Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mt Nebo and the Gates of Hell

Mt Nebo is without question one of my most favorite stops in the Land of the Bible. This is where God took Moses before he died to show him the Land of Promise that he was not allowed to enter because of his earlier disobedience. On a clear day from this spot you can literally see all of the land of Israel.

To stand in the same spot where Moses would have stood as God explained to him the panoramic view is absolutely mind-boggling. I think that Pastor Dan Travis has it right when he says that he believes that God did not just show him the land but pointed out the spots where Jesus would be born, be baptized, be crucified, and be resurrected for our sins. Our guide in Israel also pointed out that though Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land before his death, he did make it there when he, along with Elijah, appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration.

I love standing on top of Mt Nebo. What I would not give to have several hours to spend on that mountain alone in communion with God, just like Moses did. This is also where Moses died and God buried his body so that it would never be found. In the book of Jude we learn that Satan argued with Michael the Archangel over the remains of Moses that God buried on Mt Nebo. Obviously, Satan is not all-knowing nor omni-present as God is since to this day he still does not know where the body of Moses was buried.

Another place of great meaning to me in Israel is Caesarea Philippi. This was a place of great idol worship to many gods, especially the god of Pan who was half man and half goat. There is a cave there called the cave of Pan (pictured behind me and Dean Brandt) where a spring once existed. Many thought this spring was the entrance to hell so it became known as the “gates of hell.” Sacrifices were thrown into this spring to the god of pan. It was here that Jesus brought his disciples on a two day journey in order to ask them two questions. Question one was, “Who do men say that I am?” They answered that some would say he was John the Baptist and others would say he was Elijah. Then, Jesus asked the all important question…“Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered with this amazing statement…“You are the Christ, the Son of God, the Living One!”

With the backdrop of all of these false gods and false religions directly behind him, Peter is saying, “As opposed to all of this, you alone are the Christ (the Messiah). You alone are the Son of God (a term of deity). And you alone are the only living God as opposed to all of these dead gods! Jesus said that the Spirit had enlightened Peter to this truth and that upon the rock of that truth Jesus was going to build His church and “the gates of hell” would not prevail against it. There is no doubt in my mind that when Jesus said that He was pointing right at the cave of Pan which was called the gates of hell. He was saying that not even the authority (the metaphorical meaning of “gates” in scripture) of paganism would be able to stop the advancement of the church. This is one of my most favorite spots in Israel. It again convinces me of my passion that the local church is the hope of the world!

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