The Abyss and the Beast from the Abyss
Before we examine texts on the subject of the Abyss, some linguistics may be helpful. The term Abyss comes from the Greek words Abussos or Abusson and has been translated as Abyss in the NIV or in the KJV as deep or bottomless as in bottomless pit.
To a limited extent, the sense of Abyss may bear some similarity to the Hebrew word Sheol which Strong's Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary defines as follows: (#7585) Sheol (Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates - and has been translated in the KJV as grave, pit, hell.
Luke 8:26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" 29For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. 30Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss [KJV-deep, Greek-Abusson].
Jude 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home --these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Rev. 9:1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star [symbolic here for angel] was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. . . . 11They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. [which both mean Destroyer]
Rev. 11:6 These men [the two witnesses] have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. 7Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.
Rev. 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. . . . 11The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
Rev. 20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. . . . 7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth --Gog and Magog --to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.
In the Jewish mindset, the Abyss was the abode of demons. Indeed, the New Testament texts that use the term "Abyss" support this fact. When Jesus was about to cast the demons out of the demoniac in Luke 8:31, they requested that he not send them into the Abyss. Jude characterizes the fallen angels as being held "bound in darkness." When the beast from the Abyss appears, the unsaved inhabitants of the world are astonished. Paul in 2Ths. 2 uses the terms "held back" and then "revealed" in referring to this power.
Putting all this together leads me to conclude that the Abyss is a state of invisibility from which a demonic agency cannot leave unless either: 1) God permits it, or 2) a human agent willingly or unwittingly invites demonic possession 3) a human agent has been dedicated to the evil one through a rite such as a Satanic infant dedication. Then the possessed individual becomes the mouthpiece or host through which the demonic agency can communicate verbally with the human world. These individuals have been called channelers, witches, mediums, spiritists, demon possessed, Satanists, Wicca adherents, etc. Some possessions may be obvious, others may be hidden for years. Unknown to many, yet apparent from his actions was Adolf Hitler as was probably Idi Amin and most dictators. "By their fruits (actions) you shall know them."
Sometimes a sick person may be demon possessed. Illnesses affecting the brain such as schizophrenia, epilepsy and others may, in some cases, be the result of demon possession (see Luke 9:37-42). In today's "atheistic" society, individuals like these are often kept sedated in a psychiatric ward.
Now that we have a good idea what the Abyss is, let's look what or who comes out of the Abyss and what it/he does.
There is an angel that comes out of the Abyss to direct the locusts with scorpion tails in the fifth trumpet. He is called the Destroyer. This power from the Abyss or beast from the Abyss appears to overcome the two witnesses and kills them in Rev. 11. Satan is thrown into the Abyss at the second coming of Christ.
Since consistency demands that this power (beast) from the Abyss, the angel king of the Abyss, and the power imprisoned back in the Abyss be the same, we can only conclude one thing. That the angel from the Abyss, also known as the Destroyer is the same as the one put back into the Abyss at the second coming of Christ. The beast, king and Destroying angel from the Abyss is none other than Satan himself.
Satan himself will appear on this earth prior to the second coming of Christ. The Bible makes that quite clear. John in one of his epistles writes about this coming of an individual whom he call the antichrist. Note in the context that John felt it was close to the end of time, i.e. "the last hour."
Note that the generic term antichrist is anyone who is anti Christ, that is who rebels against or who misrepresents Jesus Christ.
Satan, the "light-bearer" as he is known among his supporters will come to impersonate Jesus Christ and to lay claim to the world. He who sought to be like God, will seek to be worshipped by the inhabitants of the earth. Let's look at what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians.
Note the strong comparisons to the Beast from the Abyss. The man of lawlessness will be revealed at the appointed time. He will not be revealed until the one who holds him back (God and His angels who hold the key to the Abyss), allows him to be revealed. At that time, his appearance will be accompanied with the display of all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, to the astonishment of those who have rejected God and His grace and His Law and chosen to join in the rebellion. Their names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life.
This man of lawlessness is permitted to be revealed so that he can go to his destruction.
Some may ask, "yes, but the texts above refer to a man. How can you say 'man' refers to a supernatural being?"
The Bible in a number of places refers to both Jesus and Satan as "men." We have the previous reference to the antichrist as a man. Paul in his discourse before the Athenians at the Areopagus made the following statement.
Obviously, Paul was referring to Jesus Christ. And in God's taunt of the king of Babylon He also calls Satan a man.
Yes, Satan will be permitted to become incarnate even as Jesus, the only begotten son of God was. Except that Satan will appear in a fashion that most of the world would have expected a Messiah to appear. He will walk the earth, performing miracles, signs and wonders up to the point of almost deceiving the very elect. Jesus prophesied,
And if the elect are to be almost deceived by this delusion, what of the rest of the world which has no concept of Truth? Who has delighted in false doctrines?
An important point to aid in the positive identification of the man of lawlessness is that he will be destroyed by the splendor of Christ's second coming.
There are those who hold and with some good evidence, that Rome, the headquarters of paganism's current embodiment, the papacy, and it's leader the pope, is the man of lawlessness.
But a careful look at Rev. 17 indicates that Satan as the eighth king or symbolized by the body of the beast from the Abyss, or simply as the beast from the Abyss, will, in order to accomplish God's purpose, destroy Mystery Babylon's current embodiment or host, the papacy.
Remember that Babylon is a system of religion that is embodied or empowered by the various pagan powers and empires. And that by totally destroying the final embodiment, one also destroys the religion. The term final is used as Christ soon afterwards sets up His kingdom and imprisons Satan.
Two examples might be helpful here. Imagine that a man named Bill is a carrier for a deadly bacteria. There is no known antibiotic for this bacteria and it is continuing to spread throughout his body and the chance of it infecting other people is very great. Now suppose for some reason Bill dies or is killed. The bacteria would die as well since its host or carrier is dead.
Second example, this one true. After the bishop of Rome took over the reigns of power from the Roman emperor in 476 A.D., the Holy Roman empire began to annihilate three of the Barbaric tribes, the Heruli, the Ostrogoths and the Vandels, since these tribes believed in the doctrine of Arianism. By 538 A.D., it had successfully annihilated the last of these three and thus effectively brought to an end belief in Arianism.
Thus by bringing an end to a host, one brings to an end the practices and beliefs that the host carries as well.
The second point of evidence to indicate that the Beast from the Abyss [and we're talking about the body here, the eighth king, not its heads] is not the papacy is found in Rev. 21.
Note that after the 1000 years, the devil or Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, where the beast of Rev. 13 has already been thrown.
As we have or will study, the beast and false prophet combination indicate that these are the two beasts of Rev. 13. This beast, (the first beast of Rev. 13) we will discover is the current and final host of Babylon, the papacy.
It makes little sense for the papacy to destroy itself. But it makes good sense for God to have Satan destroy a religious system of Satan's own creation.
Why would Satan want to destroy this false religious system?
First of all, one must recognize that Satan desires to be worshipped as God. Through all the false religions of the world, the objects of worship have been entities that he and his demonic agents have created. Once Satan is allowed to appear or to become visible (be revealed), he no longer will wish people to worship these symbols of him. He would rather have them worship him directly. The papal power, though drawing its authority from him (like the woman riding on the beast's back or by receiving the dragon's power and authority) will no longer be needed. Rome will simply get in the way.
Secondly, Satan's desire for control knows no boundaries. In his mind, the end always justifies the means; whether those means be deceptions, coercions, temptations, subtleties. Those who have fallen under his control fall under the control of a cruel and heartless task master, whose only desire is their debasement and eventual destruction. Peter puts it bluntly,
And the success of the devil's labors in the debasement of man and their rejection of God's law is quite evident by their actions.
Thus Satan, impersonating Christ or God and desiring to be worshipped, cruelly destroys those who have served him; who thought they were actually following God, but who actually believed the lie, accepting the counterfeit for the genuine.
Thus God places it in the heart of the dragon to burn the entity that he created. To burn Rome, the host of the Babylonish mystery religion.
Thus one can see that Rome, the center and host of the Babylon mystery religion, along with its leader the pope will be destroyed by fire by Satan prior to the second coming of Christ.
And then the incarnation that Satan has assumed will be destroyed by the splendor of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the breath of His mouth.
Satan is then bound for one thousand years, after which he meets his final destruction.
Satan will no longer have need of paganism or sun worship because he himself seeks to be worshipped and will tolerate the worship of no other. Paganism in its many varied forms, with its worship of various gods and goddesses will no longer be needed to sway men from God.
Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Many thanks go to Zondervan.
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