When God created all the angelic host, He certainly knew that one of them would rebel against Him. When the seventy came back rejoicing that even the devils were subject unto them, Jesus, the Son of God, responded to His disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). These words are a revealed insight that nothing Lucifer thought or did before his fall from heaven surprised God. We have carefully observed the verses in Isaiah 14 of the rebellious thoughts within his heart. We have also observed in Revelation 12 how his communications with other angels convinced one-third to rebel with him against God. Did Lucifer finally go before God and attack Him, gainsay Him, and defy Him at the height of his rebellion? How long did all of this take in the process of angelic time? What was the sequence of events: initial thoughts against God privately within his heart; then speaking with the angels in falsity and lies to convince them to cast in their lot with him; and finally, a confrontation with God?
Luke 10:18 unveils the Son’s personal observation of these successive events when He was in heaven. He begins with the declaration, “I beheld Satan. . . .” This verb beheld is in the imperfect tense, combining the present tense that leads up to an aorist (or crisis) tense. In heaven, the Son beheld in detail the process taking place with Lucifer. He saw the fall of this mighty one coming, the continuation of the unfolding of it, until Lucifer’s “fall” came (the aorist tense). There is always a process of actions leading up to any fall. We may wonder why God even created the angelic hosts if He knew this would happen. But perhaps we would equally wonder why God created the human race, foreknowing there would be a fall and all the consequences that would result, even reaching to this very time in history.
My dear father, Dr. O. Talmadge Spence, now and then made the statement that when he gets to heaven, he is going to thank God for the Devil. I remember the first time I heard him make that statement. I did not doubt or question it but simply wondered about it. He went on to explain that unless the Devil had done all that he did to confront us day by day, we probably would not have given our life to the intensity of prayer that should have been given. The Devil drove us to God!
And when we get to heaven, will God finally reveal why He created the angelic hosts? We know, according to Scripture, that it was for His glory and praise and that they were to be ministering spirits unto Himself and to God’s people. Yet He knew what would come from this creation—both the coming into existence of evil and the fall of one-third of those angels. God also knew that basically the history of man would be destroyed; and, it would only be when His Son, the Christ, the perfect Man comes to earth a second time and sets up His kingdom, that the history of man will be resolved well.
But what is to be done with all the thousands of years that fallen man has lived and brought about a system against God, to say nothing of the individual lives of people lost and in ruin? We must believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, knowing all things, “doeth all things well.” Though His creation will see the fall of angels and man, including the wrath of the Devil, all this one day will turn out to praise Him.
The Devil’s Influence in the Old Testament
But what am I to do with this Devil? How am I to respond to his evil treachery and temptations? How am I to face this Satanas (this Adversary) and this Diabolos (this Slanderer) against God and His people? We must remember that when Lucifer’s rebellion took place in heaven, mankind had not been created. But since God created humanity, the Devil has brought his adversarial and slanderous powers to the earth; he ever lies in wait to destroy God’s people. And yet, above it all and in every minute detail, God victoriously stands in His sovereignty. There is not one thing the Devil does that is not in God’s consciousness. Yea, there is not one thing instigated by Satan that will not fall out ultimately to the plan of God.
As referenced earlier, the title Satan is mentioned only a few times in the Old Testament. Twelve of these times occur in the first book written in the Bible, the Book of Job, and only in the first two chapters. Not even Job ever brings up the name of Satan. His thoughts are not towards this great adversary of both God and His people. It is evident that Job is not aware that Satan is behind at least a part of what he had been experiencing. It never entered his mind.
Satan is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 24 as well as in 1 Chronicles 21 from Ezra’s perspective of the same event. Note 2 Samuel 24:1:
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
In this context the emphasis is upon the Lord’s anger against Israel, not so much against David. As the chapter unfolds, the ultimate judgment was against Israel in the light of the tens of thousands that died by the sword of the angel of the LORD. But then in 1 Chronicles 21:1, Ezra (centuries later) gives us an insight we would not have even contemplated: “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” How do we harmonize these passages of Scripture? In 2 Samuel 24:1, “the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them.”
How did the Lord choose to move David against Israel? The Lord permitted Satan to provoke David; Satan provoked David by casting thoughts into his mind to number Israel. Such a working by God is very rare in the Bible, but at times He uses the Devil in this way. God is not the author of evil, and God is not the author of sin; however, He will use evil. Remember, God did not create Satan. God created Lucifer; Satan was self-born. Nevertheless, Satan is ever under God’s hand.
Lo, at the end of history perhaps we will look back and see God’s hand was behind everything that Satan thought he himself had accomplished. We know that Satan cannot do one thing against us. He cannot tempt us, nor can he perform any evil deed against us—not one thing—unless God gives permission! So, everything in my life is ultimately in the hands of God, although He at times may permit the Devil to do certain things.
The name Satan is mentioned as well by David in Psalm 109:6. In this prayer against his earthly adversary, David asks the Lord to allow a wicked man to be set up over him and “let Satan stand at his right hand” as a curse against his enemy.
Near the end of the Old Testament, we read of Satan once again. After the first return of the Jews to Jerusalem (536 bc) and the completion of the foundation of the temple, there were fifteen years of spiritual levity, mediocrity, apathy, and indifference among the remnant. They did not pursue the completion of the temple. During these years, the Devil manifested himself and took advantage of the Jews’ failures (Zechariah 3). He fed their apathy and spiritual indifference. Note Zechariah 3:1:
And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD [the preincarnate Christ], and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
The angel of the LORD was there to plead for this remnant while Satan the Devil was there to resist any positive thing that could be done for them. In Zechariah 3:2 we read, “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan.” As Satan strongly attacked the Jewish remnant, he was declaring to God, “You do not have a right to do anything for this remnant because of the way they have been living.”
The LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua [the high priest at this time] was clothed with filthy garments (3:2, 3).
Joshua the high priest was a commentary of the people—they were filthy. They had fallen back into sin, and the one that represented the people, the high priest, was clothed in filthy garments while standing before the angel—this preincarnate Christ.
And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him [angels?], saying [this is the angel crying out], Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment (3:4).
This account was during the time when Zechariah and Haggai were preaching, and a precious revival came to the remnant as the Spirit of the Lord stirred them up. Indeed, these filthy garments were changed! And even the young prophet Zechariah, in seeing this, cried out, “Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by” (3:5). But then we read, “And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua.” Yes, the garments had been changed. A redemptive work had been done. This was a work of revival that came to the remnant.
But then the angel of the LORD gives a protestation postscript to this work:
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by (3:7).
The revival was coming, and now the exhortation, “You must maintain what God has done.”
This context is the last time Satan is mentioned in the Old Testament. If we look for the word devil in the Old Testament, we will only find it in the plural. The plural use of devils is always in the context of demons or evil spirits, rather than a specific reference to Satan himself.
Satan’s Seasons of Intense Concentration in History
The Scriptures unfold in its history the evidence that Satan has had several seasons of intensity in his attack against God’s people. According to Revelation 12:10, Satan is constantly before God accusing the brethren “day and night.” He is the slanderer and the accuser of God’s true people. But there seems to be seven unique, intense seasons when the Devil has powerfully manifested himself in history.
The first season was at the fall of Lucifer. At this season there was a concentration of this diabolos spirit and power. Although we may speculate about the Devil’s involvement in Genesis 6, it must be kept in mind that the emphasis of Genesis 6 is the proliferation of the manifestation of the flesh, the sin of man. The word flesh is the important word in this chapter presented in four contexts addressing its iniquity, and the powers of fornication; this chapter reveals the full abandonment of man to fleshly sins.
The second season of satanic activity seems to be after the Flood and the crucial historical event of the Tower of Babel. Was there diabolical assistance in this empire building? In Genesis 10, which unfolds the history that came out of the early part of Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel, we read of Nimrod and his father Cush. Cush is viewed by the prophets as “Bel,” the father of idolatry. There was no idolatry before the Flood; there was simply the deep exploration of sin within man and its outpouring of evil in society. It is evident in Genesis 11:1 that Cush and his son Nimrod (meaning “let us rebel,” or “let us do Bel over again”) became mighty men, men of renown who led the rebellion against Noah and his family. Genesis 10:9 states that Nimrod (Sargon I in secular history) “was a mighty hunter before the LORD.” Perhaps Micah 7:2 illustrates this more clearly:
The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
Nimrod was a hunter of godly men to their destruction. Yes, the days of the Tower of Babel were days when man’s desires were intensified by the Devil.
The third season of the Devil’s concentrated time of intense influence seems to have been during the days of Moses. Egypt was an empire of not only earthly power but also deep occult power. Amazingly, most of the miracles of Moses and Aaron were imitated by the priests of Pharaoh without trick photography or the illusions of magic. These priests’ actions were the manifesting powers of the Devil. The Bible reveals to us particularly two names of men who confronted Moses and Aaron. Although these names are not given in the Book of Exodus, they are revealed in 2 Timothy 3 by the apostle Paul. These two names seem to have been common knowledge down throughout Jewish history. Paul revealed their names as Jannes and Jambres.
Jannes and Jambres were men of renown in Egypt, demonic men who were able to bring forth most of the miracles that Moses did. At the conclusion of the wilderness wanderings, Moses delivered the warnings concerning the powers of the occult that the children of Israel would have to face in Canaan. Note Moses’ listing:
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times [astrology], or an enchanter [whisper, the word nachash serpent], or a witch [a woman who practices sorcery], Or a charmer [to fascinate through dark powers], or a consulter with familiar spirits [or control spirits], or a wizard [one who knows demonic wisdom], or a necromancer [to enquire of the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee (Deut. 18:10–12).
The children of Israel left Egypt and these powers, but they were to enter a country of nations pervaded with the occult, the hidden powers of the Devil.
The fourth season of concentrated powers of the Devil was in the days of Elijah and Elisha. This season was especially known in the Northern Kingdom, where these powers were identified with the false god Baal and the prophets of Baal, as well as Jezebel (who had come into the North marrying Ahab through an alliance with the Phoenicians). This woman was a great medium in the occult religion of Baal. Elijah and Elisha faced the powers of the Devil joining forces with evil men and women in an endeavor to destroy the concept of the true and living God.
The fifth season of Satan’s concentrated influence is found in the days of Daniel. This young man was thrown into the dark powers of Babylon by the providence of God. Daniel 10 reveals that this was a season of powerful conflicts in the heavenlies. This had never been read about before in Scripture. Was this the first time such a battle took place? Or was it only in the days of Daniel, the prophet to the Gentiles, that God revealed these conflicts? Some things must be kept in mind when we read Daniel 10. If Belshazzar had stayed in power (Daniel 5), the Jews, at least from the natural, would have never been able to return to Jerusalem. This man hated and despised the Jews. He mocked the Jews. He mocked the God of the Jews. In one night the Lord quickly altered the flow of history by ending his reign and establishing another empire (the Medes and Persians) within twenty-four hours.
Darius led the Medes and became a dear friend to Daniel (Daniel 6). The whole mood, the whole spirit of the kings regarding the Jews radically changed, literally overnight. Two years later, Cyrus arose and gave the decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem. This would have never happened if God had not overthrown the Babylonian Empire.
It is revealed in Daniel 10 that there was a battle taking place in the heavens to stop Cyrus, to thwart the command to permit the Jews to return to their city and to build a temple to their God. But it is evident that the one called the prince of Persia in Daniel 10 was actually the Devil. Daniel had prayed (10:1) in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, which was at the end of the seventy years. The prayer the prophet prayed had a delay of answer covering twenty-one days. It is evident Daniel’s prayer was not thwarted, but when God sent Gabriel from heaven to bring the answer back to Daniel, the prince of Persia, Satan, confronted him with his horde of demons and began to fight against Gabriel. God sent Michael to take up the battle against the Devil; this battle took place in the heavens, while Gabriel appeared to Daniel to give him the answer. The victory was a great miracle.
For twenty-one days the answer was delayed. It was during that time that Cyrus was in the throes of deciding whether to release the Jews back to Jerusalem. Would they go back? Would prophecy be thwarted? Would it come to pass? It was a most critical time in the history of the nation of Israel, and it is evident that Michael won the battle against the prince of Persia, the Devil himself (though Satan is not mentioned by name, but only as the adversary). We find at the end of 2 Chronicles and the beginning of the first chapter of Ezra, that Cyrus gave the decree for them to return and to build the temple. It was a crucial hour when the invisible forces endeavored to stop the history of man.
A postscript to Satan’s influence is found in Zechariah 3, which was fifteen years after the foundation of the temple had been laid. Satan stood against the Jews to stop the building of the Second Temple. If he could not stop the return earlier by Cyrus, Satan would try to destroy the remnant’s relationship with God once they returned to Jerusalem.
The sixth concentrated season of demonic activity was during the time of Christ’s first coming and during the time of the Book of Acts. The four Gospels reveal to us Christ’s confrontation with demonic forces and His personal confrontation with the Devil. We then read in the Book of Acts of the seven confrontations of God’s men with the Devil and demons. In contrast, we additionally read of seven infillings of the Spirit among God’s men. It must be clearly observed that these were not the only times that demonic forces were confronted in the Book of Acts, nor were the seven infillings of the Holy Spirit the only outpourings during those years. Yet these were the events chosen to be placed in the book.
The Final Concentrated Season of Demonic Power
We come to the final concentrated time of demonic power mentioned in the Scriptures. It will take place in the End Time. This will also include the season that leads into the Tribulation Period and the Tribulation Period itself. This is where we are today. How do God’s saints deal with these invisible powers? It is important that we consider this.
Second Timothy 3 unfolds the powers of Satan in the Visible Church in the End Time: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come,” very difficult times. In Matthew 8:28, we read of this same Greek word but translated “exceeding fierce,” truly a demonic season in the End Time. The last Church Age will witness a global apostasy empowered by the Devil; it will be the worst hour of corrupting the Name of the Lord. These perilous times will not be so much for the increase of persecution against the Church but the corruption of evil that will pervade men who will be predominant in the controlling powers of the End-time institutional church. Yes, perilous times shall come, for men shall be wicked. This wickedness of sin will be empowered by the Devil. Within the list of 2 Timothy 3 are the characteristics that will be the commentary of the End-time Church. Although there is the list of fleshly sins in Romans 1, Second Timothy gives the list of apostate sins that will mark the public testimony of End-time Christianity. Truly men shall be lovers of themselves with no consciousness of the needs of others. If they do assist others, it will be with the motive of the promotion of themselves. They are given to covetousness, being lovers of money,
boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers [slanderers, ever striving to ruin the character of others], incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good [not lovers of good men], traitors, heady [headstrong, rash, inconsiderate], highminded [frivolously aspiring, those who are full of themselves and empty of all good], lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:2–4).
They will “have a form of godliness,” attending church while destitute of the life of God in their souls. They will even deny that such a life or spiritual power of godliness exists.
Paul exhorts, “From such turn away.” Not only do not imitate them but have no kind of fellowship with them. They are dangerous and damnable in their influence. “For of this sort are they.” Paul refers to false teachers and their insinuating manners, practicing upon weak women who, observing in these false teachers and preachers a semblance of piety, will accept them and entertain them with great eagerness, and at last become partakers with them in their ungodliness and apostate heart and manner. Such women (like Eve with the serpent) will ever be learning from their false teachers, “and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This is because their teaching never leads to the truth.
It is in this context that we are told of Jannes and Jambres who withstood Moses. This acknowledgment takes us back to Exodus 7 when these demonically possessed men religiously stood against Moses. This is what it will be in the End Time: men of renown, men of corrupt minds. Such men in the End-time Neo-Christianity will be reprobate concerning the faith. Sad to say, the last Church Age not only will cast Christ out of the Church but also will be energized by the Devil himself. Though the “gates of hell” (of death) will never take the “true” church of Christ, those gates will prevail over the public, global Christianity of the End Time. We are witnessing these demonic powers within the bold “many,” as Jesus predicted would come in His name in the end (Matthew 24).
The perilous times of the End-time institutional church will also be influenced by the coming demonic forces increasing in world governments, and the empowering of the natural evil and sin of men. We read of such dark powers taking over the earth in the Book of Revelation, preparing the way for the coming of both the Antichrist, the beast out of the sea, and the False Prophet, the beast out of the earth.
John the Beloved, writing after the death of the apostles Paul and Peter, warned us in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit.” John was not speaking of personal spirits, but of demonic spirits, including the spirit of the Devil. This phrase truly indicates that such spirits will be prevalent in the End Time among God’s people. It is that mixture of the Tares and Wheat, at times so close that the deception could be “religious” and even “Christian.” Therefore, we are to try the spirits behind what we see and hear; we are to test to see whether they be of God. The apostle gives us the insightful reason for the imperativeness of such testing—because “many false prophets are gone out into the world.” These End-time days reveal that the false prophets of our times will be empowered by “spirits.”
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1 John 4:2, 3).
Now in this context he tells us this:
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them [these false prophets; these spirits empowering these false prophets: you have overcome them. Why did you overcome them?]: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (4:4).
Who is the “he” that is within us? The first is found in 1 John 2:18–20,
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They [the many antichrists] went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
This is in the context that they went out from us, but they were not of us; for they were against the Christ of Scripture and the Christ we preach and live. Yet, how will we discern that those who left us were not of the truth? John then declares, “But ye have an unction [Gr., charisma] from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Now, the Holy One is Christ Himself. John then warns and exhorts in 2:26, 27, “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing [the same word charisma translated in verse 20 as “unction”] which ye have received of him abideth in you.” What is this anointing which we have received of him? This is the Holy Spirit. In 2:20, it is the unction coming from the Holy One, the Lord Jesus; in 2:27, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals to us with discernment those who are anti to Christ. It is a double charisma, both the Christ and the Holy Spirit. So, greater is He—the Christ; and greater is He—the Holy Spirit. Greater is He—the Holy Spirit manifesting the presence of Christ in the life in order to discern these false prophets. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
We do not want to undermine the one that is in the world, that one being the Devil; but in this context it is any false prophet that comes. We know the Devil is at his most artful hour of history in mature deception: that if it were possible in the End Time, the very elect would be deceived. So we will need someone within us manifesting, witnessing, through God’s Word, the truth of that which we see without.
We have entered the most concentrated hour of the intense presence and manifestation of demonic spirits. Such spirits are involved in both the affairs of political powers as well as Christianity. We must earnestly pray for God’s discernment to enable us not to be deceived. At the same time, we must pray for the discernment of God’s enablement to empower us to overcome the Devil and his angels.
In our next Straightway we want to further this End-time study of the powers of the Devil and where such powers are being manifested in great influence. May God enable us to overcome through Christ Himself and His Word, and the Holy Spirit.