The Abyss

The Abyss is the source of satanic attacks against the saints even though it remains under the authority of the Lamb – Revelation 11:7. 

When it is first introduced, “smoke” and locust-like creatures ascend from the “Abyss” to torment the “inhabitants of the earth.” In Revelation, it is the deep pit from which satanic agencies ascend to wreak havoc and wage war against the “saints.” It is also the “prison” where demonic forces are imprisoned until their appointed time to execute their malevolent plans.

In John’s first vision, the one “like a son of man” is declared the “First and the Last, and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, living am I unto the ages of ages!” He has absolute authority, including the “keys of death and of hades.”

Abyss Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash
[Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash]

And while “
Hades” may be an unclean and ominous place, it is not beyond his authority - (Revelation 1:9-20).

DEEP THINGS OF SATAN


In Thyatira, Jesus chastises the church’s “angel” for tolerating the prophetess “Jezebel.” Like the “Great Harlot, Babylon,” she is teaching the saints “to fornicate and eat food offered to idols.”

The Prophetess Jezebel claims it is permissible to “know the deep things of Satan.” In her mind, she teaches the “deep things of God,” apparently, deeper spiritual insight and practices.

Jesus exposes her doctrine for what it is - the “DEEP THINGS” or BATHOS of Satan, and bathos is a conceptual link to the “Abyss,” the deep pit from which demonic forces ascend to attack the witnesses of the “Lamb”- (Revelation 2:18-29, 9:1-2, 11:7, 13:1, 17:8, 20:1-3).

ABYSS OPENED


When the fifth trumpet sounds, a “star” falls to the earth with the “key” to open the “Abyss.” Likewise, at the commencement of the “thousand years,” an “angel” descends with the “key of the Abyss” to imprison Satan.

At the end of that period, the Devil is released and gathers the nations to the war against the “camp of the saints.” Elsewhere in the book, “stars” represent “angels” or “messengers” - (Revelation 1:20, 9:1-12, 20:1-10).

The opening of the “Abyss” in chapter 9 unleashes a horde of “locusts upon the earth.” They are compared to “horses prepared for battle.” They are ruled by the “angel of the abyss, whose name, in Hebrewis ‘Destruction’, also in the Greek text, ‘Destroyer’.” Most likely, this refers to the Devil, the “Dragon.”

The “sixth trumpet” releases the “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates,” and it corresponds to the “Abyss” from the “fifth trumpet.”

The fifth and sixth trumpets together parallel the fifth and sixth “bowls of wrath.” Like the “fifth trumpet,” the “fifth bowl of wrath” causes the “darkening” of the kingdom of the “Beast,” as well as the tormenting of the men who have its mark.

And like the “sixth trumpet,” the “sixth bowl of wrath” dries up the waters of the “Euphrates” to “prepare the way of the kings from the rising of the sun.”

Demons are dispatched to gather the “kings of the whole habitable earth to the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” the battle at “Armageddon” - (Revelation 16:10-16).

BEAST FROM THE ABYSS/SEA


The “Two Witnesses” or “two lampstands” prophesy for a “thousand, two hundred and sixty days.” In Revelation, “lampstands” represent churches. At the end of their “testimony,” the “Beast that ascends from the Abyss” attacks the “Two Witnesses” and “slays them” - (Revelation 1:20, 11:3-7).

That same “Beast” appears again when John sees it “ascending from the sea.” The “sea” represents the same “depth” or reality as the “Abyss.” In both instances, the “Beast ascends” to prosecute its war against the “saints/witnesses.” Thus, in chapter 13, it is authorized to “wage war on the saints, and to overcome and slay them.”

Both visions borrow and apply the same language from Daniel’s vision of the “fourth beast” and its “little horn” - “The same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.”

Thus, the “Two Witnesses” represent the same group called the “saints” in chapter 13. In both passages, the “Beast” ascends from a deep place to attack the church, the “Abyss” and the “sea,” respectively - (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:1-10).

Abyss - Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash
[Abyss - Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash]

SATAN IMPRISONED


In chapter 20, an angel “descends out of heaven with the key of the Abyss.” He uses it to bind the Devil, not to release him. This locates his imprisonment in the “Abyss” BEFORE the events detailed in chapter 9 when the “star” from heaven arrived with the “key” and released demonic forces from the “Abyss” - (Revelation 20:1-3).

The Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, he who is the Devil and Satan.” These four names applied to Satan in chapter 20 link the image to chapter 12 where we read:

  • The great red DRAGON who was cast down, the ANCIENT SERPENT, he that is called the DEVIL AND SATAN, and he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.”

So, also, in chapter 20, Satan is “cast” (ballō) into the “Abyss” BEFORE the commencement of the “thousand years.” With the victory of the “Lamb,” he has lost his prosecutorial powers - (Revelation 12:9-13).

The Devil is “bound” to prevent him from “deceiving the nations until the thousand years end,” and this clause is a further link to chapter 12 where the “Dragon” is called “THE DECEIVER OF THE WHOLE HABITABLE EARTH.” He is not prevented from engaging in all activities, but only from “deceiving the nations.”

In chapter 12, the voice pronounces “woe” to the “inhabitants of the earth” for the Devil is now “cast to the earth,” and he knows he has only “a short time.” However, he is still able to unleash destructive forces against humanity, including the “saints.”

Thus, though imprisoned, Satan is the “angel of the Abyss” and the “Destroyer” bent on annihilating the saints and witnesses of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 9:1-12, 12:12).

SATAN RELEASED


Satan is freed from the “Abyss” at the “end of the thousand years” and allowed once more to “deceive the nations.” He gathers them for his final assault against the “saints.” As he does so, the nations “ASCEND” over the earth to attack the “camp of the saints.”

Once more, the theme of evil “ascending” from the “Abyss” is repeated. The “Dragon” does not escape from the pit - he is “released,” presumably by the “Lamb,” but not until, and only for, the appointed “short time” at the end of the “thousand years” - (Revelation 20:7-9).

Note the parallels.  In Thyatira, the “prophetess Jezebel” attempts to deceive believers to commit idolatry.

Likewise, the “Beast that ASCENDS FROM THE EARTH,” the “false prophet,” deceives the “inhabitants of the earth” so they give their allegiance to the “Beast from the sea” and its image.

So, also, “Babylon” employs her “sorceries” to “deceive all the nations.” And at the end of the “thousand years,” Satan is released to “deceive the nations” into making one last attempt to destroy the “saints” - (Revelation 2:20, 13:14, 18:23, 20:8-10).

Thus, the book portrays the defeat and imprisonment of Satan by the “Lamb” until his release at the appointed time - the “short season.” Following the resurrection of Jesus, the Devil is down but not completely “out.” He is unable to “deceive the nations” until he is loosed from the “Abyss,” then he leads them in his final assault on the “saints.” Yet he remains deadly even as he is bound in the “Abyss,” though his power to destroy God’s people is curtailed until the appointed time.

And so, throughout the present age, the “Lamb” remains in firm control of events on the earth and sovereign over all things, including “Hades” and the “Abyss.” The “Dragon” is unleashed from the “Abyss” near the end of the age for one final assault against the church.



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