in the LORD, so shall you be stayed by the LORD.” All you have to do is make that reaching, clinging grasp, and He will never let you go.
     “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD, for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” Now here they are, little children’s hands reaching up with the song of praise, and they “came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.” None of the enemy escaped!
     “And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. And on the fourth day” (after they finished gathering up the spoil), “they assembled themselves.” Now, some people would have been off in their tents counting the jewels. “On the fourth day 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 blessing, unto this day.”
     Do you really believe God has not changed? Say it with me!
     Art not Thou God?
     Art not Thou our God?
     Is not all power in Thy hand?
     We have no might against this company that cometh against us, but our eyes are fixed upon Thee.
     You may not be able to win the battle you are facing today, but you can fix your gaze on Him. You may not be able to hang on by yourself, but all you have to do is reach up and cling; and in the clinging action of faith, He hangs on to you.
     Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott

The following is an excerpt from the Bikya Masr website dated February 25, 2012, by Sharifa Ghanem:

font size="3" color="#000000">DUBAI: Iran officials said the country has not yet made a final decision on whether to execute Youssef Naderkhani for converting to Christianity, the country’s Press TV reported on its website Saturday, contradicting earlier reports out of the United States.
     Conversion in Iran is regarded as apostasy and subject to the death penalty.
     US media quoted the White House this week as condemning “in the strongest possible terms” reports that the Iranian pastor might be executed.
     However, Iran’s Supreme Court, whose confirmation is needed before convicts are executed, now says the process leading to such a verdict has yet to be completed, Press TV reported.
     “Youssef Nadarkhani has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said in early October, according to Iran state news agency Press TV.
     “There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added.
     It remains unclear exactly what will happen and previous news on the topic has been scattered, at best.
     “A very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have known their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father’s house, and never making him say, “Father, I have sinned.” How can he be healed who is not sick, or he be satisfied with the bread of life who is not hungry? The old-fashioned sense of sin is despised . . . Everything in this age is shallow . . . The consequence is that men leap into religion, and then leap out again. Unhumbled they came to the church, unhumbled they remained in it, and unhumbled they go from it.”
     C.H. Spurgeon, 1882

Prayer Requests for March, 2012
For William Holland (Pontiac, Illinois), for health, and for relief from the federal courts.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), for physical healing.
For Joe Bruno’s (Florence, Arizona) Dad, for health.
For Ken Hogan (Death Row, McAlester), who has diabetic foot pain.
For Mickey Ray Reil (Atoka, Oklahoma), who will be getting out soon.
For Clay Huff (Angola, Louisiana), for health.
For Marshall Ellis’ (Chester, Georgia) cousin, Linda Moats, who is in the hospital as a result of multiple strokes.
For Robert Casto’s (Cushing, Oklahoma) family, for their salvation.
For Dale Chambers (Cushing, Oklahoma) to be reconnected with his family.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has various health issues.
For Nolan Holland (Tucker, Arkansas). He is submitting his application for executive clemency.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who is still in need of a liver transplant.
For Ron (Buckeye, Arizona), who seeks peace and a continued faith in God.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Richard Burns (Menard, Illinois), who has diabetes and takes daily injections.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for health, and for spiritual growth and faith.
For Willie Clark (Iowa Park, Texas), who still wants to be transferred closer to Houston.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). One of our prayers has been answered. The Arkansas State Supreme Court just said that Frank should be re-sentenced. The court also reopened his direct appeal.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Dixon, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois), for health, and that his cancer stays in remission.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles, especially for Pastor’s health.
For all of us at Wingspread.

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