In Luke 10, Jesus appoints other disciples to go out and spread the gospel, and they get really excited because they can command demons to go in the name of Jesus. Jesus has a slight correction for them.
Luk 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Luk 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luk 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Jesus did not discount that power. However, it is more important for these people to have an eternity with God than it is for these people to cast out demons on earth.
I have often times thought about this kind of idea. An eternity with God is the ultimate good outcome. After all, think about being in a place forever with no pain, no suffering and the very presence of God surrounding you at all times. Since that would be the best, this passage makes a lot of sense. It is not a bad thing to be able to throw out demons, and Jesus affirms that He gave this power to these people. All good things come from God, so casting out demons would be a good thing by definition. However, the better reason for rejoicing is that they will be living with God forever.
It really makes me think about how great it must be to live in the presence of God. If that is the main reason for Christians to rejoice instead of being able to do awesome things like casting out demons, then living in the presence of God must be something incredibly special. It must be something that is beyond compare. I know we do not want to rush our lives here on earth, but it does make you kind of excited to see what it will be like to be in a perfect environment
We have now entered the book of Mark which most believe is the first gospel to of been written probably around 60 A.D. if not before. Being the earliest gospel, sometimes Mark is not as a theologically deep as Matthew, Luke or John. However, even right from the beginning in chapter 1, we get some interesting implications of what was established about Jesus early in His ministry.
Mar 1:32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
Mar 1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.
Mar 1:34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
I want to focus on the final verse. The devils knew who Jesus was. They knew that He was there with immense power. They knew that they were no match for Him, and they knew that they did not even have the authority to speak when Jesus eliminated them.
That ought to be empowering than for those of us who are on the side of Jesus Christ. It is certainly not because of who we are. It is certainly not because the forces of evil are afraid of you or me. Rather, we follow the One who is more powerful than all of the forces of evil put together.
I think about a world where it seems like we often times live on the defensive. We focus on the things that can go wrong, or we focus on how it seems like our world is falling apart. Certainly, things can go wrong, and I do believe that our world is morally falling apart, but we also know that we serve the One who all the demons know and are afraid to speak to. Evil trembles before Jesus Christ, and we can do all things through Christ. God’s will is going to be done regardless of what evil forces do. We don’t need to live on the defensive.
In Micah 3, we have judgment occurring, and it is particularly interesting to read about false prophets who had apparently been pretty good at the job.
Mic 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
Mic 3:6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
Mic 3:7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.
These people are going to lose whatever power they did have, but that obviously raises the question of what power they did have. Is false prophecy a real thing?
The short answer is I believe it is. I think it can be something that is encouraged by demonic activity as well. However, I do not believe any demon, including Satan, is omniscient which of course leads to the question of how they have this ability. It is hard to learn the future from beings that do not have unlimited knowledge of the future.
That is a key point to remember about false prophecy. Every time that you see false prophets in the Bible, they are never perfect. For example, I think about Daniel. He was special because he was able to interpret the dreams through the power of God. It wasn’t by his own power since evidently the other prophets were not able to do it by whatever power they had. It wasn’t just human reason. Even if Satan himself had been with those other prophets at that time, he was clearly not able to read the future. Demons do not have perfect knowledge either.
False prophets may indeed make some correct predictions in the same way that I can make some accurate predictions. For example, I might predict something about the stock market correctly. I might predict correctly, and I might be incorrect. No one is perfect on the stock market, but that is because we are not perfect in making our estimates on future activity. Our human reason cannot predict the future perfectly, but that does not mean I am wrong all the time.
In a similar vein, demons are smart creatures. If there was demonic activity influencing the false prophets in the book of Daniel, they are also limited in a similar way. Without that perfect knowledge, even with the potential predictions that might take place, it would be imperfect. They might be right sometimes, but they cannot be perfectly right.
In contrast, prophecy from God is never wrong, so that is an important way to differentiate it. I think about the miraculous predictions of the coming of Jesus Christ. There is no way human way to make these predictions perfectly. That is the differentiation. We might be right sometimes based on human reason, but God, who has perfect knowledge of the future, can certainly impart that knowledge to humans.
With that background, we can advance to this idea of Micah. God is going to take away whatever ability they might have. Their reasoning as humans will be wrong perhaps. I draw this out because I think it is important to recognize that these men were not having godly visions in the first place. Maybe they were following God at one point, but those days seem to be over. They were now false prophets causing the people to wander. However, they still were able to predict certain things correctly by virtue of perhaps human reason for demonic assistance, and it seems as if that is what we’re talking about here. As it says at the end of verse seven, they were not going to be good prophets because there would not be an answer from God. That is the only way to be an accurate prophet.
This is a topic that seems to intrigue even Hollywood. In Job 2, we see the fact that spiritual warfare does exist.
Job 2:2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Satan, a fallen angel, said that he came from walking around on the earth. I assume he wasn’t just walking around while he was here. In fact, after God gave him permission, he started messing with Job and causing him severe physical pain.
Satan was not the only angel that fell either. Using Revelation 12:3-9, some people have concluded that one third of the original number of angels in heaven rebelled. However, in Hebrews 12:22, we find out there is an innumerable number of angels. In mathematical terms, you really can’t define one third of infinity in any more precise terms than that. However, the purpose of the passage is that there were many other angels that were thrown down from heaven by God.
After they had been expelled, we can see their influence throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself dealt with several demons and threw them out of people while He was on earth. Also, recall that in one of Jesus’ demon expulsions, he found out that its name was Legion. Obviously, that is different than Satan and indicates that Satan does have company.
I think that we now have a little bit of information and can define a little bit of what spiritual warfare looks like. We know that Satan and multiple other angels were thrown out of heaven by God. We know that they are capable of operating on earth, and they seem to be able to cause problems for people.
One thing needs to be emphasized however. While the evil forces seem to have some kind of supernatural power that it is hard to grasp, God is still above all of this. In Job, God had to give Satan permission to cause problems. In chapter 1, Satan complained that Job was so happy because he had a hedge of protection around him. That hedge was provided by God, and Satan could not get through it or else it seems like he would have.
I do believe that there are things going on in this world that we can’t see. Through the Bible, we see people interacting with both angels and demons. However, even though it might seem like the evil is much more prevalent, we know how the story is going to end, and it is a lot better to be on God’s side.
There is a pretty cool miracle in the middle of 2 Kings 6.
2Ki 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
2Ki 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Generally, we do not get to see into the spiritual domain. I certainly believe that angels and demons are literal beings, and I believe that spiritual warfare is indeed a real thing. However, this is a very interesting thought because we see the interaction between the spiritual and physical worlds.
Elisha is not worried about the physical world because he knows that he has all of the support on the mountain.
I think that this has pretty powerful implications.
For one thing, we can conclude that the spiritual world is indeed involved in our world. You can see other instances of that in other places in the Bible such as when Paul was held up by evil spirits. It is not as if angels are just sitting in heaven playing their harps: they are actively involved.
Another important implication this passage is that angels are powerful. Elisha did not seem too worried about much because he had angels with him. Normally, I would be pretty afraid of a foreign army marching down on me when I didn’t have a physical army. Apparently, that fear was not there for Elisha, and it seems pretty reasonable to conclude that that was because he had angels with him.
I enjoy these types of passages. We don’t always see the things of the spiritual world, but apparently, they were there for Elisha, and they will be there for us.