Posted by: everynation | March 23, 2011

A Visit to the Gates of Hell

by Lynn Nawata

(Note: We’re re-posting Lynn’s ‘The Tale of Gaijin” blog post last June 21, 2008)

Israel is skinny. Whereas the Philippines is a nation of skinny people, Israel is a skinny nation. From the northernmost tip to the southern border, it is at most 260 miles. When I was a kid in Canada, we used to drive farther than that to visit my grandparents for the weekend. The distance from east to west in Israel is 70 miles at its fattest point and only 10 miles at its thinnest. It can take longer to drive from the north to the south of Manila than it takes to drive across the entire nation of Israel.

Was Jesus buff? The other thing you come to appreciate when you visit Israel is how fit people in Jesus’ day were. When the Bible says in Acts 1:12 that the distance from Jerusalem to the Mt. of Olives was “a Sabbath day’s walk,” what it is really saying is, it was a walk in the park for one of Jesus’ disciples – and would probably take you or me two days to get there (and even then we’d probably end up calling for a taxi).

Jesus walked everywhere. Across the wilderness. Up and down hills and mountains. Over lakes. And they did it brisk-wall, Oprah style. Arie (Lynn’s tour guide) kindly pointed this out to us on our last day. We were on the Road to Emmaus where Jesus appeared to two disciples after His resurrection in Luke 24:13. The walk to Emmaus from Jerusalem (where they had come from) was, in Arie’s view, a three-hour walk for a Roman soldier, a four-hour walk for the average person of that time, and a six-hour walk for today’s wimpy tourists (which included us).

Our visit to the Gates of Hell. One of the many cool revelations from our trip was our visit to the Hermon Spring. This was the site of a very famous pagan temple – also known as the Pan Gate. Pan is the goat footed, flute-playing Greek god of, well, goatherds and music. Apparently (or at least according to Greek mythology), Pan spent a good deal of his time chasing nymphs who, they also say, commonly fled from his advances.

Apparently the nymphs were not into goat-footed, flute players.

It is from Pan, interestingly enough, that we get the word “panic” because his unseen presence caused panic in the men passing through the remote, wooded area where he lived. And it is here that Jesus made His famous declaration, “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18).

Jesus chose the “pan gate,” a place reknowned for pagan worship, to tell the world that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against His church. Pretty cool.



Lynn Nawata is the Executive Director of the Real LIFE Foundation. She received her B.A. degree at the University of Alberta and a post-graduate degree in Asia Pacific Management at Capilano College in Vancouver. Born and raised in Canada, she moved to the Philippines in 1991 to work for the trade division of the Canadian Embassy in Manila before becoming the Country Manager of Harris Corporation, a US multinational. Lynn has lived in Edmonton, Canada; Akita, Japan; Nashville, Tennessee; and currently resides in Makati, Philippines.


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