Tag: Action

The Gates of Hades

The Gates of Hades

Gates of Hades: Caesarea Philippi

In first century Israel, the gates of Hades was known to be located in Caesarea Philippi. This city would be an equivalent of Las Vegas – Sin City – but much worse than the modern city in the American West. The location of Caesarea Philippi was especially unique because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. At one time, the water ran directly from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff.

Gates of Hades - Caesarea PhilippiIn Jesus’ time a temple stood in front of this cave. A powerful stream of water flowed out of the measureless and very deep pool emanating from the grotto (cave), according to Josephus. This cave was believed to be the gates of Hades. Other shrines and temples stood here including this one to Caesar. The niches in the wall held images of the gods Pan, Echo and Hermes

The common belief of pagans in this era was that their fertility gods lived in the underworld during the winter and returned to earth each spring. Water was a symbol of the underworld and it was commonly thought that their gods traveled to and from that world through caves.

To the pagan mind, then, the cave and spring water at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld. They believed that their city was literally at the gates of the underworld—the gates of Hades. In order to entice the return of their god, Pan, each year, the people of Caesarea Philippi engaged in horrible behavior, including prostitution and sexual interaction between humans and goats. In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large niche, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood, with a large erect phallus, worshiped for its fertility properties. Surrounding him in the wall were many smaller niches, in which were statues of his attending nymphs. On the shrine in front of these niches, worshipers of Pan would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites, including copulation with goats – worshipped for their relationship to Pan.

The Gates of Hades was no place for a good Jew! When Jesus brought his disciples to this awful place, they must have been shocked. Caesarea Philippi was like a red-light district in their world and devout Jews would have avoided any contact with the despicable acts committed there.

This was a city of people eagerly knocking on the doors of hell.

**Question: What city comes to mind when you think of Caesarea Philippi?**

Does Prayer Do Anything?

Does Prayer Do Anything?

Does prayer do anything? Even a cursory read of Numbers 11:1-3 is easy to see a few interesting principles of life about complaining and God’s response, as well as a leader’s prayers and God’s response.Does prayer do anything?

Complaining ticked even GOD off. Whoa! See where complaining gets us? When your children were little and you took them on an outing that might not have gone as planned, did they complain? Did they grumble? Did they WHINE?

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Campfire Benefits

Campfire Benefits

Campfire hiking backpackingSitting around a campfire with friends or family often makes me marvel at what an amazing experience it is and why I don’t do it more often. I wonder if it’s because I busy myself with too much. Maybe it’s because scheduling a gathering around the fire is too much of a chore, or because I can’t stand the mosquitoes. Even though our reasons for not getting to the campfire might be a mix of all of those things, we still need to realize the value of the experience. When we start up a campfire, God starts some very interesting soul

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Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome – How it Affects You Today

Ancient Rome: How it Affects You Today by Richard J. Maybury is an easy and excellent primer on the subject of comparing Rome with modern Western civilization. Every once in a great while, a book finally makes sense of current world events. There truly IS “nothing new under the sun.” If you care about the United States of America and where it’s headed, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this book. First, read it yourself. Next, if you’re married, read it with your spouse. Third, read it AGAIN after you’ve watched/surfed/read the news. You will see just how far reaching the fascist principles of Rome have pervaded through our world. Rome was truly the Phantom Menace, which is still alive and well today.

In our Church Offensive, we must be aware of the current battlefield situation we find ourselves in. “Rome” is not the Enemy. It’s just the context where we find ourselves today. Onward!

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell Evangelism

Gates of Hell EvangelismJesus talked about the Gates of Hell as something to be assaulted. Read about its misery, as described by Dante Alighieri:

“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.”

Dante’s Inferno

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.

Evangelism on the frontier of the Gates of Hell is just what Jesus had in mind.  If you need to overcome fear in evangelism, see my previous post.