Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Most Terrifying Figure In The Bible Isn’t Satan, It’s God’s Right-Hand Man

The Angel Of Death, Abaddon

John was an apostle of Jesus Christ who wrote many of the texts that inspired the Book of Revelation after he received a preview of the end of days. It's from John's writings in Revelation that we learn the angel of death is not the devil, but Abaddon, the leader of fallen angels tasked by God to torture Earth and humanity as punishment for the sins of humankind.

Abaddon's role in the Old and New Testaments provide a horrifying look at the part archangels are said to play during judgment day, and the function of such angels and demons doesn't sit well with the Christian view of an all-loving and merciful God.

Even more disturbing, in the Gnostic texts, Abaddon is pivotal in the creation of humankind, gathering the dirt from which God created Adam. So it's perhaps fitting that Abaddon will also gather souls and carry them to the place of God's final judgment. While the concept of Satan is frightening, it's nothing compared to an angel of death commissioned by God to torture sinners.

God Unleashes Abaddon To Torture The Earth In The Book Of Revelation

It's believed that John wrote the Book of Revelation while living in exile on the island of Patmos. There, he reportedly received a glimpse of "The Day of The Lord," or the end of days. In Revelation, John reveals that fallen angels will be released to wreak havoc and spread torture on Earth during the apocalypse.

It's in Revelation, and at the moment when John hears the Fifth Trumpet, that Abaddon (or "Apollyon" in Greek) is introduced to the world as the leader of the fallen angels. According to the texts, Abaddon is to unleash God's wrath upon humanity.

Abaddon Is Allowed To Torture Human Beings

While biblical translation leads to some dispute, one thing most scholars agree upon is that Abaddon's authority is not unlimited. Revelation 9:4states: "And it was commanded of them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads."

Furthermore, this passage says that Abaddon and his team "were not given the power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months." Still, Abaddon's authority actively torture humankind is unsettling. Revelation 9:6 provides some insight into the degree of torture.:"In those days, men will seek death, but will not find it; they shall long to die, but death will flee from them."

The Angel Of Death

His Name Means 'The Angel Of Death' In Some Translations

While Abaddon means "the destroyer" or "the destruction," many consider Abaddon to be the angel of death. While some believe Abaddon to be a location, he is most often considered a fallen angel. His function is to oversee the destruction of Earth on Judgment Day.

In Job 28:22, Abaddon is mentioned along with death when Abaddon is first identified as an actual being and not merely a place.

Some Biblical Translations Claim Abaddon Is A Subordinate Of Satan, Not An Angel Of God's Army

Those familiar with the Torah or the Bible know that Satan seeks to destroy the works and creations of God. While Satan doesn't receive as much exploration in the Torah, his existence is undoubtedly present in the text. During the end of days in Revelation, God releases the demons of Hell. Humans who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads will suffer at the hands of Satan and his demons.

Here, Satan functions as the primary antagonist of God, and it's Abaddon who serves as the leader of the plague of demons to torture Earth. Abaddon is a controversial figure for some, as the interpretations differ on whether Abaddon is a minion of Satan or an angel of death authorized by God.


For Others, Abaddon Is Not Lucifer, But They Share A lot Of Imagery

Some biblical interpretations even treat Lucifer (Satan) and Abaddon as the same figure. However, many theologians point to specific passages in the Book of Revelation and other biblical passages as evidence that Abaddon is a distinct entity. For instance, one verse states: "They have over them as king the angel of the abyss." This verse arrives after God unleashe the locusts to torture Earth during the end of days.

Some scholars read this in conjunction with Proverbs 30:7, where the locusts have no king. So, while Lucifer functions as the king of Hell, Abaddon is the leader of the locust of demons unleashed to torture those who do not bear the seal of God. Many also point to Ephesians 6:12, where it's described that Satan has underlings. While Abaddon might not be synonymous with Lucifer, he shares similar traits.

Abaddon, Hell

Abaddon Is The Ruler Of An Abyss Of The Same Name

In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, Abaddon is not only the personification of a fallen angel but an actual place of destruction. In Job 31:12, Abaddon is described as a hellish abyss, "for it would be a fire that consumes to Abaddon."

Some believe that Abaddon is both a manifest being as well as the bottomless pit that he oversees.

John writes of this abyss in Revelation, describing that "after the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, a star falls from heaven and opens the bottomless pit. A storm of smoke arises, and from the smoke, a plague of locusts emerge to torment, but not kill, men who lack the seal of God on their foreheads."

Purgatory, Abaddon, Hell

In Some Texts, Abaddon Is Merely A Place For Lost Souls

Some believe that Abaddon is merely a term for a hopeless pit like Hell. Such theories point to the fact that Satan is the ruler of Hell and Abaddon (which means destruction or place of destruction) is only synonymous for the kingdom of torture where Satan has dominion.

Such understandings focus on that passage of Job 31:12, in which Abaddon is described as a place of fire.

This argument does gain some support in Psalm 88:11, which states, “will Your loving kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Abaddon?” However, it's also in Job where Abaddon first gets identified as a conscious being. In Job 28:22, Abaddon can speak and hear and is the personification of death. Many also point to Biblical Antiquities of Philo, which describe Abaddon as a place.

Jesus's Resurrection

Abaddon Is Described As Present During Jesus's Resurrection In The Gnostic Text

Abaddon is used interchangeably with death in many passages, but those who study the Gnostic texts point out that Abaddon was present at the tomb of Jesus Christ at the time of his resurrection. His role as either an angel in God's army or an underling of Satan becomes more confusing in the Gnostic documents.

In the Gospel of Bartholomew, Abaddon approaches Jesus in the underworld after his death. But Jesus laughs in the face of Abaddon, which terrifies him and his sons. When Jesus rises from the dead, Abaddon and his son, Pestilence, seek to protect the underworld. However, Jesus had departed from Hell, and according to Bartholomew, he left only three souls there: Herod, Cain, and Judas.

Angels, Gnostic Text, Abaddon

In The Gnostic Text, Abaddon Is Also The Angel Who Gathered The Earth Used To Create Adam

In another Gnostic document, the Acts of Thomas, Abaddon plays a vital role in the initial creation of humankind. He receives the task of gathering the Earth from which God creates Adam. He's then identified as a guardian and all of the angels, demons, and corporeal entities fear him.

Additionally, on the day of judgment, it's said that Abaddon will carry souls to the Valley of Josaphat, where God will deliver all souls for final judgment. This adds to the confusion for many who accept the Gnostic documents as part of their biblical understanding because Abaddon sounds much like Lucifer in this regard.

All-Loving And Forgiving God, Abaddon

Abaddon Is Contrary To The Christian View Of An All-Loving And Forgiving God

In many ways, Abaddon is a confusing figure, but one thing is sure: he's terrifying. His role to torture those members of humankind who do not bear the seal of God seems antithetical to the Christian view of an all-loving and merciful God.

It's confusing that God can create and love all creatures and things, but unleash a terror like Abaddon onto humanity. In John's description of judgment day (which is set into action by God), Abaddon is given five months to create what seems like Hell on earth.

It's actually unclear what the criteria would make humans worthy of a seal on the forehead, but it's very clear that Abaddon plays a central role in the punishment of humankind.

Dead Sea Scrolls

He Is Mentioned In The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls contain mention of Abaddon in the text of the Thanksgiving Hymns. These were some of the first texts discovered when the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed in 1947, and the description of Abaddon within this text can be contextualized both as an overlord of Hell and as a place of destruction itself.

By Matthew Lavelle, Ranker

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