Demonology 101

Revelation 9

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
January 2023

We are studying the Book of Revelation, the only prophetic book in the NT. It is the only book of the NT that deals with the future.  It deals with things to come.

Right now, we are in the future period of time called The Tribulation.  It is not just tribulation in general.  It is called in the Book of Revelation “the Great Tribulation” (Revelation 7:14).  Believers will suffer the wrath of man.  Many will be martyred.  Unbelievers will experience the wrath of God.

During the Tribulation, God’s wrath will be unleashed on a sinful and wicked world.  During that time, the world will encounter, not the love and compassion of Jesus.  They will encounter judgment.  They will experience wrath, “the Wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16)

These judgments come in three forms: seals, trumpets, and bowls.  Seven seals are opened.  Seven trumpets are blown.  Seven bowls are poured out and judgment follows each time, different levels of judgment.   They take different forms.

Some of these judgments affect nature.  The first four trumpets affected nature.  Some of them affect people directly.  We will see that today.

Some of these judgments seem natural.  They seem almost providential (disease, famine, warfare).  Other judgments are supernatural.  Some are brought by angels.  Others are brought by demons.

Today, we are going to be talking about demons.  We are going to see what demons are and what they do.  We are also going to see how to overcome demons from this chapter.

There is demonic activity in our world today.  All you have to do is to turn the TV on for one day to see what is going on, but the Tribulation Period, it will be even greater, and it will come from even worse demons than the ones at work in the world today.  Hell will be unleashed on earth.

Right before the return of Christ, there will be an invasion of demons on the earth.  There will be an increase of demonic activity on the earth.  There was a rise of demonic activity on earth right before the Flood.

Jesus said when He comes back that it will be just like it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:47).  Hell will be unleashed on earth.  Franklin Graham said recently, “every demon from hell” has been “turned loose” in our culture today.

The demons in this chapter will NOT attack believers.  They will be attack unbelievers.  They cannot hurt believers.  They cannot hurt anyone with the seal of God on their forehead (Revelation 9:4; 7:3).

These demons know who the unbelievers are.  Jesus knows who His sheep are.  He calls them by name.  The demons also know who they are.  They recognize them but they will not be able to attack them in the Tribulation Period.

Revelation 9 describes two demonic invasions on earth.  It describes on invasion of DEMONIC LOCUSTS, and it describes an army of DEMONIC HORSEMEN.  There will be an invasion of demonic locusts from the bottomless pit.

These will be locusts from hell, demons from the pit. There will also be a huge demonic army of two hundred million horsemen.  One third of the planet will be killed by these demons (Revelation 9:18).

If you think that demonic activity in the world is bad now, it will be ten times worse in the tribulation Period.

During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. (Revelation 9:6 NIV)

That is not happening right now.  Unbelievers are not being stung by locusts and the pain is so great they will not only want to die but try to die but it won’t work.

It is a terrible picture.  It is actually a picture of hell. People will be tormented but never die. That is the way that Hell is described in the Bible. In fact, the word “tormented” and “torment” (Revelation 9:5) in Greek is used later in the book to describe Hell (Revelation 14:10-11).

It is going to be so bad that you are going to think that God is not possible is control.  Evil is in control.  Every time, we see some monstrous evil committed on earth or some terrible natural disaster, we wonder where God is.  Why did He allow it.

The reality of evil is one of the biggest obstacles to faith in Jesus.  That is why many do not become Christians.  It is because of the problem of evil.

The big shock of the chapter is that God is not surprised by what happened.  He is not bothered by what happened.  In fact, He caused it but, as we will see, He is completely sovereign over evil.

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star WAS GIVEN the key to the shaft of the Abyss. (Revelation 9:1 NIV)

And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very HOUR and DAY and MONTH and YEAR were released to kill a third of mankind. (Revelation 9:15 NIV)

God controls exactly WHEN they are released, to the very day and hour.  He controls HOW LONG they are released.  They are only released for five months (Revelation 9:5).  He controlled WHAT they were allowed to do (torture, not kill).  He also controlled WHO they were allowed to attack (unbelievers)

Demons are powerful but they are on a leash.  If God is sovereign over this evil, He is sovereign over the evil that takes places in the world today.  He is sovereign over any evil that takes place in our life as well.

Myths about Demons

Let’s talk about demons.  There are many myths about demons.  Here are four things that demons are not.

1) Demons are NOT just evil forces in our world today

They are more than abstract impersonal forces.  They are supernatural beings.  They are not just metaphors.

2) Demons are NOT just addictions

Demons are more than bad habits.  They are more than sins.  Every sin is not a demon (lust demon, a cigarette demon).  We talk about people battling personal demons, but they are not just figures of speech.

3) Demons are NOT just diseases

Demons can cause diseases.  Satan gave Job some boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7).

There was a woman in Luke 13 “who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over double, and could not straighten up at all” (Luke 13:11 NASB).

We are specifically told that this was caused by a demon but not every medical condition is demonic.  Mental illness is not the same thing as demonic possession.  Some people just have a chemical imbalance and when they get that problem fixed, they are fine.

4) Demons are NOT the spirits of dead people

That is the view in Hollywood.  You see it in many horror movies, like Michael Myers, Freddie Kruger, like the Halloween movies and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Demons are not the spirts of bad people who died.

The Nature of Demons

1) Demons are fallen angels

Demons are fallen angels.  When Satan sinned and fell, he took a third of the angels in heaven with him (Revelation 12:4).  They are his angels (Revelation 12:7; Matthew 25:41).  Satan’s angels are called demons.

2) Some are worse than others

Some people are worse than others (mass murderers, serial killers, child molesters and rapists).  All demons are bad, but some are worse than others.

Most demons that roam the planet are not incarcerated.  Some are so bad that God locked them up.  Some people are in jail because they are so bad.  Some demons are in jail because they are so bad.

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. (Jude 6 NIV)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment (II Peter 2:4 NIV)

Revelation 9 mentions other bound demons.  Some are bound in the Abyss (Fifth Trumpet) and some bound in the River Euphrates (Sixth Trumpet)

We do not know if it is the same place or a different place, but the Abyss is some type of jail or prison for fallen angels.  Most demons are not in this prison, only the worst of the worst.

The Abyss is mentioned seven times in Revelation (Revelation 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3).

Some Bibles translate it “the bottomless pit” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NLT, ESV).  That is probably not what the word means.[1]  That sounds more like the appetite of a teenager, a bottomless pit.  It is a strange concept of a pit without a bottom.  If you drop a rock into it, it will never hit the bottom.  That is NOT the picture here.

The Abyss is not a perpetual falling but a perpetual burning.  It is a place of fire.  How do we know?  When the Abyss is opened, the first thing that came out was smoke.  Where there is smoke there’s fire. Smoke comes from a fire.

The Abyss always means in Revelation a prison for fallen angels.  This jail does not look like the Alamance County Jail.  It is much worse.  It looks more like a furnace.  None of the inmates at the Alamance County Jail are set on fire.

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. (Revelation 9:1-2 NIV)

This produces not just smoke like a furnace but smoke like a GREAT furnace, not just a little smoke but a lot of smoke, so much that it pollutes the air.  The sky becomes completely black. The smoke blocks the Sun from shining.

It is a place of fire.  There is no escape from it.  The only way to get out is if someone opens it from the outside.  It is a place not only of confinement for demons but of torment.

It so bad that the Gerasene demonic begged not to go there.  He was the naked demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs and cut himself.  Jesus cast the demons out but “they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss” (Luke 8:31 NIV).

The Abyss is located downwards in the earth.  You always read of being going down into the Abyss (Revelation 11:7; 17:8).

This is a strange concept of demons bound on earth or inside the earth.  Hell is on earth.  It is under our feet or at least, the Abyss is.  The prison for fallen angels is in the Earth.

Revelation 9 mentions demons bound at the River Euphrates.  Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. (Revelation 9:14 NIV).  These are demons of the Euphrates in the Middle East.  It is a place of demonic bondage and confinement and four of those demons will be released.

Why would spirit beings be tied up in a river? Why are they in the Euphrates River? Why not the Mississippi River or the Ohio River?

Why that particular river? It is where the Garden of Eden was located. It was one of the four rivers that flowed out of the Garden of Eden. It was where the first sin, the first rebellion and the first murder on the planet took place.

It was the place of Satan’s original deception. The Euphrates is the river that runs through the country of Iraq, past the city of Babylon (the center of idolatry and false religion in Scripture), so it is a fitting place where these demons were bound.

3) Demons take different forms

They take different forms.  When they come out of the Abyss, they look like locusts.  They take the forms of locusts.  These are demon insects.  In Revelation 16, demons take the form of frogs (Revelation 16:13-14).

Demons take different forms today.  They don’t always look like the demons in the horror movies.  Sometimes they look like an angel of light.  Beware of appearances.

By the way, this is the only time in the Bible we see what a demon looks like. They look like hippies with long hair.  They will have the face of a man and the hair of a woman.

Even though they are disgusting creatures, there is something seductive about them.  The Bible says that a woman’s hair is her glory (I Corinthians 11:15).

On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. (Revelation 9:7-9 NIV)

4) Demons love to torture

They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes.

Demons live to torture people.  They still do that today.  We have demonic tormentors today.  Satan loves to torture people.  He tortures people physically.  He tortures people psychologically.  He tortures people by addictions.

He tortures people today by bitterness and unforgiveness.  He tortures people by broken homes, and broken families.  He tortures people by broken wedding vows.  He tortures people by sinful thoughts.

People who like to torture others and are sadistic act like demons.  That is what demons do.  What is strange about this is who they attack.  They torture unbelievers (Revelation 9:4).  They torture their own.

Some of these unbelievers worship demons (Revelation 9:20).  They worship the demons who torture them.  They worship their killers.  Why would you worship someone who only hurts you and beats you up?

They keep on worshipping the very demons that are destroying them.  There is a little irony here.  Those who tortured the saints are now being tortured themselves by demons.

5) Demons cause destruction

God creates things.  Satan destroys them.  He does the exact opposite.  It is one of his titles in this chapter – “Destroyer.”  Satan has about thirty names in the Bible.

He is called “the Devil” (Matthew 4:1).  He is called “Beelzebub” (Matthew 12:24).  He is called “the Serpent” (Genesis 3:4).  He is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

He is called a “great red dragon” (Revelation 12:3, 9).  He is called “the god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4).  He is called “the father of lies” (John 8:44).  He is called “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  He is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).

We get two more titles of Satan in this chapter.  He is called Abaddon (Revelation 9:11) and Apollyon (Revelation 9:11).  It is actually one title in two languages.  Abaddon is Hebrew (אֲבַדּוֹן).  Apollyon is Greek (Ἀπολλύων).

Jesus said that the Devil comes to steal, kill and DESTROY (John 10:11).  Satan’s goal is destruction.  That is all he does.  God created Adam and Eve to live in a perfect world.  Satan destroyed it through sin.

He wants to destroy your life, your marriage, your home.  He wants to destroy your family, your church and your nation.  He wants to destroy America.  He wants to destroy Israel.

He wants to destroy gender roles established by God.  He wants to destroy God’s Word.  He does that by attacking the Bible and questioning it.  He wants to destroy your faith.  He does that by cults, false religion and false doctrine.  Some teach doctrines of demons (I Timothy 4:1).

There are two invasions in this chapter.  The first invasion of the demonic locusts brings TORTURE for five months.

The second invasion is a demonic army that brings DEATH.  It slaughters one third of the planet (Revelation 9:18).  One-fourth of the world population was already killed during the fourth seal (Revelation 6:8).

There are eight billion people on the planet today.  If one third were killed, that would mean that 2.6 billion will die in this Satanic slaughter.  In addition, many believers in the Tribulation will be martyred.

If you do the math, one-third of three-fourths is about a half.  These two judgments result in about one-half the world population being destroyed. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 24 that if this period was not cut short, no one would survive.

Of course, this is a big problem for preterists.  Preterists believe that the Book of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century.

They believe that this was all fulfilled in 70 AD. There is only one problem. One third of the planet did not die from a 200-million-man army in 70 AD. That was the entire population of the world in John’s day.  The earth has never experienced that kind of devastation.

Two Prophecy Questions

1) Is Revelation 9 a description of modern warfare?

John sees future events.  Is this symbolic of modern weapon systems (helicopter, tanks).  John had never seen a machine gun, a missile or a nuclear weapon. That is a common view in some circles, but it does not work in the text.

The locusts do not kill anyone, so that could not be modern weapons.  John does NOT say that he saw an army that looked like horses. Modern weapons do not involve horses.  Modern armies do not need two hundred million people because we have bombs and precision guided missiles.

2) Does Revelation 9 describe 200 million Chinese horsemen?

Who are the horsemen?  Hal Lindsey calls this “the great Asian Invasion”[2]  Many sensationalist preachers say these are Chinese?  Are they right?  There is no evidence of this.  It is not even called an army from the East.

There is an invasion from the East but that is in one of the bowl judgments, not the Trumpet Judgments (cf. Revelation 16:14).  China has the world’s largest army, but it is only two million people, not two hundred million people.

This is not human army.  It is a demonic army.  It is an army of two hundred million demons, not two hundred million Chinese.  Both the fifth and the sixth trumpet judgments involve supernatural animals.

The locusts were not ordinary locusts.  Ordinary locusts eat grass, and they don’t torture people.  The horses are not ordinary horses.  These are fire-breathing horses.

The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur (Revelation 9:17 NIV).

They are part horse, part lion, part serpent and part dragon. These horses will have the head of a lion and the mouth of a dragon.

These are fire breathing dragons with fire and smoke and brimstone coming out of their mouths and they have the tail of a serpent.

Four Important Lessons

1) Judgment time is coming

God gives people time to repent.  A time of terrible disasters are coming soon to planet Earth.  Is there any way to stop them?  There is one way and that is to get saved NOW.  These demons only attack unbelievers, not believers.

2) God gives people time to repent

He gave Jezebel time to repent (Revelation 2:21).  Even wicked Jezebel was given time to repent.  He gives people time to repent but the time to repent is NOW.

3) God speaks through natural disasters

Whenever there is a personal tragedy or natural disaster today, like the Tsunami, it should cause us to fall on our knees. While the trumpets are judgments on earth, they were intended to produce repentance.

Sometimes that is the only way to get people’s attention is through pain, disaster, calamity, tragedy.  God sometimes sends a message to people that way.  Is God speaking to you?  Are you listening?

4) Some refuse to repent when tragedy strikes

When bad things happen to people, many become angry.   That is proof of the doctrine of free will.  God does not make people repent.  He gives them a choice.  When tragedy strikes, many hearts become hard.  They become mad at God.

People do not seem to be reformed by punishment. Locking a person up for fifty years does not change his nature. He has to be changed on the inside.  When parents spank their kids, sometimes they just get mad.

The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21 NIV).

Why don’t they come to faith?  They don’t want to give up their sins.  What were their sins?  The passage mentions five common sins in the Tribulation period (idolatry, murder, immorality, stealing and sorcery).

All five of these sins are common today (murder, sexual immorality, idolatry and theft).  Sorcery refers to the occult and drugs today. The Greek word sorcery is Φάρμακον (cf. Revelation 18:23; 21:8; 22:15). We get the word “pharmacy” from it.  This is not a verse against natural medicine.  Drug use is part of the occult.

[1] “The rendering ‘bottomless pit’ depends on a false etymology, and is rather absurd when one thinks about it.” (F.F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, [Zondervan, 1973] p. 139).

[2] Hal Lindsey, The Apocalypse Code, 149-180.

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