Unmasking the Demons
Let us begin by reading Mark 3:13-15: And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. Here we are told that He went up the mountain. While we are not told which mountain it is, this information reminds us of the beginnings of Israel, when for the first time it was called a nation. It was then when Moses went up Mount Sinai to meet God and to receive the covenant of the Law.
These same words He went up the mountain in Greek, are repeated seven times in the Septuagint (Greek version) of Exodus 19 where we see the birth of the nation. In just this chapter of Exodus, the word mountain is mentioned 12 times. This is what the reader of Mark is led to remember. It was in Exodus 19:6 where God gave the purpose for the election of Israel and told her: You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
It is the same purpose we find repeated here, this time to a remnant of the nation of Israel. While in the past, Israel did not faithfully exercise the task of being the priestly nation, here in Mark 3 we can see a seed or root forming for the accomplishment of this purpose. The 12 are being trained and prepared to proclaim the Word of God to all. The 12 disciples were to be the original foundation upon which the rest of the believing Body (Jews and Gentiles) was to build. They were to be the priests representing God to the people of the whole world and proclaiming salvation in Yeshua. Until then, the proclamation of the Word of God was done by individuals like Joseph who brought his knowledge of God to the Egyptians, or Jonah who went to the Assyrians, or Isaiah who spoke to Moab and the neighboring countries, even crying for them. As for the nation as a whole, the purpose for her election will be fulfilled during the Millennium, but here we see a beginning with 12 Jews.
Authority over demons
Notice the two reasons given for their and by application our being sent. It is found in these same two verses 14 and 15: …to preach and to have authority to cast out demons. The first one is to preach, proclaim, or to make known. It can be done in many ways like through our words but especially through our lives, our behavior, and changes in our lives. It always shows.
The outside world is very sensitive to these things. But what about the second clause, to have authority to cast out demons? How does that apply to us today? When we read this phrase, we often think of exorcism and direct confrontation with demons. While this could be the case at times, there is another, primary meaning to these words. Let me first tell you about the word authority, exousia in Greek. It speaks of freedom of choice. It speaks of the right to act, to decide, which is the very thing that is impossible when one is under demonic influence. It is something the demon wants to deprive us of, usually working in a very subtle way. The word exousia is found in Romans 9:21 where it speaks of the potter having the right, exousia, over the clay. Demons do not have rights over us. We have the right to be freed from them, through God.
Yeshua disarms the demonic
To better understand the workings of the demonic world, let us first consider the history of demonic physical manifestations in the Bible. Have you ever wondered why demons suddenly manifested themselves right at the same time when Jesus was on earth and very rarely before and never in the same way? We don’t read of such things at the time of Abraham, or David, or the prophets. Why then at the time of Jesus? Could it be that with Yeshua, they could not hide, or cloak themselves in secrecy any longer in front of the One who sees all?
Demons were always present, but concealed, working in the dark. However, when Jesus came, they had nowhere to hide from His presence. Notice how they manifested themselves in Mark. They are the ones who would often initiate the conversation, just like we saw in that first encounter in Mark when Jesus entered a synagogue. The demon cried out and said to Him, “What business do we have with each other?” (Mark 1:22-23). Yeshua did not say anything, but His presence unmasks all that is hidden. We read in Mark 3:11 that whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him, even before He said or did anything.
Demons in the Hebrew Scriptures
What about the time preceding the coming of the Yeshua? They were there, always present as they are today with the same strategy, which is hide and hit. The first encounter was with Eve. The devil did not come looking like a devil to Eve but as a serpent. Surely as an innocent-looking and goodlooking serpent, perhaps veiling himself as he appeared in heaven before his fall. In Genesis 6, we see a demonic invasion to stop the Seed of the woman, but the people did not know that. These sons of God came and married women to corrupt the Seed, most probably through possession of corrupt men. But again, these demons were somehow disguised. Samuel understood the connection when he said that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft or divination (1 Samuel 15:23).
What is witchcraft? The word witchcraft, qesem in Hebrew, is from the word qasam. It describes the practice of divination in the calling up of the dead, which really is calling on demons. Here we see that rebellion against God has a demonic origin. The existence of these demons was known by the prophets. In Isaiah they were given names which today are translated into animal names that few translators even agree on. In Zechariah 3, Joshua the High Priest did not know that Satan was standing next to him to test and persecute him.
Our challenge today
The point is that, just as they operated during the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, they continue to operate today, very subtly and discretely. It makes it much harder for us to deal with than a direct confrontation. When a demon manifests himself, we know what we are dealing with. That is the easier part. But when they attack from the back, like they often do, then it becomes much more difficult to spot them and deal with them. So that is when the New Testament trains us to recognize and fight them. Let us not lure ourselves into thinking that they are not active, for they are. They always try to undermine what is godly, just, and good.
Yeshua emphasizes the point when speaking of the two kingdoms in this world: the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God. These are the two parallel realities with which we live.