A Prophetic Casting Out of Demons

Norbert Lieth

What the healing of two demon-possessed men through the Lord Jesus Christ has to say to us about the end times.

Matthew 8:28-34 reports how the Lord Jesus healed two demon-possessed men. In this event we can discover a few interesting prophetic parallels.

Mark only mentions one man in the same matter. If we take the information that he passes on, however, and apply it to the two demon-possessed men: they lived in tombs, and could not be restrained with chains or shackles. They were restless night and day, shouted and beat themselves with stones, and were ruled by a legion of demons (Mark 5:9).

Today, it is the case that unbelieving Israel and the nations are ruled by “principalities…powers…the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). They need divine liberation through Jesus, and especially in these end times, in the truest sense of the word, the devil is on the loose (Revelation 12).

The situation of the two demon-possessed men reminds me of the nations of the world on the one hand, and the people of Israel on the other hand—which, according to Ezekiel 37:12-13, is in the graves of the nations and is tormented there by foreign unruly powers and finds no rest. Legions of tyrants have persecuted the Jews and their own nations, possessed by the powers of darkness. Just think of the Third Reich and its devastating results.

The land of the Gergesenes, where the Lord Jesus healed the two demon-possessed men, belonged to the area of the Gentile ten cities (Decapolis = ten cities). It lay on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, where many non-Jews lived, who had settled there as a result of the conquest of Alexander the Great. They were ten regions which had amalgamated for better trade connections. In the days of the Lord Jesus on earth, this was, so to speak, an amalgamation between Israel and the nations. Here the demons raged particularly; the territory was like a power center of Satan.

Pigs were unclean animals for the Jews (Deuteronomy 14:8), but the Israelite farmers in this vicinity bred them for the Decapolis, to earn money among the non-Jews. Today, when Israel is a state again in its own land, it has enormous trade connections with the whole world. It is interesting that Revelation, in connection with the time shortly before the return of Christ, speaks of the kings of the earth and their armies, which gather together and give their kingdom unto the beast (Revelation 17:17). The Bible also hints that in the end times many Jews will accept a false shepherd, namely the Antichrist (John 5:43; Zechariah 11). It could come to an amalgamation between Israel and the world of nations (the ten kings which give the beast their power), and there Satan’s power center will be (cf. Revelation 13).

From Mark’s Gospel, we learn that the legion of demons that Christ cast out entered about 2,000 swine (Mark 5:13). Demons seek what is unclean. In the Roman army a legion was about 3,000, and at its strongest about 6,000 soldiers. It is surely not by chance that the unclean spirit called itself “Legion,” the Latin term for an army unit of the Romans that possessed the land and oppressed it. In this very area the Lord comes and shows His divine power. It could be similar at the end of time again. When the Lord sets foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4), He will return as then to a Jewish nation that has amalgamated with the nations—the Decapolis.

Demons are spiritual beings without a body, that prefer to live in a body, even if it is a pig. They certainly did not want to go into the abyss. Here we have two men that are ruled by 3,000 to 6,000 demons. The demons recognized and confessed Jesus undoubtedly as the Son of God; the leadership of Israel, however, were blind to Him. Demons often know more than theologians.

Why did the demons ask the Lord Jesus fearfully, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)? Demons are afraid of the coming judgment (cf. James 2:19). With the torment they mentioned, they were referring to the future in the abyss and the lake of fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41). They knew, then, that the appearing of the Lord was in connection with the end-times judgment on them. They thought that before this final judgment they would be judged on the spot. They connected His appearing with the end. But the Lord did not judge them yet; He did something different.

The demons were allowed to enter the swine and plunged into the Sea of Galilee. Symbolically speaking, the Lord did not send them into the abyss but into the sea. If we take a prophetic view, the sea can symbolize the sea of nations (cf. Revelation 13). We also have an amazingly similar situation in the last days. Satan and his demons will firstly be driven out of heaven to the earth (Revelation 12:9), to rage in the sea of nations (Revelation 12:12). Only later will the final judgment come when Jesus Christ returns (Revelation 20:1-3, 10).

After Jesus Christ had healed the demon-possessed man, the people in this Gentile region asked Him to “depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34). They rejected Him. This is surely the most terrible “prayer” that a person can pray. In Mark 5:15-17, it says that they were afraid and so they asked Him to go away. How characteristic! The demons feared the power of Christ and the last judgment. The people were afraid of the love of Jesus, which should actually cast out fear (1 John 4:18). They preferred to stay with the unclean and under the lordship of the demons.

Is it not the same today among the nations? Jesus is left out and He is refused access. He is not to rule, not to determine; Christianity is thwarted and a Christianized, Western world is already forgetting the way of the Savior, the blessings and faith that came to them—namely, via Israel. Think of UNESCO, which decided in October last year to deny any Jewish historical link to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. It is as though everything were surrounded by a cloud of darkness. And what do we see? The Lord withdraws and goes back to Israel. At that time, He left the Gentile Decapolis to turn back to Israel.

Our world is becoming more and more demonic, and fear and perplexity are increasing. What is the war in Syria and the terrorism of ISIS, other than demonic? We are guided by evil rulers, tyrants, dictators and unscrupulous oppressors. Of the two demon-possessed men, it says before their healing, “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way” (Matthew 8:28).

Today, it is the case that there are certain places where the citizens do not dare to go. In public buildings, railway stations, shopping centers, airports or stadiums, we are afraid of dangerous people who spread fear and terror. From the Bible we know that Satan controls the nations and their leaders (e.g. Tyre, Ezekiel 28; Babylon, Isaiah 14; Persia and Greece, Daniel 10; cf. Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Revelation 16 describes how at the end, the devil will send out demonic spirits to the heads of state to deceive them. The Antichrist and the false prophet will give their power, the demonically inspired rule of the world, to the devil (Revelation 13; 17:13). Who knows how near this time is?

The Messiah came from the Jewish people to redeem the world, and He will return to this people and His land as the Lord of the world (Zechariah 12;14; cf. Romans 11:25-29). Satan fights this (think of Pharaoh, Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod, Hitler, Stalin, Islamic terrorists, and the Antichrist). When Jesus came for the first time, the power of Satan reared up. Before Jesus returns, this will take place again.

News From Israel - 07/2017

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