Jesus, of course, was fully aware of the ongoing war for his holy mountain. For him, the war was personal.
Many of the key events in the life of Jesus occurred at the Temple Mount. As an infant, Jesus was presented at the Temple in accordance with the Law, where Simeon, a man who had been told he’d live to see the Messiah, and Anna, an 84-year-old prophetess, were led to Jesus by the Holy Spirit. When he was twelve, he stayed behind in the Temple after his parents started back to Nazareth after the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. It was a full day before they realized Jesus was missing, and at least three more before they found him in the Temple talking with the rabbis.
Early in his ministry, Jesus visited Jerusalem during Passover and drove the moneychangers and animal merchants out of the Temple. Later, probably during the second Passover of his ministry, Jesus healed a lame man at the Pool of Bethesda at the north end of the temple complex. Shortly before the Crucifixion, Jesus drove out the moneychangers a second time, and Matthew records that he healed many lame and blind people who came to him at the Temple.
Isn’t it interesting that even in the building erected by the wicked king Herod, and without the Ark of the Covenant in the temple, Jesus was still consumed with zeal for his Father’s house?
And that passion extended beyond the 35 acres that make up the Temple Mount. Israel’s inheritance was Yahweh, and the land inside the borders He established during the time of Moses and Joshua belonged to Him. That’s why Jesus devoted so much of his ministry to healing the sick and casting out demons—which were, remember, the spirits of the Nephilim. He wasn’t just restoring people to physical and spiritual health, he was casting them out of his land, Israel.
When we step back and take a fresh look at the events of Jesus’ life, many things take on new meaning when they’re framed in the context of the war between God and the gods. And, of course, many of the arguments offered by skeptics to explain away the divinity of Jesus are nothing more than PSYOPs by the Fallen to convince modern minds, clouded by the fog of scientism, that Jesus was either a political radical, a social justice warrior, or a misunderstood itinerant preacher—anything but God made flesh.
For example, the Transfiguration. What was the point of all that?
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
Mark 9:2-8 (ESV)
First reaction by the modern reader: Awesome special effects! But if the purpose of the Transfiguration was to demonstrate his divinity, why did Jesus take only three of his disciples? Wouldn’t it have been more productive to bring all twelve? Or why not perform this great visual effect for the thousands of people who had to settle for a miraculous lunch of bread and fish?
Here’s why: The intended audience wasn’t human.
The clue to the real purpose of the event is the location. Both Mark and Matthew note that the Transfiguration took place on a high mountain. Now, Israel has plenty of mountains, but not many that can be described as high—at least not relative to the rest of the peaks in the land.
Second, note that they climbed a mountain near Caesarea Philippi. That narrows the field. The town was in the northeastern part of the Holy Land, north of the Sea of Galilee and Lake Huleh, in the area we call the Golan Heights. To be precise, Caesarea Philippi sat at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon.
Ah. Bull’s eye!
Yes, the very mountain where the Watchers/Titans descended and made a pact to corrupt humanity was where Jesus was transfigured into a being of light before the eyes of Peter, James, and John.
Not on your life! Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. This was a cosmic poke in the eye, a declaration to the Fallen that the Second Power in Heaven had arrived in the flesh. He was declaring that the temporary dominion of the rebellious bene elohim was nearly at an end—that Yahweh’s mount of assembly would soon fulfill the promises proclaimed by the prophets. And he did it on the mount of assembly of El, the high god of the Canaanites.
More accurately, it was where the Fallen tried to usurp the name of El Shaddai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
If we back up a chapter in Matthew and Mark, there is another incident that foreshadowed what happened on Mount Hermon. At the base of the mountain, outside the city of Caesarea Philippi, is a place called Paneas (today called Banias). It’s a cave and a spring that’s been sacred to the Greek god Pan since the time of Alexander the Great.
Pan was the god of wild, desolate places, shepherds and flocks, music, fields, groves, and wooded glens. Pan was also linked to fertility, which influenced much of the art depicting the god in the classical world. He was often shown pursuing or engaged in physical relations with goddesses, nymphs, women, teen boys called eromenoi, and/or goats. (Ecch. Some of those ancient vases and frescoes should have been rated R or NC-17.) As a rustic nature god, Pan normally wasn’t worshiped in temples. He preferred outdoor settings, especially those that were like his home in Arcadia, a mountainous region of southern Greece.
The Grotto of Pan at Paneas has been sacred since ancient times. A gushing spring once flowed from the cave, feeding the marshy area north of Lake Huleh that was the source of the Jordan River. An earthquake years ago shifted something under the mountain, and today the stream seeps quietly from the bedrock below the mouth of the cave.
After the Greeks came to the Levant, Pan gradually replaced an earlier local fertility cult. Scholars have suggested that Aliyan, a minor Canaanite god of fountains, may have been the deity worshiped at Paneas before the Greeks arrived. This might have been the god called Baal-Hermon, the Lord of Hermon, in Judges 3:3.
Christians in the centuries after Jesus equated Pan with Satan. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how Greek depictions of the goat-god influenced later artists, what with the horns, hooves, tail, and all. But those connections were mainly in the minds of imaginative medieval artists, since there is nothing definite in the Bible that describes the appearance of Satan other than a warning that he can appear as an angel of light. However, there are some interesting links that suggest there was more to Pan than a fun-loving, randy nature spirit.
We go back more than 1,400 years from the time of Jesus to the Exodus. Apparently, the Israelites began to worship entities during their forty years in the desert called se’irim, or “goat demons.”
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them, This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.
Leviticus 17:1-7 (ESV), emphasis added
The se’irim, literally “hairy ones,” were satyr-like (i.e., Pan-like) beings who the Israelites began to worship during their wanderings in the desert. The sacrifices away from the tabernacle were consistent with the worship of Pan. It appears that the section of the Law recorded in Leviticus 17, requiring that all sacrifices be brought to the tent of meeting, was specifically to stop the worship of these goat-demons.
Now, se’ir is one of those words where the translation depends on the context. Usually, it simply means “goat” or “kid.” But there are four places in the Old Testament where the word clearly refers to a demon or devil. Here’s another example: In Isaiah 34, the prophet turns his polemical gift on the land of Edom:
Thorns shall grow over its strongholds,
nettles and thistles in its fortresses.
It shall be the haunt of jackals,
an abode for ostriches.
And wild animals shall meet with hyenas;
the wild goat shall cry to his fellow;
indeed, there the night bird settles
and finds for herself a resting place.
Isaiah 34:13-14 (ESV), emphasis added
Again, the “wild goat” is based on the Hebrew root se’ir. The KJV translates the word as “satyr,” as it does in Isaiah 13, but most English translations are similar to the ESV—wild goat, male goat, hairy goat, etc.
Now, back to Moses: The Book of Leviticus records an interesting requirement for the Day of Atonement. It involved a goat that was driven from the camp into the wilderness for a being called Azazel.
“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.
Leviticus 16:6-10 (ESV), emphasis added
Scholars interpret the ritual as complementary rites of atonement, with the sacrificial goat and the second goat who carries the sin of the people away. The priest would lay hands on the goat for Azazel and impart the sins of the people on it before it was led out of the camp and into the wilderness. This is the origin of the term “scapegoat.”
Because you’ve been paying attention, you’re remembering right about now that the name Azazel has come up once before in this book. That’s because the Book of 1 Enoch names Azazel as one of the leaders of the rebellious Watchers who descended at Mount Hermon. And right there is a link between Azazel and the se’irim, the satyr-like deities dancing in the wilderness who just happen to bear a strong resemblance to the Greek god Pan.
Of course, unless you’re a coincidence theorist, you see these details as a connected thread, part of an enemy PSYOP to distract the Jews from their devotion to Yahweh. But that’s not all.
Greek myths record fascinating connections between Pan and a pair of other deities we’ve already encountered in this study: In one story, Pan, in his goat-god aspect Aegipan, assisted Zeus in the chief god’s epic battle with the chaos god, Typhon. When Typhon turned to attack Aegipan, the goat-god dove into the Nile River, with the parts above the water remaining a goat but the part below the waterline transformed into a goat. Thus, Aegipan became the goat-fish Capricornus, or Capricorn.
Even though the constellation Capricorn is faint, it’s been consistently depicted as a hybrid goat-fish since at least the 21st century B.C., the time of the last Sumerian kings to rule over all of Mesopotamia. And—here’s the kicker—the goat-fish was a well-known symbol of the god of the abzu, Enki.
So now we can draw links directly from Enki, god of the abyss, to the goat-demons of the Exodus and the goat-god worshiped at the base of Mount Hermon in the time of Jesus Christ.
And it was there at Caesarea Philippi, right outside the Grotto of Pan, where this exchange took place between Jesus and his hot-headed disciple, Peter:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“
Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV), emphasis added
Remember that the Grotto of Pan is at the foot of El’s mount of assembly, site of the rebellion by the Watchers. It’s also in Bashan, gateway to the netherworld. Was it a coincidence that it was there Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?”
No. Jesus made a statement to the Fallen there, a declaration of his divinity: On their rock, he would build his church!
Then he climbed their rock, Mount Hermon, and was transfigured into a being of light, his face like the sun and his clothes dazzling white—and the disciples heard Yahweh’s voice from heaven.
We need to look at one more event that took place in northern Israel, near Mount Hermon. This is in Luke 10, the chapter immediately after Peter’s declaration of faith and the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon. In other words, the time and place of this event was also deliberate.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. […]
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:1-20 (ESV), emphasis added
Now, some translations say there were seventy disciples, others say seventy-two. The Greek manuscripts of Luke are split and there is no way to know for sure which number Luke wrote on his original draft of the gospel. But either way, given the location and the purpose of the mission, there are good theological reasons to believe the number was not, you know, coincidental.
How many sons of El were in El’s assembly on Mount Hermon? That’s right, seventy—plus Ba`al and El equals seventy-two.
How many nations did Yahweh create at the Tower of Babel? Seventy—but some translations of the Bible actually name seventy-two.
How many elders of Israel climbed Mount Sinai to meet Yahweh face to face? Seventy—plus Moses and Aaron makes seventy-two.
What was the point of Jesus sending the disciples out ahead of him? It was the start of the church’s mission to reclaim the nations from the Fallen, the kickoff event of the Great Commission. Satan, the nachash from the book of Genesis, fell “like lightning from heaven” because he’d lost his legal claim as lord of the dead over those who die in Christ. Why? Because we are guaranteed eternal life through the shedding of his blood.
However you count it, sending out that specific number of disciples wasn’t an accident or a coincidence, it was a clear message to the old gods: Get off my land!