Ascending from the Abyss

Repeatedly, Satan and his forces “ascend” from the Abyss to attack the men and women who belong to Jesus

Abyss - Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash
The “
Abyss” first appeared when the “fifth trumpet” sounded, releasing a horde of hideous beings that ascended from the pit and swarmed over the earth to torment men. This force was ruled by the “angel of the Abyss named Abaddon and Apollyon,” meaning “destruction.” In Revelation, the “Abyss” is the source of the satanic forces that deceive humanity and attack the “saints”- [Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash].

In the vision of the “two witnesses,” the reader meets the “beast” for the first time when it “ascends from the Abyss” to “slay” both “witnesses.” But it is only authorized to do so after they “complete their testimony”:
  • (Revelation 11:4-7) – “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the Lord of the earth. And if any man desires to hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if any man desires to hurt them, in this manner he must be killed... And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.”
The “two witnesses” are identified as “two lampstands,” and elsewhere in the book, “lampstands” represent churches. This means they symbolize churches. And to attack them, the beast needed to “ascend” from the pit.

From this point in the book, the theme of evil forces “ascending” from a dark place to attack God’s people repeats several times, each time using the same Greek verb anabainô for “ascend.”

In chapter 13, John saw the same creature “ascending from the sea.” The “sea” represents the same reality as the “Abyss.” As before, the “beast ascends” from it to prosecute the Devil’s war against the “saints.” And just as the “Beast from the Abyss” could not kill the “two witnesses” until they had completed their “testimony,” so the “beast from the sea” cannot attack the “saints” until it is authorized to do so (“it was given to it…”) - (Revelation 13:1-10).

Thus, the “Beast from the Abyss” and the “beast from the sea” are identical, and the “war” against the "two witnesses" represents the same reality as the beast’s “war” against the “saints.”

Next, John saw another “beast ascending from the earth.” It used the authority of the first beast to coerce men to render homage to it. When the fifth trumpet sounded, the “Abyss” was located on the earth. Elsewhere, this second beast is called the “false prophet” who uses his power to deceive the “inhabitants of the earth” to render homage to the first “beast” – (Revelation 13:11-15, 19:20).

In chapter 17, John saw “Babylon” sitting on “many waters,” which represented “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.” That is, she was holding sway over fallen humanity. The image of her sitting on “many waters” points to the same reality as the “sea” from which the “beast” ascended to wage war against the “saints.”

And she also rode the “beast that was and is not and is about to ascend from the Abyss.” Thus, this “beast” is identical to the earlier creature that ascended from the Abyss to attack the “two witnesses” - (Revelation 17:8-15).

The description - it “was and is not and is about to ascend from the Abyss” – describes the same reality as the earlier death and restoration of one of the beast’s “seven heads,” and explains why the “inhabitants of the earth” wondered after it (“And its death-stroke was healed, and the whole earth wondered after the beast” – 13:3-4).

In this description, the “beast” represents a trans-historical reality. It has existed before and will rise again. Its seven “heads” represent “seven kingdoms,” five of which were already in John’s past, one existed in his time, and a final incarnation will appear in the future and endure for a “short time.”

Finally, at the end of the “thousand years,” Satan is loosed from the “Abyss” to gather the nations from the four “corners of the earth.” This horde “ascends over the earth” and attacks the “camp of the saints.” This “war” fails when fire from heaven destroys Satan’s forces, culminating in the final judgment before the “Great White Throne of Judgment” – (Revelation 20:3-10).

Thus, the verbal links between these several visions demonstrate that the “Beast from the Abyss” and the “beast from the sea” are one and the same and that the “war” against the "two witnesses" represents the same reality as the “war” of the “beast from the sea” against the “saints.”

Likewise, Satan’s release from the “Abyss” and attack against the “camp of the saints” corresponds to the same reality. It will not be his first attempt to destroy God’s people, but it will certainly be his last.



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