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Does the Devil Ride a Spaceship?

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A popular Christian explanation for alien encounters is that they are demonic. John Keel, a private reporter who began to collect information on UFOs in the mid-1960s, concluded that "The UFOs do not seem to exist as tangible, manufactured objects. They do not conform to the accepted natural laws of our environment. . . . The UFO manifestations seem to be, by and large, merely minor variations of the age-old demonological phenomenon."[1] If God's angels, who are spirits, can travel interdimensionally, then why can't Satan's angels?

While this proposed solution solves some problems and fits well with the biblical framework of what spiritual beings can do, it is still fraught with difficulties. Does the devil have the authority and freedom to act in this way? Does the Bible give any indication that this is the way Satan operated in biblical times? Has the status of the devil changed since the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus so that he has more freedom and power? How can this be when the Bible says Satan has been "disarmed" and "thrown down" (Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:9)?

Popular prophecy writer Hal Lindsey speculates that increased interest in UFOs fulfills Jesus' prediction that there will be "terrors and great signs from heaven" just before His return (Luke 21:11).[2] Such terrors and great signs from heaven, Lindsey believes, are unidentified flying objects of the demonic kind disguised as benevolent aliens! Following the studies of unnamed "authorities," Lindsey concludes:

Authorities now admit that there have been confirmed sightings of unidentified flying objects.[3] There are even some baffling cases where people under hypnosis say they were taken aboard UFOs by beings from space.

Reports held in U.S. Air Force files reveal that whatever these flying objects are, they move and turn at speeds unmatched by human technology.

It's my opinion that UFOs are real and that there will be a proven "close encounter of the third kind" soon. And I believe that the source of this phenomenon is some type of alien being of great intelligence and power.

According to the Bible, a demon is a spiritual personality in a state of war with God. Prophecy tells us that demons will be allowed to use their powers of deception in a grand way during the last days of history (2 Thessalonians 2:8B12). I believe these demons will stage a spacecraft landing on Earth. They will claim to be from an advanced culture in another galaxy.

They may even claim to have "planted" human life on this planet and tell us they have returned to check on our progress.[4]

All of this is pure speculation. Lindsey is operating under the assumption that extraterrestrial UFOs are a reality. He assumes, without a thorough study of the Bible, that the reality of UFOs are somewhere hidden in Scripture. How can the average Christian pick up a Bible and come to these fantastic conclusions? The great signs from heaven that Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe in their accounts of Jesus' Olivet discourse were reported by first-century historians. For example, the respected Jewish historian Josephus recounts that "there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city [of Jerusalem], and a comet, that continued a whole year."[5] In A.D. 66, just four years before the destruction of Jerusalem, Halley's comet passed over Jerusalem. There is no need to concoct a speculative theory about space aliens to make the Bible fit with a dubious hypothesis about demonic aliens.

Hal Lindsey is not alone in finding UFOs in Scripture. Charles Ryrie, a popular prophecy writer and author of the notes in the best selling Ryrie Study Bible, asks this question about the figurative language found in Revelation: "How do we make sense out of all those beasts and thrones and horsemen and huge numbers like 200 million? Answer: Take it at face value. If God intended to disclose something to us in a book, then we can be confident He wrote it in such a way as to communicate to us, rather than confuse us."[6]

Ryrie gives an example on how we should interpret the Bible at "face value" by looking at Revelation 9:1B12 (the locusts from the abyss): "John's description sounds very much like some kind of war machine or UFO. Demons have the ability to take different shapes, so it is quite possible that John is picturing a coming invasion of warlike UFOs. Until someone comes up with a satisfactory answer to the UFO question, this possibility should not be ruled out."[7] Revelation needs to be interpreted in its first-century context and against the backdrop of Old Testament events and symbols. The events communicated to John are said to take place "shortly" (1:1). The first-century readers were told to "heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near" (1:3). The time was "short" for them; it was "near" for them.[8] John is not describing prophetic events in the distant future but events that were in the near future of the first readers.[9]

Is finding UFOs in the Bible interpreting Scripture at "face value"? Belief in UFOs is a rather recent curiosity based on evolutionary presuppositions. Christians from time immemorial knew nothing of such happenings.[10] If UFOs are the interpretative key to this section of Scripture, then God's Word would have remained a mystery for millions of Christians for centuries who were bound by scientific limitations. Until someone like Klaatu lands in Washington, D.C., in front of thousands of people and goes to a famous scientist to show him how to do his math, I contend that UFO sightings should be filed under "wishful thinking."

Endnotes:[1] John Keel, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse (New York: Putnam's, 1970), 299. Quoted in Gary North, Unholy Spirits: Occultism and New Age Humanism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1986), 291.
[2] For a discussion of this theme in Lindsey's work, see Timothy Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism, 1875B1982 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Academie, 1983), 218.
[3] A UFO is just that, an unidentified flying ofject. To assume that it's an alien or demonic being assumes what must be proved.
[4] Hal Lindsey, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (King of Prussia, PA: Westgate Press, 1980), 34B35.
[5] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 6:5:3, 742.
[6] Charles C. Ryrie, The Living End: Enlightening and Astonishing Disclosures about the Coming Last Days of Earth (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976), 37.
[7] Ryrie, The Living End, 45.
[8] See Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: The Dating of the Book of Revelation (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999).
[9] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th ed. (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1999).
[10] Of course, if Erich Von Däniken is to be believed, the Earth was visited by extraterrestrials centuries ago. See Erich Von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods?: Memories of the Future: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, trans. Michael Heron (New York: G. Putnam's Sons, 1970) and Gods from Outer Space: Return to the Stars or Evidence for the Impossible, trans. Michael Heron (New York: G. Putnam's Sons, 1970). For an evaluation of Von Däniken's theories, see William M. Alnor, UFOs in the New Age: Extraterrestrial Messages and the Truth of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992) and John Allan, The Gospel According to Science Fiction (Milford, MI: Quill Publications, 1975), 19B58

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