The Valley Experiences
Noah was a man that found grace in the eyes of God. God instructed him to build the ark and Noah was obedient. Then God saved him and his family from the flood. They were in the ark for 150 days before the water abated. He received the promise of God that God would never destroy the earth by water again and sealed the promise with the first beautiful rainbow. It was indeed a mountain top experience. Noah celebrated the experience by offering a sacrifice unto God. However, almost immediately, he planted a vineyard, got drunk, and became the subject of his son's sexual desires while he was asleep. (Genesis 7-9:25).
The children of Israel were slaves to the Egyptians for 430 years. Then God called Moses to deliver them out of the Egyptian bondage. Overnight, God brought a shepherd from the back side of the desert to a leader of a nation of people. Through various miracles Moses led the people out of Egypt. They spoiled the Egyptians of their treasures of silver, gold, and fine clothing. (Exodus 12:35). They came out of bondage in a great victory, a mountain top experience. However, God led the people to the valley of the Red Sea. Then God hardened the heart of the Pharaoh to chase after them. This seems to be a pattern. After the mountain top experience, God leads us into the valley. Then in the valley, the enemy come to attack us. It is here that we are tempted to complain even as the people did to Moses (Exodus 14:11-12). God will provide a way out even when the enemy comes. Moses lifted up his hands with the rod in it. The sea parted and the people walked across on dry ground. Then God closed the sea upon the Egyptian army. The people have another mountain top experience seeing the mighty work of God. Exodus 15:1-19 is Moses' song of victory celebration! Then God leads the people to Marah, the place of bitter water, the valley experience.
Let's look at the personal experience of Moses, the leader of the people. God calls Moses up to Mt. Sinai, talks to him personally, and gives him the Ten Commandments written by His own finger on two tables of stone. Indeed, this was a mountain top experience to tell about. However, when Moses came down the mountain, He discovered that the people were breaking the first two commands that God had given him to deliver to the people. They were worshipping the golden calf which Aaron had made. The very person who Moses had left in charge over the people had violated Moses' trust. I understand why Moses was tempted to get angry and throw down the tables of stone. (Exodus 31-32).
Elijah, the prophet of God waxed bold and went before the evil king, Ahab and told him that it would not rain upon the land, except when he said so. (I Kings 17:1) God fulfilled Elijah's word and there was a great famine in the land. God miraculously fed Elijah by a brook using ravens to bring food to him. When the brook dried up, God sent him to a widow to feed him. When Elijah arrived, the widow was about to fix her last meal for her son and herself before they died of starvation. However, God continued to provide meal (flour) and oil as long as they needed it. Then Elijah confronts the people and asks them how long are they going to straddle the fence between serving God and serving Baal. Elijah even challenges the 450 prophets of Baal to a duel (I Kings 18). Elijah tells them to build an altar, put a bull upon it, put wood under the altar, then call upon Baal to light the fire. The prophets of Baal cry out to Baal, but the false god cannot light the fire. Then Elijah builds another altar, and puts a bull upon the altar, puts wood under the altar, and has the people to pour three barrels of water over the entire altar and the wood, even filling a trench around the altar. Elijah then calls fire down from heaven from God to consume everything. It it a great display of the mighty power of God. He then kills the 450 prophets of Baal. Indeed, this is a mountain top experience. He even prays again and God sends a mighty rain. However, for Elijah, the mountain top experience soon becomes a valley experience. When the wicked queen Jezebel gets news that Elijah has killed the prophet of Baal, she become furious, and sends word that by this time the next day she will have Elijah killed (I Kings 19).
Even the life of Jesus demonstrates the principle of the valley following the mountain top experience. Jesus just turns thirty years old, the age of manhood. He becomes obedient to the law by being baptized. The Holy Spirit came and rested upon him as a dove. Then the Father said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." This had to be a mountain top experience even though it physically took place at the Jordan River. However, look at what happened next. Matthew records in Matthew 4:1 "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Mark says that the Spirit drove him as one would prod an animal. "And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness" (Mark 1:12). The valley experience for Jesus was on the Mountain where the devil came to tempt him after forty days of fasting. However, we must also note that Jesus overcome the tempter through the Word of God.
Just because we have a valley experience does not mean that we can't have victory in the valley. Benhadad the king of Syria brought his army upon the mountain against Ahab, king of Israel, but God gave the king of Israel a victory over the king of Syria. Then the servants of the king of Syria said, "Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they" (I Kings 20:23b). For Israel, the valley experience looked like an impossible situation. "And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country" (I Kings 20:27). However, "And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD" (I Kings 20:28). When the people came together for battle, the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand of the enemies' footmen in one day. The rest fled for their lives.
We also can see this principle as David wrote it in the Twenty-third Psalm. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalms 23:1-6). Look at the first several verses. He is on the mountain top. The LORD is his shepherd. The Shepherd had provided everything for him. He has a tranquil place to rest. He is led along a safe path. His soul is refreshed. The shepherd gives him direction. THEN look at the next verse. The Shepherd has led into the shadowy valley. It is the Shepherd's doing. However, he chooses not to fear. Why? He does not fear because the Shepherd is with him in the valley just as he is on the mountain top. The Shepherd is still his protector. Furthermore, the Shepherd has prepared a banquet before him in the presence of his enemies.
This reminds me of an an experience that I had as a young pastor in a rural church in the pine woods of North East Texas. I took some teenage boys out one night wolf hunting. We got into my Scout truck and drove through the woods to a clearing, a field of grain. I cut off the light to the truck and used a rabbit squealer to call up the wolves. Then I turned on a spot light and we could see sets of eyes all around the clearing. It was an eerie feeling. Now, imagine God providing a feast in the midst of the eyes of the enemy. That is what God does! God protects us from the enemy through the anointing which He places upon us. He gives us more blessing than we can handle!