Friday, August 27, 2010

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Win

In Judges 16:1-3, we read of how the enemies of Samson thought they had him trapped in a city, planning to kill him at daylight, but Samson just tore out the gates of the city during the night and made his escape, carrying the gates with him to the top of a local mountain.

Hold that thought.

Several hundred years later, Yahshua is at the city of Caesarea Philippi with his young disciples, who were probably embarrassed to be at such an ungodly center of smut, wondering what in the world their rabbi was thinking to bring them here. This city was to Pan-worship as the Vatican is to Roman Catholicism. It was the capital city, the center, of cult worship to the goat-god Pan.

Just outside the city, and perhaps where Yahshua was standing, was a stone slab at the entrance to a cave. From this cave flowed the headwaters of the Jordan River. (In the 19th century, an earthquake shifted the river so it no longer flows from the cave).

Pan (from who's name we get the word "pandemonium") was a fertility god who every Autumn went into this cave which served as the gateway to the underworld, where he would spend the Winter. When Springtime arrived, Pan emerged from this gateway of hell to consort with his wife, Ashtarte ("Easter"), and in copulating with her, his sperm fell to the earth as rain, making the land fertile. His followers worshiped this goat-god on this stone slab in an annual fertility orgy involving all sorts of deviations, including human-goat sex.

Hold that thought.

The word "church" seems to have its origins in one of two sources. One is the Greek word "kuriokon" ("house of the lord" - never used in the N.T., although the root, "kuriokos" - "of the lord" - is used twice: the Supper of the Lord in 1 Cor 11:20, and the Day of the Lord in Rev 1:10). The other source is the even-older Celtic dialects that eventually gave us "kirk" ("church") and "circle". In many ancient pagan religions, particularly in Europe, the gathering places were in a circular form (think Stonehenge).

In either case, both words refer to a place, not to people, but the word used in the New Testament, "ekklesia" ("called out", "assembly", "congregation"), refers to people, not a place.

When the Bible was translated into English in the 13-16th centuries, the European idea of a pagan church/circle meeting place became confused with the Biblical idea of an assembly, and our English Bibles inherited the non-Biblical term "church".

That means that when we read Matthew 16:18 in most of our English Bibles, we get a concept of a place or thing which Yahshua intended to build, rather than a congregation.

Hold that thought.

Or better yet, put all three of these thoughts together.

Yahshua is standing with his disciples near, perhaps even on, the stone slab of a pagan, hellish religion, just outside the "gate" to the realm of evil in which humanity is destined to be trapped without a savior. He's speaking to a group of kids who were well-familiar with the story of Samson, who had broken through the gates of the city, in which he would be destined to death if he had not escaped.

In this context, Yahshua stands on or near this stone slab and makes an announcement to Peter that these gates of hell will not prevent his people from being called out of their death-trap, nor prevent his people from going into the depths of hell and defeating the evil therein.

Here's what he says:
On this stone slab, I will edify the people I call out; and the gates of hell will not be strong enough to withstand their attack.

1 comment:

Shepherd's Ewe said...

It is very strange you are writing about the Lord's visit to Caesarea Philippi. I just completed reading "Third Watch of the A.D. Chronicles" by Brodie and Brock Thoene, which uses Mount Hermon/Caesarea Philippi as the background to describe how easy it was for pagan worship of Pan to draw away the Jews away from God.

Herod the Great (one of the non-Judean line of kings--yes the one who tried to kill Yeshua as a infant in Bethlehem) built the Temple of Pan at Caesarea Philippi. It is interesting this is the possible site of the transfiguration, and the healing of the child which was possessed of a demon from birth who his disciples could not heal (Mark 9). This area was part the inheritance of the tribes of Isreal which Joshua didn't possess because of Joshua's old age. (Joshua 12 and 13, Duet.3: 8-9) Caesarea Philippi is in Philip II area of reign and it was thought Herod Antipas could not search for Yeshua there so it created a safe area for Yeshua and his disciples to teach.

Present day Caesarea Philippi is now just a ruin in Golan Heights at the southwestern foot of Mount Hermon(tallest mountain in Palestine). I like the way you describe the way Yahshua will call out his people to be edified.