Satan, Hell, and Bible Prophecy
By Britt Gillette
When it comes to Satan, hell, and bible prophecy, a number of myths and misunderstandings have taken root over the years.
It’s important to correct these myths, because people need to know the truth.
Not only the truth about what is, but the truth about what’s going to be…
The bible has a lot to say about Satan, hell, and the future. And knowing what the bible says helps us to develop a worldview grounded in truth and perspective.
If we want to understand the world around us, now and in the future, it’s essential to know what the bible says.
So let’s address two widespread myths which persist to this day…
Myth #1: Satan Resides in Hell
One of the most persistent cultural myths in our lifetime is the idea that Satan resides in hell. In the images of pop culture, Satan is pictured as the undisputed ruler of hell.
But according to the bible, Satan is not in hell. In fact, according to the bible, Satan splits his time between this world and heaven.
This concept is clearly illustrated in the Book of Job, when Satan himself comes before the Lord…
“One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.” Job 2:1 (NLT)
It’s clear from this passage that Satan isn’t a prisoner of eternal torment in hell as conventional wisdom so often states.
On the contrary, the bible portrays him as having regular access to God. The Book of Revelation calls him, “the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:10 (NLT)
This verse paints a portrait of Satan as a heavenly figure who accuses the followers of Christ day and night before the Lord of Creation. In its entirety, this prophetic passage also clearly states that Satan will be thrown down to earth…
“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:10 (NLT)
And that begs the question… Thrown down from where? The obvious implication is that Satan will be thrown down from heaven, where he currently resides.
If this is true, where do we get the idea that Satan resides in hell?
Well, we get it from the bible… But what is often misunderstood is that hell is not Satan’s present residence; it’s his future destination.
Right now (the pre-Tribulation period), Satan is in heaven. But his days in heaven are numbered. God will not endure Satan’s presence forever, and the time which is marked for Satan’s permanent exile from heaven is the mid-point of the Tribulation.
As the Book of Revelation reveals…
“Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon – the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world – was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.” Revelation 12:7-9 (NLT)
It’s a commonly held belief that Satan and his rebellious angels were banished from heaven long ago, but that’s a myth.
Satan’s banishment is a future event, one slated for the last days.
And Satan will not become a resident of hell until after the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, when he is bound and thrown into the lake of fire…
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon – that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan – and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:1-3 (NLT)
And that leads us to a second myth…
Myth #2: Satan Will Rule Over Hell
The second myth involves Satan’s ultimate role in hell.
If you buy into the conventional wisdom, Satan is the undisputed ruler of hell, a place where he wields power over fellow inhabitants, torturing them day and night.
But the bible paints a different picture…
It’s a picture of Satan as a defeated being who is mocked mercilessly and ridiculed by the very people he led astray…
“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you. With one voice they all cry out, ‘Now you are as weak as we are! Your might and power were buried with you. The sound of the harp in your palace has ceased. Now maggots are your sheet, and worms your blanket.'” Isaiah 14:9-11 (NLT)
Rather than facing an eternal future as dictator of hell, Satan faces a humbling future as the lowest of the low in hell…
“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?'” Isaiah 14:12-17 (NLT)
Despite his ambition, this is Satan’s ultimate fate.
And he knows it. After all, Satan also studies the scriptures, as evidenced by his use of scripture in his temptation of Jesus:
“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'” Matthew 4:5-6 (NLT)
Here, Satan exhibits full knowledge of Psalm 91:11-12, and you can be absolutely certain he knows Isaiah 14, Revelation 12, Revelation 20, and the rest of God’s Word.
That’s why, when Satan is thrown down to earth, he arrives in great anger. Because he knows his time is short…
“Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:12 (NLT)
In a last ditch effort to avoid to his fate, Satan will attempt to annihilate the Jews…
“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” Revelation 12:13 (NLT)
Why is Satan trying to annihilate the Jews?
Because, if he’s successful in doing so, he wins an enormous victory over God.
After all, God made a promise to Abraham…
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.'” Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT)
And God’s promise included the land of Israel…
“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.'” Genesis 12:7 (NLT)
If Satan can eliminate the physical descendants of Abraham, then he makes God a liar. Does this help shed some light on why anti-Semitism persists and why Hitler so vehemently pursued the Holocaust?
Satan was, and is, behind it all.
But this hatred isn’t reserved exclusively for the Jews. God’s promise to Abraham included Abraham’s spiritual descendants as well…
“Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless.” Romans 4:13-14 (NLT)
And who are Abraham’s spiritual descendants?
Those who forge “a right relationship with God that comes by faith.”
When Satan is thrown down to the earth, he will ruthlessly pursue those people too…
“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children – all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.” Revelation 12:17 (NLT)
Does this help you better understand Christian persecution throughout the ages?
Satan hates Jews and Christians, because both are beneficiaries of God’s promise to Abraham… God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants.
Right now, Satan commands great influence over the inhabitants of this world…
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)
But Satan’s rule is destined to come to an end, and he knows it.
That’s why the Tribulation is such a terrible time in human history. Knowing he has little time, Satan will deploy the full use of his power in a feeble attempt to prove God’s Word false and avoid his ultimate destination… Hell.
As a result, terrible times are coming, but those with faith will avoid the great time of testing…
“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God – the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.” Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)
In the meantime…
We should trust in Christ. We should obey His commandments, and use what little time we have left on this earth to bring glory to God. We should preach His Word to those who will listen. And we should show love for friends and enemies alike, doing unto to others as we would have them do unto us.
We should live our lives as faithful servants of Christ, and look forward to the day when we hear a loud voice shouting across the heavens…
“It has come at last – salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!” Revelation 12:10-12 (NLT)
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!