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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 01/01/06
The Angelic Conflict. Part 5.
Angels in the Abyss.
The first demon assault army of Revelation 9.

In John chapter 16, the night before His death, the Lord Jesus Christ is anticipating the coming of the Church-age, the dispensation in which He is glorified at the right hand of God the Father, where He is absent from the earth, and the intensification of the angelic conflict begins. JOH 16:1-15 "These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, Where are You going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear {them} now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose {it} to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose {it} to you."
Therefore, we have been studying the Doctrine of the Angelic Conflict.

Point 1. Definition. 
The angelic conflict is the result of all prehistoric creatures being in opposition to God which began with the fall of Satan and continued until all angelic creatures had made a decision for or against God. It refers to two trials of Satan and the fallen angels, one in prehistoric times, the other during human history.

Point 2. The Existence of Rational Creatures.
The scripture teaches that there are only two categories of rational creatures. First is the pre-historical category called angels as in PSA 8:4-6; HEB 2:6,7; 2PE 2:11. Second is the historical category called human beings, mankind, or man.

Point 3. When and How the Angelic Conflict Began.
We noted that it began before the creation of the human race, Gen 1:1, JER 4:23-26; Eze 28, Isa 14.

We are now on Point 4. Two Categories of Fallen Angels.
Category 1: The non-operational angels. Under this category there are two groups of angels who are in prison at this time and who will be let out at some time in the future. We have already seen the first group of angels who are in an underground prison called Tartarus. These are the angels who, in Gen 6, attempted to infiltrate the human race by producing a group of super-creatures called the Nephilim. Jud 1:5-6, Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. Then in 2PE 2:4, For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

The second category of non-operational angels are found in Rev 9. It is important to understand the goal of these two groups. The first group tried to stop the virgin birth and a very important event, the Hypostatic Union of the God-man. At the virgin birth, Jesus Christ became different from the Father and the Holy Spirit because He became true humanity. 1TI 2:3-6, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time. Since the incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ is both true humanity and undiminished deity in one person forever. He is different from the Father and the Spirit in that He is true humanity, and different from true humanity in that He is God. As the mediator between God and man He is equal with both parties. He is the unique One of the universe.

The Significance of the Virgin Birth to the Angelic Conflict.

While Jesus Christ was the Angel of Jehovah in the O.T., He never really became an angel; He simply appeared as an angel. (Doctrine of Theophanies). Jesus Christ bypassed the angelic creation by His human birth. Once the Lord came in the flesh at the incarnation, there were no more manifestations of the Angel of Jehovah. In bypassing the angelic creation, God did a remarkable thing: He prepared the way, in eternity, for every believer in Jesus Christ to be superior to angels in the resurrection body. Angels are superior to us now during history, but we will be superior to them for all eternity (Heb 1-2).

In Rev 9, we have a different group of non-operational angels who had a different goal in mind. This second category is the first demon assault army currently incarcerated in the abyss who will remain there until the Tribulation period. The abyss contains demons who transgressed the boundaries of the human race and disobeyed the rules of the angelic conflict. It also includes one of Satan's right hand servants, Abbadon. REV 9:11 They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon [destruction], and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon[exterminator]. In Rev 9, Abaddon is released from this jail with the help of Satan who at that time has been cast out of heaven and can never return.

The abyss is the fourth compartment of Hades. It is translated the bottomless pit and the abyss in the book of Revelation. REV 9:1-2, And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit [the compartment known as the abyss] was given to him. And he opened the bottomless pit; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.

The Church today is the focal point of invisible warfare and therefore we are required to become invisible heroes. However, the abyss is related to visible warfare during the Tribulation period. This first demon assault army will invade the earth during the Tribulation period (REV 9:1-12). They are released from their prison to become part of the administration of punishment to cosmic believers and unbelievers. At that time, the invisible angelic conflict will become visible. Hence, there will be visible heroes among believers like Moses and Elijah and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. These events indicate a tremendous change in God's plan after the Rapture of the Church occurs. When Satan is cast down to the earth, he is permitted to release his three hard-core demon armies, and they will attack human beings physically. The first demon assault army is found in the first 13 verses of Rev 9, led by the second highest ranking fallen angel called Apollyon or Abaddon. The attack is going to be made over a period of five months against man, and there are only two restrictions on the target: 1) Only those in the cosmic system or involved in the world system can be attacked. Those who are outside of the cosmic system, believers who are positive toward doctrine, are protected by a wall of fire. The result of the 5 month torture is that people will want to die but will not be permitted to die. 2) They cannot kill their victims but can only torture them. We will see that this has to do with crisis evangelism.

According to the Bible, the Tribulation period will be a time of wrath (1TH 5:9; REV 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19). A time of judgment (REV 14:7; 15:4;16:5-17). A time of indignation (ISA 26:20-21; 34:1-3). A time of punishment (ISA 24:20-21). A time of trial (REV 3:10). A time of trouble (JER 30:7). A time of destruction (Joel 1:15). A time of darkness (Joel 2:2; ZEP 1:14-18). This will be a very difficult time; however, if you are a believer in TLJC today, you will not be on earth during this period.

REV 9:1, And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven [Satan] which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. The star is a reference to Satan who had fallen to the earth in the middle of the Tribulation period. This is a reference to what we noted in ISA 14:12, How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, The Greek word for bottemless is abussos which means the abyss. The Greek word for pit is the nounphrear which means a well, and it refers to the pit of the abyss. Just before God the Father throws Satan down to the earth in the middle of the Tribulation period, He gives Satan the key, the power, and the authority to release the first demon assault army. These demons actually have the power and the ability to be visible to man. Rev 9:2, And he[Satan] opened the bottomless pit [or the abyss];  For the second time in human history, fallen angels will actually be on earth again. The intense pain they inflict on believers in the cosmic system and unbelievers will cause both believers and unbelievers to try to commit suicide, but they will not be permitted to do so. Note that Satan does this to his own servants because Satan is an ungrateful master, an unfair and arrogant ruler. Once Satan no longer has use for those involved in the cosmic system, he tries to destroy them in his satanic frustration. The tragic thing is that just like today, there will be born again believers who serve Satan.

Rev 9:2, And he [Satan] opened the abyss; The opening is the entrance and the exit for the great underworld prison known as the abyss. Once Satan is cast out of heaven he shows his real colors in pettiness, vindictiveness, and implacability, which are the manifestations of his arrogance. Satan seeks to defeat God in the angelic conflict; therefore, when Satan is cast to the earth and given the key to the abyss, he immediately uses that key to destroy those that have served him against God, both carnal believers and unbelievers. Satan is ruthless, he has no reservations when destroying his subjects who are serving him in the cosmic system. You certainly have the right to ask yourself a question with regard to this, are you serving Satan as the ruler of this world? Perhaps you don't knowingly or willingly follow Satan, but by being so involved and wrapped up with the things of the world you have no time or interest in the things of God. For example, the Lord said MAT 7:7, "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." and JER 29:13, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Do you search for Him with all of your heart?
The Lord said MAR 12:30, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
If you're living in the cosmic system, you have not lost your salvation, but you are the servant of Satan. 

Rev 9:2, And he [Satan] opened [unlocked] the abyss; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air [the atmosphere] became darkened by the smoke of the pit. This smoke explains several verses related to the demon prisons in Hades. There are two areas where demons are in prison; the first is called Tartarus and there is smoke in Tartarus. The second is the abyss and there is smoke in the Abyss. The description of this is in 2PE 2:4, For if God Himself did not spare the angels when they sinned [those are the sons of God in GEN 6:2], but He incarcerated them in Tartarus with chains of darkness [darkness is the Greek word zophos,meaning black clouds and a mist] keeping them for judgment;
The chains of darkness are an explanation of the smoke. JUD 1:6, And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under thick darkness [zophos again, black clouds and a mist] for the judgment of the great day. Notice the phrase darkness. They were chained in darkness and shrouding like a cloud.

In REV 9:3 we have the description of the demon army, And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. The Bible must be interpreted in the time that it was written; these were not scorpions nor were they locusts, rather, these terms are used as an analogy. In the ancient world, the functions of the locust and the scorpion are the best ways to describe the function of the first demon assault army. The Greek word for locusts is akrides used for an army of destruction. Locusts invade the land and destroy its crops; therefore they are analogous here to the demon army which invades planet earth from the Abyss when Satan opens the gate. Real locusts are known for laying waste to countrysides all over the world. In the evening they descend from their flight and form an organized bivouac or a camp. In the morning they assemble again and find a place to feed. Nothing can stop them. They will fill ditches dug to stop them. So, they provide an excellent analogy for this invading demon army. Nothing is going to stop this demon army during this invasion.

For the first time, since Gen 6, demons are permitted to attack men. They are permitted to torture and later on to kill, as we will see.  

Scorpions in REV 9:3 is the Greek noun skorpioi which belongs to the spider family and has a poisonous sting in its tail. The scorpion sting is very painful and it is used here as a fitting analogy for torture. This is all a manifestation of the grace of God in warning before judgment. Grace always precedes judgment. This is God's last appeal to the believer to get out of the cosmic system, and to the unbeliever to become born again and saved. There is never a judgment which destroys a segment of the human race until first of all they have an opportunity to repent. For the unbeliever, repentance means salvation through faith in Christ. For the believer, repentance means a change of mind toward doctrine. God is going to use the wrath of angels to praise Him just like He uses the wrath of man to praise Him. PSA 76:10, For the wrath of man shall praise Thee.

In REV 9:4-5 we have a divine restriction placed upon the demon invasion. They are going to be restricted as to what they can do to their targets. REV 9:4, And they were told [or commanded] that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Men will want to die, but they have an alternative to suicide. For the unbeliever it is to accept Christ as personal savior, and in the case of believers it is to rebound and get out of the cosmic system. Five months of torture ought to be enough motivation for anyone. Pain and suffering and adversity either makes us worse or better but it never leaves us the same. When you have a problem, a difficulty, a disaster, you are never going to be the same; you are going to come out of it worse or better. Such problems are a fantastic opportunity for improvement. Some believers under disaster are motivated to improve. They rebound and get cracking again. Others turn very bitter and eventually get locked in to the evil and the arrogance of the cosmic system.

This first demon army's first prohibition is that they cannot destroy vegetation. The reason they want to destroy it is because they despise God, and everything He created reminds them of Him. (This is one of the reasons that some of you can't talk to certain family members, friends, or associates about Christ. They are Satan's servants). The reason why these angels are given these restrictions is because an angel or a demon can kill a human being very easily. Demons are not killing humans at the present time, but they can possess unbelievers and be the medium for the function of violence since demons are prone to violence. While demons can perform extra-natural and super-natural acts in the environment of planet earth, they cannot control anything apart from divine permission which is only given where it involves the perpetuation of the angelic conflict in human history. But always remember that there is no need for the believer to fear, 1JO 4:4, Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

REV 9:4, And they were commanded that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, except the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They are restricted from harming one group; those who have the seal of God are those who became saved after the Rapture and during this Tribulation period.
REV 7:1-4, After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Notice the ones that are sealed are not called believers but those believers who are bond-servants of God. The word bond-servants is doulos which means those believers who are slaves or servants to God. These are believers who carry out the will and the purpose of God. There will be certain Tribulational believers who will survive the Tribulation with all of its horrors and historical adversity. These certain Tribulational believers are fulfilling certain principles of spiritual advance that keep them out of the cosmic system. Remember again, the target is believers and unbelievers in the cosmic system, but there is no permission to attack believers who are living in fellowship with God or protected by the wall of fire. For example, today you cannot be attacked if you are inside the PPOG for your life. Inside the PPOG there is a wall of fire, inside the cosmic system there is no wall of fire for the believer. Whatever the plan of God is for the Tribulational saints, their objective is growing in grace and staying out of the cosmic system because demons are going to be permitted to torture those who are outside of the plan of God. Therefore to avoid being mugged by a demon in the Tribulation, you have to stay out of the cosmic system.

So there will be thousands of believers who will not be attacked and who will be protected under the principle of the wall of fire. However, many believers are going to be tortured and later on killed by demons simply because they live in the cosmic system. REV 9:4, And they were commanded that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, except the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  So the seal of God refers to 2TI 2:19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness. Notice that the seal of God is not just related to the fact that you're a believer but that you're a believer who names the name of the Lord and abstains from wickedness.

REV 9:5And they [the demon assault army] were not permitted to kill anyone, These are individuals who said No to the divine plan of God, and they are turned over to Satan for punishment. The worst punishment a believer can have is to be turned over to Satan. Paul wrote about being turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. 1TI 1:18-20, This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme. Since these individuals have said No to the divine plan of God, and therefore yes to the satanic plan, they are now turned over to Satan. You cannot say no to the plan of God without saying yes to the plan of Satan.

The target of the first demon assault army includes only those people who actually reside in the cosmic system. You can make a decision anytime to enter the cosmic system, and it is the most dangerous and horrible place in the world. And that's because at any time it can backfire on you. There is no wall of fire for believers in the cosmic system. And if you're wondering why doesn't Satan kill those believers in the cosmic system now, it's because they are of more use to him alive.

REV 9:5, And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; The Greek word for torture isbasanizo which means to question by applying torture, to torture, to vex with grievous pains (used of body or mind), to torment, to be harassed, or to be distressed. For five months believers and unbelievers in the cosmic system receive this torture. When Satan is through with his human servants he has no reservation about making them miserable and eventually destroying them.

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