When you ask Christians, who is the destroyer mentioned in the Bible, some will tell you the destroyer is God the Father, others say is Jesus, or an angel of death, but some others (me included) believe the destroyer is no other than Satan.
But what does the bible really say? let us find out :
Some may think that was God who killed the firstborn, but because of the verb “allow or permit” it clearly suggest that the destroyer is someone other than the Lord.
– To avoid misunderstandings when we read the Bible, but specially when studying the Old Testament it is important to know that the same way that English & any other language has idioms (figure of speech), the biblical languages (Hebrew & Greek) also had idioms, colloquialisms & word usages that are distinctive to them, and that those familiar with the language would understand.
Theologians (E.W Bullinger, Macnight, Jackson, etc.) agree that:
“Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do.” In Exodus, the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the Passover: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Read literally, this verse says that it is the Lord who will “strike” the firstborn of Egypt dead. The verse, however, is an idiom. According to Jackson, “It is fairly well known among advanced Bible students that there is a common idiom (figure of speech) in sacred literature, by which God is said to actively do that which, in reality, He merely allows…” While many verses in the Bible can be read literally, reading every verse literally will result in a wrong understanding of the nature of God”. – Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
This is one of the main reasons that Gnostics (& many others that don’t know this), wrongfully attack God’s character or think that God in the Old Testament was harsh or even evil. When in reality it is people’s own sin that opens the door to the destroyer & to judgment. The Israelites were not without sin either, but it was the blood of the spotless lamb (a prototype of Jesus’ Sacrifice) applied by faith that saved them from the destroyer.
‘And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.”
“The wicked man travails with pain all his days, and numbered are the years stored up for the oppressor. 21 A dreadful sound is in his ears; in prosperity the destroyer will come upon him..” Job 15:20-21
“Woe to you, O destroyer, While you were not destroyed; And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him. As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; As soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you”. Isaiah 33:1.
‘The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. And your cities shall be laid waste without an inhabitant.’ Jer. 4:7
“12 How are you fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who weaken the nations! . . .16 Those who see you shall stare at you
and ponder over you:
“Is this the man who made the earth
to tremble and shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world as a wilderness
and destroyed its cities,
who did not open the house of his prisoners?”Isaiah 14:12-
Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For that Day will not come unless a falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction (G684= apōleia), 2 Thes. 2:3 (Talking about the Antichrist)
1 Cor. 10:10 “Neither murmur, as some of them also murmured and were destroyed (G662= Apollumi) by the destroyer.” -The reference here is from Number 16: 41-50, a plague of venomous serpents that killed thousands. Because of their sin they brought this plague upon them, but God found a way to save them by faith, those who had faith in His words & acted upon them lived.
But we don’t find the words ‘angel’ or ‘death’ in the original manuscripts.
Jesus said: ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (G662= Gree word Apollumi ): I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ – John 10:10
According to this verse in the book of John, Jesus is saying He is the life giver in opposition or contrast to the destroyer, so we understand that Jesus is not the thief nor the destroyer, but Satan is! Jesus is comparing in this chapter the true & good shepherd (Him) with the thief.
Then was brought unto Him [Jesus] one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. (Matt.12:22 )
“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (Luke 22:31).
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
“Whoever practices sin is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed, that He might destroy the works of the devil. .” 1 John 3:8
There is no doubt that Satan (which means the adversary) is the thief that steals health, joy, faith, etc. that oppresses sinners, lies, kills & destroys. Jesus is the opposite, He is the giver of abundant life & only destroys the evil works of the devil (1 John 3:8) & one day will destroy the devil or destroyer (Heb 2:14).
But in the last book of the Bible the Destroyer is revealed, the book of Revelation talks about a ruling spirit (as king Luke 8:30-31), a fallen angel called the “Destroyer,” who’s army ( locusts) is released from the abyss during God’s judgment on the last days. (Strangely, Jehovah’s Witness & other Gnostics believe this angel is Jesus & his followers are the locust!). But locust are a terrible plague, they are destroyers not givers of life!!
But Jesus said: ‘Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you’. Luke 10:19.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss (G12). Luke 8:30-31.
They had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit (G12), whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek his name is Apollyon (G623=destroyer). Rev. 9:11The beast, which you saw, was, and is not, and is to ascend out of the bottomless pit (G12) and go to destruction.Those who dwell on the earth whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see the beast that was, and is not, and is to come. Rev.17:8 & 11.
I believe God as a loving Father protects people from harms of the enemy many times, even when we don’t deserve it. He is full of compassion, waiting for us to repent, but when time passes on and we continue in sin & we don’t repent, judgment has to come. Then God just removes His hedge of protection from around us & allows us to receive the consequences of our own actions & choices.
God doesn’t want us to get hurt by the Destroyer, that’s why He advises us:
–Not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices so he can not take advantage of us. (2 Co. 2:11)
-To be sober, be vigilant because the devil seeks whom he may devour (G2666= destroy, consume). (1 Peter 5:8)
–To put on the whole armor of God to be able to stand against the wiles (methods) of the devil. (Eph.6:11-20), Etc.
But again same as Psalm 91, this armor is not a magic formula, that when needed we pretend or reenact putting on the armor for protection. Please realize that JESUS IS our Armor! Without Jesus & a relationship with Him there is no armor. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.” (Rom.13:14). The armor is about abiding in Him!
vs.14-The belt of truth= Jesus is the Truth (Jn. 14:6) His Word is truth, “Sanctify them by Your truth: Your word is truth.” (Jn 17:17), He is the truth that make us free (Jn.8:32-44). Satan the destroyer is the father of lies. Sons imitate their fathers. This is why we always need to speak truth.
vs.15-Feet fitted w/gospel of peace = We need to stand in His truth (His words, His doctrine) & bring it to others. Jesus is the good news or gospel, He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), & He is our peace (Rom.5:1).
vs.16-Shield of faith= He is our shield (Psalm 119:114). Like Jesus did in the dessert, we also believe the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) & use it to extinguish the lies of the enemy. He & His Word is our protection! Do you understand why the enemy needs us away from God & His Word?
vs.17-The helmet of salvation= Protects the mind. The name ‘Jesus’ means Salvation (Matt. 1:21), He is our salvation! We trust Him and are not afraid (Isa.12:2). He who have the son has life. (1 Jn.5:11-1)
vs. 17-The Sword of the Spirit= Which is the Word of God (Jesus is the Word, Jn.1:1). We need to know His Word so we can use it to know Him better, to find direction (Ps. 119:105), discernment (Heb.4:12), spiritual food, etc.
vs.18-Pray in the Spirit, always with all kinds of prayer and supplication.= This part of the armor is to be led by the Holy Spirit so we can do things according to the will of God.(Rom.8:26-27). Prayer brings us into communion and fellowship with God. Prayer holds all the other pieces of the armor in place.