The Book of Isaiah
FOR TOPHET IS ORDAINED OF OLD
Text: ISAIAH 30:33
1. We have been going through the book of Isaiah since last September. Sometimes we are interrupted by special meetings. We had a wonderful interruption this past week with our special revival meetings.
2. We left off two weeks ago in Isaiah 30 but we did not have the time to look at the last verse in chapter 30.
3. The Scofield Study Bible says this about Tophet, “Historically a place in the valley of Hinnom where human sacrifices were offered. The word means ‘place of fire.’ The symbolic reference is to the lake of fire and the doom of the Beast.”
4. Scofield also refers to Jeremiah 7:31; 19:6; and II Kings 23:10. Let us consider these cross-references.
5. “For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart” (Jer. 7:30, 31).
6. “Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter” (Jer. 19:1-6).
7. “And he (King Josiah) defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech” (II Kings 23:10).
8. Tophet was a horrible place. A place associated with idolatry, pagan worship, and even human sacrifice.
9. Tophet was located in the valley of Hinnom. It was the place where backslidden and idolatrous Israelites passed their children through the fire and offered them up to Baal (cf. II Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 19:6).
10. According to the Scofield Study Bible, the word Tophet means “burning” or “place of fire.” Many Bible teachers believe that the name Tophet comes from the Hebrew word toph, which means “drum.” When the idol-worshippers were sacrificing their little babies to Baal or to Molech, they would put them in the fire and the little babies would scream (II Kings 23:10; cf. Jer. 19:5).
11. As the babies started screaming they would beat on the drums in order to drown out the cries of the screaming children. Therefore, toph or “drum” became “Tophet.” By the way, these same horrible drumbeats are used today in rock music.
12. This connection between rock music and Satanic ritual music has been well documented. David Cloud wrote, “The Rolling Stones and other rock & roll groups have recorded tribal and voodoo occultic drumming ceremonies and incorporated these into their rock music. The Stones’ Goat’s Head Soup album allegedly contained such recordings, including the vicious drumming and the screams of voodoo adherents becoming possessed by loa or evil spirits” (“IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN ROCK MUSIC AND VOODOO OR AFRICAN PAGANISM?”).
13. John Milton refers to the Satanic drums of Tophet in Paradise Lost:
“Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that past through fire.”
12. Milton correctly saw Tophet as a picture of hell itself, for he goes on to say:
“The pleasant Valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna called, the Type of Hell.”
I. TOPHET IS A PICTURE OF HELL
1. Notice Isaiah 30:33 says, “For Tophet is ordained of old…” This reminds us of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
2. Notice our Lord said, “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Isaiah says, “for the king it is prepared.”
3. There is plenty of fuel for the fire in hell (Isa. 30:33). Proverbs 27:20 says, “Hell and destruction are never full.” There is plenty of room in hell for more sinners. There is plenty of fuel for the fire. There is plenty of fire. Our Lord said the fire in hell is never quenched.
4. Jeremiah 7:31 says, “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom…” The name, valley of “the children of Hinnom” or “the son of Hinnom” indicates that perhaps it was originally named after a certain family who lived there.
5. The valley of Hinnom was located just south of the city of Jerusalem and was a well-known place to people in Bible times.
6. One of the worst kings of Judah was King Ahaz. He actually sacrificed his children to Baal in the valley of Hinnom, and so did King Manasseh (II Chron.28:1-4; 33:1-6).
7. Later on, King Josiah “defiled Topheth” (II Kings 23:10). What this means is he turned it into a cesspool and garbage dump. It became the receptacle for waste matter and all sorts of putrefying filth from the city of Jerusalem.
8. The dead bodies of criminals and animals were thrown there to be eaten by dogs. When the dogs were through with them they were put in the fires that were kept burning to consume all of the rubbish from the city.
9. In this way, Tophet and the valley of Hinnom give us a perfect picture of hell.
II. TOPHET IS A PICTURE OF IMPENDING JUDGMENT
1. Isaiah 30:33 says, “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared…” Who is this king?
2. Isaiah had been prophesying about the king of Assyria, but as we have been studying the book of Isaiah week after week we have observed that Isaiah often looked beyond the king of Assyria to the man described by the prophet Daniel as the king that shall do according to his will (Dan. 11:36).
3. Daniel also calls him “the little horn.”
4. The apostle Paul refers to him as “that man of sin” and “the son of perdition.”
5. In the book of Revelation, John refers to him as “the beast.”
6. In his epistles, John identifies him as the antichrist. Revelation 19 & 20 tell us that the antichrist and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).
7. Just as the king of Assyria prefigures the coming antichrist, Tophet is a vivid picture of the lake of fire and a vivid picture of impending judgment.
8. According to the Bible, all those who reject Christ will follow the antichrist, and they too will be punished in the lake of fire (Rev. 14:9-11; 20:15; 21:8).
9. America is being prepared for the coming antichrist. The devil has taken over politics, the media, the public school system, the universities and colleges, the entertainment world – especially Hollywood, TV, and rock music, and even most churches. The apostle Paul refers to this as “the mystery of iniquity” (II Thess. 2:7).
10. Soon the antichrist will emerge onto the world stage. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says, “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
11. God’s impending judgment is heading our way but very few people are paying attention.
12. Listen to this recent article, written by Craig R. Smith.
13. Ungrateful, greedy, self-centered and materialistic people will be easily misled and manipulated by the coming antichrist.
14. Ungrateful, greedy, self-centered and materialistic people will soon be sent a strong delusion and they will believe the antichrist. They will worship the antichrist and the devil (Rev. 13:4).
15. Notice also that Isaiah says, “the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it” (Isa. 30:33). This is the judgment of God.
16. Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” said, “The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow... hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.”
17. Regarding the “breath of the LORD” (30:33), FC Jennings wrote, “Jehovah’s wrath has been stirred; His quick breathings express that wrath, and thus become the fire that kindles the flames of Tophet” (Studies in Isaiah).
18. The fires of hell are literal, and yet they are also supernatural. They can never be extinguished (cf. Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:43-48).
19. This brings us to my third point.
III. TOPHET APPLIED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. In the NT, the Hebrew Hinnom is called by the Greek name Gehenna, and is translated in our English Bible as “hell.” The word is used 12 times in the N.T. and it always refers to eternal punishment in the fires of hell.
2. 11 out of the 12 references to Gehenna come from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5).
3. The other reference is James 3:6.
4. When our Lord referred to Gehenna as a picture of hell, his listeners knew exactly what He meant. That our Lord was referring to literal torment is obvious if we take the Bible literally (cf. Mark 9:44, 46, 48). The worms (maggots) in the valley of Hinnom died and the fires eventually were quenched. In fact, no one is even sure today of the precise location of the valley of Hinnom.
5. But the “worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” in hell. Unsaved friend, are you prepared to go there?
6. Do you realize the unspeakable horror that awaits you if you die in your sins? Unless you repent and turn to Christ you will be damned forever in the pit of hell – a place infinitely more terrible than Tophet.
1. A few years back, a bad fire broke out in the London subway system. Commuters could smell the smoke and notified some of the subway workers but their warnings were ignored.
2. It didn’t take long before the fire was raging and scores of terrified riders were trapped. 30 people died and many more were seriously injured.
3. It was bad enough that the subway workers ignored the warnings of concerned commuters, but to make things worse, other station workers were actually directing people right down the escalator into the fire!
4. There is a lesson here: Many people ignore God’s warnings about judgment and hell. They go their merry way avoiding the Bible, avoiding church, even avoiding their own conscience. Then judgment day arrives and they are cast into hell! Oh – what weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth as these poor deluded souls are thrown into the oven of God’s righteous wrath!
5. Then, on the other hand, liberals, cults, and other false religionists actually direct their confused followers right down into the fires of hell.