“The Gates of Hell” – How ideas are spread

In ancient times ideas were spread by the edge of the sword. The great Greek civilization and language was spread by the sword and armies of Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the then known world. He placed his own Greek culture in the form of beautifully sculpted statues of his gods, built amphitheaters to display and plant the Greek ideas and philosophies into the minds of the populations through the plays performed for the conquered. Then came the powerful Roman civilization which by their armies conquered most of the then known world, replacing the Greek culture and gods with their own. Through their art forms and theaters and colosseums were spread the ideas of Rome far and wide. The Islamic idea was spread wide by the sword of Muhammad and his followers. Nazi Germany too knew the power of the sword and of art to persuade and indoctrinate by the use of film, literature, music, media and illustrations, as did the idea of Communism.

But how did a mere handful of Jewish men without an army, printing press, motor vehicles, cellphone or media manage to spread an idea from ancient Jerusalem by mouth to ear throughout the world? By pushing forth by land and sea they broke into the Greco-Roman empire, into their pagan temples of iniquity and promiscuity, armed only with the Word of God from Jerusalem, which would eventually topple and replace those mighty powers. And that Idea would go forth to spread over the entire Western world and more

It is seldom the majority who change the world, but a small fistful of dedicated visionaries, for good or for evil.

One Jew with his few disciples in the 1st century in the Land of Israel stood at the headwaters of the Jordan River, at the pagan center of idolatry at Caesarea Philippi, where the Rabbi said, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against my congregation.” Many Christians today seem to interpret those words to mean, “the Devil has not power to attack me.” But gates have seldom been know to attack anyone, being only a defensive structure themselves. Nevertheless, many Christians have enclosed themselves in a defensive stature behind their own protective gates and communities.

Another well-known Jewish rabbi in service of the Rabbi from Nazareth, Shaul of Tarsus, described the tools of war that are distributed to the Messiah’s troops, being:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’

Note that all of those elements are defensive– but for the sword of the Spirit, which is by all means offensive. It is by that powerful sword that we are called to break through the Gates of Hell and penetrate that darkness with the weapons of Light.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah’

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.