The World’s Deal with Death and Sheol

Chapter 5 of Corrupting the Image 3 : The World’s Deal with Death and Sheol 

As soon as Jesus opens the first seal and the Two Witnesses begin their ministry, Satan / the Beast will begin pushing for the world to join his covenant. We see this in the rider on the white horse who “had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (Rev 6:2). He will go out and win people over to his side, perhaps forcefully.  

As the ministry of the Two and Satan’s UFO deception progress, the desperate world will be more willing to pay any price, including relinquishing their authority to Satan, if he rids the world of the “bad aliens,” the Two Witnesses. Just like Nazi Germany did not stand for truth, but believed Hitler’s lies that he alone could make their troubles go away, similarly the world will embrace the lies they’ve wanted to hear.,97 They will reject the Two Witnesses’ message of repentance (a direct call to return to God), in favor of Satan’s lies that he alone can solve their problems. In exchange for defeating the Two Witnesses, they will confer their authority to him, the lord of Death. 

The only true weapon that Satan has ever had against his all-powerful opponent, God, is the legal authority derived from usurped power stolen from Adam. God has given legal authority, and once established it can only be legally overturned by a cosmic event, like what Jesus did on the cross. Once humanity relinquishes its birthright, like Esau traded for a bowl of stew, Satan will once again hold authority. He will operate like a foreign diplomat who may act with impunity. Satan will have regained dominion and authority, which grants him diplomatic immunity from prosecution.  

Why a Covenant?  

Satan knows Jesus intends to reclaim the world that is rightfully His. Therefore, to truly have a fighting chance against the King of Kings, Satan must regain authority over the bodies and souls / minds of “every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Rev 13:7). The crisis in which the world finds itself will play into Satan’s hands perfectly, because his goal is to regain authority. Recall, Satan (as BAD / Enlil / Nergal / UG), the king of death and Sheol, once held authority (dominion) over the earth, which allowed him to decree the fates of men and to boast against his Creator.  

Think of it this way: God created the world, and then leased it out to Adam. It is all God’s, but He gave full authority to Adam. The dominion was Adam’s, though it technically belonged to God. Satan hoodwinked Adam and Eve in the Garden and usurped the dominion for himself. Because of this, Satan could say to Jesus, “All this authority … for this has been delivered [παραδεδοται] to me” (Luke 4:6). The word paradedotai [παραδεδοται], according to BDAG, means: “to convey something in which one has a relatively strong personal interest, hand over, give (over), deliver, entrust,” and also “to entrust for care or preservation, give over, commend, commit.”98 In other words, the kingdoms of this world had been given over, entrusted, committed to Satan—we might say he swindled Adam and Eve ‘fair and square.’  

Neither Adam and Eve, nor God had any legal recourse; Satan legally scammed them. To be sure, God was and is infinitely more powerful. But the contest was not about strength; it was about authority, and Satan had the legal authority. Once the dominion of Earth was forfeited, God still had the power to destroy Satan, but not the authority, which was the genius of Satan’s plan. He found God’s one weakness: “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18). He knew for certain God could not just overpower him and take it back because “righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Ps 97:2).  

Satan’s hubris played out in the ancient Mesopotamian Akitu festival where the “good news” was brought to him of the killing of (An) the Creator and where the authority (“anutu” Anu-ship) was delivered to him. That authority was known as the Tablet of Destinies in the ancient world; he was the owner99 and gave it to “Ninurta, as the seal-bearer of Enlil … [who] was probably authorized to act with Enlil’s authority. … Ninurta … is often invoked as the “Bearer of the Tablet of Destinies of the Gods.”100 The usurped authority was what he used to keep himself in power for millennia as the king of death and Sheol, and to decree the fates of men. 

Nevertheless, we learned in Corrupting the Image 1 that God declared war against Satan; and stated, one would come who would crush his head. Therefore, even though the earth was Satan’s, he needed to guarantee there would be no end to his rule. He knew the prophesy that the seed of the woman would crush his head and attempted to escape it via the angelic incursion on Mt. Hermon, upon which he claimed to be king and commissioned the creation of Nephilim. Satan’s attempt failed, and eventually Jesus “planted his flag” on Hermon, transfigured, and communed with Moses and Elijah. In so doing, Jesus claimed his ultimate victory over the god of death and stopped the gates of Hades / Sheol from opening. By way of the cross, Jesus broke the real authority of death and Sheol and thereby acquired the keys of death and Sheol—keys which Satan needs to reacquire. 

When Satan seduced man with the forbidden fruit in the Garden, even back then he was offering an agreement with death and Sheol. Mankind eventually went on to cohabitate with fallen angels and bring forth the Nephilim in the days of Noah. Nimrod made a covenant with death and Sheol when he became the first post-flood gibbor-hybrid. The iniquity of the Amorites, as we studied in Corrupting the Image 2, was likely the same Faustian bargain. In the words of Jesus, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? This question has plagued mankind for ages. What good is money and power if you are dead? Hence, the greatest prize is immortality. Every time man is told he can become a god, he jumps at the chance. God, of course, has promised to give man immortality and super-powers, but man wants it on his own terms.  

Therefore, Satan will use a “back door” or loophole to regain his authority over mankind in order to successfully defeat God. Before the return of Jesus, he must get all of Adam’s sons to give their authority to him, the god of death and Sheol. They must give up the authority (dominion) with which Jesus, “with His own blood … obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). It was this redemption that caused those in heaven to declare: 

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). 

If the world will once again give Satan authority in exchange for him getting rid of the two witnesses, then Satan thinks he will reach a stalemate with God.101 We catch a glimpse of this where the world worships the dragon: 

So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev 13:4) And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months (Rev 13:5).  

Satan is operating with legitimate authority during the end times. The arrival of the Two Witnesses and the plagues they bring upon the world will ultimately compel the world to give their authority to Satan (via the Beast), to combat them. Of course, no one will think they are making a covenant with death and Sheol, let alone a bargain with Satan himself. As far as the world is concerned, there is no Satan; he is just a figment of silly, backward imaginations. However, “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:10) at the testimony of the Two Witnesses, “for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thess 2:11). They “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:12) and will fall for Satan’s scheme, just as the apostle Paul indicated. 

Satan (AKA Death) offers to help the world against the Two and will bring dark forces from the underworld (Hades / Sheol) to help.  

A pale green horse! 102 The name of the one who rode it was Death, and Hades [Heb. שאול Sheol] followed right behind. They were given authority [εξουσια exousia] over a fourth of the earth [epi to tetarton tēs gēs], to kill its population with the sword, famine, and disease, and by the wild animals of the earth (Rev 6:8 NET). 

The king of death and Sheol (Hades) is none other than Satan, and we discovered in Corrupting the Image 2 the hideous creatures he planned to unleash on the world (we will consider those creatures again later). Revelation 6, à la the fourth horseman, gives us a snapshot that Satan gains authority over all mankind. The authority over one fourth of the earth in that passage is referring to a portion of the planet’s surface area not one fourth of all people.103  

Approximately 72% of the earth’s surface is covered with water104 which leaves less than 28% of the earth’s surface on which people can live. A study done in 1995 by Tobler et al. concluded that one fourth (25.4%) of the earth’s surface area is inhabited by humans. In the study, they partitioned 217 countries into a total of 19,032 polygons with 295,000 persons per polygon. This amounted to an area of 25.4% of earth’s surface. That would be around 96% being considered as occupied at a population density of 42.45 people/sq.km.105 

Incredibly, that scientific study stated 25% of the world’s surface is inhabited by humans, the very percentage John saw in his vision. This provides yet one more proof of the trustworthiness of God’s Word! This confirms our interpretation that Satan (Death and Hades) will have authority over the twenty-five percent of the surface of the planet inhabited by humans. In other words, Satan and his crew (Death and Hades/Sheol) will have authority over every place humans live. It is also stated: “authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Rev 13:7). 

Israel and the Covenant  

Scripture does not tell us if everyone signs the covenant with death and Sheol at the same time. It is probably progressive, and it could be that Israel will be the last country as they are hesitant to trust after what happened in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the leadership of Jerusalem,106 (the ancient seat of power under the Davidic kingdom, then under the Sanhedrin in the Second Temple era, and the seat of the Knesset today) will ultimately join the covenant / agreement (brit) with Death and Sheol.  

Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, (Isa 28:14) Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, [בְרִית֙ אֶת־מָ֔וֶת brit et Mavet] and with Sheol [Gr. ᾅδης Hades] we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us…” (Isa 28:15). 

They will believe cutting a deal with Satan, dressed up as an alien superhero, is the best thing for the country which will spare them from the “overflowing scourge,” which TWOT defines as “a figure of speech for God’s judgment on his people.”107 The Two Witnesses’ plagues unquestionably will qualify as God’s judgment, which the leadership will want to avoid. 

Because a covenant of death is “until death do us part,” there will be no backing out, no escaping it; death is the only way to get out of the covenant. With the contract (legal authority) in hand, then Satan, via his super-human avatar, son of Perdition, can behave as if he has God over a barrel: he can act with impunity and there is nothing God can do about it. If anyone breaks the covenant with Death, then he or she will face the penalties of the contract just like when people default on their mortgage (a legal contract).  

Apostasy 

The covenant that the world and Israel make with Death and Sheol will create the conditions necessary for the man of sin to be revealed. Paul writes “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess 2:1) because “that Day will not come unless the falling away [αποστασια apostasia] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess 2:3). Just what is the falling away (apostasy)?  

According to BDAG, apostasy means “defiance of established system or authority, rebellion, abandonment, breach of faith”108 The very next lexical entry in BDAG, ἀποστάσιον, apostasion, is very revealing. It was a legal term: “in the sense of relinquishment of property after sale, abandonment, etc. The consequent giving up of one’s claim explains the meaning that the word acquires in Jewish circles:) δοῦναι βιβλίον ἀποστασίου (Jer 3:8; Just., D. 114, 5) notice of divorce, give (one’s wife) a certificate of divorce.” BDAG 

Apostasy is an action not a document. Relinquishment / abandonment are actions that are sealed with a document that makes the action official. For example, divorce is a separation sealed with a document that makes it official. Apostasy by extension means abandonment of previously established relationship. The covenant with death and Sheol is the formality that seals the breakup. The “apostasion” is the document that recorded the apostasy / falling away [αποστασια apostasia], abandonment of a contract, such as a divorce certificate (e.g. Deut 24:3). 

The language of apostasy, “relinquishment of property after sale, abandonment” is synonymous of the word Satan used, paradedotai [παραδεδοται] “to convey something in which one has a relatively strong personal interest, hand over, give (over), deliver, entrust,”109 when he told Jesus the authority had been “delivered” to him. Adam and Eve relinquished dominion, which was conveyed, delivered and entrusted to Satan.  

Thus, the apostasia is not a casual “falling away,” like someone who switches from vanilla to chocolate or changes allegiance to a sports team. Rather, it is “giving up one’s claim,” after which the property is abandoned. So what covenant is the world leaving by signing up with Death and Sheol? Isaiah states it is the everlasting covenant: 

The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant (Isa 24:5). Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left (Isa 24:6).  

While we could spend a long time discussing the term, “everlasting covenant,” indeed entire books have been written on it, we will limit our scope to the fact that it is related to the resurrection of “our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb 13:20).  

In other words, Jesus freed humanity from the power of death and the grave (Sheol), and now the world is spurning that freedom and going back into bondage.  

There seems to be a distinction between national/corporate and personal agreements with death and Sheol. The Beast will target global adherence to his covenant, but joining at an individual level is required. The nations will give their authority to Satan, which allows him to launch his plan; and then, it will be sealed forever apparently when people take it individually. Because of the great, irreversible danger here, an angel will be flying in heaven warning humanity:  

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand (Rev 14:9), he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (Rev 14:10). 

The writer of Hebrews offers a sobering admonition to those who personally break the covenant based on two or three witnesses:  

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:26), but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries (Heb 10:27). Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Heb 10:28). Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:29). 

The apostasy of which Paul spoke is necessary for the Son of Perdition to enter the end-time’s stage. It is the worldwide, corporate acceptance of the covenant with Death and Sheol, and it affords Satan (through the Beast) immunity so he can, “speak pompous words against the Most High” (Dan 7:25a). Revelation says: 

He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven (Rev 13:5–6).  

The War Between Michael and Satan  

Paul tells us that the apostasy is necessary for the son of Perdition to arise and for the one who restrains to be removed.  

For the mystery of lawlessness [ανομία anomia / lawlessness] is already at work; only He who now restrains [ο κατεχων o katechon] will do so until He is taken out of the way [μεσου mesou] (2 Thess 2:7).  

According to BDAG, katecho means “to prevent the doing of something or cause to be ineffective, prevent, hinder, restrain.”110 Thus, someone or something is restraining lawlessness now and will continue with that job until he/it is removed. The big question, of course, is who or what is that? We will find important clues to that question in what happens once he/it is removed. The table (next page) compares Paul’s words with Isaiah 28 where the leadership follow the rest of the world and make a covenant with Death and Sheol. Notice the parallels:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess 2:9–12). Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us, For we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves” (Isa 28:14–15). 

Table 3. Parallels between 2nd Thessalonians 2 and Isaiah 28. 

Once this restraining force is removed, then mankind, in general, will “believe lies” and make “lies our refuge.” There will be “delusion” and hiding under “falsehood.” These texts are describing the same thing. It means the restrainer is legally/contractually removed from μεσου mesou “the midst” / “middle of” when the leadership of Jerusalem, like the other nations, believe Satan’s lying wonders and make a covenant with Death and Sheol to protect themselves from the “overflowing scourge” brought on by the Two Witnesses, instead of repenting at the testimony and signs of the Two Witnesses.  

The Restrainer Removed from His Post  

From other clues we have already examined, we know that once the restrainer is removed then the Beast will go into the temple and cause the abomination that causes desolation. Jesus said of that time: 

For then there will be great tribulation [Gr. Θλιψις thlipsis], such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matt 24:21). 

Jesus’ sobering statement was preceded by Jeremiah: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble [צָרָ֥ה tsara] …” (Jer 30:7). The prophet Daniel also spoke of the tribulation [צָרָ֥ה tsara], a time like none other: 

“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble [צָרָ֥ה tsara / Gr. Θλιψις thlipsis], Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time …” (Dan 12:1).  

All three passages speak of big trouble like the world has never seen or will ever see again, which tells us that they are all speaking of the same event. Daniel gives us insight into the happenings in the spiritual realm, specifically with Michael who will “stand up.” 

 “Michael shall stand up” does not mean he had been sitting on the job. In all examples “omed” has the connotation of “active defense.” For example, in the book of Esther, after Haman was executed, “the king permitted the Jews … [to] protect [לַעֲמֹ֣ד la’amod] their lives” (Esth 8:11). The NET Bible translates it “to stand up for themselves.” The same Hebrew word “omed” is used in a previous military passage: “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me [עֹמֵ֤ד לְנֶגְדִּי֙ omed lenegdi]” (Dan 10:13). Hence, Michael “the great prince who stands watch over … your people” is the defender of God’s covenant people.  

Thus, Michael is defending Israel but then, “there shall be a time of trouble [צָרָ֥ה tsara / Gr. Θλιψις thlipsis], such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time …” (Dan 12:1). Jesus, Paul, Jeremiah and Daniel were all speaking of the same time of tribulation [צָרָ֥ה tsara / Gr. Θλιψις thlipsis] that would come—a time brought about by the abomination of desolation. This begs the question: If Michael is standing watch over Daniel’s people, why does he allow the time of Jacob’s trouble to happen? It sounds like he is not doing his job—which is exactly the case!  

Why isn’t he doing his job? Simple. Once the Beast gains authority through mankind’s apostasy, he will be free to inflict this time of utmost trouble without the restrainer interfering. Michael will not be doing his job because he will be removed from his post. 

Michael, the great prince and guardian of Israel, is the being restraining the lawless one, the son of perdition, from arising. He will continue to defend Israel and restrain until he is legally taken out of the midst of that role.  

Once the covenant with death and Sheol is enacted with the world, and specifically with the leadership who rule in Jerusalem, Michael’s authority to stand watch over Daniel’s people is revoked, just like Israel allowed themselves to be cursed at Baal Peor, even though they were blessed. Michael is told to “stand down” and is removed from his post, which will then permit the Beast, merged with Satan, to access the spiritual realm: 

“And it [the beast] grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them” (Dan 8:10). “He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down” (Dan 8:11). “Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered” (Dan 8:12). “…concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot” (Dan 8:13). 

The chapter repeats and explains how his deception will work and he will rise up against the Prince: 

“Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means (Dan 8:25). …Therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future” (Dan 8:26). 

Notice that he exalts “himself as high as the Prince of the host (Daniel 8:11).​​ The Beast—merged with Satan and having 100% of Satan’s “power, his throne, and great authority(Rev 13:2)—rises up to the heavenly-angelic domain, fights against good angels, tramples some of the heavenly host,111 and then continues fighting until he reaches the “prince of the host (Dan 8:11). We learn that prince is “Michael one of the chief princes” (Dan 10:13).  

Michael comes to the aid of his warriors, and they halt the advance of the Beast. Revelation gives some insight into this time by noting that: 

War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought (Rev 12:7).  

As a result of the battle we learn that “nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer” (Rev 12:8). As a result of the battle, Satan can no longer access the spiritual realm. In the book of Job, we catch a glimpse of the access he has had to the spiritual realm. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6). He will lose that access and be stuck in the earthly dimension, which is good news to those in the spiritual/heavenly realm as it is proclaimed: “Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them!” (Rev 12:12a). However, that is incredibly bad news to earthlings: “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” (Rev 12:12). Satan getting cast to the earth is the beginning of the time of Jacob’s trouble.  

A plausible reason Satan loses his access to the heavenly realm is that he merges with the Antichrist forming the Beast. Perhaps he thought he could have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to continue having access to the spiritual realm, behind the veil, while having a physical manifestation / avatar here on the earth. The casting of Satan from heaven is viewed from several places in Revelation: “a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch” (Rev 8:10). The name of the star is Wormwood … (Rev 8:10–11). The literal meaning of “Wormwood” is “bitterness” because it will make the waters bitter. In chapter nine, John “saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit abyss” (Rev 9:1). The star in question is also the king and “angel of the abyss and his name in Hebrew [is] Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Rev 9:11). Both Abaddon and Apollyon mean destroyer, and bitterness is the sting of one who destroys. We learned in Corrupting the Image 2 that the king of the underworld, the god of death, was Enlil / Nergal (etc.) / Satan. Hence, Satan is the star we see cast to the earth in chapter twelve, along with his angels, who are also referred to as stars. This ejection from the heavenlies likely happens simultaneously or at very nearly the same time as the abomination of desolation. 

This battle happens after the world as well as the leadership of Jerusalem take on the covenant with Death. Though Michael ultimately wins the battle in the heavenlies, on earth, the time of Jacob’s trouble will just be getting started. Satan’s anger will be focused to “make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 12:17, just as Jeremiah, Daniel, and Jesus said.) This time of Jacob’s trouble will be the time when God says Israel and Judah “will seek My face; in their affliction [צָרָ֥ה tsara], they will earnestly seek Me” (Hos 5:15). Thus both houses will seek him in their tribulation and will earnestly seek him.  

Satan, via the Beast, will also have authority to “persecute the saints of the Most High and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Dan 7:25). Revelation says, “it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Rev 13:7). We see the themes of ruthless lawlessness, blaspheming, and persecution / war against the holy people in a host of scriptures (Dan 7:21, 8:24, 9:27, 11:36), which we will consider later. The bottom line is that once armed with this game-changing authority, the Beast can blaspheme God and those in heaven with impunity, and do as he pleases against the holy people and the world at large.