by Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Have you ever heard about individuals who have conspired to control the nations of the world with their wealth and power and who are the real force behind the things that happen in the world? They are supposedly the ones who put various leaders in power and control them with their influence so that the foreign policy of many nations is dictated by these conspirators. They supposedly are the real causes of the wars and strife between races, ethnic groups and whole nations and are the causes of depressions and other economic problems.
Is this true? Do these individuals really exist? Are there really powerful individuals behind the scenes who are "pulling the strings" and who shape the destiny of the whole world while the vast majority of people on earth do not even know they exist? The answer from your Bible is a resounding "Yes!" The Bible reveals that not only do such individuals exist, but that they are the real rulers of this world and are used by God to carry out the fulfillment of prophecy!
"Ruler of this World"
At the time of His temptation by Satan, the Devil took Jesus Christ up on a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Satan offered to give them to Jesus if He would be willing to worship him (Luke 4:5-8). In verse 6 Satan boasts, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish." Notice that the Devil has authority over the whole world, and he delegates authority to whomever he wishes.
Jesus referred to Satan as the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Christ recognizes Satan as the present ruler of the world. However, Satan does not rule alone. He has a whole army of fallen angels, called demons, at his disposal. The apostle Paul refers to these evil rulers in his letter to the Ephesians. "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). These demons may number in the multiple millions (compare Revelation 5:11 and 12:3-4).
God gives us an occasional glimpse in His Word about how these evil forces are used by Him to influence the rulers of nations. One such vignette occurs in I Kings 22. When Ahab, the evil ruler of Israel, was trying to decide whether to fight against Syria to retake Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, persuaded him to consult his prophets first. All of his prophets told him to proceed with the battle because God would give him a great victory. However, Micaiah, a true prophet of God, told him that God had allowed an evil spirit to put lies into the mouths of Ahab's prophets. This is because it was God's purpose that Ahab be killed in the battle. Ahab shunned Micaiah, took the advice of his own prophets and was killed while fighting the Syrian armies.
In His prophecies regarding those things that will happen close to the second coming of Jesus Christ, God clearly describes how He permits Satan to influence the nations of the world in order to fulfill His end-time prophecies. In Revelation 12, God describes how there will be a great war in heaven sometime near the second coming of Jesus Christ. Satan and his demons will be cast down to the earth and will bring about great persecution on the Church of God.
Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. (Revelation 12:12)
In Revelation 13, John describes a great beast, representing a world ruling empire and its ruler that will exert sway over the whole earth in the end time. "Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority" (Revelation 13:2). The dragon, a biblical symbol of Satan, will give the same power and authority to the ruler of this future empire as he promised Jesus Christ in the temptation described in Luke 4:5-7!
Notice Revelation 13:4:
So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Satan finally gets his wish to have someone worship him!
God goes on to explain how Satan and his demons are permitted by God to utilize supernatural power to deceive the nations of the earth and to persecute the people of God in the end time.
He [the false prophet] performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. (Revelation 13:13-14)
The prophecy also describes how Satan and his demons will be allowed to use their great powers as rulers of this world to influence men to form a monolithic government that will control all aspects of people's lives. This government will have the power of life and death over the earth's inhabitants and will force people to commit idolatry. Those who refuse will be killed. Also, the economies of all nations will be controlled and people will not be able to participate in commerce unless they are abiding by the rules of the government. Because these things run contrary to God's way, this will be a time of severe trial and testing for the people of God (Revelation 13:15-18; Matthew 24:21-22).
A Chronicle of Man's Wars
Another clear example where God shows the "behind-the-scenes" activity and influence of demons on this world's affairs is in the gathering of the armies to fight Jesus Christ at His second coming:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:13-14)
When this occurs, the human beings involved in these decisions will have no idea that they are being influenced by spirit beings. Satan and his demons are invisible and accomplish their work by broadcasting attitudes and putting thoughts in people's minds. These thoughts and attitudes seem normal and natural to the people involved, yet their result is utterly inhuman and unnatural, such as the Holocaust, the Inquisition, "the killing fields," "ethnic cleansing," "total war" and the like. What has occurred throughout all of human history will happen again.
It has been said that human history is little more than a chronicle of man's wars. These wars are the result of men being influenced by invisible, evil spirit beings ever since Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out from the presence of God (Genesis 3:22-24). No people and no generation have ever been immune from Satan's attempts to keep men separated from God.
Yes, there is a great conspiracy. It is a conspiracy for the minds of men. As long as Satan and his demons are still ruling this world, they will continue to be the invisible force behind the things that occur on the world scene. They will continue to broadcast attitudes of envy, jealousy, lust and greed as well as all of the other wrong and sinful ways that are the root cause of all of this world's misery and suffering.
Thankfully, God's prophecies show us that Jesus Christ has qualified to depose Satan as the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 16:11). When Christ returns to the earth in power and glory, Satan will be bound and will no longer be permitted to broadcast attitudes or exercise sway over any nation or any individual (Revelation 20:1-3). At that time, the wonderful world tomorrow will begin, and the earth will have a thousand years of peace, happiness and prosperity. May God speed that day!