Every so often, someone asks why I spend so much time studying the giants mentioned in the Bible. The implication is that the giants, variously called Anakim, Rephaim, and Nephilim, are “fringe,” and thus irrelevant. Isn’t Jesus enough?

Yes, of course he is. But contrary to what’s being taught in seminaries, the “mighty men who were of old” are not “fringe”; they are, in fact, woven through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The prophets and apostles knew about them, and texts from pagan kingdoms around ancient Israel, some of which have only been translated within the last forty years, are helping us put these characters into their proper context.

In the Canaanite Rephaim Texts, “Travelers” are spirits who “travel” or “cross over” from one plane of existence to another, from the realm of the dead to the land of the living—in other words, demons, the spirits of the Nephilim destroyed in the days of Noah. It’s significant because “Traveler” can be interpreted as a divine name in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Gog-Magog war.

On that day I will give to Gog a place for burial in Israel, the Valley of the Travelers, east of the sea. It will block the travelers, for there Gog and all his multitude will be buried. It will be called the Valley of Hamon-gog.

Ezekiel 39:11, ESV (emphasis added)

These Travelers, the Rephaim, were also called “warriors of Baal” in the Rephaim Texts. The reference to the Travelers in Ezekiel 39 is not just significant, it’s critical. The pagan Amorites of Canaan venerated spirits of the dead for centuries before Israel arrived. That’s why God prohibited consulting with mediums and necromancers, and why He sent a plague against Israel, before the people crossed the Jordan to march around Jericho, for eating sacrifices offered to the dead.

Ezekiel places the Valley of the Travelers east of the Dead Sea, an area where the veil between the worlds was believed to be thin. Place names along the Exodus route in Moab include Oboth (“Spirits of the Dead”), Peor (“cleft” or “gap,” which in this context refers to the entrance to the netherworld), and Iye-Abarim (“Ruins of the Travelers”). Mount Nebo, across the Jordan from Jericho, is called the “mountain of the Abarim (Travelers).”

Archaeologists working at Tall el-Hammam, a site about seven and a half miles northeast of the Dead Sea, have uncovered physical evidence that strongly suggests it was the site of Sodom. A thriving city with massive defensive walls appears to have been leveled around 1700 BC in a single, cataclysmic event that left it and the fertile plain around it uninhabited for the next six to seven hundred years, about the time of Saul, David, and Solomon. Just southeast of the city is a cluster of about five hundred dolmens, megalithic funerary monuments that scholars date to the Early Bronze Age, possibly as old as 3300 BC. It’s estimated that as many as fifteen hundred once stood there, along with menhirs (standing stones), henges, and stone circles, the largest such collection of megalithic structures in the Levant.

The site rises 75 to 150 feet above the plain. So, the stone monuments and the ruined, still-deserted city would have been easily visible to the Israelites who camped on the plains of Moab. It’s even possible that their stop at Iye-Abarim, “Ruins of the Travelers,” was among the rubble of the city that God destroyed with fire from the sky.

Dr. Phillip Silvia, the director of scientific analysis for the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project, told me in a 2019 interview that the dolmens, unlike some others in the Jordan valley, don’t appear to be aligned with any astronomical features. Instead, they appear to be oriented toward what project archaeologists believe was the temple of Tall el-Hammam.

We’re eagerly waiting to see what the ongoing dig turns up, but this is a tantalizing bit of information. Consider: The east side of the Jordan valley is where the Bible places the Rephaim tribes in the days of Abraham. Some twenty-five thousand dolmens have been found along the Jordan from the Golan Heights (ancient Bashan) to the Dead Sea, with the largest concentration of them just outside the walls of Sodom—the largest and most influential city in the Transjordan until the time of Abraham and Lot. Scholars date the construction of the dolmens to time of the Rephaim, the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (roughly 3300–1800 BC), which coincides almost exactly with the period that Sodom dominated the region. Those dolmens apparently faced the city’s temple.

That begs the question: Who or what was worshiped in that temple? Why was God compelled to destroy the city and those around it? In my view, His judgment was about more than just the Sodomites’ choice of lifestyle.

The Hebrew prophets, especially Isaiah and Ezekiel, were clearly familiar with the pagan cult of the dead. References to the Rephaim are there in the original Hebrew, but they’ve been obscured by translators who may not have understood the historical and religious milieu of the ancient Near East.

Let’s start with Ezekiel, who prophesied the return of the Nephilim at Armageddon. The spirits of the Rephaim are the Travelers, the demon warriors of Baal (Satan) who make up the army of Gog (Antichrist) at the final battle for Zion.

That may sound crazy, but consider: Since this happens on the Day of the Lord, the day of His terrible judgment on the world, the church won’t be here. We are not destined to suffer His wrath. With Christians gone, those still on the earth will not be protected by the Holy Spirit from this demonic army. What the people of Jerusalem face in that final battle is an attacking force possessed by the Travelers—demonic spirits of the “mighty men who were of old,” the Nephilim, following their spirit fathers into battle for one final assault on the holy mountain of God.

It will quite literally be an army of the evil dead.

This brings us to Isaiah 14, where we find the Rephaim, translated into English as “shades,” welcoming the divine rebel upon his fall from Eden.

Sheol beneath is stirred up 

to meet you when you come; 

it rouses the shades [Rephaim] to greet you, 

all who were leaders of the earth; 

it raises from their thrones 

all who were kings of the nations. (Isaiah 14:9, ESV)

The description by Isaiah matches the sense of the term in the pagan Rephaim Texts from five hundred years earlier: The Rephaim were dead kings of old who now inhabit the netherworld. The main difference is that the Amorites believed those spirits of the dead would bless and protect their kings, while Isaiah described them as “weak,” sleeping beneath worms on a bed of maggots. 

Isaiah 14 is, without a doubt, one of the most important chapters in the Bible for understanding this long supernatural war in which you and I are deployed. It tells us about the divine rebel, Day Star (Lucifer), son of Dawn, and his fall from Eden. The five “I wills” that illustrate his destructive pride and ambition. But Isaiah’s report on Lucifer’s fall is even more fascinating that we’ve been taught.

First, because Isaiah identified Lucifer’s mount of assembly as Mount Zaphon, the mountain sacred to Baal (whom Jesus identified as Satan), we can be pretty sure that Satan is in view here.

Second, the prophet, who is known for his love of wordplay, employed an Egyptian loanword to reveal more about the final destiny of the rebel god.

All the kings of the nations lie in glory,

each in his own tomb;

but you are cast out, away from your grave,

like a loathed branch,

clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,

who go down to the stones of the pit,

like a dead body trampled underfoot.

Isaiah 14:18–19, ESV (emphasis added)

What did Isaiah mean by calling Satan “a loathed branch?”

Most English translations agree that the Hebrew word netser means “branch.” The range of adjectives chosen by translators includes “loathed,” “repulsive,” “rejected,” “worthless,” and “abominable,” but they convey the same sense—something utterly detestable. The adjective translated “abhorred” or “abominable,” Hebrew taʿab, is significant. It modifies the noun netser, which would normally have a positive connotation. In this context, taʿab means something like “unclean” or “ritually impure.”

Still, even allowing for differences in cultures over the last twenty-seven hundred years, calling someone an “unclean branch” is puzzling. But there is an explanation: Isaiah meant something other than “branch” because the Hebrew netser wasn’t the word he used at all.

[The] term is best explained as a loanword from the common Egyptian noun nṯr. Nṯr is generally translated “god,” but is commonly used of the divinized dead and their physical remains. It originally came into Hebrew as a noun referring to the putatively divinized corpse of a dead king, which is closely related to the Egyptian usage. (Emphasis added)

“Divinized dead” describes perfectly the Rephaim, the Nephilim spirits venerated by the Amorites of Canaan, whom the prophet mentioned above, in verse 9. Isaiah used an Egyptian word that sounds like the Hebrew word for “branch” to connect the rebel from Eden to the Rephaim by calling Satan an abhorrent dead god.

This definition fits. Satan was thrown down from Eden to the netherworld and demoted from “an anointed guardian cherub” to become the unclean, repugnant, eternally cursed lord of the dead.

What humiliation.


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Chapter 14 of the Book of Isaiah is absolutely fascinating. It’s long been interpreted as a condemnation of the rebel in the Garden of Eden. It certainly is that; Jerome’s Hebrew-to-Latin translation of the rebel’s name, Helel ben Shachar (literally, “Day Star, son of Dawn”), is the origin of the name “Lucifer.” But this chapter goes much deeper; it probably reveals more about the rebellion of the Fallen, and God’s response to it, than any other single chapter in the Bible.

On the surface, it’s a biting criticism of the king of Babylon. From our perspective, it seems natural that a Hebrew prophet would write such a thing, but we’re looking at these matters with 2,700 years of hindsight. When Isaiah lived and wrote, Babylon was a vassal state of Assyria. It was more than eight centuries after the Amorite founding dynasty of Babylon had been ended by the Kassites, a tribal people from the mountains of what is now western Iran. The Kassites continued many of the religious traditions of the Amorites, but they changed the name of the city to Karduniash. They ruled for more than four hundred years, which means the Kassites controlled Babylonia longer than any other people in history.

By the time of the Judges in Israel, about four hundred years before Isaiah, the Kassite kingdom had fallen to the Chaldeans, a Semitic people probably descended from the Amorites. But the Chaldeans never extended their control as far west as the Holy Land in the years leading up to Isaiah. Israel and Judah had more trouble with the Aramaeans, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Midianites, and Philistines.

The Assyrians, based in what is now northern Iraq, emerged after the time of David and Solomon in the tenth century BC as the scourge of the Near East. Assyria destroyed the kingdom of Israel around 722 BC, flattening its capital city, Samaria, and scattering the northern tribes throughout Assyrian territory.

The Assyrians ravaged the southern kingdom, too. In the days of Isaiah and Hezekiah, Sennacherib sent his army to conquer Judah. The invaders overran most of the country, and it was only divine intervention that stopped the Assyrian army outside the walls of Jerusalem. Sennacherib withdrew to his home country, where he was assassinated by his sons. Sometimes it’s not so good to be the king.

At the time of Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, the rise of Babylon was still more than a century in the future, in the days of Josiah, grandson of Hezekiah. So, Isaiah’s polemic against the king of Babylon, which begins in the thirteenth chapter of Isaiah, appears to be an anachronism, out of sync with the political events of the time.

When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased! The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution.” (Isaiah 14:3–6, ESV)

This text was unquestionably a prophecy of the future Babylon, an oracle of the destruction of the oppressor before Babylon became Judah’s oppressor. But clues in the chapter, mainly overlooked by Bible teachers, point to other targets of the prophet’s oracle—not just the divine rebel from Eden, but also his colleagues and their minions.

Sheol beneath is stirred up 

to meet you when you come; 

it rouses the shades to greet you, 

all who were leaders of the earth; 

it raises from their thrones 

all who were kings of the nations. (Isaiah 14:9, ESV)

The Hebrew word translated “shades” is rephaim. That’s the mysterious group named in Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Joshua as the tribes who lived east of the Jordan River in the lands of Bashan, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. By the time of the judges in Israel, the Rephaim were considered the spirits of the “mighty men who were of old”—in other words, “leaders of the earth” and “kings of the nations.” Isaiah’s description is consistent with the depiction of the Rephaim in texts found at the Amorite kingdom of Ugarit. Whether the Amorite neighbors of ancient Israel knew it or not, they venerated the spirits of the half-breed giants created by the supernatural sons of God, the Watchers. This means that the role of the rebel from Eden takes on new significance.

First, we need to identify this character. Who is Helel ben Shachar? It would be easy to say “Lucifer,” and leave it at that. But, as we noted above, Lucifer is just an Anglicized version of the Latin words lux (“light”) and ferre (“to carry”). In other words, “Lucifer” is English for the Latin translation of the original Hebrew name. But who is he, really? Isaiah gives us the information we need.

How you are fallen from heaven, 

O Day Star, son of Dawn! 

How you are cut down to the ground, 

you who laid the nations low! 

You said in your heart, 

“I will ascend to heaven; 

above the stars of God 

I will set my throne on high; 

I will sit on the mount of assembly 

in the far reaches of the north; 

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; 

I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12–14, ESV)

“Day Star” is a reference to Venus, from a Hebrew word based on a root that means “to shine.” Scholars who’ve tried to find a similar story in the religions of the ancient Near East have come up empty so far. The closest parallel is the Ugaritic myth of the war-god Attar, the male aspect of Astarte (Ishtar), who found that he was too small for the throne of the king of the gods, the storm-god Baal, who was temporarily dead. (It’s a pagan myth. It doesn’t have to make sense.) The point is that Attar was represented by Venus in the morning; Venus in the evening was believed to represent the goddess of “love,” Astarte.

Well, that doesn’t quite work. The key bit of evidence is in verse 13. The Hebrew phrase “far reaches of the north,” variously rendered in other English translations as “sides of the north,” “recesses of the north,” “remotest parts of the north,” and simply “the far north,” is yarkete tsaphon. This appears only three times in the Bible, which makes it weird. And if it’s weird, it’s important.

The other verses where we find yarkete tsaphon are in Psalm 48, where the psalmist compares God’s holy mountain, Zion, with another mountain (Zaphon—although it’s rendered “far north,” which means you have to read between the lines to grasp the wordplay of the verse: har-tziyon, yarkete tsaphon), and Ezekiel 38 and 39, the prophecy of Gog of Magog.

Why is this significant? Because Zaphon (or Saphon, or tsaphon) was the name of the mountain sacred to the storm-god Baal.

Then Valiant Baal said,

“Depart, Kothar-and-Hasis!

Hasten! Build a house indeed;

hasten! Construct a palace!

Hasten! Let them build a house;

Hasten! Let them construct a palace,

in the midst of the uttermost parts of Saphon.”

So, if the mount of assembly of the rebel in Eden is the mountain sacred to Baal, the text of Isaiah 14 can’t have been borrowed from a myth about Baal’s would-be replacement.

Why does this matter? Because Jesus specifically identified Baal the storm-god as Satan. When He was confronted by Pharisees who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul (“Baal the Prince”), Jesus replied, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” And in the Book of Revelation, Jesus told the church at Pergamum, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” That was a reference to the altar of Zeus, who was the Greek incarnation of the storm-god.

That gives us a simple equation: Lucifer = Baal = Satan. And since Gog (the Antichrist) is Satan’s commander-in-chief, it makes sense that he comes from yarkete tsaphon—Mount Zaphon. (That’s in Turkey, by the way. Contrary to what you’ve probably been taught, Gog and Magog have nothing to do with Russia.)

But there is more here than just a polemic against the Accuser, Satan. Isaiah gives us enough information to confirm what the Israelites’ pagan neighbors knew about Baal—that the king of their pantheon was also lord of the dead.

Note: Derek’s book Last Clash of the Titans digs into Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Gog-Magog war, and explains in depth why all of the nations mentioned by Ezekiel aside from Persia, Cush (Ethiopia), and Put (Libya) were located in Anatolia, modern-day Turkey.

The pagan gods of the ancient world did not humbly submit after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead, they’ve continued in their rebellion. Maybe they figure they’ve got nothing to lose. Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, who tried to destroy Uruk because she’d been rejected by the hero of the tale, they’re willing to destroy everything rather than let the Messiah return to establish His throne over a world restored to its intended glory.

But they’re also arrogant enough to think they can win. The entities conspiring against God are playing multidimensional chess. We humans are playing checkers, so I won’t pretend to have all of the answers. This book will only cover one of the most significant aspects of the rebellion, a front opened by the small-g gods after they realized they’d been outplayed.

Their first response to the Resurrection was to inspire the Roman government and Jewish religious authorities to try to crush the growing body of believers. By the fourth century AD, when it was clear that Christianity was not going away, the Fallen tried a different tactic. The empire of the storm-god first legalized the faith with Constantine’s Edict of Milan in AD 313. Then in 380, Christianity became the official state religion when Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica. Once the Church became a path to wealth and political power, there was no shortage of men and women who chose the clergy as a career—but it wasn’t because they were interested in saving sinners from the fires of hell.

Making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire was a brilliant move. Corruption in the Church persists to this day and it infects all denominations. But that has only weakened the body of believers, not killed it; as of this writing, the followers of Jesus Christ still outnumber all other religions on the earth.

But the Enemy employed another stratagem, one that’s exploited the Church’s weakness and the dilution of the gospel since the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Let’s begin by tracking the activity of the pagan gods in the years after the Resurrection.

Looking at the ebb and flow of history from high above the page, as it were, we can sometimes see patterns that are hidden when we zoom in too close, sort of like trying to make out an image in an old newspaper by looking at it under a microscope. All we see are blobs of ink—the pixels, to use a more modern reference. The picture only comes into focus when you look at it from farther away.

In the same way, trying to see into the spirit realm is a good way to drive yourself crazy. We aren’t designed to do that, and God has warned us not to try. But we can make out some of the shapes and patterns, the actions of the principalities and powers, if we step back and look at how history has progressed through the ages.

A rough outline of the spiritual history of the ancient Near East shows that there were at least two transfers of power in the pantheon. First, a primordial god of heaven was overthrown by his son, who was considered “the” god between about 3000 and 2000 BC.

Around the time that the Amorites emerged as the dominant people group in the Near East, “the” god was replaced as king of the pantheon by the storm-god—except in Akkad and Sumer, where the city-god of Babylon, Marduk, occupied that place of honor.

However, the personal god of the founding dynasty of Babylon was the moon-god. As we noted earlier, some scholars now believe that the Sumerian god Amurru was actually an epithet of the lunar deity, “god of the Amurru (Amorite) land.” A text only translated within the last ten years reveals that the moon-god, Sîn, was believed to preside over the Mesopotamian divine council at least some of the time. 

The nations led by these various deities fought with one another throughout the period of history covered by the Bible. Beginning around 1800 BC, the time of Abraham and Isaac, Marduk and his followers ruled Babylonia and Sumer, while Baal worshipers dominated western Mesopotamia (Canaan), followers of the sun-god controlled most of Egypt, and the moon-god was the chief deity of the nomadic tribes of the steppe and deserts of Syria and Arabia.

The fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC was probably another rebuke of the moon-god by Yahweh, who revealed to the prophet Isaiah, about a hundred and fifty years earlier, His plan to use Cyrus to return the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem.

Oddly, if scholars are correct about the Persian god Ahura Mazda, this replaced one empire subject to Marduk with another that worshiped the same god under a different name.

So, was Marduk/Ahura Mazda the “prince of Persia” who fought against the angelic messenger who came to the prophet Daniel? It’s impossible to know, and wondering about the prince’s identity leads to other questions we can’t answer. For example, did the prince of Persia resist the angel because he didn’t want Cyrus to free the Jews of Babylon?

These questions can only be answered with speculation. It’s curious that Marduk doesn’t fit the pattern of succession among the gods. Across the ancient Near East, and even as far away as Scandinavia and India, the storm-god rose to the top of the pantheon, but at Babylon, a city-god about whom we know nothing prior to that city’s rise to power, claimed the throne of the gods. We can only ask, “Why?”

Is it possible that the rise of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia, which emerged just before the Medes and Persians conquered the lands of the Bible as far west as Greece, was part of a civil war among the rebel angels? Given that the moon-god, Sîn/Yarikh, was the patron deity of the founders of Babylon (and of most Amorites in the days of Abraham), then maybe Marduk was a figurehead who was head of the infernal council in name only. There isn’t a single event in the Bible that appears to be specifically directed at Marduk, except maybe the reference to the size of Og’s bed.

Continuing with our speculation, the rise of the Persian Empire and its devotion to Ahura Mazda, possibly another aspect of Marduk, may have been that entity’s play to go solo by rebelling against the rebels. Of course, God used it for His purposes, to free His people from Babylon and humble the moon-god (Belshazzar’s feast was held for the fall akitu festival for Sîn).

But Marduk’s shot at glory didn’t last long; within two centuries, people of the storm-god, first Greek and then Roman, pushed the Persian Empire back to Mesopotamia. And with the rise of Islam in the seventh century AD, Zoroastrianism faded into the background. Today, it’s estimated that there are fewer than three million Zoroastrians in the world; in the 1990s, the Guiness Book of World Records began labeling Zoroastrianism as the “major religion nearest extinction.”

There are hints in pagan texts of other rifts between the Fallen. Two letters to the king of Mari from the ambassador of Yamkhad, a powerful kingdom based at Aleppo, mention the delivery of the clubs used by the storm-god “with which the deity boasts to have struck his enemy, the sea” to the temple of “the” god, Dagan, in the city of Terqa.

Scholars don’t know exactly what the letters mean, but there are two probable messages: First, they implied that Mari was subordinate to Yamkhad, just as Dagan (El, Enlil, etc.) had been replaced at the top of the pantheon by the storm-god, Adad (Baal). Second, in a backhanded way, it claims a victory for Adad/Baal that had been credited to Marduk.

Thus says Adad.… I brought you back to the throne of your father, I brought you back. The weapons with which I fought the Sea [Têmtum] I gave to you. With the oil of my bitter victory I anointed you, and no one before you could stand. My one word hear!

Têmtum is the Akkadian word for Tiamat, the chaos dragon defeated by Marduk in the Enuma Elish. Now, this may be political posturing, sort of like saying, “Our gods are better than your gods, nyaah nyaah nyaah,” but it may have been inspired in the spirit realm as members of the infernal council plotted and schemed against one another.

Another example of this comes from the western Amorite kingdom of Ugarit in a myth about a drunken feast at the house of the creator-god El.

Yarikh [the moon-god] arched his back like a d[o]g;

he gathered up crumbs beneath the tables.

(Any) god who recognized him

threw him meat from the joint.

But (any god) who did not recognize him

hit him with a stick beneath the table.

At the call of Athtart [Astarte/Ishtar] and Anat [the Canaanite war-goddess] he approached.

Athtart threw him a haunch,

and Anat a shoulder of meat.

The porter of El’s house shouted:

“Look!

Why have you thrown a haunch to the dog,

(why) to the cur have you thrown a shoulder?”

This is a great example of a text that drives scholars crazy. The meaning is unclear; it could refer to ritual drinking to reach an altered state of consciousness, or it could simply be a long and convoluted cure for a hangover. Either way, the moon-god, bearing his Amorite name, Yarikh, is depicted as a dog, and canines were not man’s best friend in the ancient Near East. This text comes from the final years of Ugarit in the thirteenth century BC. That was the time of the judges in Israel, after the conquest—in other words, after the moon-god had been humiliated at the Wilderness of Sîn, Mount Sinai, Jericho, and the Valley of Aijalon.

Does this text reflect a demotion in the infernal council? The moon-god was at or near the top of the pantheon in Mesopotamia until Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan. After the Long Day, the moon-god faded into the background until his devotee Nabonidus took the crown of Babylon nearly a thousand years later.

Then the Medes and Persians destroyed Babylon as an independent kingdom, and a couple of centuries later, the Greeks and Romans came. Quick, now: How many myths about the Greco-Roman moon-goddess, Selene/Luna, do you know? Probably not many, if any. In the pantheon of Greece and Rome, the moon-deity was strictly supporting cast, a back-bencher.

Again, this is speculation, an attempt to discern the history of the unseen realm from evidence in the natural. We have limited ability to see into the spirit world, but it fits recorded history. Before Christ, the Fallen fought amongst themselves as well as with God. After the Resurrection, it appears that they put aside some of their mutual distrust.

We’ll explore that in more depth in future columns.

From Bad Moon Rising: Islam, Armageddon, and the Most Diabolical Double-cross in
History by Derek P. Gilbert

There is only one remedy for covenant-breaking; that is – repentance.  The offended party must be entreated to forgive the breach, to restore the good relationship that existed before the offense was given, to set aside what forms of retribution the offense must bring forth in the absence of heartfelt contrition.  Without repentance, contrition, humility, shame, and abject beseeching of the offended party to again honor the covenant, there can be no healing.

A tribe that broke covenant with a neighboring one could expect swift retribution from them – usually in the form of that tribe coming against the offenders and slaughtering every one of them, with particular attention to their chief.  The offended parties prevailed because, in a way, notwithstanding the violence of their acts, they had justice on their side and they somehow knew that they would prevail and they made war in the strength of that knowledge.

It is the same with God.  Hear the thunder of His Word – “In flaming fire taking vengeance upon them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess 1:8).  This is the ultimate violence, yet God commands it because those who come before Him in their sins have rejected the New Covenant that is in Christ.

Repentance on behalf of our nation must be on a scale commensurate with the offense.  Scholars and archaeologists have estimated that there were at least 10,000 residents of the cities Sodom and Gomorrah.  God sought 10 righteous people out of that group and could not find them.  The result is recorded in Genesis 19:24-28.  All 10,000 or more perished for the lack of 10 who were faithful to God.  For a nation of 325 million such as ours, the same scale would call for no less than 325,000 Christians in this country to repent for our covenant-breaking and the tsunami of sin and depravity that have followed.  The strong suggestion of Scripture is that unless at least that many faithful Christians can be found who will take this critical step – to set aside a season of prayer, fasting, and weeping before the Lord for our arrogance and wickedness as a nation – His justice may demand that He do to us as he did to Sodom.

But to repent with knowledge and understanding, we as Americans must take to heart the event that caused us to break God’s Covenant. What could we as a people have done to cause such a catastrophic breach?  How, after all the nearly 200 years of blessing that a loving God had showered upon us, could we pour contempt upon His Name and by extension upon His Person?  If we cannot understand this, then we cannot repent as God would have us do if we are to be saved as a nation and again be what we once were, “a shining city on a hill.”

The gods of Greek mythology are real. They’re angry, and they’re coming back.

Wait, you’re thinking. I thought this guy was a Christian.

Exactly.

The Greek tales of their deities and demigods are bastardized versions of true history. Zeus is Satan. The Titans are the “sons of god [who] came in to the daughters of man.” The heroes of the Golden Age were “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”

Now, let’s be clear: We Christians do not seek truth in the myths of Greece and Rome. We can, however, gain a deeper understanding of the Bible by viewing the world through the eyes of the prophets and apostles, and they knew very well what their pagan neighbors believed. Much of what they wrote was directed at the pagan gods.

If you were brought up in church, there’s a good chance that, like me, you were taught that the idols of the pagans were lifeless blocks of wood and stone. That’s true, to a point. The pagans didn’t worship those carved images. An idol was like an antenna, a spiritual receiver that gave a god locality—a place to appear when the faithful called.

Those gods, though—they’re real.

That’s not the default teaching of most Christian churches. Sadly, most are out of step with the God they serve. God called the idols gods, so I’m on solid theological ground here. He’s judged them, found them wanting, and proclaimed a sentence of death on these rebels.

But they’re not dead yet. And just as you and I have free will to choose between right and wrong, so do they. God, who has seen the end from the beginning, has revealed enough about their plans through prophecy in the Bible to tell us that the ride on earth will get rough before Christ returns. Reading those prophecies with a better understanding of what the Hebrew prophets knew about the pagan gods reveals some startling insights about what lies ahead.

In my 2018 book Last Clash of the Titans, I presented evidence for a number of claims, many of which haven’t been made before to the best of my knowledge:

  • The Amorites of the ancient world are far more important to history than we’ve been taught.
  • The Titans, the old gods of the Greeks, are the biblical Watchers, the sons of God who took daughters of man as wives as described in Genesis 6:1–4.
  • Their offspring, the Nephilim (later called Rephaim), were the heroes and demigods of the Greeks.
  • The Amorites summoned the spirits of the Rephaim through necromancy rituals and believed they were the ancestors of their kings.
  • Balaam’s prophecy over Israel foretold the final destruction of the Nephilim by the Messiah.
  • Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog tells us when and where they’ll be destroyed.
  • Gog won’t be human, and Magog is not Russia.
  • The spirit of primordial chaos, Leviathan, returns from the abyss as the Antichrist.
  • The Titans and their seed, the spirits of the Rephaim, return in the last days to fight at Armageddon.

As you may have noticed, the book focuses on the supernatural players of the end times. We spend too much time debating whether Vladimir Putin is Gog and not enough trying to discern the principalities and powers behind the scenes.

Now, I could be wrong about much of this. However, my analysis is backed by peer-reviewed, academic research. Most of it comes from secular scholars with no dog in the eschatological hunt. They’ve found many of the pieces of the puzzle, but they don’t see the whole picture because the missing pieces are in the Bible—and most of those scholars just won’t look there.

Likewise, many learned students and scholars of the Bible don’t look to secular academia for information. We Christians do see the big picture, but much of the background image is missing. There is no context for the crossing of the Red Sea, the march around the walls of Jericho, or the confrontation between Elijah and the priests of Baal. Why did God ask such things of His people? There are answers to those questions rooted in the history, culture, and religion of the people who lived in the lands of the Bible during the age of the prophets and apostles.

Is understanding that context essential to your eternal salvation? No. If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your future is secure.

But understanding how the pagan gods of the ancient world have successfully rebranded themselves as action heroes for major motion pictures might be useful to reaching the lost. As Baudelaire wrote, “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” Recent research shows that nearly 60 percent of American Christians have fallen for that lie.[1] God’s statement is as true today as it was 2,700 years ago: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”[2] How do you resist an enemy you think is make-believe?

Zeus, Hercules, the Olympians, and the Titans are real. They hate us, they want to kill us, and they’re coming back.

Get ready.

[1] Barna Group (2009). “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” https://www.barna.com/research/most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exist/, retrieved 4/29/18.

[2] Hosea 4:6.

Baal (properly spelled Baʿal) was the main enemy of Yahweh in the Old Testament. One could argue that he was even more of a villain in the Bible than Satan, whos only mentioned in fourteen Old Testament verses, in the books of 1 Chronicles, Job, and Zechariah. Baal, on the other hand, appears 106 times in 88 verses (including personal and place names, like Baal-zephon).

Baal is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus and he was still around 3,400 years later in the New Testament. Jesus discussed him with the Pharisees (see Matthew 12:22-28; Beelzebul means “Baal the prince”).

Stela at the Louvre from the ancient city of Ugarit depicting Baal in characteristic “smiting” pose, holding mace and thunderbolt

Baal isn’t a name, its a title. It means “lord,in the same way we Christians usually say Lord (and our Bibles read Lord) instead of saying Yahweh or spelling out YHWH. It’s rather arrogant, when you think about it. And Baal wasnt the only one; over time, Babylons chief god Marduk came to be known as Bel, which likewise means “lord.

Baal has had a long career. Hes not recognized as an active deity in our world today, at least not by the secular scholars who have researched the people who worshiped him. It’s safe to say most American Christians think of Baal as a sort of cosmic imaginary friend of the pagan nations around ancient Israel—but surveys show that most American Christians don’t believe in Satan or the Holy Spirit, either.

There may be a few neopagans here and there trying to recreate the old religion of the ancient Canaanites, but like aging pop divas, the old gods reinvented themselves as time and people moved on. Weve already seen how Sumerian Inanna became Babylons Ishtar, the Semitic Astarte, Aphrodite of Greece, and Venus of Rome. Today, the old gods condemned by Yahweh in Psalm 82, Isaiah 24:21-23, and elsewhere, are viewed as characters in ancient literature, if they’re considered at all.

Over time, Baal replaced the original name of the West Semitic storm-god Hadad (or Haddu), who was also called Adad/Addu by the Akkadians. Baal has also been identified with the Hurrian god Teššub, the Hittite god Tarhunt, the Urartian god Teisheba, the Sumerian god Iškur, the Amorite god Amurru (incorrectly, as it happens), and others.

Of course, Baal is best known as Zeus to the Greeks and Jupiter to the Romans.

The earliest of these storm-god manifestations was Iškur (note: the š sounds like “sh”). However, Iškur was a minor deity in the Sumerian pantheon. Thats logical; in a land thats mostly desert, a god of storms and life-bringing rain wasnt as important as Enki, who controlled the fresh waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. Irrigation was far more important than rainfall for growing crops in southern Mesopotamia. Farther north, where rain was key to agriculture, Iškur played a larger role in the pantheon.

The chief god Enlil and his son, the war-god Ninurta, also had storm-god characteristics. This left Iškur looking like a pale imitation of the others, a third-tier superhero in a comic book universe. He was believed to be the son of Anu, although some traditions claimed that Enlil was his father. This could mean that Iškur wasnt a native Sumerian deity but an import from Sumers Semitic-speaking neighbors. As the patron god of Karkara, a minor city near Uruk in southern Mesopotamia, Iškur’s cult center didnt have enough political clout to elevate him into the upper rank of the pantheon, as Babylon later did for Marduk.

The first written evidence of the cult of Iškur comes from the cities Lagash and Adab in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC Adab was near Karkara, site of Iškur’s temple, the House of the Big Storms. Unfortunately, the ruins of Karkara havent been discovered yet, so we dont know much about the cult of kur or local traditions about him. But based on prayers and rituals that have been preserved, it appears Iškur, like most of the Mesopotamian gods and goddesses, could be good or bad depending on his mood. The storm-god brought necessary rain for the crops needed to survive but he could also destroy fields with wind, hail, and flood.

He first appeared under the name Hadda at Ebla around 2500 BC, and as Adad in Old Akkadian texts, the period of history that began with the empire of Sargon the Great around 2330 BC We know theyre the same because the Sumerian logogram for Hadda/Adad was the same used for Iškur (dIM). As god of the heavenly waters, Iškur was sometimes praised as the twin brother of Enki. This may be an early example of the twin godsmotif in ancient mythology. Sometimes theyre brother-sister twins, such as Apollo and Artemis; sometimes divine-mortal twins, like Castor and Pollux; and sometimes, as in this case, a pair of brothers, one more important than the other, at least in the early days. Until the early 2nd millennium BC, it wouldnt have been a compliment for Enki, the god responsible for the fresh water of the abzu and the fundamental laws of civilization, the mes, to be compared with a minor deity like Iškur.

kur-Adad, later Baal, played a key role in the cosmology of Mesopotamia for the next 2,500 years. His importance to the cultures of the region grew with the political influence of the Amorites, who may have introduced Iškur into Sumer, reaching its peak in the 2nd millennium BC and lasting through the time of Jesus.

At Mari, which was on the Euphrates about 75 miles southeast of the modern city of Deir ez-Zor, a powerful but short-lived Amorite kingdom grew from the ashes of an older state that had been smashed by Sargon the Great. The name Haddu often appears in texts found at Mari alongside Dagan, a grain god (contrary to common belief, Dagan/Dagon was never a fish god), and Itūr-Mēr, the patron god of the city of Mari, as one of the three great gods of the kingdom.

As political control of Mesopotamia shifted from Akkad to Ur and then to Babylon between 2150 BC and 1900 BC, powerful Amorite kingdoms in Assyria, Mari, and Yamad (modern Aleppo, Syria) emerged alongside the old Babylonian empire. At the same time, the storm-gods identity gradually shifted from Sumerian Iškur to Akkadian Adad and his importance in the pantheon grew.

By the time Hammurabi brought Babylon to the greatest extent of its power, around 1750 BC, Adad—Baal—was firmly established among the great gods of Mesopotamia.

Ask your core leaders these seven questions. If they answer no or show hesitation you are overdue for a vision checkup.

If your core leaders show any doubt rest assured the team members on the outer edge don’t have a clue. It’s the “outer-edge” team members that have the initial and most frequent contact with those you serve or are trying to reach.

1. IMAGINABLE: Does our vision convey a compelling picture of our future?
2. DESIRABLE: Does our vision appeal and grab the attention of at least two generations?
3. FEASIBLE: Is our vision built on reasonable, stretchable and achievable goals?
4. FOCUSED: Does our vision guide and dominate our decision making process?
5. FLEXIBLE: Does our vision allow for individual creativity and changing conditions?
6. COMMUNICABLE: Can all of our core leaders “Tell our story” and describe our vision in 100 words or less?
7. EXECUTABLE: Is our strategy (action plan) well-conceived, understood and embraced by all team members?

You get the best results when your team members feel they can be brutally honest, especially with their leader. Great leaders keep drilling down until they discover what every team member really thinks, not just what they think the leader wants to hear.

Until you have that degree of openness and honesty by everyone on the team you have not taped into the full potential of your team. Until you ask your team for just a little more than they think they can give, you won’t get all they can give. That takes commitment, trust and honest answers to these seven questions.

When’s the last time you and your team had a vision checkup? Poor attitudes, low energy and lack of engagement may indicate its time.

Pastors we need each other and our families need us to be strong.

Watch this short video and be encouraged!


A mountain in Arabia is responsible for what statisticians say will be the world’s largest religion by about 2070 unless something drastic happens. In that regard, we must give credit where it’s due—this mountain was, without question, the site of the most successful supernatural PSYOP in history.

The Arabic name of this peak means “Mountain of Enlightenment.” Jabal al-Nour is near Mecca in western Saudi Arabia. It’s the site of the cave where Muhammad was visited by an angel calling itself Jibril, or Gabriel.

There is no way to sugarcoat this: The message was not from God. Yahweh does not contradict Himself, but the Quran clearly does. Muhammad saw something, of that we have no doubt. But it was not a messenger from Yahweh.

Islam has a role to play in the future war for God’s holy mountain. Sadly for Muslims, the part the Fallen wants them to play is very simple—to die.

Allah is the name used for the god of Islam, but it’s also the name used by Arab Christians for the God of the Bible. This is somewhat confusing, which is, of course, intentional. Just as El was the name of the chief god of the Canaanites and a generic name for God in Hebrew, “Allah” is another PSYOP by the Fallen to muddy the water.

Many Christians assume that Muslims worship the same god they do, and so they aren’t surprised to learn that Arab Christians apply the same proper name to the God of the Bible. This is the same mistake as assuming a pagan Amorite in the 15th century B.C. who prayed to El was calling on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Muslims, who believe that Allah has no son, have put their faith in something they think is the God of the Book (the Bible). How can that be, when there are fundamental differences between Allah and Yahweh?

Some Christian scholars draw a link between Allah and older deities worshiped in Arabia prior to Muhammad. This isn’t universally accepted, but it doesn’t have to be to make a case for the god of Islam being something other than Yahweh.

Etymologically, the explanation that seems to make the most sense, and the one accepted by most scholars, suggests that Allah is a contract of al-lāh, “the god.” That’s like the old Semitic use of El, a proper name that grew out of the generic Proto-Semitic word ʾil-, meaning “deity” or “god.” Variant forms show up in Akkadian (ilu), Ugaritic (il), and Hebrew (eloah, the singular form of elohim).

Still, differences in the fundamental characteristics of Allah and Yahweh force us to conclude that one of two things must be true: Either, 1) Allah and Yahweh are one and the same, and the Bible doesn’t accurately record the way Yahweh revealed Himself to the prophets and apostles; or, 2) some thing lied to Muhammad in that cave on Jabal al-Nour, and Allah is not the God of the Bible.

Given that we have Old Testament texts that can be reliably dated to at least two centuries before Jesus (the Septuagint translation from Hebrew into Greek), and most scholars would accept earlier dates for the authorship of those books, and that the books of the New Testament are the best attested documents from the classical period, there is compelling evidence that the Bible has not been corrupted or substantially changed since it was written by the apostles and prophets. While there are minor differences between some texts, the sheer number of manuscripts and documents that quote scripture, like letters from the early church fathers, provide plenty of material to cross-check the books of the Bible and confirm its reliability.

In contrast, the Quran was compiled into its final form about twenty years after the death of Muhammad from several competing versions. By the time of the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, Islam had spread from Arabia into Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Iran, cultures that were different from one another and from the origin point of the faith. Uthman was reportedly motivated to take on the project by disputes between some of the new followers over the correct way to pray. So, to prevent Muslims from fighting over the book, texts were collected from around the caliphate and compiled into an “official” version, and variant copies were destroyed.

Even Muslim scholars—mainly Shia, who believe that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law was the rightful heir to the prophet’s growing empire—admit that Uthman corrupted the Islamic holy book by his action.

There is more to the story, of course. Scholars spend entire careers studying the Quran just as others do the Bible. But the fundamental difference between the Quran and the Bible is that there is no comparison between the two when it comes to the quantity and quality of the source material.

We take no joy in saying so. Literally billions of humans will pay the ultimate price for the supernatural deception worked on a charismatic Arab trader fourteen centuries ago. And billions more will be destroyed in the cataclysmic final battle for the holy mountain of Yahweh. The bloodthirsty gods are preparing for war.

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Here is where another brief review of history may be helpful. We’ll get a little speculative, and because we’re dealing with the spirit realm there is only so much we can say with one hundred percent confidence.

What happened to the Amorites? Scholars have been exploring that question ever since their existence was confirmed by sources outside the Bible in the 19th century. They were pushed out of Mesopotamia by the Kassites, who took Babylon in the 16th century B.C., and native rulers near the Persian Gulf called the Sealand Dynasty. We’ve already discussed how the Amorite Hyksos rulers of Lower Egypt were evicted by native Eygptians around the same time.

They Amorites disappear from history around the time of the Sea Peoples invasion of the Levant and Egypt in the late 13th and early 12th centuries B.C. This coincides with what scholars call the Late Bronze Age collapse. Over a period of about fifty years, between about 1200 and 1150 B.C., the major states of the eastern Mediterranean from Mycenaean Greece and Hatti to the Amorite and Canaanite states of the Levant were destroyed.

This was the event that ended the kingdom of Ugarit during the reign of the ill-fated Ammurapi we mentioned in an earlier chapter. A small kingdom southeast of Ugarit called Amurru, named for the Amorites, was also wiped out around this time.

This was the period of the later Judges, a time that set the stage for the emergence of the kingdom of Israel. Barak and Deborah’s destruction of Hazor, which some scholars think may have belonged to the kingdom of Amurru, may be dated to this time.

The bottom line is that only Egypt and a few small kingdoms in northern Syria appear to have survived this wave of destruction. The Philistines settled in what we call today the Gaza Strip, and they may have been part of the Sea Peoples coalition. Emerging from the ashes of this turmoil alongside the kingdom of Israel were several Aramean kingdoms, with Damascus and Hamath being the largest.

Because they came out of the same area formerly associated with the Amorites, it’s easy to assume that the Aramean people were just descendants of the Amorites who carried on as best they could after the disasters of the Late Bronze Age collapse. But we can’t make that assumption any more than we could assume that the Israelites were just Canaanites with a repackaged religion because of where David came to power.

By analyzing texts that have been found from the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and later Egyptian kingdoms, we can piece together a history that seems solid. While the name “Amorite” fell out of use after the conquest of Canaan, there are a couple of tribal names that bridge the period between the disappearance of the Amorites and the emergence of the Arameans. Specifically, the Aḫlamū, sometimes called Aḫlamū-Aramayū (Aḫlamū-Arameans) by the Assyrians, and our old friends the Suteans.

Together, these two tribal names appear to be used, at least sometimes, interchangeably with both Amorite and Aramean nomads, mainly in the steppes of Syria and the Transjordan. After the conquests of the Assyrian empire through the 7th century B.C., even the Arameans fade from history, although the Aramaic language, because it was adopted as the lingua franca by Assyria, became the language of trade and cultural exchange in the Near East from about 600 B.C. to around the time of Jesus before giving way to Greek.

In short, scholars can document a “geographical, historical and linguistic continuity” between the Amorites of the Old Babylonian period and the Arameans of the Middle Babylonian era.

Recent history in the old Amorite homeland, which includes Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, points to a troubled future for the Holy Land. We mentioned earlier the existence of territorial spirits, the main biblical example being the Prince of Persia that tied up the messenger to Daniel for several weeks. We can’t know for certain, but it’s worth mentioning because, as you’ve noticed by now, this author doesn’t put much stock in coincidence, especially where it concerns the Bible and the ongoing spiritual war.

Here are the relevant questions: Can it be just a weird coincidence that the hot spots in the Middle East, especially since the emergence of the Islamic State since the summer of 2014, are a match for the areas defined as the homeland of the Amorites four thousand years ago? Is it just a cosmic accident that the land of the Amorites, especially central and northern Syria, are far more important in the eschatology of Islam than Arabia, the land of Islam’s birth?

Consider the otherwise inexplicable atrocities in the Islamic State’s capital, Raqqa, which lies on the west bank of the Euphrates close by Jebel Bishri, the ancient mountain of the Amorites; or the destruction in Aleppo, called the City of Hadad when it was ruled by Amorite kings in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The prophecies that guide the leadership of the Islamic State focus on lands where the old gods of the Amorites once reigned supreme.

In Iraq, where ISIS is hard pressed at this writing by Iraqi, Kurdish, Turkish, and American forces in the city of Mosul, analysts at the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Training Academy at West Point suggest that ISIS has already prepared a fallback plan in Diyala province if they can’t hang on in Mosul. The analysts feel the terrain and the demographic makeup of Diyala is especially well suited for an ongoing insurgency.2 That’s the area northeast of Baghdad along the Diyala River toward the Hamrin mountain range, where more than four thousand years ago the doomed Sumerian kings of Ur built their futile Amorite-wall-which-keeps-the-Tidnum-at-bay.All of this begs the question: What foul spirit is at work in MAR.TUki, the ancient land of the Amorites?

Astronaut James Irwin said, “You think going to the moon was the most scientific project ever, but they literally threw us in the direction of the moon. We had to adjust course every ten minutes and landed only 50 feet inside a 500-mile radius of our target.”
On that mission every change, no matter how small, was essential to success. So it is with yours. If you resist even the slightest change long enough, you may find yourself off course, too late to adjust, and have to abort the mission.
What causes a lack of behavioral or organizational change? Team members are seldom the problem but get most of the blame. Senior leaders create most of their own problems by their lack of leadership in one or more of the following four areas:
First, lack of clarity about the rationale not only for the daily action plan, but more so for the long-term goals and strategy for change. People seldom buy into what they cannot see and understand.
Second, lack of commitment and passion for change by the core leadership team. Passion, or the lack of it, is contagious. There must be consensus and one hundred percent buy in by the core team. If not, delay the change or change players on the team.
Third, lack of accountability on a regular basis to reinforce positive sustainable change. Without accountability there is no improvement of what already exists much less changing it.
Fourth, lack of trust by the team in their Leaders’ decision-making skill in leading change. Trust is the glue that holds teams together when they face the unknown and the lubricant that enables them to flow together till the needed change becomes a way of life.  
Average leaders can keep the car between the guardrails most of the time. However, it takes outstanding leaders to lead when the way forward is no longer on the map and current conditions demand a change of direction.
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw
Why not ask your leadership team which of the four areas above challenge them the most. Great leaders constantly ask this question and many others that make their leadership vulnerable and open for inspection. Weak leaders avoid questions about their leadership at all costs.
Technology-driven smart phones, tablets and laptops, microwave ovens, computer-flown airplanes, robots that can do just about anything, most kids toys and big box stores filled gadgets unheard-of a generation ago. 
They are today’s reality as a result of that first trip to the moon led by men and women not threatened by change. The wealthiest corporations on earth today were founded and continue to be led by leaders who declare war on the status quo every day.
Remember, without change your organization has no future. Without you personally changing your team remains stuck in “today” and only dreams about a better tomorrow.