The origin of evil, and why God allowed it in the first place, is a mystery that has been debated throughout the ages. The Bible tells us that Satan (also known as Lucifer and the devil) was originally an angel. Isaiah 14:9-14 speaks of a ‘morning star’ cast from heaven to earth as a result of pride, the desire to be like God (see also Luke 10:18); other Bible passages indicate that other angels also rebelled with Lucifer, and that these demons still have influence in our world today. (Rev 12:3-4, Jude 1:6) It seems from Revelation 9:1 that this ‘star’ is actually referring to Satan and that the judgments described in these chapters are carried out by demons released from the Abyss.

We may never understand why God allows any authority at all to the devil, but it is clear from the Bible that this is not a contest between equal adversaries. God is all-powerful and all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus. (Matt 28:18-20) Even when God allows the devil to do harm (as happened with Job, for example), this is restricted and limited. We are urged to submit ourselves to God and to resist the devil. (James 4:7) Though the judgments described in the book of Revelation are fearsome, we can be assured that God is the ultimate victor and the devil will not be allowed to do evil forever. Moreover, we see throughout the Bible that God calls people to repentance, giving them ‘countless second chances’ (in the words of a Rend Collective song) to us. What is frightening about Revelation 9:20-21 is that people refuse to repent, just as Pharaoh did when the plagues came on Egypt (Ex 8:15, 32; Ex 9:34). We should heed the command to ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matt 4:7) while we have chance.