Demonology

The Angel of the Bottomless Pit: Challenging Our Comfortable Worldview, Part 2

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4. The smoke from the pit darkens an already darkened sun.

When I say “an already darkened sun” I do so because of Revelation 8:12:

Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.

Here the sun is already greatly affected when the fourth trumpet sounded. As an aside, this verse assumes that, like the sun and the stars, the moon gives off its own light (cf. Matt. 24:29. Do with that what you wish, but I always take the “assured results of science” with a big grain of salt).

A Chronological Conundrum

Having said this, the question of chronology arises. When exactly is the fifth trumpet blown? We have to ask this question because in a purely sequential understanding of Revelation, not only must Revelation 8:12 be considered, there has already been an obscuration of the sun at the opening of the sixth seal:

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. (Revelation 6:12-13)

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The Angel of the Bottomless Pit: Challenging Our Comfortable Worldview

There are some Bible passages that pose peculiar challenges to interpreters. These passages confront us with revelations of weirdness. We are faced with accepting and exploring this weird side of Scripture, or else with smoothing it over, perhaps by not actually dealing with it, but instead just pretending it is obscure, and on that basis, moving on. Episodes that qualify to be on the list of weird passages would include Genesis 6:1-4 and Joshua 10:11-14, but many could be added.

Certainly one of the strangest of these strange texts concerns the opening of the bottomless pit and “the angel of the bottomless pit” in Revelation 9. Here is how the passage opens:

Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. (Revelation 9:1-6)

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From the Archives: A Biblical Perspective on Demons & Deliverance Ministry

“Deliverance ministry” is enjoying increasing popularity in the church. Don Dickerman is a notable advocate, and teaches a “deliverance process.” For Dickerman, the basic thrust is as follows: Salvation is a first step to being free, but many Christians are oppressed by demons in their bodies, wills, minds, etc., resulting in ailments of all kinds. The demons don’t get into the spirit, Dickerman says, because the Holy Spirit indwells the spirit.

But while Dickerman insists a believer cannot be demon possessed, he does assert that believers can have demons in their soul, by appealing to certain legal rights to get in. These rights can come by unforgiveness, generational curses, secret society oaths or pledges, childhood traumas, and anxieties. If doors are opened to allow demons in, in they will come. Those same rights can be revoked, Dickerman asserts, but they must be handled by closing the legal-rights demonic doorways, and by binding and casting out the demons themselves.

The prescribed solution for demonic oppression is not counseling nor medication, but rather is “deliverance,” which includes intercessory prayer and binding and casting out demons, and which can allow Christians to be free from demons who lay claim to the Christian’s body, will, mind, or soul.

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A Biblical Perspective on Demons and Deliverance Ministry

“Deliverance ministry” is enjoying increasing popularity in the church. Don Dickerman is a notable advocate, and teaches a “deliverance process.” For Dickerman, the basic thrust is as follows: Salvation is a first step to being free, but many Christians are oppressed by demons in their bodies, wills, minds, etc., resulting in ailments of all kinds. The demons don’t get into the spirit, Dickerman says, because the Holy Spirit indwells the spirit. But while Dickerman insists a believer cannot be demon possessed, he does assert that believers can have demons in their soul, by appealing to certain legal rights to get in. These rights can come by unforgiveness, generational curses, secret society oaths or pledges, childhood traumas, and anxieties. If doors are opened to allow demons in, in they will come. Those same rights can be revoked, Dickerman asserts, but they must be handled by closing the legal-rights demonic doorways, and by binding and casting out the demons themselves.

The prescribed solution for demonic oppression is not counseling nor medication, but rather is “deliverance,” which includes intercessory prayer and binding and casting out demons, and which can allow Christians to be free from demons who lay claim to the Christian’s body, will, mind, or soul. The process works like this: the believer must confess the doorways, have a genuine desire to close the doorways, and the deliverance minister will cast out the demons. Dickerman speaks of a “courtroom of deliverance” in which he represents the oppressed believer and prosecutes the demon(s) before God. He leads the oppressed in a prayer of confession and repentance. Then he binds demons, commanding them in the name of Jesus to depart to the abyss after having fixed what they damaged in the oppressed person.

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Demon Fight'n - Part 3: The Weapon and the Battle

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Continuing the series on demon-battling, we consider the believer’s divine weapon.

As stated earlier, the battle against Satan is primarily a defensive one,1 yet there is an avenue for the Christian to attack. However, as Chuck Lowe cautions, “There is a battle to be fought, but our role is neither to win some spectacular victory, nor even to launch an all-out offensive. Our function is primarily, if not exclusively, defensive.”2

Paul exhorts the Ephesians, who have put on their armor, to take up “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). These last two instruments of war constitute the final piece of the warriors equipment (i.e. the helm) and the offensive weapon. The sword spoken of here is a short sword, much like a dagger which was used to strike hard and fast at close range.3 The picture Paul paints is one where the battle is fought at close range with viciousness.

However, the battle is not ours to fight. Paul informs the saints of two offensive plans of attack. In both plans, God is the primary actor in the battle. First, they attack with the sword, which is God’s word and contains all his promises. Second, they attack by praying at all times in the Spirit. As Christians, we have the impenetrable armor of God and divine weapons of war.

This whole passage sounds off on a triumphal note. There is no hint that the believer who has put on the new man (Eph. 4:24) and is controlled by God’s spirit (Eph. 5:18) has to be anxious about Satan or demons controlling, or in someway taking them over.

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Demon Fight'n, Part 2: Divine Reconnaissance, Divine Armor

Demon SculptureReposted, with permission, from Grahams of Montrose. Read Part One.

Having introduced this series as a guide to staving off those pesky demons, we continue by noting the divine reconnaissance we have from Ephesians 6:11-13.

It may be surprising to note that the first thing Paul explains in Ephesians 6 is that we are at war. It is dangerous to enter into combat without knowing the enemy, but God reveals everything that we need to know about the enemy in Scripture. The Apostle Paul begins his explanation of Spiritual warfare by giving a command to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:11, 13). Verses 11-12 give the warrant for this command. The reason we need to put on God’s armor is because we are in a war with Satan and demonic powers whether we acknowledge it or not.

The Devil is chief among the demonic powers in the universe (Eph. 6:11). He is described in Scripture as the ruler of the world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). “[T]he whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” notes the apostle John (1 John 5:19). He rules over the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13), being the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). In the beginning, he led a rebellion in heaven, taking with him one-third of the angelic beings God had created (Rev. 12:4, 7-10). At the end of the rebellion he was cast down to earth (cf. Luke 10:17-18). Like the angels who fell with him, Satan deceived the human race so that the human race would follow him in rebellion (Gen 3). Now, he runs like a roaring lion to destroy God’s people (1 Pet 5:9; cf. Job 1-2). Because of this, it is reasonable to conclude that Satan is a powerful being who garners respect and authority over the fallen angels.

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Demon Fight'n - Part 1

Demon SculptureReposted, with permission, from Grahams of Montrose.

Satan exists and his aim is to attack Christians. Satan is the chief of demons. He is identified as the serpent of old, Satan (cf. Rev 12:9) who deceived Adam and Eve so that they took and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3). Just as he deceived our first parents, he continues to deceive men today. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan is a murderer, a deceiver, and behind false religion.

Demons are fallen angels and share the same purpose as Satan, to attack and control men of the world for evil purposes. That this is true is illustrated by Jesus’ ministry of casting out demons (cf. Matt 8:16). Demons can control people against their desires (Matt 8:28-34) and even cause physical handicaps (Matt 9:32-33). These are only a selection of the many things demons can do in the world.

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