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The Destroyer and His Army

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils,” C. S. Lewis wrote. “One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

The judgments of the fifth trumpet confirm the existence of fallen angels. An angel figuratively described as a star falls to earth and releases a demonic host from the Abyss. Who gave him the key? Since the Abyss seems to be a prison, we can assume that his authority to release them comes from God. When Jesus cast the demon out of the man who lived among the tombs, they begged Him not to send them into the Abyss (see Luke 8:31).

The power of satanic forces is on display. Unlike ordinary locusts that feed on crops, these creatures will attack humans and torment them for five months. They are directed by Abaddon or Apollyon, whose name means “Destroyer.” In the Old Testament, Abaddon was the place of the dead. The devil uses the fear of death to enslave us (Heb. 2:14), but Jesus has broken this power by His own death.

At the sixth trumpet, a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar calls for the release of “the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (v. 14). The fact that they are “bound” suggests that they are fallen angels who bring with them a mounted army whose purpose is to kill a third of mankind (v. 18). Surprisingly those who survive are not fazed by any of this. They refuse to repent from their sin.

Apply the Word

Satan has only one ambition: to destroy. But his power is limited. He is not God’s equal, and he is subject to God’s greater plan. In the end he is fighting a losing battle. If you doubt that, skip ahead and see how the story ends! If you are suffering from his attacks of doubt or fear, remember that Jesus will win the victory.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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