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The Christian Counter

   

The Devil Appears In Person
Study 5
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The first four trumpets will reduce life on earth to total chaos. The religious coalition that forms in response to God’s judgments (Babylon) will make a desperate situation only worse by tormenting people with laws that have severe penalties for disobedience. After a period of two and a half years, the fifth trumpet judgment occurs. (Revelation 9:1-12) The first four trumpets are curses that are directed at the physical elements of Earth and the remaining three trumpets are curses (or woes) that are directed toward defiant people. (Revelation 9:12) In my opinion, the curse of the fifth trumpet is far worse than the physical destruction caused by the first four trumpets. The fifth trumpet marks the appearing of the Antichrist. The Antichrist is not an ordinary man. The Antichrist is a fallen angel and he will physically appear before the inhabitants of Earth. That ancient serpent, the devil, which deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, will appear in the clouds with all his angels. Clothed in brilliant light and masquerading as God, the devil will appear in all the great cities of Earth, one at a time. Daniel 11:45indicate he will establish a throne in Jerusalem. Many orthodox Jews anticipate the arrival of Messiah and many Palestinians anticipate a Deliverer, so what better place could the devil choose “to initiate a reign of peace on earth for 1,000 years!” The devil will say many blasphemous things and make outrageous claims in order to deceive the people of Earth. When Satan appears, he will be more resplendent than anything human beings have ever seen and he will claim to be the “Savior of the World.” Think about this, when he appears, the world will be in a desperate position and cries of suffering will be everywhere. The father of lies and misery, the enemy of all humanity, will feign sympathy for the terrible human suffering he sees. To make his deception believable, he will perform great signs, such as healing the sick and feeding the hungry. (1 Thessalonians 2:9) Many people will be duped into believing the devil is Almighty God.

Who is the Devil?

According to the Bible, the devil once had an exalted name. His name was Lucifer, which means, “Light bearer.” A review of Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-18 reveals that Lucifer was once an anointed cherub in Heaven. Eventually, he became arrogant and self seeking. He became dissatisfied with God’s kingdom, God’s laws, and the way God was running the universe. Because of his hatred for Christ, he recruited one-third of Heaven’s angels to join him in rebellion against Christ. Thus, Lucifer is the original “anti-Christ.” The Father did everything possible to divert Lucifer’s course of action, but the devil would not relent. According to Isaiah 14:12, Lucifer and his angels were cast out of Heaven because of rebellion. Jesus told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

Angry and embittered by his fallen state, Lucifer focused his wrath on Christ’s special handiwork – planet Earth. The devil went to the Garden of Eden and he led Eve to disobey God. Then, Eve seduced Adam and he disobeyed God. The devil did not stop his work there, Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, became a murderer. As time went by, human beings became so defiled by sin that God was grieved that He had even made man! (Genesis 6) Consequently, God washed the Earth clean of sin with a flood of water, sparing just eight people – Noah and his family. The flood may have slowed the devil down for a few years, but Peter tells us the devil is going about like a roaring lion seeking that he may devour! (1 Peter 5:8,9)

Satan Allowed to Live

Many, many people have asked the question: Why did God allow the devil to live? Why didn’t God exterminate Satan and his evil angels right away and spare the universe a great deal of grief? God’s ways are perfect and the answer to this question is both simple and profound. Consider the following issues:

  1. What message would God have given to the angels if He immediately annihilated every angel that disagreed with Him? If God had destroyed Lucifer as soon as Lucifer sinned, surviving angels would have concluded that God does not tolerate anyone who has ideas that are contrary to His. How could intelligent angels love and trust God if He immediately annihilated His opposition? Should angels’ love God because God is fair and reasonable, generous and forgiving, or should angels submit to Him because to do otherwise would mean sudden death? If God had killed Lucifer and his followers right away, the remaining angels would have been forced to conclude that God was an omnipotent bully ruling over the universe.
  1. God has infinite wisdom and He foreknew that sin needed time to mature so that the entire universe could see the deadly and horrible consequences of sin. By allowing the devil and his angels to live for a few thousand years, the universe would have two governments to study – one in Heaven (free of sin) and one on Earth (full of sin). The presence of two governments will ultimately prove that God’s laws and principles of government are best – not because He claims they are best – but because God’s ways have been demonstrated to be best.
  1. God gives the power of choice to each created being. His subjects do not have to obey Him, love Him, or respond to His goodness or generosity. Lucifer and his angels exercised their power of choice by choosing to rebel against God. Adam and Eve were given the power of choice and they chose to disobey God. For 6,000 years, sin has contaminated Earth. Time has proven that the quality of life suffers in proportion to our rebellion against the laws of God. True, sin may offer pleasure and excitement for a short time, but it always extracts a price that is far greater than the brief high of a cheap thrill. Sin takes us farther than we want to go, and sin costs us more than we want to pay. No matter how well Satan disguises sin, “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
  1. God foreknew the consequences of allowing Satan and his angels to live. Yet, at great expense to Himself, God provided a plan to save everyone who would live on Earth. He loved the people of the world so much that He gave His only Son’s life. Jesus was willing to come and die in man’s place so the penalty for sin would be paid! God Himself has paid a much greater price for the existence of sin that any human being will ever know! Incidentally, a plan of salvation was not offered to Lucifer and his angels because they willfully committed the unpardonable sin. (Matthew 12:31,32)

When these four items are brought together, we discover why God did not immediately destroy Lucifer and his followers. The conflict between Christ and Lucifer has been in progress on Earth for 6,000 years. Today, Christ and Satan are still striving to win the affections of people. This struggle will come to a dramatic end during the Great Tribulation.

Out of the Bottomless Pit

Revelation predicts that the devil will enter the realm of our human senses and he will appear physically before our eyes. Revelation 9 tells us the devil is an angel king that will come up out of the abyss (or bottomless pit, KJV)! To appreciate this prediction and the meaning of John’s language, we need to review a little ancient history.

People thought Earth was flat, much like a large plate or basin in Bible times. Since they had limited knowledge about the law of gravity, it seemed logical to the ancients that Earth was made like a basin – otherwise the great seas would “drain away.” Because Earth was believed to be flat, the ancients concluded a bottomless pit could be created if a person dug a hole all the way through the “basin.” Without a bottom, a person could fall through the “bottomless pit” and never be seen again. The ancients also believed the “fires of hell” burned underneath the basin of Earth and volcanoes were enormous chimneys that proved the presence of underground fires. When we understand John’s view of the physical world at the time he lived, it helps us understand why God used this type of imagery in the book of Revelation.

The transliteration of the Greek word abussos into English is “abyss.” Whether it is called “bottomless pit” (KJV) or “abyss” (NIV), the idea is the same. In ancient times, the “bottomless pit” represented a poorly defined source or origin of mythological monsters and demons. The ancients believed surreal creatures lived “under the basin” of Earth and when the creatures escaped; they came up through caves or holes that had no bottom or end to them. When God revealed last day events to John in 95 A.D., God used geographical ideas that were familiar to John. For example, John saw the devil and his angels ascend from the bottomless pit and John refers to this event in several places in the book of Revelation. By putting on John’s sandals and considering the mindset of his day, we can understand God’s use of imagery. Many people are surprised to learn that Revelation predicts the physical appearance of Satan on Earth before Jesus returns! However, Revelation not only tells us when, but it also tells us why!

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