Of all the gods of Greek mythology, he was one of the ugliest, with goat’s horns growing from his head, goat’s hoofs in place of feet, and the shaggy hair of a goat covering his body. But the half-man, half-goat god, Pan, was merry, bounding among the thickets and mountains playing his reed pipe. It was among the trees and craggy hillsides of Caesarea Philippi that a temple to Pan was built. At the base of this temple exists a cave long believed by those who worshiped there to be the doorway into the netherworld. Worshipers threw goats from the precipice into the mouth of the cave in hopes that their sacrifice would be acceptable to Pan.
It was in the vicinity of this grotto, the alleged gateway to Hades, that Jesus promised: “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Beginning with a small group of Jewish outsiders in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, Christ built His church to reach even the remotest parts of the world. And from that day to this, Satan has attempted to destroy Christ’s church—yet it endures. Despite controversies, wars, and denominational splits, the church continues as the means through which God announces to a dark and dying world that light and life have come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Taken from Derrick G. Jeter, “Discovering the Gates of Hades,” in The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal Bible Companion (Plano, Tex.: IFL Publishing House, 2010), 9. Copyright © 2010 by Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.