The spiritual powers of evil are a powerful hierarchy of evil spirits, but they are not united. They do not like each other. Throughout history, they have fought with each other for control of the hierarchies of power. At different times, different strong spirits have been in ascendancy. Often two powerful spirits have operated alongside each other.

This article is a bit speculative, as the Bible does not give the spiritual powers of evil glory by describing their activities in detail. It just gives odd hints of what is happening.

Serpent

The first attack against Adam and Eve came through the serpent. According to Revelation 12:9, the spirit working through the serpent was called Satan. He acted as a deceiver, not an accuser. He twisted God's words and they believed a lie. When they accepted the lie and deliberatively denied their creator, they surrendered the authority that God had given them to the spiritual powers of evil.

Adam and Eve submitted to Satan, so he gained control of the earth that God had given to humans. It seems that Satan did not control this empire for long, as his authority quickly passed to a spirit called Death.

Death

Paul said in Romans that Death reigned from the time to Adam to the time of Moses

Death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14).

Death was the name of prominent spiritual power. This controlling spiritual power ruled the spiritual powers of wickedness from the time of Adam until Moses received the law.

God had given authority over the earth to Adam and Eve. When they sinned, they surrendered to the powers of evil, who gained authority over the earth that God had given to humans. However, the spirit who deceived them was not strong enough to keep control, so an evil spirit called Death rose to dominate the spiritual forces of evil. He focussed on destroying the people and the earth that God had created.

For if by the one man's offense Death reigned through the one (Rom 5:17).
Sin reigned in Death (Rom 5:21).

This clarifies the Hebrew expression translated as "you shall certainly die" in Genesis 2:17. A literal translation would be:

To Death, you will die.

Once we realise that Death is a powerful, controlling, spiritual power, we can understand that God was warning that if they sinned, they would destroy their lives, by placing themselves under the control of Death, a nasty evil spiritual power. That is what happened.

By rejecting the wisdom of God, they surrendered to the authority the spiritual powers of evil and these spiritual forces were controlled by an evil spirit called Death. He would reign until the time of Moses, when Satan rose to dominance again.

When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, they were still free, but they were battered and beaten by the powers of evil controlled by their leader called Death.

Jesus came to destroy the power of death.

The Son of God appeared to destroy the devil's work (1 John 3:8).

His death destroyed the power of Death (Heb 2:14).

Destruction

According to the scriptures, Death and Destruction worked together.

I set before you today life and prosperity, Death and Destruction (Deut 30:15).
Death and Destruction are never satisfied (Prov 27:20).
Destruction and Death say, "Only a rumour of it has reached our ears". (Job 28:22).

During the millennium of darkness prior to the flood, a spirit called Destruction rose to ascendancy. As the spiritual powers of evil had a free hand on earth, they rampaged across the earth to destroy God's good creation. The rampaging spirits were led by destruction. The earth was in danger of being destroyed (Gen 6:11).

Destruction was probably the one who came up with the ideal of destroying the earth by a flood. God warned Noah to prepare and he was kept safe.

The flood was a great victory for God. He was able to lock a huge number of evil spirits up in the Abyss, so they could no longer work on earth. (1 Pet 3:19-20; 2 Pet 2:4-5). Adam and Eve had given the powers of evil authority to be on earth, so provided they remained in contact with the earth, God could not touch them. If they had attacked the spiritual realms where God dwells, they would have been defeated in a minute. As long as they worked upon the earth, they were safe.

At the time of the flood, some of the spiritual powers attacked the depths of the earth and broke them up.

On that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up (Gen 7:11).

When some of the spiritual powers of evil attacked the great depths of the earth, they moved below the place where they had authority. God was able to send a host of angels and take them captive, so that they could not work on earth any more. God had authority to do this, because they had moved to a place beyond the scope of their authority.

Destruction was locked up in the Abyss with the other evil angels captured after the flood. He will be released on day in the future (see below).

Wrath

One of the more powerful spirits in the evil hierarchy is called Wrath. The devil often has Wrath with him when he attacks the earth.

The devil has come down to you having great Wrath (Rev 12:12).

The role of Wrath is confirmed in Psalm 78:49.

He unleashed against them his hot anger,
Wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels.

Wrath is the leader of a band of destroying angels.

Wrath is not a manifestation of God's character, but an evil spiritual being.

Wrath was created by God, but rebelled against God at the beginning of human history. (His character was different when he was created, so he had a different name back then). Because God created him, he is still called God's wrath. God knew when he created the angels and gave them freedom that they could go wrong, but he decided to do create them anyway. God does not disown his creation. He does not avoid responsibility for what he has done. They are still his, although they have rebelled against him.

Despite their rebellion, God still uses the spiritual powers of evil, despite themselves, to accomplish his purposes. He has frequently incited the spirit called Wrath to do things that he needs done, particularly when restraining political powers that are doing harm on the earth.

Paul explained to the Romans the relationship between wrath and law.

The law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom 4:15).

Prior to the giving of the law through Moses, transgression was undefined. The law specified the behaviour that God required from the people that he had called. The law also spelt out in detail the curse, which was the consequence of transgression.

Once the law of the covenant was in place, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law against the children of Israel whenever they transgressed it. Wrath was often the leader of this activity. This is why Paul said that law brings about Wrath. The giving of the law with curses specified for disobedience increased the power of Wrath and the destroying angels working with him.

The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his powerful Wrath is against all who forsake him (Ezra 8:22).

In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains that the political powers are "agents of Wrath" (Rom 13:4). This should change the way that we think about them. God might use them from time to time, but the principalities and powers that control the political powers are intent on evil. This is why the proverb warns,

A king's wrath is a messenger of death (Prov 16:14).

Daniel described an evil political leader who will emerge during a time of distress on earth. He will do terrible evil on earth, because he is controlled by Wrath. When he is disturbed,

He will go forth with great Wrath to destroy and annihilate many (Dan 11:44).

Paul warned that Wrath will often avenge people who suffer injustice.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to Wrath (Rom 12:19).

We should wait for him to act, rather than seeking revenge ourselves.

Satan — the Accuser

The powers of evil are not united, so they are always fighting amongst themselves for dominance and control. The giving of the law by Moses brought a shift in control over the powers of evil, as God had given his standards in a written form, along with curses for disobedience.

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions (Gal 3:19)

Satan, the accuser, was able to use the law to accuse humans who sinned. He was able to go to God and demand the penalty that the law required. This power allowed Satan to ascend to dominance again.

Satan was able to go into the presence of God and accuse humans of sinning, and demand the right to implement the curses required by the law.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it."(Job 1:6-7).

Satan then went on to accuse Job of pride and greed. His skill as an accuser enabled him to regain control over the powers of evil.

Zechariah saw Satan accusing Joshua the high priest at that time.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the standing at his right side to accuse him (Zech 3:1).

Satan is not a sneaky accuser. He does not just act as a prosecutor. He provokes people into sin, so he can then accuse them. He did this to David.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron 21:1).

The blood of Jesus destroyed the power of the Satan. When Jesus died on the cross and ascended into heaven, the accuser lost his place and was thrown out of heaven and cast down on the earth

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down (Rev 12:10).

Satan now has to work by deception, persuading humans that he is not defeated and enticing or tricking people into sinning.

Having lost his authority to accuse the followers of Jesus, Satan works with Wrath to destroy the people of the earth.

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you with great Wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Rev 12:9).

Destruction Released

The spirit called Destruction will be released from the Abyss where he has been locked up, at a crucial time in human history.

Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit (Rev 9:1-2).

When the fifth trumpet is sounded, the angel of a church that had fallen away from faith was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss, and evil spirits came out and began to torment people on earth. They were led by an angel whose name was Destruction

And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon (Rev 9:1-2 ,11).

Appollyon and Abaddon are both words meaning destruction. This event is a terrible woe for the inhabitants of the earth (Rev 8:13). The evil spirits that had been locked up in the Abyss since the time of Noah will be released back onto the earth again. Their release will result in a vast increase in evil.

The angel that controls this great army is called Destruction. He had organised a season of terrible destruction on earth when he controlled the earth during the Millennium of Darkness between the fall and the flood. This terrible angel and all his followers will be released again to bring their destructions to the earth.

How could this happen? How could the angels that had been shut up from harm's way for so long be released again. The answer is in the trumpets. The Abyss is opened by the star that fell from heaven. This is the angel responsible for a church that fell from grace. It's angel was squeezed out and evil spiritual power took its place. This compromised church allowed the evil spirits to escape from the Abyss.

The words and actions of a weak church allowed the angel to open the door of the abyss and allow the trapped spirits to escape. I presume that this church will say that evil spirits are not real. It will say that evil is not real. These declarations have spiritual consequences. I presume this church will say that sinful people should be allowed into the church and not hidden away. These statements will allow the angel to open the abyss.

After the Abyss was opened, darkness spread across the earth (Rev 9:2). The escaped spirits were given power to torment the people of the earth. They took control of governments all over the world and used them to spread destruction.

The release of the evil angel called Destruction and his followers may already have taken place. We might already be seeing the increase destruction that they are causing. Fortunately, the season when they are free to work is quite short, because God will lure them into a trap when the sixth trumpet is sounded and they will mostly be destroyed.

Revelation 15-17 describes angels with seven bowls of wrath. They pour them out to plague the earth. These evil angels work with Destruction. He became skilled in destroying the earth, between the fall and the flood, so he will teach them how to destroy the earth in this season. This destruction is not the work of God. It is the work of evil spirits released from prison by a weak church.

Beast from the Abyss

Revelation 13 describes a beast coming out of the earth. This is a powerful government that gains control of large parts of the earth. However, it is not just a government, it is really a powerful evil spirit. John explains that the beast came out of the abyss.

The Beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them (Rev 11:7).

We know that only evil spirits came out of the Abyss, so this beast is also a powerful evil spirit. This beast attempts to destroy the prophetic church, but after much suffering, it was restored (Rev 11:6-12).

The Beast and the false prophet who supports him both come out of the Abyss. They are evil spirits working in partnership. They had been trapped for thousands of years, so they come out angry and frustrated.

The Beast and his false prophet use political power to dominate and control the world. They work through the political, economic and military power of human governments. They develop a powerful nation into a huge empire in attempt to control the world. They have brief success, but their empire eventually collapses under its own weight.

Evil Spirits Destroyed

The Revelation of John culminates in a great battle. This is linked to wars between armies on earth, but that is just a sideshow. The real battle takes place in the spiritual realms and Jesus achieves a great victory.

At the end of the Times of the Gentiles, the power of the spiritual powers of evil will be destroyed forever by Jesus and his followers (Rev 19:11-21). This was not a physical war, but a spiritual war in which the powers of evil are destroyed, because they have lost their authority on earth, following the collapse of the Beast's plans and the advance of the Gospel.

John saw into heaven.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him (Rev 19:11-14).

John saw things that took place in the spiritual realms. Jesus was leading the armies of heaven. These are the hosts of angels that love to do his will. They are supported by the prayers of the saints on earth. John was told that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16).

An angel cried out in a loud voice to call the evil ruler spirits to battle.

I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small (Rev 19:17-18).

The kings, generals and mighty men with their armies are not human kings and armies. They are the parallel spiritual powers that control the governments, nations and armies of men. These spiritual kings and generals control large hosts of evil spirits. They stop fighting against each other and come together to fight against Jesus.

The birds of the air represent ordinary garden variety evil spirits. These are spirits attached to particular sins, rather than to rulers and nations. They know a battle was coming and they hope to gain a position of power in the spiritual realm, when other more powerful spirits fall.

The other spiritual kings and generals and their spiritual hierarchies are destroyed. John says that they are destroyed by the sword that comes out of Jesus mouth.

The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Rev 19:21).

The sword is the word of God. The spiritual powers of evil were created by a word from God's mouth as part of the creation of the world. These ruler spirits who are expert in controlling government and fighting wars will be destroyed by a word spoken by Jesus.

Evil spirits love the destruction of war. Many governing spirits will have gathered so they can expand their power, but many ordinary spirits show up because they love the blood and death that war creates. They are the ones that John called the birds of the air (Luke 8:5-11). When the power spirits are killed, they gorge on their power. John described this as a "supper".

This spiritual battle will be an enormous victory for God, because the destruction of the ruling spirits will dramatically weaken the strength of the spiritual powers of evil. This is a significant change in the balance of power on earth.

The total number of evil spirits in existence might be reduced to a quarter of what they have been. A third of angels fell, so their number was about half the number of the good angels. The destruction of this great battle will mean the angels outnumber them at least ten to one.

With a large population of people on earth, the remaining evil spirits will be spread very thin and find it harder to harass God's people. This victory will bring a period of peace and blessing on earth.