Matthew 16:13-19 (NIV)
Peter's Confession of Christ13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This weekend we visited Mt. Hermon, Tel Dan, and the area of Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi is where Jesus was speaking these words, and Mt. Hermon is thought to be where he was transfigured.
The interesting thing about the area is that there was a big temple area there that dates back to the Caananite time when the Israelites in Dan decided they were too far to worship in Jerusalem and set up their own places to worship. There were also other cult worshiping going on. This particular place was set up to worship the god Pan which has been changed to Banias with the change of language. Pan was worshiped by sacrificing animals, particularly goats. I believe there were also children sacrificed here as well. Anyway, the temple was built against a big mountain at the base of which there was a deep pool of water that was believed to be bottomless. They threw their sacrifices in there, and if there was no sign of blood, the sacrifice had been accepted. If there was, it had been rejected. Over the years as different civilizations took over, the Greeks and Romans also had temples there to different gods. The thing is, the pool is known as Hades. Makes it all the more meaningful that Jesus said while in the area that the Gates of Hades would not prevail. There was so much idol worship going on and worshiping false gods. There was darkness and death and fear because of the pool known as Hades.
Hades. It's since been filled with rocks.
Mt. Hermon is also the tallest mountain in Israel. They have snow in winter, and it was definitely cooler up there when we climbed the mountain.
Approach to hades.
Greek inscription on an old column.
A Greek god stood where I am standing here.
The workmanship of the architecture was beautiful.