Gates of Hell Evangelism
“I am the way into the city of woe.
I am the way to a forsaken people.
I am the way to eternal sorrow.
Sacred justice moved my architect.
I was raised here by divine omnipotence,
Primordial love and ultimate intelligence.
Only those elements time cannot wear
Were made before me, and beyond time I stand.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
Caesarea Philippi stood only twenty miles or so from the religious communities of Galilee. But their religious practices were light-years apart from those of the nearby Jewish towns.
In Old Testament times, the northeastern area of Israel became a center for Baal worship. In the nearby city of Dan, Israelite king Jeroboam built the high place that angered God and eventually led the Israelites to worship false gods (1 Kings 12:29-31). Eventually, fertility worship of the Baals was replaced with worship of Greek fertility gods.
Caesarea Philippi, which stood in a lush area near the Southern foot of Mount Hermon, became the religious center for worship of the Greek god, Pan. The Greeks named the city Panias in his honor.
Years later, when Romans conquered the territory, Herod Philip rebuilt the city and named it after himself. But Caesarea Philippi continued to focus on worship of Greek gods. In the cliff that stood above the city, local people built shrines and temples to Pan.
Interestingly, Jesus chose to deliver a motivational speech to his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. In that pagan setting, he encouraged his disciples to build a church that would overcome the worst evils.