Star of Wander, Star of Fright

They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

I cannot see anyone but Satan in this imagery. I may be wrong, I may be short-sighted, but the intended imagery inclines me to believe that this is the devil. Problem: Revelation 20; “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” If Satan was the fallen star to whom the key to the bottomless pit was given, how does this angel obtain said key to lock up Satan? I know it is imagery but even this seems like a stretch. If Satan is caged in the pit, we must un-cage the text using the CAGED method. Context: these chapters and verses have some separation between them. They are in different Acts of the play. Perhaps we’ll find some small clue as we waltz through Revelation. For now, let’s continue with the text before us and remember to take our vitamins. This is rarely a good idea, but let’s do a topical search for Satan.

Our Old Testament Tutor

Initial introduction to Satan is in the beginning–not the very beginning but soon thereafter in the text of Genesis. As far as the timing between creation, and fall of man, the text doesn’t give us that information. Nevertheless, in the context it’s only a matter of a few words. That is to say, we are introduced to Satan early on in the Bible. The theme of Satan is then found throughout the Bible and his end is described late in Revelation, though not at the very end. You see, the beginning is God, plural, and the paradise he creates for his people. Enter the serpent and sin and the fall of man and the curse of the earth. This begins God’s plan for redemption and that theme, the scarlet thread, if you will, is carried through the Bible. In the end we find the serpent and his followers destroyed, and at the very end–Paradise restored.

Satan seems to be the stumbling block and not someone our Savior would send serving his saints, so I searched the scriptures to see if this stipulation is satisfactory. Certainly our savior is sent to crush Satan but does he use him to assist some in their sanctification?

A few scriptures that speak to my hypothesis that God uses Satan to advance his kingdom: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?…all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.” “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” And one more for good measure. “I (Paul) have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” When we take verses such as these, whether in context or out, we realize that God wields his great power over Satan. In fact, Satan appears to have to ask God’s permission to perform his purposeful prompts. How great is our God? And yet something is missing, a piece of the puzzle doesn’t quite fit. There is a fog, an apparition, we see it, yet it is out of our grasp. To draw the conclusion that God has given Satan a key–authorization to further his kingdom–simply doesn’t fit the scenario. A sense of something more has settled in, we understand that God uses Satan, and has complete control, however, the context of Revelation seems to be showing something separate from Satan serving saints. After all, he is called the, liar, murderer and destroyer.

KISS, keep it simple stupid. I always forget this, it’s why I must remind myself from time to time. I have caged the word of God by searching rather than considering. I was looking through the Bible to prove my hypothesis but ignoring the genre and context. Yes, it was helpful and stimulating to search for context found elsewhere in the Bible, nevertheless, I was looking, not learning. The simple solution is to understand the imagery while considering the context.

They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

They have as king over them

The angel of the abyss

His name in Hebrew is Abaddon

And in the Greek

He has the name Apollyon

Read it and waltz through it again. We were made to memorize. Memorize it. Wear your shoes and the shoes of the early church. It is clearly the devil, given authority over those who don’t have the seal of God on their forehead. Simply put, the perishing over the perishing. The blind leading the blind that fall into the pit. Satan is not given the key to the Chrysler, he was given the key to that for which he is destined, in the short-term. King of the abyss, prince of the power of the air, the destroyer, the god of this world, Lucifer, the adversary, the tempter, all are ways that the Bible describes the devil.

The imagery in Revelation 9 is coming out of the fog–we’re beginning to see through the smoke-filled air. Our senses have been stimulated and we’re striving to see the simple. The clouds of doubt from presuppositions and preconceived notions are burning off by the sun of context and genre. Shining brightly now, the imagery paints a simple yet sublime picture in our mind’s eye. The abyss, and the smoke, and the stinging scorpions and locusts that do not kill, and the king of the abyss are imagery of what we see in Ephesians 2, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ah, the unveiling!

No! It can’t be! Stinging scorpion like locusts represent attack helicopters or something like that. How else does one explain the following: “the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. And they have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.” Yes, and Satan is their king. What is the greatest instrument of the devil? I’d say sin. What else other than sin does the devil represent? I believe the imagery is clear as smoke–sin, worldly pleasure and the ignoring of the Lord are what we see here. We can run on for a long time but sooner or later God will cut us down, unless we change our minds.

Honestly, which is easier to believe, that John saw 20th century helicopters or 21st century drones, or that the devil, his demons and the unrepentant sinners, those not washed in the blood of the lamb, are temporarily tormented in Hades, before their final judgement, after which they are cast into the lake of fire?

Of course, we are not there yet. Maybe I am crazy, but let’s stick together until the end and if we still don’t agree, at least I will have accomplished my goal. You may be a dispensationalist, amillennial, post-tribulation, pre-tribulation or any other eschatological classification; or not even know what these words mean. No problem–if Christ is your savior, we are siblings. My only goal is for christians to see things through the lens of the martyrs. We have a great opportunity for witness with unprecedented tools. Let’s use them.

This text is frightening, to say the least. Those that wander the earth, noticing creation yet ignoring the God who creates, will be tormented–twice.

C.S. Lewis writes in The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”

 

 

 

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