Today we embark on a journey that will likely take us into territories somewhat unfamiliar to the average listener. We will explore strange new worlds, and seek out new civilizational thoughts. We will boldly go where but few men have gone before.
We start this journey in what is most likely a very well-known story to you from the Gospel of Mark.
And they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. And as he was getting out of the boat, immediately from the tombs a man with an unclean spirit went to meet him, who lived among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him any longer, not even with a chain, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles had been shattered. And no one was strong enough to subdue him. And during every night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was crying out and cutting himself with stones.
And when he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And crying out with a loud voice he said, "What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, do not torment me!" (For he was saying to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!") And he was asking him "What is your name?" And he said to him, "My name is Legion, because we are many." And he was imploring him many times that he would not send them out of the region.
Now a large herd of pigs was there at the hill feeding, and they implored him, saying, "Send us to the pigs so that we may enter into them." And he permitted them. And the unclean spirits came out and entered into the pigs, and the herd—about two thousand—rushed headlong down the steep slope into the sea and were drowned in the sea. And their herdsmen fled and reported it in the town and in the countryside, and they came to see what it was that had happened.
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there clothed and in his right mind—the one who had had the legion—and they were afraid. (Mar 5:1-15 LEB)
Let us now move on to examine a case study of a call dealing with demon possession by the late Walter Martin. Most of you probably know who Walter Martin is, but for those who may not, he was a Christian apologist who wrote numerous works throughout the 50's and 60's, with one of his most famous works being the book entitled “Kingdom of the Cults.”
He passed away in 1989, but in 2008, a new work was published based on material he had compiled for an accompanying volume to Kingdom of the Cults, entitled Kingdom of the Occult. He and hoped to have published it himself, but never got around to it before his passing.Ê This case file comes from that work, and discusses a call he received stating:
“We have been praying for this girl for four hours; we're simply exhausted. Please tell us what to do.”
“What has happened so far?” Martin asked.
“Well, she is possessed by multiple devils.” “Did you get a count?”
They said “Yes. We asked them in Jesus Christ name how many they were and they told us 56.”
Martin said, “Well, that's a good beginning. Did you get their names?”
“Every one of them named themselves (screeching) whenever we commanded them in the name of Christ.”
“Good. Have you been exorcising them one at a time?”
“Yes, and quite a few of them are gone.”
“What is the girl's background?”
“She is involved in Satanism. We found the Satanic Bible in her bureau drawer; she has been on drugs for some time. “We also found some symbols of satanic worship.”
The story continues on about how they continued removing the demons one at a time, having the most struggle with the final one, but ultimately removing it, releasing the girl from the bondage of drugs, and how she dedicated her life to Christ and ministry. Martin concludes the story by stating:
These things happen. They are real. Denying them does not make them go away, and the skepticism of modern society has no power to dismiss them; it simply amuses them. Viruses are invisible to the naked eye, but we know they exist because we developed the equipment that enabled us to see them. We may not be able to place a demon under a microscope, but God gave us the means to see them:
- Demons speak in multiple voices and in multiple languages unknown to the person they possess.
- Demons exhibit superhuman strength.
- Demons have access to private information that a possessed person could never know.
- Demons respond to and obey authority in the name of Jesus Christ.
This experiment has been repeated countless times and it has been proved, beyond doubt, that evil, sentient beings called demons do exits. (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Occult, 2008 Thomas nelson edition, Pgs 423-425)
Now, of course Martin, like most modern evangelical Christians, believes that these demons, like those mentioned in the gospel accounts, are actually fallen angelic beings under the power and leadership of the fallen angel commonly named Satan or Lucifer, the supposed one and only arch-enemy of Yahweh, and the confusion goes on from there. Martin states:
Demons are quite literally Satan's children; fallen angels or spirits who followed Lucifer in his rebellion against the throne of God. They worship the devil, not God.
Today's Christians approach this subject in a few different ways, but Martin's view tends to be the fairly common held and consistent point of view. This idea of there being a single entity called Satan or Lucifer, and that he fell from heaven at some point in the ancient past, usually before the days of Adam and Eve.
And that during this fall, he took a bunch of angels down with him, a third of them if you intermingle the Revelation account into this line of thought, and that they are the ones called demons that are referred to as doing the possessing in Scripture as well as today.
However, that view point, as popular as it may be, is not historically what was understood by most in ancient Hebrew culture. It is into that world that we go in our study today— into new worlds and new civilizational thought.
In doing so, I wish to step outside of the 66 books known as our canon of Scripture, and seek to examine what was a fairly common teaching on the subject by the same Hebrews, many of whom, were eventually converted to belief in Christ and wrote our New Testament Scriptures.
I think a lot of the confusion come from the use of a few words. Words that over the centuries, across different eras of time, and in different cultural understandings, have been used in different ways by different writers.
As is often done by modern readers, when it comes to word studies, people get into a habit of finding a single definition of a word, and then regardless of context, apply that definition everywhere the word is found.
I think a root of the problem is the common use and limited understanding of the term “demon.” While most use the term to refer to a single specific set of beings — usually “Satan's” fallen angels — that is not the most common way the term has been used or understood historically.
For instance, in Strong's, probably one of the most common original language dictionaries used, it defines demons as “a daemonic being; by extension a deity: - devil, god” whereas other dictionaries like Thayer's give it multiple uses, such as:
1) the divine power, deity, divinity
2) a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men
3) evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil
And goes on to say it is a neutral derivative of the Greek word daimōn, that word meaning:
1) a god, a goddess
1a) an inferior deity, whether good or bad
2) in the NT, an evil spirit
When you examine all of the uses of the terminology behind the term we call demon, it finds many uses, yet the common one these days is the belief that it refers to those angels that fell with Satan, though note that Thayer's never once relates them to actual angels.
Though it did not take long — actually one single click in an internet search — to find such a hard and fast application of the word usage as being a reference to fallen angels only. This site states:
Angels were created by God before He created the heavens and the earth; but one-third of them became demons when they rebelled against God. Demons are angels; and everything that the Scriptures teach about the nature of angels - except for holiness - is true of demons. Demons are angels, but unholy ones; ones that have chosen to rebel against God and have retained their defiled, sinful nature since that time.
A simple definition of demon is: A demon is an unholy, rebellious, thoroughly depraved angel bent on destroying the plans, the works, and the people of God; indeed, all people.
I am proposing today that the word demon, while it may occasionally have been used to refer to fallen angels — or my preferred term, the fallen Watchers — over time it has had other more common uses, so that by the time we reach the New Testament usage, it does not necessarily refer to angelic beings.
I think a main problem here is the misunderstanding of the ancient Hebrew concept of cosmology. Things like lacking an understanding of the divine council system. Things like the different types and levels of spiritual creatures, as well as the historic Hebrew thoughts on the Nephilim in general and more.
Today, I wish to focus mainly on a continuing look at the influence of the more predominant ancient Nephilim view when it relates to the topic of demons, demon possessions and the like. Again, this will be material from the second temple period, which would have been those couple of century's right before as well as the days during the time Christ and the Apostles were active.
Before going any further, let me state up front, that there are two key reasons why I was really hesitant to even discuss this topic today. Partially because I do not want to continue be labeled the “trouble maker” with these “weird” and “off the wall” sounding doctrines, especially when they tend to bring up and pull from extra-biblical writings more than the canon of Scripture.
But then I thought — well, since I inadvertently opened this can of worms two years ago, I might as well continue down the path, especially if my research in this area leads to helping with a little more clarity on various topics like this one.
The second, and really the main reason I wanted to not open this topic up today, is because time will not allow for me to start at the beginning and build this topic up to where we are picking up on it today.
The foundation for today's topic was laid, at least in part, in my original message on Satan as a prince, back in 2014. That message of course led to the numerous messages by Dave that included the Spiritual Warfare series from Ephesians, as well as messages from Jude dealing with angels and the like, and bits and pieces in other related messages.
So, I hate doing this because I know this message will require some working knowledge of these past messages in order to avoid causing tons of questions by newcomers; questions that have most likely already been covered and answered in the past.Ê
With that being the case, I feel it best to not follow our normal practice of opening things up for questions as at the end of this message. Given the width and depth of subject matter on this topic, I already know that this topic will probably raise many questions — questions I doubt I will know definitive and satisfactory answers for, and also because I know this topic is heavily debated by scholars greater than I.
The position being presented, you will see, is one held by many in the historic Hebrew and near Eastern world, most clearly seen during the second temple period writings. It does have historical and theological merit, it was a known and potentially widely believed position even in the early church years, and it can be correlated with the teaching of Scripture canon.
In order to jump in with both feet, I feel it necessary to highlight some of the background positions that are foundational for this topic, so as to give us a starting point for the discussion. These points have been dealt with and adequately “proven” in the past messages mentioned, so I will not be spending time proving these points today.
So if today's message causes you to have questions related to these points, a defense of them can be found by referencing those previous messages again.
- The supernatural world presented in the Bible is real, and not just metaphoric or symbolic expressions.
- Angels and different ranks of a spiritual realm “angelic” hierarchy do exist, and the word is not always used for human messengers as some may say.
- In the Bible, evil spirits/demons do exist and possess, and are not just mental or other types of illnesses being described as possession by a medically ignorant culture.
- The Bible is not a discussion of an eternal battle between Yahweh and a single entity commonly called “Satan” or “Lucifer” — it is not a book holding a simple dualistic view of two enemy powers. Understanding the Hebrew concept of the Divine Council, we know it was a battle between Yahweh and the “gods” — plural.
- “Satan” was a member of God's divine council, and his job in the heavenly court was to be the accuser. Satan wasn't his name, it was his job title.
- The Sons of God discussion in Genesis 6 is discussing angelic beings coming down and having sexual relations with women to produce the Nephilim — a hybrid, half-breed atrocity that was so bad, it led to God flooding the world.
- There are ancient Hebrew books and writings not part our 66 book canon of Scripture that were indeed well known, understood, and influential in the producing of our actual Scripture books. These extra-biblical writings are useful at times in filling in gaps and/or better understanding how the ancients viewed and interpreted their Scriptures. Using them does not necessitate thinking they are on-par with Scripture.
So let us jump right in finally after that introduction. My message, in a sense, picks up right after Dave's final part of his spiritual warfare series. In that last part, he did a fine job defending the Genesis 6 Watcher/human procreation scenario against other common views, as well as establishing the large stature of these Nephilim that occurred from that union between the angelic and the human.
So, how does that relate to our topic of demons and demon possession? The ancient Hebrews believed and wrote about the connection between Nephilim and evil spirits, also referred to as demons. Their origin goes all the way back to Genesis.
You see, Genesis 6:1-8 is a short few verses, but within it, we are told of a lot of activity in a short amount of time. So much so that it is easy to read it and not realize all that was potentially taking place. We are told of the sons of God — the heavenly angelic beings — saw the women to be attractive:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. (Gen 6:1-2 ESV)
Two verses later we are told of the mating process between the two parties, and how it produced offspring, which many scholars see the Nephilim as being the children from that union.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Gen 6:4 ESV)
And this is immediately followed in versus 5-8 with the decision by Yahweh to flood the earth to kill the wickedness. So we have this mating of different species, followed by Yahweh's decision to destroy the earth because:
…the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Gen 6:11-13 ESV)
Have you ever stopped to wonder just what “violence” had filled the Earth after this mating procedure that was so extremely evil that it justified destroying the Earth's population like this? It seems like such a huge leap to make in such a short time, but that is all we are told in Genesis.
Well, to fill in those blanks in the story, sometime throughout the years of the ancient Hebrews in the second temple period, additional writings were produced to explain the common understandings of stories like this. While these writings are dated to second temple periods, some assume they are written versions of oral histories taught for much longer.
Whatever the reason, there were many other Scripture-like writings that were written by the Hebrew people that do not appear in our canon of Scripture. As has been said numerous time in prior messages, these writings are not necessarily to be considered part of Scripture canon, but could be used as a sort of commentary on the canon, written by those of that historic time period and revealing common beliefs on these biblical subjects at that time.
In my prior message given here in June 2016 on the topic of biblical context, as well as what I dealt with in my conference lecture in 2015, I showed how, for instance, the Book of Enoch influenced the early church and their New Testament writings.
Outside of the 66 books later chosen by the church councils, there were potentially hundreds of other sacred writings produced by the Hebrews — the same Hebrews who revered the Tanakh, and who worshipped Yahweh as their Lord — or at least did at times in their existence.
In other words, we have the 66 books of our Bible. But when so-and-so Apostle wrote his book, what other writings were well known and well read by him to the point that he potentially had their teaching in his mind as a common backdrop, that all of his readers likewise had read and knew well?
Did he reference thoughts and doctrines that his audience knew because of the familiarity with material that we modern readers have no knowledge of currently? Did he fail to go into as much detail on a topic because it was so well known to his audience at the time?
That is what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with writings, many of which were popular enough among the people that they were culturally influential and understood, but the writings themselves were not worthy of canonization. We can therefore use these writings to see what the local views were at that time in history; views that would have influenced the writings of scripture produced during that time frame.
So what do these other ancient Hebrew writings tell us about the Nephilim and demons? What do they reveal as being a common understanding of these things that get less mention in our Scriptures? We first turn to one we have referenced often in past messages, the Book of Enoch.
First, just a quick reminder regarding the background of this book, for those new to this topic. Most scholars date the book to have been written in the second century BC — so at least a couple hundred years before Christ as mentioned before. It was considered very important, seemed fairly popular, and as briefly discussed in my 2015 conference lecture, was obviously very influential upon the New Testament Scriptures we have in our Bible.
The book is referred to as Pseudepigraphal, because it is considered “falsely named” — meaning scholars do not think it was actually written by Enoch. When you understand the ancient Hebrew customs, and ways of writing at time, this practice of ascribing a popular author's name to a writing was not an uncommon practice, so it does not necessarily diminish the importance of truth contained in a writing.
Enoch, as we know from Scripture, was taken away from Earth to be with God, and that is all we know. This book presumes to contain the rest of his story, which is him being taken to heaven to interact with the Watchers — those angelic beings who in Genesis 6 had sinned by coming to mate with women, and were now under judgment by Yahweh. Enoch is told to tell these Watchers:
Go and say to the Watchers of heaven, for whom you have come to intercede: "You should intercede for men, and not men for you.” Why and for what cause have you left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and had sex with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children of earth, and begotten giants (as your) sons?
Though you were holy, spiritual, living the eternal life, you have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and have begotten children with the blood of flesh, and, as the children of men, you have lusted after flesh and blood like those who die and perish.
But you were formerly spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. Therefore I have not appointed wives for you; you are spiritual beings of heaven, and in heaven was your dwelling place. (Enoch 15:2-7)
Let me stop there for this quick little rabbit trail. Hopefully part of the verses here sound a little familiar to something from the Gospels. There are those who take issue with the idea of Genesis 6 referring to angels mating with women, and they base their opposition in part to a faulty understanding of Luke 20, thinking is teaches that angels are sexless creatures, unable to reproduce.
Well, that was obviously not a concept understood or taught by the Hebrews, because they take no issue with it in writing this in Enoch. So, considering Enoch was written a couple hundred years before Luke, it should give a better understanding of what exactly is being said in Luke 20 which tells us:
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luk 20:34-36 ESV)
So no, this section of Scripture does not teach that angels lack the ability or body parts to have sex, it simply teaches that in their realm they do not marry. Marriage is for procreation of a species, something set-up and required on Earth but is not needed in the heavenly realm. Now back to our topic.
So we saw in Enoch that Yahweh tells him to remind the Watchers that they have done wrong in their actions of leaving their realm and mating with women and intermingling with their blood. This union between the spiritual and the human produced the Nephilim which are known to be giants.
A second witness to this same storyline is the Book of Jubilees, sometimes referred to as the Little Genesis or the Apocalypse of Moses. The book itself claims to be written by Moses while on Mt Sinai, as an angel explains to him things that occurred since the beginning.
Scholars likewise date the writing of this book to be the second century B.C. and it too appears to have been widely accepted and influential, with at least fourteen copies of it being found within the writings found within the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the early chapters, we are told of Methuselah, and how he spent time with the angels also. It says:
And he testified to the Watchers, who had sinned with the daughters of men; for these had begun to unite themselves, so as to be defiled, with the daughters of men, and Enoch testified against (them) all. (Jubilees 4:22-23)
And then later in chapter five, we begin to see the corruption brought upon mankind by this great sin:
Because of them (the giants) lawlessness increased on the earth and all flesh corrupted its way. Men and cattle and beasts and birds and everything that walked on the earth were all corrupted in their ways and their orders, and they began to devour each other. Lawlessness increased on the earth and the imagination and thoughts of all men were continually, totally evil. (Jubilees 5:2)
Enoch likewise tells of the horrors brought upon the Earth by these giants:
The giants consumed all the work and toil of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drank the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones. (Enoch 7:4-6)
Then in chapter seven, we are further told the reasons why Yahweh sent the flood to wipe everything out:
For because to these three things came the flood upon the earth, namely, owing to the fornication wherein the Watchers against the law of their ordinances went a whoring after the daughters of men, and took themselves wives of all which they chose: and they made the beginning of uncleanness.
And they begat sons the Naphidim, and they were all unlike, and they devoured one another: and the Giants slew the Naphil, and the Naphil slew the Eljo, and the Eljo mankind, and one man another. And every one sold himself to work iniquity and to shed much blood, and the earth was filled with iniquity.
And after this they sinned against the beasts and birds, and all that moves and walks on the earth: and much blood was shed on the earth, and every imagination and desire of men imagined vanity and evil continually. And the Lord destroyed everything from off the face of the earth; because of the wickedness of their deeds, and because of the blood which they had shed in the midst of the earth. (Jubilees 7:21-25)
We are told that the reasons for the flood stem from the mating of the Watchers with the women, which produced the Nephilim, which ultimately brought much blood on the Earth through killing of all kinds of creatures, including man.
Enoch goes into additional detail, naming the parties involved, and detailing more on their ultimate judgment to come. As we read through this next section, bring to mind the verses in Revelation that speak of the lake of fire, and the place of the devil and his angels there. Recall also of what Jude and Peter say about the angels kept in chains until judgment.
Then said the Most High, the Great and Holy One, Uriel go to the son of Lamech. Say to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide yourself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a flood is about to come on the whole earth, and will destroy everything on it.'
'And now instruct him as to what he must do to escape that his offspring may be preserved for all the generations of the world.' And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness and split open the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him in.
And fill the hole by covering him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him live there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see the light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be hurled into the fire. (Enoch 10:1-6)
Azazel is held accountable to a great portion of the sin upon the Earth. We are told this about Azazel's sin:
And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and taught them about metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of precious stones, and all coloring and dyes.
And there was great impiety, they turned away from God, and committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Look at what Azazel has done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were made and kept in heaven, which men were striving to learn (Enoch 8:1-2, 9:6)
Once the initial binding is done, the Lord continues:
And heal the earth which the angels have ruined, and proclaim the healing of the earth, for I will restore the earth and heal the plague, that not all of the children of men may perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons.
The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe ALL SIN.' (Enoch 10:7-8)
So, the flood's destruction was in part to destroy the knowledge of the secrets that had been revealed to mankind by the Watchers. We will never know, nor probably even be able to fathom the situation of what life and sin before the flood was like.
We see how bad things are, or have been in our history, and can only relate to that — but it appears things were much worse right prior to the flood. The Lord continues giving instructions to other angels, saying:
To Gabriel said the Lord: 'Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication and destroy the children of fornication and the children of the Watchers. Cause them to go against one another that they may destroy each other in battle: Shorten their days. (Enoch 10:9)
So here we have judgment for those children of the Watchers, the Nephilim, the half-breeds who were destroying living creatures on Earth and causing all kinds of sins. Gabriel was to cause them to fight and kill one another, to begin to eradicate their presence from the Earth. And their father's, the Watchers, had to watch their destruction. This is the same storyline presented also in Jubilees:
And against the angels whom He had sent on the earth, He had boiling anger, and He gave commandment to root them out of all their dominion, and He commanded us to bind them in the depths of the earth, and look, they are bound in the middle of the earth, and are kept separate.
And against their sons went out a command from His mouth that they should be killed with the sword, and be left under heaven. He sent His sword into their presence that each should kill his neighbor, and they began to kill each other until they all fell by the sword and were destroyed from the earth.
And their fathers were witnesses of their destruction, and after this they were bound in the depths of the earth forever, until the day of the great condemnation, when judgment is executed on all those who have corrupted their ways and their works before the Lord. (Jubilees 5:6-10)
Part of the judgment against the fallen Watchers was to have to watch their offspring die; those children they had so longed for and committed such sin to create. Enoch resumes, speaking to those who started this problem:
And the Lord said to Michael: 'Go, bind Semjaza and his team who have associated with women and have defiled themselves in all their uncleanness. When their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations under the hills of the earth, until the day of the consummation of their judgment and until the eternal judgment is accomplished. (Enoch 10:11-12)
Let's pause for a moment to take notice of another point here. These angels were to be bound for 70 generations, and this is something scholars have struggled with over the timing. Because guess what time frame in history you reach when calculating out those 70 generations?
You guessed it — those first century days when Christ and the Apostles came proclaiming that indeed the last days had come upon the people of their generation. One author mentions this problem, stating in regards to the Book of Enoch:
Since any book stands to be interpreted in many ways, Enoch posed problems for some theologians. Instead of reexamining their own theology, they sought to dispose of that which went counter to their beliefs. Some of the visions in Enoch are believed to point to the consummation of the age in conjunction with Christ's second coming, which some believe took place in AD 70 (in the destruction of Jerusalem).
This being the case, it should not surprise us that Enoch was declared a fake and was rejected by Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine. Enoch was subsequently lost to Western Christendom for over a thousand years. Enoch's “seventy generations” was also a great problem. Many scholars thought it could not be made to stretch beyond the First Century.
Copies of Enoch soon disappeared. Indeed, for almost two thousand years we knew only the references made to it in the Bible. Without having the book itself, we could not have known it was being quoted in the Bible, sometimes word for word by Peter and Jude. (Joseph B. Lumpkin - The Books of Enoch: The Angels, The Watchers and The Nephilim, p 16)
So, the Watchers are bound in chains for 70 generations, and after that time it is said they will be ultimately judged.
In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever.' Then Semjaza shall be burnt up with the condemned and they will be destroyed, having been bound together with them to the end of all generations. (Enoch 10:13-14)
Hopefully you can see how this ultimate end is very reminiscent of the end we read of the beast, false prophet and “Satan” himself, all thrown into the lake of fire, that lake that Matthew tells us about when he states:
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mat 25:41 ESV)
Now, backing up to the judgment scene as the angels are being bound and have to watch their offspring ultimately die, this is where we get directly to the topic at hand this morning.
As mentioned, these Nephilim are a mixed species, produced partly from a spiritual entity, and partly from a human. As such, when they die, it is explained that they are unable to reconciled, and since they are a mixed breed, they are unable to enter the heavenly realm, and are therefore condemned to roam the Earth as evil spirits:
And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. (Enoch 15:8-10)
So, we are being told that they are condemned to roam the Earth as evil spirits. But what are they doing while in this spiritual state? Enoch goes on:
And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them. And at the death of the giants, spirits will go out and shall destroy without incurring judgment… (Enoch 15:11-16:1)
What we have here is a whole new created order of spiritual entities, who spawn from the physical judgment of the other new created order — the race of beings that had been bred in rebellion and sin and caused such atrocities upon the Earth that Yahweh had to wipe it clean.
Now, the flood had come, and that generation of giants has been killed, leaving their spirits to oppress mankind on Earth, we see them causing trouble almost immediately after the flood. Jubilees has Noah speaking, relaying Yahweh's use of the flood:
He destroyed everything. 'And we were left, I and you, my sons, and everything that entered with us into the ark, and behold I see your works before me that you do not walk in righteousness: for in the path of destruction you have begun to walk, and you are parting one from another, and are envious one of another, and (so it comes) that you are not in harmony, my sons, each with his brother.
For I see, and behold the demons have begun (their) seductions against you and against your children and now I fear on your behalf, that after my death you will shed the blood of men upon the earth, and that you, too, will be destroyed from the face of the earth. For whoso sheds man's blood, and whoso eats the blood of any flesh, shall all be destroyed from the earth. (Jubilees 7:26-28)
We see here the echo of prohibition against shedding and eating of blood that we find in the Hebrew Scriptures. The amount of blood shed, cannibalism and evil that is described as taking place, it is no wonder a decision to wipe the world clean would be enacted.
Sadly, things do not stay as they should. Jubilees reveals that after the flood, in celebration of the covenant to never destroy the Earth again, the celebration of the feast of weeks was established. Then it tells us:
For this reason it is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets, that they should celebrate the feast of weeks in this month once a year, to renew the covenant every year. This whole festival was celebrated in heaven from the day of creation until the days of Noah, which were twenty-six jubilees and five weeks of years. Noah and his sons observed it for seven jubilees and one week of years, until the day of Noah's death. From the day of Noah's death his sons did away with it until the days of Abraham, and they ate blood. (Jubilees 6:17-18)
So, now, after the flood, the Nephilim offspring of the Watchers have been destroyed, and their spirits are destined to remain as evil spirits on Earth, and are a plague towards mankind. And Noah is concerned that after he is dead and gone, his children, saved from the prior plague, will be seduced by the “demons” — those evil spirits of the Nephilim.
Similar testimony to this is found in another fragment of a writing that is sometimes referred to as the Book of Noah. It is only a fragment a few paragraphs long, but it echoes the Jubilees story, telling us:
For in those days and at that time the spirits of the bastards began to attack Noah's children to lead them astray and to make them err, to injure them and to strike them with sicknesses and pains and with all kinds of illness that kill and destroy human beings. (Book of Noah 1:2)
Now, again, keep in mind, writings such as Jubilees, Enoch, and these other types of fragments, were the types of materials that were written, read and known at least during the time period of the centuries preceding the time of Christ and the Apostles, so this is part of the backdrop belief system that New Testament writers were working upon.
Many who seek to dismiss the supernatural worldview of Scripture want to point out that demonology appears much more prevalent in the New Testament than it is in the Hebrew Scriptures. First off, that is not really the case, but only seems such due to the misunderstanding and mistranslation of spiritual realm entities in the Hebrews Scripture, as I showed some examples of in this past Spring's conference lecture.
Secondly, if we read the line of thought as it progresses from ancient Hebrew Scripture, into the intertestamental and Second Temple period writings, into the New Testament, we get a more gradual increase of discussion on the topic. The assumed leap in activity becomes much less perceptible.
So what are we to make of this in the end? The point is that this historic view adds another entity into the ranks of the spiritual realm, one that's uniqueness has all but been lost on modern readers. What we have here is a view that comes from antiquity, and was the accepted view up until at least the first few hundred years of church history.
But just so it is not assumed that this is just some crazy view of an ancient small group of sci-fi nuts, let us look to some quotes from the early church fathers on this subject. It is interesting to note that in the volume entitles A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, under the topic of demons, the first sub-section is titled “Origin and nature of the demons.” The scripture reference that is used to open this section, is interestingly enough, Genesis 6:4:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Gen 6:4 ESV)
With this as the opening verse, we know from the start that the editors of this work understood the historic view of the church to be that the origins of demons are related to the Nephilim storyline. Of course, the quotes that follow the topic deal with many aspects of demons in general, but most of them they include clear cut connections such as:
The angels transgressed this appointment and were captivated by love of women. And they begat children, who are those who are called demons. —Justin Martyr, circa 160
These angels, then, who have fallen from heaven, and haunt the air and the earth, and are no longer able to rise to heavenly things, and the souls of the giants, who are the demons who wander about the world, perform similar actions. —Athenagoras, c. 175
Furthermore we are instructed by our sacred books how from certain angels, who fell of their own free will, their sprang a more wicked demon brood, condemned of God along with the authors of their race…Their great business is the ruin of mankind. —Tertullian, c. 197
There are some insincere and vagrant spirits who have been degraded from their heavenly vigor by earthly stains and lusts. Now that these spirits…are ruined themselves, they never cease to ruin others. The poets know that these spirits are demons. The philosophers speak of them, too. —Mark Minucius Felix, c. 200
From the seed [of the fallen angels and women], giants are said to have been born. By them, arts were made known in the earth… When they died, men erected images to them. Yet, because they were an evil seed, the Almighty did not approve of their being brought back from death when they had died. For that reason, they wander and they now subvert many bodied. And it is to these whom you [pagans] presently worship and pray to as gods. —Commodianus, c. 240
In my opinion, it is certain wicked demons (so to speak, of the race of Titans or giants) who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God and towards angels in heaven. —Origen, c. 248
However, those who were born from [the relations of angels with women]—because they were neither angels nor men, but had a mixed nature—were not admitted into Hades [when they died]… As I was saying, these contaminated and abandoned spirits wander the whole earth. They console their own ruin by destroying others. —Lactantius, c. 304-313
So, here we have multiple teachers, from the mid second century into the early fourth century AD, and the belief in demons having had their origin from the dead giants is the common understanding still. Likewise, the common belief is that they did exist, and were not just figments of the imagination, nor simply mental illnesses as many today try to propose.
Where does that leave us today when it comes to the existence of these demonic entities? When it comes to those within our camps of eschatological thought, we are quick to say that since this being commonly called “Satan” was said to have been judged and cast into the lake of fire at the end of the age, back in the first century, then he and his angels are gone.
Because of that stance, we have multiple thoughts presented on why there still appears to be possessions and evil spiritual influences in the world today. In 2010, author and our friend Alan Bondar responds to the question of what about demonic activity today by stating:
There is no demonic activity today. The mind is a powerful thing. Those that are thought to be demon possessed are no different than those who are “healed” by faith healers today. “Demon possession” today can be very easily explained scientifically. Nobody today has a clue what demon possession was really like before Satan and his demons were thrown into the final location of eternal death. (Alan Bondar, Reading the Bible Through New Covenant Eyes, pg. 190)
His position sounds logical, but really only when based on the presupposition that Satan and demons are actually connected in the way most assume. More on that in a moment.
A second position that at least one well-known Preterist takes, also due to this underlying thought in the connection between Satan and the demons, is to place Satan in a less powerful state while indeed judged and in the lake of fire.
Meaning he is not actually destroyed, but is still alive and in ways still partially influential while residing in the judgment of the lake. This was the position promoted by Ed Stevens in an article in 2011, where in dealing with the question of Satan's activity today, he states:
I am no longer content to wave my magic “ALL FULFILLED” wand over it and give it the quick brush-off (as I did in the past). I used to take the position (based on Rom. 16:20 and Rev. 20:10) that Satan and the demons are totally out of the way and no longer involved with humanity in any way after AD 70.
However, in the past I have seen and experienced things, and read the reports of missionaries around the world, and heard many people tell their experiences of spiritual forces in the unseen realm, all of which has caused me to rethink all this and try to understand it better.
I have come to the conclusion that it is certainly possible that Satan and the demons are still able from their location in the Lake of Fire (which is still in the unseen realm) to tempt and disrupt and throw stumbling blocks in our way.
They were conquered at AD 70 in regard to their ability to hold the righteous captive in Hades. They can no longer separate us from God. But I see nothing in Scripture stating that they can no longer tempt us to sin. (Ed Stevens, Satan's Influence After AD 70?, 7/20/11)
There are other views of course, but I just wanted to mention a couple by those within our circle of friends.
Well, just as Ed stated that he feels he view to be “certainly possible,” I present to you a third option which I feel may also be certainly possible. Let me state right now though — this is a theory in progress, so this is based solely on my understanding at this present time.
From this point on, consider all that I say in this closing section to be just speculation and thinking out loud to some extent, since I have not yet personally found any clear-cut material to support or directly contradict it. Truly there is huge amount of ancient writings, so maybe I have just not found the answer yet, but this theory may hold a solution.
If somewhat true, this view not only has ancient Hebrew backing and authority, but keeps the supernatural world intact, while leaving this “Satan” being actually destroyed in AD 70 as the biblical timing of the end sets forth.
In the book of Jubilees, we are told the name of one of the beings from the class known as satans, plural — those who served as accusers in Yahweh's council. His name is Mastema, and he is referred to at times as a prince, which we know from previous studies is a common term for divine council beings like Michael and Gabriel.
At times, we are told prince Mastema also has his own angels under his command. It is possible that they too are likewise similarly in the position of accusers, those others whose job title might be called a “satan.”
In Jubilees chapter ten, after the flood, when the demon spirits were causing trouble for Noah and his sons, Noah prays for God to intervene so as to bind these evil spirits, saying:
But bless me and my sons, so that we may increase and multiply and replenish the earth.Ê You know how Your Watchers, the fathers of these spirits, acted in my day, and as for these spirits which are living, imprison them and hold them fast in the place of condemnation, and let them not bring destruction on the sons of your servant, my God;
for these are like cancer and are created in order to destroy.Ê Let them not rule over the spirits of the living; for You alone can exercise dominion over them. And let them not have power over the sons of the righteous from now and forever.” (Jubilees 10:4-6)
So Yahweh told the angels to go and bind these evil spirits up in the place of condemnation. But before that was done, Mastema comes forward and asks the Lord to leave some of them around for him to use to plague mankind.
The chief of the spirits, Mastema, came and said, “Lord, Creator, let some of them remain before me, and let them listen to my voice, and do all that I shall say to them; for if some of them are not left to me, I shall not be able to execute the power of my will on the sons of men, for these are for corruption and leading astray before my judgment, for great is the wickedness of the sons of men. (Jubilees 10:8)
So, in the end Yahweh agreed, sending nine-tenths of them into the place of condemnation, and leaving one-tenth under Mastema's command, making them subject from then on to his control.
Now, here is the speculative part. Most second temple scholars would say that this Mastema character is indeed the same one we would now call Satan in the New Testament Scriptures, so I will call him by that familiar name of Satan from here out.
Combining all of that together, here is what we end up with. Satan has angels of some sort under his leadership. However, then later he is given control over the one-tenth of the evil spirits that came from the death of the Nephilim.
That means that there are two types of entities under his control—angels as well as evil spirits. While it may be possible to make a case that the word “demon” has been applied to both groups of entities, it is also true that by New Testament times the evil spirits became the ones more commonly known as demons.
Even the church father Origen makes a differentiation between the two, stating:
Among angels, some are angels of God, and others are angels of the devil. But among demons, there is no such distinction. —Origen, c. 248
So based on this evidence from Hebrew writings, per their understanding, those demons you read about in the gospels — they ain't no angels; they are a different set of critters all together.
Therefore, understanding that there are two separate sets of beings under Satan's control, when we are told that Satan and his angels are cast into the lake of fire, that does not necessitate a conclusion that the one-tenth of evil spirits roaming the earth were likewise done away with at the same time.
The speculative part is that I have yet to run across real clear cut evidence that those evil spirits of the giants were to ultimately be removed from the earth. Maybe that is spoken of somewhere, but I have yet to run across it in my studies, so please excuse me while I speculate.
When examining Scripture, we get to the lake of fire, and the spiritual beings said to be cast in it were the beast, false prophet, death and Hades, the angels who sinned by mating with women, and Satan with his angels. In all of that, no mention of the ultimate demise of the evil spirits of the Nephilim.
Remember, before the one-tenth of them were given over to be controlled by Satan, nothing is said about them having a leader, and so it appears they were free agents with no real leader.
That makes the theory I present to be that now that Satan is gone, they have returned again to being free agents, stuck between realms, forever cursed to roam the earth and plague mankind. That would give us the related demonic activity we hear of these days, while leaving Satan and his angels out of the picture and uninvolved as Scripture reveals.