Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What Is The Abyss?

Biblegems # 282

Question: What is the Abyss in Scripture, and is it occupied now?

The word “abyss” is a Hebrew word carried over into Greek (abussos) and found 9X in the New Testament (Luke 8:31; Rom. 10:7; Rev 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3). Its basic meaning, apart from context, is “without depth;” a “bottomless opening or pit.”

The use of “Abyss” in the New Testament, however, paints a very specific image of what God intends for us to understand when we come across this term. In its most general sense the “Abyss” refers to the spiritual realm of the dead who are awaiting Judgment:
Rom. 10:7 “Who will descend into the deep [lit. “abyss”]?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

Outside of Romans, however, the “Abyss” in the New Testament refers consistently to the place for imprisoned fallen angels.

The Abyss is a specific, confined place whose locked entrance is accessed from earth:
         Rev. 9:1a The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.

This same passage reveals that at some future time a fallen angel will be granted permission by God to release those spirits currently confined there. According to Revelation 9:11, these imprisoned beings are fallen angels who look to Satan, called here “the Destroyer,” as their king.
         Rev. 9:11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

As Luke 8:31 indicates, only certain demons are currently confined in this prison, and those who are not there do not want to be there:
         Luke 8:31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

Therefore, according to Luke 8:31, demonic spirits are very aware of the existence of the Abyss, they are aware that some of their companions are already imprisoned there, and they know that Jesus has authority over who goes in or comes out.

We also learn from the book of Revelation that when Satan (“the Destroyer,” Rev. 9:11) is allowed to “unlock” the Abyss during the Great Tribulation, the released demonic spirits empower “the Beast”—the political / idolatrous confederation of nations led by the Antichrist. Their rage will be directed against all who are loyal to Jesus and who defy the Antichrist:
         Rev. 11:7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them (see also verse 8).

At Christ’s Return, Satan and all the demonic spirits will be imprisoned in the Abyss throughout the duration of the Millennial Kingdom “…until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time” (Rev. 20:3b).

The Abyss, then, usually refers to a prison in the spiritual realm of Hades / Sheol for fallen angels awaiting final Judgment. God, in His justice and love, will not allow evil to run rampant forever!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Jesus And The Drowned Pigs

Question: What happened to the demons that were transferred to the pigs when they drowned? Demons don't drown, do they?

The Passage (NIV 2011):
Mark 5:11-13     A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”          He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned

Demons, of course are evil, or “impure spirits” (Mk. 5:8), and therefore cannot be drowned. Rather, Jesus describes demons as spirits who are constantly in search of human bodies to inhabit like parasites:    
         Matt. 12:43-45  “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

This is why the “The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them” (Mk.5:12). A disembodied demon is like a creature desperately searching for water in the desert. The man Jesus encountered on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in “the region of the Garasenes” (Mk. 5:1)—a Gentile community where pig farming was common—had become the host body for numerous demons.

The demonic spirits immediately recognized Jesus as “the Son of the Most High God” (Mk. 5:7), and assumed He had come to send them to the Abyss (Lk. 8:31), a place of confinement for certain demonic spirits (fallen angels) until the Day of Judgment:
         Jude 6  And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

Terrified of the Abyss, and equally terrified of having no host body to inhabit, the demons begged Jesus to use the pigs as hosts (Mk. 5:12). The pigs proved to be an incompatible host to the demonic spirits (which Jesus already knew to be the case). Normally, pigs can swim. But these poor creatures went completely berserk under the influence of the impure spirits and rushed mindlessly out of control down the cliff side into the Sea of Galilee to their deaths. Yet, by agreeing to the demons’ request, Jesus not only released the tormented man from thousands of demons, He also demonstrated His total authority over the natural and spiritual realms to the Gentile community.

In the end, the demons still found themselves disembodied, wandering in a spiritual wilderness looking for other potential hosts. The man Jesus had set free was restored to his family and community; and the man’s family community no longer lived in fear—all for the small price of a herd of pigs!