Category Archives: Geology

The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell, Caesarea Philippi

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

Most of Jesus’ earthly ministry centered around the Sea of Galilee, aka the Sea of Tiberius, with His ministry headquarters at Capernaum. The furthest north He traveled, as recorded in the Gospels, was Caesarea Philippi, an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon. Formerly, it carried the name of Paneas in association with the Greek god Pan. Herod the Great erected a white marble (pagan) temple there in honor of Caesar Augustus in 19 BC. Philip II (the Tetrarch) founded the city of Paneas and renamed it Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus in 14 AD.[1]

Ruins of Temple of Augustus, Caesarea Philippi, Israel

Mount Hermon bears the ignominy of being the frequent site of pagan worship.[2] “In the Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Watcher class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swear upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men and take mutual imprecation for their sin (Enoch 6).”[3] From a grotto at the foot of Mount Hermon used to issue a spring that has since stopped due to seismic activity.

Nahal Senir Spring formerly “Panias” for the Greek god Pan. This spring, one of three headwaters of the Jordan River, used to flow directly from the cave.

“The pagans of Jesus’ day commonly believed that their fertility gods lived in the underworld during the winter and returned to earth each spring. They saw water as a symbol of the underworld and 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 hell. In order to entice the return of their god, Pan, each year, the people of Caesarea Philippi engaged in horrible deeds, including prostitution and sexual interaction between humans and goats.”[4]

The Gates of Hell, Caesarea Philippi, Israel

It was to this place that Jesus brought His disciples and asked, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13).  The disciples recited the popular rumors: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then, “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Without hesitation, “Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18, emphasis mine).

Jesus then disclosed details of His coming crucifixion.  “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Jesus, in turn, rebuked Peter in the harshest of terms. “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23, emphasis mine). Then to all Jesus counted the cost of discipleship. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, emphasis mine). He closed the discussion with these words. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28, emphasis mine).

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, (Matthew 17:1, emphasis mine). The summit of Mount Hermon is 9,232 ft. (almost two miles) above sea level. From the “gates of hell” to the portal of the Watchers, Jesus ascended with His closest disciples; “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him” (Matthew 17:2-3.) The disciples were flabbergasted. They did not know how to respond or react to what they were witnessing. “Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Matthew 17:4, emphasis mine). Perhaps because the mountain was littered with all kinds of shrines to pagan gods,

Niches to pagan gods at the Gates of Hell

Peter thought it would be appropriate to build something similar for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A voice from heaven quickly put the kibosh on that idea.

A niche for a pagan god

“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).

Gates are defensive barriers designed to keep out the enemy. The gates of hell are no different. Satan is at war against the Kingdom of God, and he erects all kinds of barriers to keep the Kingdom of God from the hearts of those who are perishing. Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Upon that confession – that “rock” – Jesus declared, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  All that they had witnessed would not be clear until after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.  Peter later recalled, “… [we] were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:16-18, emphasis mine).

On the mountain, Jesus received His marching orders, and it was time to storm the gates of hell. Luke records “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, emphasis mine). Jesus tore down the gates with His death, but more so with His resurrection. The gates of hell cannot stop His Church, and we have our orders: “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  “And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid” (Matthew 17:7, emphasis mine).


[1]  Caesarea Philippi –

[2]  Temples of Mount Hermon –

[3]  Mount Hermon –

[4]  Ray Vander Laan, That the World May Know, “The Gates of Hell” –


Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, Geology, Gospel, Hell, Religion, Theology

The Devils Believe!

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

I do not run into many Christians these days except at church or at the Christian ministry where I work. Oh, I am certain that they are out there, and it is possible that I encounter them everywhere I go; I just cannot tell them apart from non-Christians. A recent Barna study[1] on the state of the Church in America revealed that while 75% of Americans pray to God, 35% attend a church service, 34% read the Bible, 19% volunteer at a non-profit, 18% volunteer at church, 17% attend adult Sunday school and 16% attend small group.

Judging from those statistics, it seems that at least ¾ of Americans acknowledge God. The 35% and 34% that attend church and read their Bible are pretty much the same group of people, so if we subtract them from the 75% who say they pray to God, that leaves 40% who acknowledge God, but there it ends. Just knowing about God or tacitly acknowledging Him gains no one entry into heaven.

James was brutally direct when he says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). Imagine that! The devils believe, and yet their destiny is sealed. To those who think that “knowing” God and “being good” should be sufficient, “Then shall he [Jesus] say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, emphasis mine). “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine).

The devil knows God better than any of us here on earth. The Book of Job records that Satan has direct access to God. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them” (Job 1:6, emphasis mine). The devil is an eyewitness to God’s creative power. In responding to Job’s questions, God replies, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7, emphasis mine). The “morning stars” are the “sons of God” (bene elohim), and they are the whole host of created angelic beings including Satan and all of his angels (demons). They witnessed God’s power in creation. As humans, we benefit from all that God has created, and we marvel at the incredible design in all that He has made; but no one saw Him do it – not even Adam and Eve. However, Satan and all of his demons were eye witnesses to God’s awesome power.

The devils believe, and they “tremble” before God. The Greek word translated “tremble” is phrissō, and it means to “bristle”, to “chill”, or to “shudder.” In other words, in the presence of God, they get goose bumps, their hair stands on end, and they shiver in fear. Jesus illustrated this fact when He confronted a “Legion” of them who had taken possession of a man. “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29, emphasis mine). They know Him, and they know His power. They also know what awaits them in the end. However, no matter how intimately they “know” God, their knowledge does not alter their status. They are doomed to hell.

Reader, do you know God? Do you believe that He exists? Do you even toss a prayer up to Him now and then? Perhaps you even “say grace” before you eat: “God is good. God is great. Let us thank Him for this food. Amen.” Maybe you even visit church from time to time – especially on Christmas and Easter. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). If that is all you have, you are in the same company with the devils, and their destiny is your destiny. However, while their destiny is fixed, you have a way out. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12, emphasis mine).

“Believing in Him” means more than simply “knowing” about Him. Knowing God will not help the devils, because, while they acknowledge God as God, they do not “submit” to Him as Lord. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandmentsHe that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15, 21, emphasis mine). The context within which James exposes the “belief” of the devils, he discusses how “true faith” (belief) is expressed. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works … But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:18, 20, emphasis mine). True faith is demonstrated in a tangible ways, not for show nor under duress, nor as a sense of obligation, but out of a sincere love for the Savior, Jesus. Remember, the devils believe, but they are still bound for hell.


[1] “The State of the Church 2016” – accessed 03/31/2017.


Filed under Christianity, End Times, Evangelism, Geology, Heaven, Hell, Religion, Resurrection, Salvation, Satan, Theology


Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14)

Thanks to a host of well-meaning Christian movie critics, I find my enthusiasm for seeing the movie “Noah” severely waning. Thanks for all the spoilers! It goes without saying that any Bible movie coming out of Hollywood will fall woefully short on accuracy. Face it; these people are script writers that deal in fantasy, not theologians or Bible scholars who are intimate with the Word of God. Not to mention that God chose not to provide us with every detail that took place within this 121-year period of history. The Flood account takes up only four short chapters in the Bible. There is not enough material there to make a 2-hour and 18-minute movie, so Hollywood has to fill in the blanks according to their own imaginations – that being Director and Co-writer, Darren Aronofsky, an atheist, and staring actor, Russell Crowe who is no friend of Christians.

I would hope that thoughtful Christians would take that into consideration. It’s a movie. It is designed to entertain and to make money for the producers and for the theaters on the sale of popcorn and soda. Certainly Christians (or anyone else for that matter) should not take it as a serious portrayal of a biblical narrative. That said, it does get some things right. The Ark is of the correct biblical dimensions. The Flood is global. The Flood is God’s judgment for man’s sin. The Flood is not just the result of rain, but also resulted from the bursting of the “fountains of the deep.” Of course, the movie gets more things wrong than it gets things right. One glaring problem that I found from viewing movie trailers is that the Ark is of a crude construction. It looks like a huge log cabin that could hardly withstand the tsunami-like waves associated with the Great Flood. This image of the Ark stems from evolutionary thinking that assumes ancient man was technologically inept, but that is hardly the picture the Bible presents of pre-flood man: “Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ … Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron” (Genesis 4:21-22). Not long after Noah and his family came out of the Ark, the Tower of Babel was built (Genesis 11), and after the division of languages, the Egyptians started building their pyramids. It seems implausible to me that Noah would have built anything less than a sturdy, seaworthy vessel, and besides, he had 120 years to work on it. The spoilers also point out that the movie Ark has several doors, while the biblical Ark has only one (Genesis 6:16).

The spoilers point out many other problems with the film. For instance, creation is a result of the big bang. Life emerges out of the waters. The movie implies that Adam and Eve come from apes. Noah seems to care more about animals and the planet than he does about humans including his own family. The sin of mankind is their abuse of the environment and mankind is portrayed as blight upon the earth. The Creator (Who is never referred to as “God”) is impersonal and vindictive. It is implied that God instructs Noah to kill his own granddaughters (born on the Ark, which has no biblical basis), and when he is unable to do so, Noah regards himself as a failure. More could be said concerning the failure of this movie to present a true rendition of the biblical text, however the critics, above all else, decry the film’s purposeful distortion of Scripture. For the low information viewer, the question remains, who was Noah? What was Noah really like?

To answer those questions, one must go to the source, the Bible. Noah is of the godly line of Seth, Adam’s third son named in the Bible (Genesis 4:25). There very well could have been others, but one must remember that one of the purposes of the biblical genealogies is to point to Christ. Noah’s father was Lamech, and his grandfather was Methuselah, whose name means something like “when he dies, judgment.” Methuselah holds the record for longevity; he lived to be 969 years old, and he died the year that the Flood came.

Noah was around 480 years old when God selected him to build the Ark. At that time, “the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3, emphasis added). So Noah was given 120 years to build the Ark. During that time, he preached to the people trying to get them to repent of their sin. Peter speaking of the people of that time “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:20, emphasis added). “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:4-5, emphasis added). When Noah and his family (Mrs. Noah, Noah’s three sons and his three daughters-in-law) entered the Ark, Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:11).

The reason God brought the Flood was not for ecological reasons as the Gaia-worshiping makers of the “Noah” movie suggest. Second Peter 2:5 (above) talks about God not sparing “the angels that sinned,” and then closely follows with a description of Noah as “a preacher of righteousness.” It must be understood that the angels who rebelled against God along with Lucifer (Satan), are excluded from God’s plan of salvation. So Noah’s preaching was not to fallen angels (demons), but rather to humans who had been enticed to sin by these angels. These people would have been eligible for salvation had they repented. But the mention of the angels is interesting. Some scholars believe that these angels in some form or another mated with humans and created a race of super-humans. This is concluded from the first four verses of Genesis 6. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose … There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-2, emphasis added). The Hebrew word for “sons of God” in verses 2 and 4 is bene ĕlôhı̂ym and it is always used when referring to angels in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word translated “giants” here is nephı̂ylim and it means “fallen ones.” Of course, there are those who will say that angels do not have sex and others who will suggest that angels (except for God’s angels) cannot take human form. I will not go to war over that, but whatever took place was sufficient to corrupt mankind to the point that God was willing to destroy His entire creation with the exception of those who made it on the Ark. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart … The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6:5-6, 11-12, emphasis added). Imagine the degradation and depravity to which mankind had sunk that the great loving heart of God could be so grieved as to destroy His beautiful creation! This had nothing to do with littering the planet.

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). In Noah and his family was the human race preserved. Noah was given instruction for building the Ark. It was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high (Genesis 6:15). Using an 18-inch cubit, that made the Ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. The Ark was the length of one and one-half football fields and of sufficient capacity to hold 522 railroad cattle cars. The Ark was to have three floors (stories or decks, Genesis 6:16) and “rooms” (Hebrew qênim meaning “nests”) for the animals (Genesis 6:14). The Ark also required a ventilation and lighting system which the Bible describes as a “window” (Genesis 6:16). God instructed Noah to bring enough food for his family and for all of the animals (Genesis 6:20) enough to last them for a year (Genesis 7:14). In order to carry out God’s instructions, Noah had to be an engineer, architect/designer, ship builder, zoologist and other duties as assigned. Noah was no dummy!

The rains came, the crust of the earth broke open allowing superheated, subterranean water to spew into the atmosphere (Genesis 7:11), and the whole earth was covered in water more than 22 feet above the tallest hills/mountains (Genesis 7:20). “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:21-23, emphasis added). The all-inclusive description of the death wrought by the Flood precludes a small local event as some have suggested.

After 371 days the waters subsided, and Noah was instructed to come out of the Ark (Genesis 8:15-16). Noah released all of the animals, and the first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God (Genesis 8:20-21). God promised never again to destroy the earth with water, and He promised to maintain nature in a stable state (Genesis 8:21); but God was under no delusion that man would remain faithful, “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (v. 21). To Noah and his family and thereby to us, God reestablished man’s Dominion Mandate: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth … And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” (Genesis 9:1, 7). He also gave to man the authority to render justice. “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:5-6, emphasis added).

This is the true story of Noah. Now, feel free to go enjoy the false story of Noah, just remember that it is just a movie and not the true account. The real historical account is in the Bible. Read it, and know it before you go see “Noah” the movie.


Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Book Reviews, Christianity, Creation, Current Events, Death, End Times, Evolution, Geology, Origins, Religion, Salvation, Theology