The Ascent

Repeatedly, Satan and his forces ascend from the deep pit to attack the men and women who belong to the Lamb

The “Abyss” first appears when the “fifth trumpet” is sounded, releasing a horde of hideous beings that ascend from the pit and swarm over the earth tormenting men. This force is ruled by the “angel of the Abyss named Abaddon and Apollyon.” Both names mean “destruction.” Thus, the “Abyss” is the source of satanic forces that deceive men and attack the church.

In the vision of the “Two Witnesses,” the reader meets the “Beast” for the first time when it “ascends from the Abyss” and “slays” both witnesses.

But the “Beast” is only authorized to make its “ascent” after the Two Witnesses “complete their testimony,” and it is allowed to persecute and kill them:

  • (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.”

ASCENT FROM THE DEPTHS

The “Two Witnesses” are identified as the “two lampstands,” and elsewhere in the book, “lampstands” represent churches. That means they symbolize churches in some capacity. And to attack them, the “Beast” must first “ascend” from the “Abyss.”

From this point in the book, the theme of evil forces “ascending” from a dark and deep place to attack the “saints” is repeated several times, and each time, the same Greek verb anabainĂ´ for “ascend” is employed.

For example, in chapter 13, John sees the same creature “ascending from the sea,” and the “sea” represents the same reality as the “Abyss.” As before, the “beast ascends” from the depths to prosecute the Devil’s war against the “saints.”

And just as the “Beast from the Abyss” cannot kill the “Two Witnesses” until they complete their “testimony,” so, also, 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 “war” against the “saints.”

FROM THE EARTH

Next, John sees another “Beast ascending from the earth,” identified later as the “False Prophet.” It uses the authority of the first beast to coerce men to render homage to it.

When the fifth trumpet is sounded, the “Abyss” is located on the earth. Elsewhere, this second beast, the “false prophet,” uses his power to deceive the “inhabitants of the earth” so they render homage to the first “Beast from the sea” – (Revelation 13:11-15, 19:20).

In chapter 17, John sees “Babylon” in the “wilderness” where she sits on “many waters.” The latter represents peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.” Based on her integral involvement in commerce, she holds sway over fallen humanity.

The description of “Babylon” sitting on “many waters” points to the same reality as the “sea” from which the “Beast” ascends to wage war against the “saints.” Like the “Abyss,” the “sea” is a source of great evil in Revelation.

Babylon” also rides 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,” and to the “Beast” that rose from the “sea” to wage war on the “saints” - (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 this explains why the “inhabitants of the earth” wonder after it (“And its death-stroke was healed, and the whole earth wondered after the beast” – 13:3-4).

In the description in chapter 17, the “Beast” represents a trans-historical reality. It has existed before and will rise again. Its seven “heads” represent “seven kingdoms,” five of which are 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” – (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. Moreover, the “war” against the "Two Witnesses" represents the same reality as the “war” of the “Beast from the sea” with the “saints.”

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


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