Lester Sumrall tells an interesting story. “Suddenly, we rounded a curve in the pathway and a bloodcurdling signboard met my eyes. The sign depicted an arrow pointing up a path, beneath which was drawn a horrible-looking skull and cross bones. Across the sign in large black letters was written – DEATH VALLEY! This sign alone had a tremendous effect on me for I was convinced that this was real! At the sign we dismounted and walked up the path. Within ten minutes we reached a larger marker which resembled a tombstone, bearing an inscription upon it. I asked our Dutch friend why a tombstone would be raised in this jungle wilderness, and he deciphered the epitaph which I shall pass on to you.
Some years before, while a German scientist was exploring this part of the tropics, the natives had told him of a strange valley. They told him that if any living creature descended into it, it never returned. Whereupon, the scientist asked to be directed to this fabulous spot. Upon viewing the deep valley which lay between two precipitous slopes which were covered with verdant tropical foliage, he laughed at the natives and told them that it was simply one more of their foolish superstitions. To prove to them that they were wrong, he tied a rope about his waist, leaving one end in the hand of a native guide and leaving instruction with him to pull him back up if there were a sudden tug or if he were gone too long.
As the copper-colored boy watched the distinguished white foreigner descend slowly into the shadowed depths of Death Valley, he hoped that soon they would know the cause of the death of all who dared venture into the valley. After the scientist had been gone a long time there seemed to be few pulls on the rope. Therefore, the guide decided to pull him back up. There was no response at the other end of the rope as he tugged and pulled, until at last the limp body of the German was brought up – dead. Now, even scientists knew that there was real death in the valley! The scientist’s mother in Germany requested that the body of her son be buried by Death Valley, and that the story be engraved on the stone, so that everyone coming there might see his tomb and know that there indeed was real danger.
Other scientists sought to discover the death-dealing element in the valley. Soon they discovered by their tests that the bottom of Death Valley had been a volcanic crater, and though it was now extinct, poison gases still exuded from the earth. If a respiratory creature ventured deeply enough into the valley he contacted the deadly gases before they could become rarified in the atmosphere; thus being rendered helpless, he died.
This story was getting more exciting to me. I wanted to look into this mysterious valley of death which had killed animals, birds and men. We climbed a very steep incline from the tomb and upon arriving at the top of the elevation were confronted with another signboard which had two piercing words: Danger! Stop! I looked below and there was a most beautiful valley resembling a tropical gorge burdened with a riot of luxuriant growth. I mused: ‘This does not look like a valley of death; it is so lovely’. Yet I was compelled to believe because of the testimony of the tomb. Here was beautiful Death Valley!
You come to realize that there are real Death Valleys near you also. Some valleys of death are beautiful, fascinating, glamorous; others are cultured, learned and fashionable – yet the very dregs of death are there. However, greatly to your advantage, there are tombstones strewn along the way to warn the wise of the Death Valleys of sin.” (Lester Sumrall)
Be careful what you entertain. Sin fascinates before it assassinates.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 3:23 NIV