No Other Way

Chapter 21 of Corrupting the Image vol 2: No Other Way [Part-1]

People sometimes think an almighty God should have been able to merely snap His fingers right after Adam and Eve made their gigantic blunder and eliminate Satan and make everything go back to normal. However, Satan calculated that God is also righteous, true and just. He does not violate His own laws. What He has said that He will also do.  

He cannot say: “Oh, I messed up. Sorry, can I have a do-over?” There are no do-overs, no mulligans. What God says He will do, He will accomplish. You can always stand on the promises of God.  

Satan, too, has been standing on the promises of God. He absolutely relies on God’s steadfast character. He thinks aloud, “Well, you said that the day Adam eats this, Adam will die. So now, Adam died. And you gave authority and dominion of the planet to Adam; and now, he has lost his dominion and forfeited it all to me.”  

Once the dominion of Earth was forfeited, God still had the power to destroy Satan, but not the authority. That was the genius of Satan’s plan. He found God’s one weakness: God can not lie. He cannot contradict himself and remain righteous and just. There are teachers who claim God has the authority to break His own edicts; yet this is incorrect. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Balaam declared: 

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num 23:19). 

The Psalmist put it this way: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face” (Ps 89:14). The author of Hebrews wrote that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18). Satan understood and was therefore “standing on the promises of God.” If God could have blown Satan to smithereens and thereby contradicted His own word.

then Satan’s plan would not have worked. If He were not righteous or just, then He would be no different than Satan. It is this one weakness that Satan has sought to exploit.  

Thus, to gain back dominion of the Earth, Jesus had to outsmart Satan, and he had to pay an incredible price. Jesus did not come as a great overlord with His army to defeat Satan on the battlefield; he came as a humble and lowly King;  

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech 9:9). 

Though Jesus is the mighty Lion of Judah, the greatest of creatures who walks around tall, proud, and afraid of no one, ready to take on any challenger, He could not just snatch the Tablet of Destinies from Satan’s hands. The only way forward was to lay down His life. We know this is true because Jesus agonized and asked the Father if there was any other way to fix things:  

He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:37–39).  

Satan, via Judas, then came to the garden with soldiers and in the greatest of all treason, betrayed him with a kiss. Satan certainly thought he had the upper hand in this situation. When he finally saw Jesus nailed to a cross, he may have smirked thinking once again, he had outfoxed God. He imagined that the prophecy of doom that hung over his head for thousands of years was annulled; the One who was going to crush his head was in agony, near death.  

Psalm 22 gives us a window into the spiritual realm to see the gloating and roaring of Satan and his swirling minions. This Psalm is incredible because it talks about our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross in amazing detail: He was forsaken, He groaned, He was mocked by men, He could count all his bones, His hands and feet were pierced. Nevertheless, there are two verses that only begin to make sense in light of the discoveries we have made.  

First of all, Jesus says “Elohi, Elohiccxiv My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?” (Ps 22:1). He was not just saying this as part of the decoy—he truly felt abandoned and alone. Nevertheless, such verbiage would have confirmed Satan’s conclusion that he had beaten God.  

In Psalm 22, after reflecting on God’s faithfulness to others, the text says of the Messiah:  

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him” (Ps 22:6–8). 

This prophesy from the Psalms was fulfilled with spectacular accuracy: 

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, “Save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save (Mark 15:29–31). 

As the Psalm states: “Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help” (Ps 22:11), so too was there none of Jesus’ friends and disciples to help, except for John and Jesus’ mother. However, then something odd happens in the text; something occurs that seems out of place, unless you consider our discovery in deciphering the inscription text which revealed what happened on Bashan, “According to the command of the great bull god Batios.” The Psalm continues to describe Jesus during his crucifixion: 

Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion (Ps 22:12–13) (Emphasis mine).  

Bulls of Bashan were present at the crucifixion! We now have the framework to recognize the ancient identity of these strong bulls that circled Jesus. In Psalm 22:12, the first phrase, “Many bulls have surrounded Me,” [סְ֭בָבוּנִי פָּרִ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים svavooni parim rabbim] is an excellent translation. However, the next phrase is the challenge. The word “bulls” in the second phrase, “bulls of Bashan”, is the word [אַבִּירֵ֖י abirei]. TWOT notes that abirei means “mighty”, “strong” or “brave”, and it carries a connotation of a bull-god.  

It is undeniable that ’ābı̂r relates to the Akkadian abāru “be strong.” Not so certain is the connection with the Ugaritic ’br “bull” or “humped buffalo.” However, as in Hebrew, it may be an element in a divine name in Ugaritic. The Ugaritic form ibrd may mean “the Mighty One of Hadd.”ccxv 

We see this aspect in Psalm 78, speaking of manna, where: “Men ate angels’ [אַ֭בִּירִים abirim] food” (Ps 78:25). The translators correctly translate abirim as angels’, that is, “mighty ones”, instead of bulls. The food was the food of spiritual beings, just as the bulls encircling Jesus were spiritual beings—great bull gods. In the instance of manna,  the translation of abirim fits. It is a good thing because the Psalmist would not be exulting in God’s mighty deeds if God had only given men bulls’ food—grass to eat.  

The emphasis of Psalm 22:12 is not merely on the bulls. The word parim, “bulls”, ought to be viewed in light of abirim. Viewed together, the meaning we derive is a blend of the bull concept with the “might ones”, the beings from the other realm. We know bulls can often represent false gods. In fact, we concluded that the transcription on Mt. Hermon was “According to the command of the great bull god Batios … ” The “great bull” is Satan, who is also known as Baal, Ninurta, Melqart, etc. We have seen artifacts from history that depict bull gods, such as Molech. At Mt. Sinai, Israel made a golden calf. Even one of the potential translations of abirim is “Apis”, the name of the sacred Egyptian bull.”ccxvi  

The next word, of course, is Bashan [בָשָׁ֣ן], which we have discovered is not merely a place, but refers to Satan the Great Dragon, the snake-dragon, Ninurta, Melqart, Heracles, Marduk, Og of Bashan, the Mušuššu, the Ušumgallu, and the Anzu, and of course, all the fallen angels who serve alongside him. The Psalm gives us a window to peer into the spiritual realm and not just see the physical!  

The Psalmist then shares Jesus’ vantage point: “They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion” (Ps 22:13). The image is powerful: Jesus was on the cross in agony, freely and willingly dying for our sins in the only way possible, while the mighty snake-dragon gods encircled him with their mouths open, roaring like lions at their dying prey. “Jesus,” they may have gloated, “the one who planted His kingdom flag on our mountain! Look at you, nailed to a cross! You are a pathetic loser! If you are the son of God, come down. How will you save the world when you are dead? Who do you think you are? You are no Messiah!” The words of the mockery and berating must have hurt and cut deep, like nails.  

Satan likely imagined he had overcome God; He had offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world on Mt. Hermon, for just a small price. If Jesus would only worship Satan, all the kingdoms of men could have been His. But Jesus refused, and the momentary victory He enjoyed on Hermon, the mountain of Bashan, would end with His last breath—thus preempting the possibility of the Messiah crushing his head, or so Satan may have arrogantly thought.  

The snake-dragon gods may also have circled Jesus like lions eager to eat their prey. Satan may have been eager to see Jesus suffer the fate that had been decreed for Satan:  

“Hell [Sheol] from beneath is excited about you, To meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead [Rephaim] for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones All the kings of the nations. They all shall speak and say to you: ‘Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us? (Isa 14:9–10). 

PROCLAMATION TO THE SPIRITS IN PRISON 

As Jesus died, perhaps Satan shrugged in a gesture of “Is that all you got?” He might have thought with Jesus “being put to death in the flesh” (1 Pet 3:18), He would be assigned a fate along with the Rephaim, and that was fine because Satan had the Keys of Hades and Death (Heb 2:14–15). As we saw in the Ugaritic texts, this is the fate of the underworld (chthonic) god in Bashan, Og of Bashan; and in the Mesopotamian texts, the underworld was inhabited with Ninurta / Pabilsag, Nergal / Melqart / Heracles, all syncretisms of Ninurta who was made into a gibbor and became the son of Enlil.  

Satan was sending Jesus to a place that he controlled and over which he exercised authority. Imagine the shock, however, when Jesus showed up in Sheol / Hades and announced His victory to the spirits who came down on Mt. Hermon, “According to the command of the great bull god Batios” and who then, “swearing an oath in this place go forth.”  

He went and preached [κηρύσσω kerusso] to the spirits in prison [φυλακή phulake], who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water (1 Pet 3:19–20).  

That Jesus went to the underworld is explained by St. Irenaeus in “Against Heresies 5, 31, 2”, (C. 180 AD): “the Lord went away into the midst of the shadow of death where the souls of the dead were.” Scripture tells us about the prison to which the disobedient spirits go:  

It shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, As prisoners are gathered in the pit, And will be shut up in the prison; After many days they will be punished (Isa 24:21–22). 

The prisoners are put into the “bor” pit, which is also the place Satan will be cast, called “Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit [bor]” (Isa 14:15). This is the place where God sent “the angels who sinned” and “cast them down to hell [Tartarus] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Pet 2:4); This is the same prison that “when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison [φυλακής phulakes]” (Rev 20:7).  

Thus, there is no question of where Jesus went; He descended to the underworld. The question is what exactly did He “preach ”? Was it a message of doom to evil angels or a message of hope to human souls? Irenaeus, in that same work, interprets His descent suggesting:  

The Lord descended into the regions beneath the earth, announcing there the good news of His coming and of the remission of sins conferred upon those who believe in Him.ccxvii 

That sentiment is likewise echoed by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4, 11 (C. 350 AD) saying Jesus: “Descended into the subterranean regions so that He might ransom from there the just…” These two early church commentators were likely thinking of a Scripture that Jesus would fulfill: “To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house” (Isa 42:7). Thus, the question comes down to the word “preached”. Was it the gospel He was bringing?  

The word translated as “preached” is κηρύσσω, which means “to make an official announcement, announce, make known, by an official herald or one who functions as such.”ccxviii  

The word does not necessarily mean to bring good news, as in the gospel. Instead, Jesus’ message was a public declaration of record. He made a public service announcement to “the spirits in prison who were formerly disobedient … in the days of Noah …” Thus, it was good news for human prisoners, but was certainly bad news for: “The angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode… in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day (Jude 1:6).”There was clearly a special region of Hades reserved for those angels in chains of darkness. Peter’s use of the Greek “Tartarus” is significant in that it was considered the worst part of Hades, a special prison for the Titans.  

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Tartarus, god of the underworld, was father of the Giants, which we examined in the study of Nimrod. The Greek word “Titans” (τιτάνες) appears twice in Scripture, and both occurrences are in 2 Samuel 5:18–22 (LXX 5:17–21), “The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim [την κοιλάδα των τιτάνων]” (2 Sam 5:18). Thus, Rephaim is rendered in Greek as “Titans”!  The Titans were thrown into Tartarus, the lowest rung of Hades, which is the place Peter says the bad angels were sent.  

Isaiah says the Rephaim were sent into the bor (the Abyss). Greek mythology is based on historic reality. They are talking about the same beings who are located in the same place. 

In other words, Tartarus is the prison that was reserved for the angels who came down on Mt. Hermon in the days of Noah and took an oath, according to Satan’s command, to take the daughters of men and create Nephilim.  

Bible Scholar Dr Bob Utley notes in his 1 Peter commentary:  

When all of these are compared, a message to the fallen angels of Gen. 6 or the humans of Noah’s day who drowned seem the only textual options. Noah’s day is also mentioned in 2 Pet. 2:4-5, along with Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. 2 Pet. 2:6). In Jude rebellious angels (cf. Jude 6) and Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Jude 7) are also linked together.ccxix 

Thus, Jesus not only staked His claim on top of the physical mountain of Bashan and showed His glory, but He also made an announcement to those very angels who disobeyed in the days of Noah. After millennia of Satan (as Enlil, etc.) claiming to be the great mountain, the great dragon, the one who controls fates, the destroyer, king of the underworld, the one who causes the dawn, the god of the 33 stars, the lord of the Earth, lord wind (prince of the power of the air)—Jesus proclaimed His victory.  

After years of the Akitu festivals in which Ninurta, reenacted by the current king, would bring the “good news” (same word as “gospel” in Hebrew) to Satan that he had killed the creator, Jesus delivered the “good news” to all those in the underworld. If only He had taken a camera to get the reactions of those rebellious spirits as He jingled the Keys of Hades and Death in front of them—the very ones who had come down on Hermon and had set in motion the actions that led to the Flood. Until then, Satan firmly held the Keys of Hades and Death in his hands, but through Jesus’ incredible sacrifice, He had retrieved and forever would hold those Keys.  

Peter gives us the effect of Jesus’ message “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Pet 3:22). The angels, authorities and powers, including Satan up until then, had previously held control in this world, but through Jesus’ death, they were made subject to Jesus.  

“Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:2–11).  

The formerly disobedient spirits, who were imprisoned under the Earth, heard the news that Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, had snatched the Keys of Death and Hades out of Satan’s hand and their eternal reign of terror was coming to an end. During those three days, Peter applies the words of David to Jesus:  

Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:26–28). 

In other words, Jesus’ stay in Satan’s underworld kingdom was temporary and short. Consequently, “God raised [Him] up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it (Acts 2:24). Jesus’ resurrection from Satan’s underworld abode showed Satan how nailing Jesus to the cross only sealed his own defeat. Satan helped Jesus to crush his own head, just as promised. He had inadvertently assisted Jesus to ultimately fulfill the promise given in Psalm 68: “You ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there” (Ps 68:18).  

Satan and his snake-dragons thought they were disarming the Messiah when, in fact, it was Jesus who “disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2:15, Emphasis mine). What Satan imagined to be his greatest victory turned into his greatest and most humiliating defeat. Satan’s legal stronghold over the world was shattered. The Tablet of Destinies onto which he tenaciously held was snatched from his hand. Jesus “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us” (Col 2:14). It was through Jesus that God would “reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:20).  

He is the one who put it all back together, for many things happened at the cross; All the “legal paperwork” was stamped, if you will. Jesus told His disciples not to tell anyone about the Hermon / Bashan experience “until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” He may have done so to quash questions and speculation from His disciples about the top-secret plan. After Jesus rose from the dead, the snake-dragons, the mighty ones of Bashan, would understand all too well how they had been completely outsmarted. Jesus freely laid down His life and endured the taunting of the snake-dragon-gods, the might bulls as they encircled him, roaring at him like lions, gloating in their perceived victory over Him.  

The epic, cosmic battle that Satan imagined God was staging at Hermon was in fact being fought while Jesus was on the cross, having been put there at the hand of Satan. It was not through a mighty act or the slaying of His enemies that He would be made worthy to open the scroll. It was not a challenge of strength, but authority. In order to reclaim the authority and dominion of the Earth, He allowed himself to be the slain Lamb; there was no other way. Because He acted as a servant, “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Acts 2:34–35). 

It was in light of this incredible backstory that an elder told John, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (Rev 5:5). John looked and saw “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev 5:6). It was this feature which allowed Jesus to take “the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne” (Rev 5:7), which is confirmed by the creatures and the elders who sang:  

“You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9–10). 

Thank God that Jesus did not take the shortcut. Instead, He did the hard work that was necessary. He died on the cross so that He could redeem us with His own blood. Jesus says: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out (John 12:31). Thank God for the hero, the hero who did what nobody else was able to do. By His own blood, He defeated the enemy which made him worthy to take the scroll.