The Gates of Hell
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
The world we currently live in, with all of its modernity and science, treats the spiritual realm as mostly fantasy. Aside from fictional books, movies, and cable television shows about the paranormal, religion offers the only other serious discussions pertaining to the unseen realm. Even the non-religious are somewhat cautious in how they deal with the topic of religion since it can encompass many things to many people. While atheists and skeptics may openly mock Christianity, they tread lightly when addressing other religions such as Hinduism or Islam for fear of physical retaliation.
But while the Christian religion has fallen out of favor here in the West because of its “narrow-mindedness”, spiritualism is on the increase. So if Christianity is not the faith filling the void in the lives of the many here in the West, something else will surely take its place. Thus, spiritualism serves that purpose of being a broad, all-inclusive, inoffensive faith system that makes people feel good about themselves, while not being dogmatic about it. Why something else has to fill the void left by Christianity is largely because it is in our DNA to worship (or be worshipped). Humans are hybrid beings, half-spiritual, and half-physical. King Solomon said something similar some 3000 years prior;
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Spiritualism is not new. Setting aside thousands of years of paganism and the like, if we simply go back a little over a century, we can see this all play out as it is today. At the turn of the 19-20th century, the West enjoyed a resurgence of the esoteric (mystery) teachings found within spiritualism and mysticism. Spiritualism was the search into the afterlife through the use of séances, mediums, Tarot cards, seers, etc.
Mysticism sought out secret (or forbidden) knowledge through the revival of the “ancient” arts belonging to the likes of the Vikings, the Greeks, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, and so forth. Non-religious groups such as the Rosicrucian’s, the Illuminati, and the Free Masons had already successfully incorporated many of the teachings and rituals in their groups in Europe and later America for centuries. Their aim was to integrate secret “knowledge” into powerful groups of men who would theoretically use that to change the world.
The Victorian-era spiritualists and mystics on the other hand (both in the U.S. and Europe), became enthralled with the idea of discovering the supernatural. It was also very appealing in how one dealt with the spiritual realm and the afterlife. Although Christianity was the main “religion” for both sides of the Atlantic, mainline denominations had failed to offer the titillation that these secret groups promised. Thus, esoteric and/or mystery groups like the Theosophical Society who blended both spiritualism and the mysticism became the rage.
At the same time people were eagerly searching out spiritualism, mainline Christianity came under the assault by human secularism during the Age of Reason. Philosophical challenges and “scientific” discoveries from men like (but not limited too) Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, attempted to discredit Christianity as “unscientific” and archaic. It was at this point that the Christian denominational churches began to divorce themselves from their spiritual attributes in order to combat human secularism which was flooding the market place of ideas.
In this vacuum of spiritual identity, cult and occult groups who mixed eastern mysticism into Western ideology and theology filled the gap. They promised to offer the masses what Christianity could not, which was enlightenment, divine insight, and secret knowledge. Seemingly, all of these groups seemed rooted in Neoplatonism.
Since the days before Noah’s Flood (the Antediluvian Period/Dispensation of Conscious) (Genesis 4-8), man has known and understood that physical world is not all there is. Adam and Eve as well as Cain and Abel, at the very least, had personal interactions with God both in and out of the Garden of Eden. The same was true for Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Their descendants also knew that there was a spiritual realm jam-packed with beings (both good and wicked) who interacted with the physical realm on a daily basis. But it was the Antediluvian period that much of what we understand today as mythology actually stems from. It was an age of gods, demigods, giants, beings from heaven, “ancient aliens,” magic, etc.
It is believed by many (too include this author) that the reason for the Flood was that the fallen angels (the sons of God) intermingled with the daughters of men in an attempt to genetically corrupt man’s bloodline to prevent Genesis 3:15 from becoming a reality. The end result produced a hybrid race of beings that were neither fully human nor fully angelic. According to the extra-biblical accounts of Enoch and Jasher, as well as the Jewish historian Josephus, these beings were gigantic, violent, and dominated mankind in cruelty.
Jesus stated (Luke 17:26-30) that the days of His return would be similar to that of the days of Noah and that of Lot. While is it unknown if physical beings like the Nephilim will actually physically return in the last days, we can reasonably assume that the demonic hosts (disembodied spirits of Noah’s day Nephilim) will be able to fully possess human hosts.
We have seen in recent history that people (being half spirit) can open themselves up to demonic possession through a variety of manners such as religious rituals, drugs, music, and games. We assume that as technology such as virtual reality and transhumanism progresses (moving technology into the body), we will see this as another gateway demons use to inhabit human hosts. We can already see a foreshadowing of what this will look like with people using drugs (Pharmakeia/sorcery) like flakka and bath salts in the news. The fact that people are becoming spiritual without tapping into the one true source (Jesus Christ), they will in effect attract demonic activity like moths to a flame.
While we do not know to what extent the supernatural will cross over into the natural realm this side of the Rapture, we know that after the Rapture, the world of Daniel’s 70th Week will be cast into a new, but brief age of supernaturalism.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Adding to that is the arrival of the Two Witnesses (presumably Moses and Elijah) who will be able to counteract the evil supernatural forces with supernatural powers of their own. It stands to reason that if God brings them back to Jerusalem for 3 ½ years, it is necessary to neutralize the perception that only the Antichrist and the False Prophet have supernatural powers. Thus, we can assume that after the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, the world will once again enter a period of time when the supernatural becomes the new normal.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19
While it seems a little unusual to connect the above passage with that of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I believe there is an important connection being taught here. Jesus stated that the ‘gates of hades’ (or hell) would not prevail against (or overpower) the Church. What I want to draw your attention to here is not to what is said, but to what is not said, principally that ‘the gates of hell’ would not prevail against the Church while it is on the earth. Obviously, the ‘gates of hell’ would not prevail against the Church in her glorified state in heaven at the side of Christ, so we must deduce that this only applies to the Church while she is on the earth before the Rapture takes place.
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit seals the bodies of born-again believers who collectively make up “the Church” (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30). In this sealed-state, we are acting as the Restrainer (as described in 2 Thess. 2:7) to a world that is largely controlled by the enemy. We are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) in a world steeped in darkness. So what happens then when the restraint is removed?
All hell breaks loose on earth.
When I think of the gates of hell, I think of something akin to the ‘enemy at the gates’; like barbarian hordes massing outside a city gate trying to break through. In this instance, the Church acts as the barrier preventing the world from completely being given over to the evil one. Not that the Church as individuals are perfect and sinless (we aren’t), but it’s that the power of Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27) and that is what prevents this from happening. Since Christ is the Word, and everything was created by Him, and through Him, everything is sustained, it is Christ who prevents this complete collapse of the world from happening. Which if it did, would automatically trigger global and catastrophic judgment (Col. 1:16).
Although the days seem to be getting darker, it is only an illusory shadow cast by the innumerable demonic hosts which enshroud the earth. Currently, there is a divine boundary between our realm and the spiritual separating the two, but it appears to be growing thinner by the day. This may be why we are seeing and hearing all the unexplainable phenomena that our generation is experiencing.
We know that Satan is the current power-broker here on earth (Luke 4:5-6) and that the whole world lies under the influence of Satan (1 John 5:19). Jesus referred to him as the “ruler of the world” (John 14:30). Paul called Satan the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). The Apostle Peter called him a “roaring lion” walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). At present, Satan has at his disposal countless legion who do his bidding (a legion is roughly equal to 3,000 to 6,000 in number). If Satan could afford to put one legion in a possessed nobody at the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-9), clearly, he can afford to put them anywhere he wants, anytime he wants…in spades.
The world after the Rapture will be one where the entire demonic host, along with the fallen angels will burst through the veil (the gates of hell) that separates the physical from the spiritual. It may be why we meet the Lord in the air (Satan’s domain) as opposed to just being instantaneously transported to heaven. We assume Satan knows about the Rapture, although he may not believe it. This is why the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is taught throughout Scripture, but not as explicit (or overt) as we may wish. [Hence why we have all the varying views on the timing of the Rapture]
It sort of reminds me of a military maneuver. The Lord intends to signal His temporary withdrawal (of His body the Church) from the earth in such a manner like a military feint. It will appear that Jesus packed up all His people and went home and left the gate wide open in the process. But His departure is only temporary and it’s only to accomplish His two purposes (Jer. 30:7-11). In the Church’s absence, Satan and his demonic forces (both flesh and spirits) will seek to fill the vacuum with something ugly, apostate, and damning to the greatest extent they can in the time they have available. What better way than to people who are “spiritual.”
According to Scripture, at the mid-point of the 70th Week, Satan and his fallen angels are physically confined to the earth (Rev. 12:7-12). At the end of the seven years, Christ and the armies of Heaven peel the sky back and return triumphantly to the earth, decimating Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the satanic forces without even breaking a sweat (Rev. 19:11-21).
So while today it might appear that we are surrounded and outnumbered (much like Elisha was at Dothan), may we also have eyes to see beyond the physical to understand that those who are with us, are more than those who with them (2 Kings 6:16-17). Therefore…
…we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18