“For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared: he hath made it deep, and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
In answer to a request from a friend, we attempt to give our thoughts on the above passage; hut in order to do so, must glance at the whole chapter in brief. From the first verse of this thirtieth chapter clown to and including the seventh, the Lord declares the utter foolishness of Israel’s resorting to an alliance with Egypt against the coming invasion of the Assyrians under Sennacherib. The children of Israel as a nation are here spoken of as “rebellious children” who take counsel of Egypt instead of the Lord, who resort to fleshly dependence of trusting Jehovah for deliverance. Note the warning of Rabshakeh in chapter thirty-six: “Lo, thou trusteth in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and decree it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.” The seeking of help against the enemy, at. the hand of Egypt, was in defiance of God’s word in Deuteronomy xvii. 16: “Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.’’ There could never be any help to God’s people come out of Egypt. There in that land had been their bondage and slavery. Any attempt to go back that way could only spell disaster for them. Nevertheless, faced with the invading host of Sennacherib, they resorted for help to their former land of bondage. The Lord would surely punish them for this, but would save a remnant of them according to his grace. Of the nation of Israel at this time the Lord said, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord.” These rebellious characters desired no vision from the Lord and begged the prophets not to speak right things, but to speak smooth things and to prophesy deceits. One cannot help but be amazed at the blindness of the people, and yet he professed, not real, children of God are the same to-day. They do not want to hear the truth, they want their vanity gratified and desire to be left alone to sleep on in ease undisturbed by the truth, wedded to their own gods, allured by their own foolish imaginings. The condemnation of the wicked draws every moment
nearer, but they heed not the preceeding warnings of disaster and rush headlong to their judgment, to that Tophet ordained for them of old. When king Josiah reigned in Jerusalem he was a God-fearing man and sought to restore the kingdom from the idolatries which it had fallen into under the influence of wicked kings prior to him. This place Tophet had been used before Josiah's time as a place of human sacrifices where mothers and fathers in worshiping the god Molech had caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire. This heathenish practice, Josiah had stopped. (See 2 Kings xxiii. 10.) In this very Tophet where some of Israel had worshipped Molech with fire, right there the Lord had determined to also make a more terrible slaughter of their enemies. And so it proved. For while Israel did seek help at the hand of Egypt, it turned out altogether vain, just as God said it would, and the real help and deliverance came from God himself; and Sennacherib and his army were turned back from Jerusalem without Israel's fighting a single stroke. Read Isaiah xxxvii. 36-38: “Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they [the Israelites] arose early in the morning, behold, they [the enemy] were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead.” Thus is seen the terrible vengeance visited upon the enemies of Israel in the valley of Tophet, the place of fire before ordained to be used for that same purpose, a place deep and large, with plenty of wood, needing naught but the breath of the Lord to kindle it that it might be verily as brimstone to the utter consumption of all the enemies of righteousness. Thus, we see the deliverance of Hezekiah and his kingdom from their enemies was glorious, for the Lord did it all and no human help or cooperation was needed. After this, the deliverance of Israel from Babylon was even more glorious than Hezekiah's, yet came about the same great way, by the power of God. And after the deliverance from Babylon, the deliverance of the redeemed from death and condemnation by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was more glorious than all. As Tophet was the place of burning prepared for the king of their enemies, Sennacherib, so figuratively it is a type of the lake of fire and brimstone, the second death, prepared for the devil and his angels. “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” - Rev. xxi. 8. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” — Rev. xix. 20. Thus, Tophet is a figure of the final and ultimate destruction of antichrist and of all that loves and makes a lie. Tophet was located in the valley of Hinnom outside the city of Jerusalem, and spiritual Tophet is most certainly outside the new Jerusa1cm. Note what Jeremiah says about it, “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. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall not more be called Tophet, nor, The valley of the son of Hinnom, but, The valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. And the carcasses of this people shall he meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away,” Can any one imagine such dreadful calamity as above foretold? It is horrible above all conception. If we turn to the nineteenth chapter of Jeremiah we see again all this disaster that was to befall Jerusalem, and which did befall her in the year 70 A. D., graphically pictured in all its horror. But now, if our Bible readers will continue on through Jeremiah as well as through Isaiah, in the latter chapters of these prophets, as well as of Ezekiel and Daniel, they shall see foretold the final destruction of Babylon, which means not merely the destruction of Ancient Babylon, but of the Babylon of the present time which holds sway throughout the world. This Babylon of false religion is doomed to destruction and the Lord has prepared a Tophet for her. As the Lord fought against Sennacherib to deliver Israel of old from the Assyrians, so will he at Armageddon deliver his People from all the nations gathered against Jerusalem to battle. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eves shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall conic to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.” — Zech. xiv. 12-15. The horror of this great battle of Armageddon, yet to be fulfilled, is still further portrayed in Ezekiel, thirty-ninth chapter, where we are told that so great will be the slaughter in the ranks of the armies of the nations that come to battle against the Jews regathered to the holy land that it will take seven years to burn up the wreckage left from the battle and will take over seven months to bury the dead, all the people working at it continually. No such battle as this with such disastrous results has ever yet been fought in the history of the world. It is yet future. Ezekiel thirty-ninth chapter tells of it. The valley of Hinnom where Tophet was located is here called “The valley of Hamon-gog.” “For then shall be great tribulation of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” - Matt. xxiv. 21. In all this wreckage predicted to come upon the nations at the end of the Gentile period, the true children of God will dwell safely under the wings of the Almighty. Like Noah safe in the ark from the destruction which then overwhelmed and destroyed the world, so the church of God shall dwell safe in Christ when worlds are crumbling into ruin and when the beast and the false prophet and all who worship them shall be turned into the final Tophet of destruction from the presence of the Lord and all his holy angels. “And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm.” “Through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down,” and not through human means or agencies. “Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept: and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the Mighty One of Israel.” “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” What blessed promises is the Lord and who wait patiently for him. These shall renew their strength and shall soar above as on eagles' wings. Blessed be his holy name, he who causeth us to triumph by Christ Jesus. - H.H.L.
Elder H.H. Lefferts
Signs of the Times
Vol. 98, No. 3 – March 1930