• The Great Day of His Wrath (1851) - Oil on canvas by John Martin | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Tate London (2011)

Powers of Darkness

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 23 April 2024

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17).

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed…” (Psalm 2:1-2).

“Hate against Israel is at its deepest hatred against the God of Israel. And hatred against His Messiah, Jesus the Christ”

Hate against Israel is at its deepest hatred against the God of Israel. And hatred against His Messiah, His anointed, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Jesus the Christ / Messiah / Anointed One. This hatred is an unreasonable hatred. It is an intense blindness, a  glare caused by the powers of darkness. Invisible powers of darkness are in control of authorities on earth. The Bible speaks clearly about this invisible reality.

So says Revelation 16:13-14 for example: “Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”

In Revelation 9:1-11 you read about Apollyon (Greek) or Abaddon (Hebrew): “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).” Invisible powers in background – like puppeteers – the that bring forth death and destruction on earth by visible armies and their military and political leaders. Powers from the Abyss. Daniel 10:12-13 and 20-21 know that behind the political powers of the Persians and the Greek stand angelic princes who try to prevent the Word of God reaching Daniel. Even battles, wars between Michael and his angels and the devil and his angels going on in the heavenly realms. You read about it in Revelation 12:7-12, where Michael the powerful prince (Daniel 10:21) and protector of Israel plays a decisive role.

In John 6:70-71 says Jesus that Judas is a devil. When Judas was about to betray Jesus, we read in John 13:26-27a the answer to the question of the others who was going  to betray Him:  “Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.” People can be controlled by demonic forces.

The world leaders are demonically inspired to proceed into this final battle.  It is not beyond the knowledge of the Lord, but it is the work of evil deceiving spirits. Thus says Micaiah ben Jimla in 1 Kings 22:13-23: “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around Him on His right and on His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’…”.

Also in the ancient history of Job something is shown to us about the spiritual background of what happens on earth in Job’s life. In Job 1 and 2 we read  how the Lord permits Satan to try Job. However, he is not allowed to take Job’s life, but he is allowed to bring all kinds of conceivable and inconceivable disasters upon him. Job 1:6 says that the “Sons of God” presented themselves before the Lord and that Satan also came with them.

Job 1:6-12“One day the sons of God [angels] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have You not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”  The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”

Job 2:6 “The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life…”

Here again we see a scene in Heaven in which shows the background and the reasons and the causes of what happens to people on earth. Yet, even sickness, disasters in his business, the death of his children and the criticism of his wife will not be able to bring down Job. He does not start cursing and swearing and saying goodbye to his faith in God – no matter how great his afflictions, questions and protests become. Even his wife says to him: “Do you still hold firm your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You are speaking as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?” Despite all this, Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:9-10 (NASB).

“Today, the worldwide advancing of occultism and demonic developments do not happen without the knowledge of God, but it is the work of the demonic forces”

Today, in our time with the worldwide advancing of occultism and demonic developments in our world – what the Bible calls ‘the End Times’ – things do not happen without the knowledge of God, but it is the work of the demonic forces who are expelled from Heaven by Michael the prince and his angels. God does permit it. The very existence of Satan and his host of demons , since the day they rebelled against God, is solely by the permissive will of God. But God is not, nor has ever been, the source of this terrible end-time humanity and brutality against the elect of God. Satan is. “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the  dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in Heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him… Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short…”(Revelation 12:7-12)

The Bible tells us that the entire world will suffer from a short period of tribulation. During those days the powers of darkness appear to have become almost supremely powerful. With an antichrist (beast) and a false prophet and all that goes with it. With a lot of suffering for Jews and Christians. Revelation 13:3b-10 says:  “The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months…” (verse 5).

“It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven,” (verse 6) […those who have their citizenship in Heaven; compare Philippians 3:20-21 “…But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body…”]

“It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.” (verse 7-10).

It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. It is written so simply: “…power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them…”, but what a frightening meaning do these words have. One thinks back to the sufferings of the Jews people in all the ages of their existence on earth. The Jewish people were conquered, subdued and quenched. Who can read for instance Flavius Josephus’ book “The Jewish War” with dry eyes, about the war of the Romans against the Jews, from 66-70 AD. As a final result, in the end Jerusalem was taken and destroyed, the Temple went up in flames and until the present day never rebuilt, Matthew 24:1-2. Over a million Jews were slaughtered. Thousands sold on the slave markets in the Middle East. Many taken as prisoners of war to Rome to show them to Ceasar and the Roman people. The remaining resistance was broken on top of Mount Masada, during which at the instigation of Eleazar ben Meir about nine hundred and sixty people chose death by their own hands instead of capture, torture, rape and slavery on April 15, 73 AD.

Yet: “It was given”, says Revelation 13 verse 5. And here in verse 7 also: it was given. The same in verse 15. The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. Shortly the second beast will also be given to do things in order to make people worship the beast and its statue. Evil never originates from God, but it does not happen without God’s permission. The victims of this evil suffering cannot understand this – and who will be ever able to understand it, all this horrible suffering of innocent people?  And yet: faith can still trust that Satan and his entire empire can do nothing without God’s permission. While in the beginning it is said: the dragon gives its power to the beast, and that makes the people worship the dragon and the beast, verse 5 and also this verse 7 shows that this does not happen without God’s knowledge and permission.

At the end of the last century in Europe we witnessed the phenomenon of the “GOD IS DEAD” theology. What did these theologians mean? Were they atheists? No. As far as they were concerned there could be ‘something’ up there. A Force. Like a blind driving Power behind the evolution processes. A ‘God’ if you like. But they meant that the concept of God as a Person, a personal God who is leading the history of the world was dead. Leading theologians like Dorothee Sölle in Germany proclaimed: after Auschwitz and the atrocities that took place I cannot believe in such a God anymore. That concept of a living God is dead.

One-day a Jewish rabbi gave them a beautiful answer. He heard these theologians cry out:  “after Auschwitz I cannot believe in God anymore!” Then, after having paused for some time, thinking, pondering, he said: “After Auschwitz I maybe still can believe in God. But I cannot believe in ‘man’ anymore…”

In Revelation 11:7 it was already said of the two witnesses: the beast coming from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. This apparently has been preordained. But what is the value of such a victory of the powers of darkness? It goes not beyond the plans of the Lord. It is a hollow victory. The two witnesses rise from the dead (Revelation 11:11) and the righteous dead shall rise also (1 Thessalonians 4:16) to rule with Christ, even if they die a martyr’s death, Revelation 20:4-6.

“The fully grown measure of evil will ultimately bring in God’s rightful judgement. Enough is enough!”

Everybody on earth thinks: who can oppose such a super power with its super-man? They are all-powerful! Nobody can resist them. And yet, divine irony, also “the beast” can’t do anything else but cooperate with God’s objectives. Not knowingly and not willingly the beast ultimately can only accomplish His will. And thus it falls into its own sword. Because the fully grown measure of evil will ultimately bring in God’s rightful judgement. Enough is enough! These deeds of evil will finally bring in God’s everlasting judgement.

After this threefold blasphemy by the powers of evil: (1) of the name of God – whoever did that was guilty of death in Israel, Leviticus 24:16 – and (2) of the Tent, the Tabernacle that completely testifies prophetically of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 9:1-15 – and (3) of those living in Heaven, have their citizenship in Heaven, who have become God’s children through the work of the Holy Spirit, John 3:8. It is a threefold blasphemy of the Triune God, and of that He does  in this world.

The total destruction of “the rest of her offspring”, and of “those who have Jesus’ testimony and of those who keep God’s commandments”, is the objective of ‘the beast’. It ultimately is against Israel and against the Church. The great antichrists of history show this time and again. Nero went for the Christians. Hitler went for the Jews – and ultimately for the Bible-believing Christians as well. Because if one goes by the fury of these demonic God-hating powers of darkness, then to a greater or lesser degree the other will go as well.

In those days the rest of the world will be no longer neutral. Where in the Second World War there were still some good Germans and some good Dutch people and many others in Europe – with underground resistance movements and hiding places – then no more. Every tribe and nation and language and people will be participating. “…but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved…” says Jesus in Matthew 24:13.

“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world…” (Revelation 13:8).

Praise God! Not all will worship the ‘beast’. There are those whose names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life. But the rest of the entire world population will worship the beast, every tribe and nation and language and people, worldwide, says the Book of Revelation. There is no escape. Either for God and the Lamb, or for ‘the beast’. This ‘beast’ is not a kind of politician who will be prepared to compromise. He is not a tolerant ‘spiritual’ leader who wants to strike a religious bargain. He is the “beast-man” who knows no mercy: his hatred against God and the true believers is unconditional and has no restraint.

The choice is literally: God or “beast-man”. Later (Revelation 13:17) John will also speak of an economic boycott, so that the believers will not be able to circumvent the power and influence of “the beast”. Just like in the era of worshipping the divine Roman Emperor. It was yes or no for the Christians! Yes, and you were reasonably safe. No, and you were ultimately fed to the lions.

This situation has actually happened before in history. In the era of the persecution of the Christians under the Inquisition, in the Communist countries, under fundamentalist Islam: ultimately it was, and is: yes or no. And actually this fundamental choice for God and Jesus Christ must be made by everyone already today. Jesus already said: ‘You cannot serve God and Mammon.’ You cannot serve two masters. “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Says Jesus in Matthew 10:34-39.

But everything in the end of days will come to a climax. The pressure builds up. The sings of the times will intensify tremendously. The pressure from the outside world will take on unprecedented forms. Because all people on earth will worship the beast. Praise the Lord: not everyone! Only everyone whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb, Revelation 13:8. Those who are written in it, are called victorious, ‘overcomers’, Revelation 3:5.

So, this is about a worldwide difficult time. A time of tribulation and oppression. An oppressive time. Painful like birth pangs. Painful but through this process the birth of the new baby will take place. New life will be birthed. Painful trials and tribulations will come to planet earth. But they precede a new era, a new beginning that after this short but intensely process will become worldwide: God’s Kingdom of peace and righteousness. From Jerusalem all over the world. A short time of purification. Of trials and tribulation.

One day – who knows how soon already – the angels of God’s wrath in Revelation 16 will pour out their bowls over  the earth. Amongst the verses in Revelation 16 are the verses 12-14. “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty…”.

This is about more than just the “kings from the East”, from the (Near and Far) East, that  Revelation 16:12 speaks. It is about the ”kings of the whole world”, who advance for a terrific end-time battle and war towards Israel. Incited by the false “trinity” (because the Lord alone is Triune): the dragon and the beast and the false prophet. The invisible powers of darkness pull the strings from the heavenly realms, leading the political and military leaders astray.

But again: it is not beyond the Lord. Joel 3:1-3 says: “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial…” And Isaiah 24:21-23 says: “In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. [Compare Revelation 20:1-3!] The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory.” That’s where it finally will come down to!

Micah 4:11-12 says: “But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand His plan, that He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.”

All these prophecies when they were voiced in the days that they were spoken, got a their first fulfilment in those days, or shortly after. But they will all ultimately receive their final and definitive fulfilment in the end of days. The “dragon” and the “beast” and the “false prophet” think that now at last – in the midst of the plagues, the disasters and tribulations of the wrath of God – there is a chance to finally get rid of God’s people, Israel and the Jews and the despised Bible-believing Christians. But nothing could be further from the truth. It will the beginning of their end. The final destiny of the devil and the powers of darkness will be the lake of burning sulfur and fire, “prepared for the devil and his angels”, Matthew 25:41, Revelation 19:11-21. They think that they gather the kings of the whole world with their armies for the final battle. And that they will be victorious. But in reality they are gathered by the Lord to meet their final doom.

One can observe these end-times spiritual developments all around you. Everywhere. But be assured: Jesus is coming! And while Satan is busy gathering his own in order to let them go against God’s people, the Lord Jesus is quietly busy gathering His children. He is encouraging them. He is protecting them. He is preparing them to be ready for His coming in glory.

And the great separation, the great shifting will be happening. “Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to Him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ He replied. “The servants asked Him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ He answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into My barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-29)

Do we belong to the grain that is going to be collected then, or do we belong to the chaff that will go into the fire? Now is the time that we can still choose!

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