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Jesus The Demon Hunter

The Miracle of the Swine

The miracle that Jesus performed when He drove out demon spirits and allowed them to enter a herd of hogs or more properly a pen of swine, is one of several truly unique Scriptural events. Jesus performed many miracles but only in a few cases did He travel extraordinary distances only to make a statement or create a miracle then immediately turn around and return to the Galilee region. For example, He traveled into the forbidden territory of Samaria to have a specific conversation with a woman of ill repute at the local well. See Related: Jacob's Mysterious 'Woman At the Well' Prophecy. Then there was the time when He traveled an extraordinarily long distant to visit an ancient Canaanite pagan worship site located at the base of Mount Hermon. There He asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter said He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus congratulated Him on this understanding and that he was blessed. Then Jesus announced that upon this rock {understanding} as to who He was, He would build His church and that the gates of Hell will not prevail {triumph} against it (Matthew 16:13-18). He then preached in the area for a week, climbed up into Mount Hermon, secretly transfigured Himself and immediately returned to His home in Capernaum. See Related: The Transfiguration.

Cave Known by Pagan Cults as the Gate to the Underworld at Base of Mount Hermon

Still, there can be no doubt that Jesus only went to a location, preached a certain sermon and performed miracles as He was led by the Holy Spirit. So, in the case of this miracle involving swine, why did He take His disciples southeast crossing the full length and breadth of the Sea of Galilee to the gentile country of Gadara; get out of the boat, cast out six thousand demons spirits, destroy two thousand pigs and then immediately return to His home in Capernaum (Mark 5:21)?

To understand this miracle is to understand another major mission of Jesus during His 40 month ministry. The country of Judah had a long history of demons plaguing the population and in particular the Children of God. Satan is a created being determined to have a his own kingdom and to be worshipped by its inhabitants. God discovered that Satan had developed this idea in his heart and immediately stripped him of his rank and confined him in the heavens above the earth. There he serves God's new purpose for him by testing mankind for virtue. His first victims were Adam and Eve. It was at their judgement that he heard God prophesy shocking news concerning a coming Messiah who would defeat him (Genesis 3:15). The next shock to his system was God flooding the earth and destroying both people and his satanic hybrid children the Nephilim or giants (Genesis 6:2-7). See related: Giants and their Genes. Satan was furious that God had disrupted his plan to fill the earth with his offspring who would worship him.

Father Abraham

The next shock that came to Satan was when he learned that God promised His friend Abraham that he would father a nation of priests dedicated to spreading the gospel of the One True Creator God to all mankind (Exodus 19:5-6). And, that the earlier prophecy by God concerning the Messiah would come from this race. He also heard God promised Abraham a land in which this race of chosen people and the Messiah could live in and rule (Genesis 13:15). So when Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, decided to escape a drought by moving to Egypt, Satan saw a golden opportunity. Now was his time to invade the land and claim squatters rights. To accomplish this, he gathered his physical and spiritual followers in an orchestrated effort to permanently occupy the land. While his physical forces would consist of ten pagan tribes (Genesis 15:18-21), his primary physical force was a nation of fierce warriors known as the Philistines who incorporated the Nephilim into their military ranks and communities. The Nephilim are noted in the Bible as bring great warriors (Numbers 13:33; Ezekiel 32:27). Together they would become the sworn enemies of the Jewish nation until they were both completely destroyed over a long period of time through the combined efforts of Moses, then Joshua and five hundred years later King David.  

Satan's spiritual forces consisted of fallen angels and the demon spirits of the Nephilim. Bible scholars initially theorized that the term demon or devils was simply another name for the fallen angels. But the abilities of demons such as indwelling humans is not cited in Scripture as something an angelic spirit is capable of accomplishing. Also, Scripture tells us that the angels that mated with women were put in chains and confined down into the lowest part of Sheol known as Tartarus where they await their trial by God (II Peter 2:4). Therefore, these angels cannot be involved with the demonic spirits. Scripture tells us that all the other fallen angels banished from heaven were allowed to temporarily serve Satan in his kingdom which is currently confined to the heavens (Ephesians 6:12; Job 1:7). Therefore, demon spirits must be a separate earth bound class of entities separate from the angels. So where did they come from? Ancient scholars whose thoughts on various Biblical topics are found in the Book of Enoch, believed that demons were the departed spirits of the Nephilim (I Enoch 6). Today, many modern scholars also theorize that demons must be spirits of the Nephilim, and here is why.

The Book of Genesis states that a class of angels known as the Sons of God or Guardian Angels, mated with the daughters of men and produced hybrid creatures referred to as Nephilim (Genesis 6:2). When a giant died, their spirit was released, but because these monsters were neither fully angelic nor fully human, their spirits did not automatically migrate down into Sheol or the Pit with the other human and angelic spirits. Instead, it was uniquely forced to roam the earth looking for preferably a human body to indwell, as this type body was the one most closely aligned to the one it occupied in life. These unnatural demonic spirits were allowed by God to come under the rule of Satan. And Satan used them to unmercifully torture mankind and in particular God's chosen people the Jews.

Satan was no doubt amazed that God ultimately allowed him over four hundred years to grow these forces and create great cities in the promise land surrounded by virtually impenetrable fortresses. What Satan did not understand was that God had a two part plan in mind for His people. First, He used the land of Egypt to grow His race initially made up of Jacob and seventy people, to a nation of well over one million people including a mixed multitude of others (Exodus 12:37-38; Deuteronomy 10:22; answersingenesis.org). He also used this time for His people to develop ritual sacrifices, a language, an alphabet, customs and a strong unwavering belief in a single Creator God. This first monotheistic religious doctrine was originally passed down directly from God to Adam, then from Adam to Methuselah, from Methuselah to Noah and from Noah to Abraham. According to Biblical timelines, Noah lived to be 950 years old and was alive during the first thirty nine years of Abraham's life. See related: Age Chart

Now, the only thing God's people needed was a land to call their own. Thus, the second part of God's plan was to allow Satan to believe he was building a kingdom for himself on earth when in fact God was using Satan's pagan work forces to cultivate the land He had promised to Abraham. Then, when the territory had been developed and the cup of their iniquities was full to the brim, He would send Moses to lead His children out of Egypt and back into the promised land. God promised to drive out the squatters with hordes of stinging hornets so that His Children could reclaim their God given inheritance (Genesis 15:16; Exodus 23:28). Thus, God ultimately gave His Children a reward for continuing to have faith in Him even when they had been unfairly persecuted and placed in bondage.

Exodus From Egypt and Pillar Of Fire That Led the Way to the Promise Land

Satan reasoned that at some point in time, God would eventually cause His people to return. So, he wanted to make sure that unless God unfairly used a supernatural event to kill the pagan tribes, the Jews would not succeed in reestablishing themselves back to the land. And hopefully, the ensuing wars would ultimately end the Jewish race. This would in turn eliminate any possibility of one their Seed from becoming the Messiah and destroying his kingdom, power and glory (Genesis 3:15). Satan knew that the birth of a Messiah was an existential threat to his goal of one day ruling a kingdom. His ideal desire was to have Heaven as his kingdom and be worshipped by angelic followers. But if this proved to be an impossibility, he would settle for having his kingdom on the earth and be worshipped by mankind by way of his son the Antichrist. Satan would prefer that God's chosen race be annihilated. But, short of that, he could also enjoy watching them wander the earth constantly persecuted by all nations because of their initial compliance in Jesus' death, continued disbelief in Him as Messiah and their singular unwavering belief in the one true Creator God. Their ongoing sufferings as a people could be best summed up by the old phrase death by a thousand cuts.

While Satan was created an immortal spirit, he was still a finite entity with limited powers governed by God. He does not know the future, he cannot read minds and he cannot be in two places at one time. Therefore, he is forced to watch, as do all the angels, the ever unfolding plans of God as they are sequentially revealed to mankind (I Peter 1:12). And with his considerable intellect, he is temporarily allowed to try and thwart God’s plans. But Scripture is clear that all of his seeming victories, ultimately only end up being used for good by a loving and merciful God. By the time the children of Israel left Egypt, the tribe had grown into a mighty nation. But Satan had also grown his children of pagan worshipers and developed mighty armies of humans and Nephilim. He also had at his disposal many of the fallen rebel angels as well as demonic spirits. Thus, by the time Moses arrived at the border of the promise land, the land was now packed cheek to jowl with Philistines, many other large pagan tribes, giants and demon spirits. And each tribe had their own cities with defensive walls that were guarded by well trained and fearless military forces determined to defeat the followers of the God Yahweh or die trying. Joshua would be required to fight and defeat thirty one kings over a seven year period until the promise land was finally under his control.

Canaanite Capitol of Jericho

Other Fortified Cities in Promise Land

So it was completely unremarkable, and in some ways understandable, that when God’s children arrived at the border of  their land, they studied long and hard this current situation. And, after considering reports from returning spies, came to the logical conclusion that there was no earthly way they could possible just walk into a land completely occupied by tremendous forces and survive. However, God was not asking them to rely on the rationality of the situation. He was asking them to rely only on faith in Him and trust in His promises to them. For the adult Israelites, the miracles that God performed that cause pharaoh to allow them to leave Egypt was one thing. But to now invade a land that was heavily settled from border to border was a completely different set of circumstances. They felt they were better off either returning to Egypt as slaves, or continuing to wander the wilderness as nomads. It would be far better to stay alive as a slave than to go on a fools errand and needlessly die invading a series of major empires. This was exactly the decision Satan was hoping for. That is, for God's people to once again become slaves in Egypt, or wander the desert and die of disease and exposure, or invade his kingdom and be destroyed. He was delighted that God went with option two which was to wander aimlessly in the desert until the nation died out with their corpses rotting in the wilderness sun.

But God had yet another plan to get His people back in their land. He caused the faithless adults to wandered the wilderness for forty years. During that time, as the adults died, children were born and raised under the Law that Moses had received at Mount Sinai. Over a forty year time span, all the original people who had left Egypt and were at that time over the age of 19 had died and were now replaced by a new nation of people raised under the law. It was then that God told Moses to go boldly into the land of the Philistines and reclaim it as their own.

God Shows Moses Promise Land Before His Death

In circa 1,500 B.C. Moses led the Jewish nation once again to the border of the promise land where he died and was buried. God had chosen Joshua to lead the armies of Israel into the land and insured they quickly defeated one tribe after another. Many of the pagan gentile populations decided to immigrate out of the land while some left only when the army of the Israelites were literally marching into their territory. Those who decide to stand and fight were killed. However, some of the Jewish males went against the command of God and married the daughters of pagans. This would prove to be a constant spiritual problem for the young emerging nation. In 1,000 B.C., King David united the 12 tribes of Israel and went on a military mission from God. He was directed to completely destroy once and for all pagan worship sites, all pagan tribes, all Philistines and all the Nephilim in the land. However, David did not have the physical ability to destroy the demon spirts which had also plagued the land.

There is an old saying that what is concealed in the Old Testament, is revealed in the New Testament. We now know that God’s ultimate mission was to unite His chosen people with the gentile races under the banner of a religion created by the Messiah. This Messiah would be both human from the line of Abraham and David yet Divine by way of God the Father. He would be a man that through the power of the Holy Spirit, would finally destroy the demon hordes, start the process of uniting God’s people with the gentile races and bring eternal life to mankind through faith plus nothing else. A religion whose promise of eternal life would be founded on this man’s words, death, burial and resurrection.

Jesus the Messiah

Enter Jesus of Nazareth. His mother and father were both in the direct genealogy of Abraham and King David. His biological father was God through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35-38). He was both the Son of Man through Mary and the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. He was born and remained throughout His entire life under the Law and free from sin. Thus, He was endowed with the full power of the Holy Spirit. He had an intellect greater than that of Solomon and the power of God at His command. His first mission was not only to be the physical representation of God on earth but to set down the guiding principles of God’s desires for mankind. He exemplified through His words and behavior how to live a Godly life. He taught with authority what happens to a person at death and made possible the promise of eternal life. See related: Rich Man Poor Man.

His second mission was to limit the powers of Satan on earth. He would remove Satan's greatest power, which is the fear of death by way of His resurrection from the grave. He would further remove more of Satan’s power by systematically hunting down his army of demonic spirits and permanently imprisoning them in Sheol or the Pit. And finally, on the evening of His resurrection, He took the very key to the defensive gates of Sheol and led the righteous spirits held there since the time of Adam, up and into heaven to enjoy rest in the presence of God (Ephesians 4:7-9; Revelation 1:18-20).

There were specialized Jewish priests in the time of Jesus that were said to have the power to exorcize demons, but the process was involved and took time. First, the person was taken into a synagogue accompanied by at least ten men. The smoke of sulfur was blown on the person while a priest would interview the demon spirit for personal information. It was thought to be necessary to get the name of the demon in order to overpower it. Then, scripture was constantly recited including Psalm 10, 91 and especially 127. After this part of the ritual, the Shofar was blown and the demon would usually leave. Demons were documented in the Mishna as most often exiting the body through a finger or a toe leaving them bloody. However, occasionally they would leave through other body orifices and sometimes an exorcism would fail all together. It should be noted that scripture is clear concerning the differences between demonic possession and mental illness.

Jesus Driving Out Demon Spirits With Only A Word Or A Touch

When Jesus approached a person indwelled by a demon spirit, He would first order it to be still and not to speak. Demons spirits were profoundly unhappy to find themselves in the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So, they would become agitated and the indwelled person would erupt into fits of hysteria. Once Jesus commanded the spirit to be still the person was physically frozen. He ordered the spirit to be quiet because it would try to curry favor with Jesus by publicly announcing His title as the Son of God or beg Him for a favor. He would then command the demon to leave the person and it would immediately disengage. However, during one exorcism, the demon was so powerful that as it struggled valiantly not to leave a young boy, the physical trauma created was so great that the boy appeared to have died. But, Jesus immediately took the boy by the hand and he was revived (Mark 9:22-29). Jesus made it clear that Satan was an actual spiritual entity and that demon spirits were under his command. Jesus was also clear that He had power over all creation both spiritual and physical, the heavens and earth, nature and mankind. He informed us that there were actual demonic spirits who roamed the earth looking for rest by indwelling humans with an amoral belief system. In other words, these spirits could take advantage of a person by filling a spiritual void (Matthew 12:43-45).

Satan was now singularly focused on the movements of Jesus and could clearly see that He was systematically moving through the Jewish nation removing demons and confining them down in Sheol. Satan decided to counter His actions by gathering the demons together, removing them from the land of Judah and indwelling them into a single man. He then hid that man in a rock tomb so that this demonic army would not be discovered and destroyed by Jesus (Mark 5:2-3: Revelation 6:15-17).

The Lowest Depths of Sheol Known as Tartarus

This is why Jesus was informed by the Holy Spirit to make this particular one-off trip to the country of the Gadarenes. He would have the opportunity to destroy practically all demonic spirits in one fell swoop. These spirits seemed to have been warned about Jesus’ imminent arrival and that He was looking specifically for them. Perhaps they were notified by Satan or, just as two opposite magnets repel each other, they felt a growing spiritually induced repulsion as Jesus drew ever closer to their hidden location. Thus, they were quickly going into full panic mode and would attempt to cling to their victim or survive some other way as long as possible. They concluded that their only recourse was to try and reason with Jesus. So, they selected the highest ranking or most powerful spirit among them to speak on their behalf. The demon infested man was immediately drawn to the healing powers of Jesus while the demon spirits were immediately repulsed. The man felt excitement and hope while the demons felt only fear and despair. We can know that this event was a specific mission for Jesus as He directed the boat to a specific location on the shore that was directly adjacent to the grave yard where the man had been hiding apparently only coming out at night to feed.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us the details of this trip. Jesus left the city of Capernaum with His disciples and sailed in one of Peter’s fishing boats southwest to the land of the Gadarenes. The Sea of Galilee is thirteen miles long, seven miles wide and one hundred and fifty seven feet deep. This trip took Jesus from the city of Capernaum directly east to the six hundred year old city of Gadara (Matthew 8:18). This benevolent act shows Jesus leaving a crowd of devoted follows and traveling a long way to a foreign gentile country just to help one lone, lost and demon possessed gentile man literally living in a grave.

Cliffs on Eastern Side of Sea of Galilee and City of Gadara

Satan was always watching Jesus in an effort to try and figure out God’s plan for mankind and then devise a way he could try to thwart that plan. Satan would have become more than a little nervous as he watched Peter’s boat head in a straight line for the gentile town of Gadara located adjacent to the cliffs that line the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. By mid-voyage, he instinctively knew Jesus’ probable destination and that He was going to destroy his major treasure trove of demonic spirits. This would be a tremendous loss of power for Satan and a tremendous positive public relations surge concerning the power of Jesus over him and his forces. Satan knew he had few options as to how he could stop Jesus’ mission. The most obvious was to be allowed to create a violent storm that would at the very least slow down the voyage and, with a little luck, perhaps damage or even sink Peter’s ship. This would give him time to remove the man from the tomb he was currently living in and direct him to another even more remote location. Much to his delight, he found that God allowed him the power to create just such a storm. But would it be great enough to swamp and sink the boat? The fact that Jesus was asleep on the ship made the sinking all the more plausible. And, if Jesus could not swim, He and perhaps most of His disciples would drown.

The storm winds brought the ship to a standstill and this allowed the waves to crash over the sides swamping the vessel. This is the only citing in the New Testament of Jesus on a boat and being in danger. This is also the only account of Jesus sleeping (Matthew 8:24). His disciples decided that the boat was definitely in the process of sinking and that they needed to wake Him up in order to save their lives. So, they woke Jesus up explaining that He needed to save them from drowning. Jesus first asked them why they were so terrified and questioned what had happened to their faith in Him? In other words, He was asking them to consider the fact that no one had ever died in His presence before now. Therefore, why were they terrified when they were actually in a boat with Him. He then commanded the winds to stop blowing and the waves to become calm. Within only seconds, the wind ceased to blow, the waters were calm and the boat quickly stopped rocking and become as still as the waters around it (Matthew 8:26).

Jesus Commands the Storm to Cease

Jesus had used this attempt by Satan to frighten His followers as a teaching moment. He was saying that there may be moments in life when a follower will become frightened. But, they need to always have faith in Him and know that they will never experience true death or separation from God but instead, eternal life through Him. However, His disciples had been extremely frightened by the storm and were now utterly astounded by the power of His word. How was it possible that a physical man could calm the unseen winds and power of the waves with only a word. And further, bring a full blown raging storm to a full halt in literally seconds. But the truth was, Christ as the Word of God created nature. Therefore, nature and its laws will always be subject to His commands (Matthew 8:27, Matthew 24:29; John 1;1-3; Revelation 6:12).

The winds now moved from west to east and the ship resumed its course and came to rest on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:26). The village of Gadara was located only a little more than a mile inland beyond some tombs dug out of the limestone hills near the cliffs. The man Jesus went to free from demon possession had at one time lived in the city. But because he had been driven insane and violent by the demons, he was evicted from his home and forced to live hiding in the tombs by day and scrounging for food at night. Scripture tells us he had been possessed by demon spirits for a long time, was a fugitive from the civil authorities and refused to wear clothing (Luke 8:27). The man had occasionally been captured and put in chains, but each time he was able to break free from his bonds due to his supernatural demonic induced strength and escape (Luke 8:29).

Just as Jesus stepped out of the boat and was now standing on the shoreline, He was immediately confronted by one or possibly two men. Mark and Luke say there was one man while Matthew says there were two men. The different accounts may lay in the fact that one man was mentally ill while the other was demon possessed. Thus, while both were ostracized from the village and healed by Jesus, the focus of the story was on the man who was demon possessed. Most Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first written account of this story. And, Luke tells us that he went to great lengths to accurately record the events of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 1:1-4). We know that Matthew was not a disciple at the time of this miracle but was appointed when Jesus returned to Capernaum (Matthew 9:1-9). If there were two men, the focus of the story was on the one indwelled by demonic spirits. And it was this man by way of the demon spirits, who was extremely upset that Jesus had gone out of His way to come to find him when they had purposefully stayed hidden from Him. The text alternates between singular and plural tenses as it was one man but many demons. The man’s demons became more and more hysterical and maniacal in their speech and behavior which caused the scene to quickly turn dangerous (Matthew 8:28).

The Man Was Drawn to Jesus While The Demons Were Repulsed

As Jesus approached the man, the demon spirits shrieked at Jesus in fear and repulsion then the man collapsed down on the ground in front of Him. The demons had immediately recognized that the Spirit that resided in Jesus was Holy and extremely powerful. It is not clear if the demon spirits were forced to bow to Jesus as their superior, or they did it as a ploy to gain compassion from Him and in return, He would leave them as He found them. The demons spoke with one voice hissing, “What have I to do with You Jesus, thou Son of God Most High?” This is the first time this title is used referring to Jesus. This physical act of lying prostrate on the ground and acknowledging Jesus as God is prophetically referring to the time when all creation will kneel and acknowledge Him as their Creator (Romans 14:11). The spirits then asked Him an honest question. Why would He, being under the Mosaic Law, lower Himself and risk His life and reputation as a respected Rabbi to come to a ritually unclean land of gentiles where hogs were raised and slaughtered? Apparently, Satan knew who Jesus was, the fallen angels knew who Jesus was and the demon spirits knew who Jesus was and announced it out loud. So how remarkable it was that His own people continually questioned who He was.

The spirits then answered their own question by asking, “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29) Demon spirits can be tortured in two ways. First, they desperately need to inhabit living flesh, preferably humans. This is because when they are out of a body, they suffer from extreme anxiety and become agitated. The second type of torture is their understanding that they will eventually be locked up in the Pit and ultimately confined in the Lake of Fire. So, while they obviously recognized Jesus as the Son of God, they refused to appealed to Him as God because they only worship Satan as their god. They appealed to Jesus only as their judge and begged Him for undeserved mercy as they understandably wanted to put off their inevitable punishment as long as possible (Revelation 20:1-3, 10).

This question they asked Jesus shows that while they knew who Jesus was, His power over them and their ultimate fate, they did not know when they would be imprisoned (Matthew 24:36, Revelation 20:14)). They evidently were expecting to be imprisoned at the end of the Great Tribulation Period. And they knew that this moment was not that time. Therefore, Jesus must have come to simply torment them before what they thought was their appointed time. This brief monologue by the demon spirits shows that spirit world entities recognize the spiritual status of a person, recognize each other, can communicate with people and each other, have scriptural knowledge, can feel the difference between relative comfort and discomfort and are very sensitive to the powers of other spirits. It should be noted that a person who is born again or indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is completely incapable of also being indwelled by an inferior demonic spirit (I John 4:4; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 2:2).

When Jesus confronted a demon in public, he did not want it to acknowledge Him by His rightful title, the Son of God for five reasons. First, He would not lower Himself to converse with demonic spirits. Second, they were not worthy to have the honor of announcing Him. Third, He did not want to be seen as having any familial association with them and Satan. Fourth, although He did have the right to be called the Only Begotten {biological} Son of God, He knew this title would cause the religious leaders to go into a rage and try to execute Him on the spot for blasphemy. So, until His trial by the High Priest Caiaphas, He referred to Himself by His other title the Son of Man as first revealed by the prophet Daniel. Finally, He knew the people would immediately spread the word that the Messiah had arrived and was expected to overthrow the Roman occupation of Judah. And He knew that His mission at this time in history was far greater than that single, small minded and self serving misinterpretation of Old Testament Scripture. He understood that ultimately, He would overthrow all gentile governments, all demonic principalities, offer eternal life to all mankind and rule creation forever.

Jesus would next immediately command a demon spirit to leave its victim and confine it down into the Pit or Sheol. While Jesus knew that Satan had tried to hide his demonic army in one person located in a foreign land, He wanted His disciples to hear and witness this exorcism event for themselves. While the Jewish Priests needed to know the demon’s name, this was unnecessary information for Jesus. But in this particular case, Jesus knew that there was an exceptionally large gathering of spirits in this man. And he knew that the most powerful demon would speak on behalf of the group. Therefore, Jesus condescended to ask only one four word question to the demons with His disciples at His side. He asked, “What is your name?" Again, He did this so that His disciples, hearing the answer, would better understand the impending event that would be caused by the exorcism (Luke 8:30). The demons were forced by God to answer Jesus honesty, but since there were many thousands of them, one answered saying, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” This is not a proper name but a Roman military designation for a troop of as many as six thousand solders. So now we know that the demons have individual names and personalities but see themselves as an organized army united against a common enemy…God.

Judean Hog

The demons had done all they could to stall for time in order to either talk Jesus into leaving them alone or coming up with a Plan B. Perhaps inspired by their leader Satan, they came up with the only survival escape option. They saw a large heard of approximately two thousand hogs on a nearby mountain side rooting in the ground for food (Matthew 8:30; Mark 5:13). So, having given Jesus their title, they began to beg Him not to cast them out from the man and into the deep. This term refers to the bottomless Pit (Revelation 20:1-3). The first century Jews understood the Pit to be located in the watery deep below the earth (II Peter 2:4; Genesis 1:2; The Testament of Solomon 5 :11). It was believed that only the power of God could send an entity into the Pit thus the demons were again implying that Jesus was God. Not wanting to be confined in the Pit, they said, “If You cast us out, allow us to indwell the herd of hogs.” This shows that, demon spirits can formulate and articulate plans of action. Also, that a demon would rather go from indwelling a human body into an animal body as opposed to roaming the land in a bodiless state or being confined in the Pit. And, that demons are by nature territorial and would rather remain in a location with which they are familiar (Luke 11:24). Finally, because a Roman military legion can be as many as six thousand soldiers, this means that this one miracle possibly decimated the entire demon population of the earth.

Notice that the demons started their exit strategy with the word “If” which means they thought that they might be able to negotiate a way out of their predicament. They apparently assumed they had options when they in fact had no options at all. Thus the phrase, “You know what happens when one assumes?”. Their fate was actually sealed the night Jesus was born and their last hours on the surface of the earth occurred during His voyage to confront them. In other words, they refused to even acknowledge a forgone conclusion that their time of torturing and destroying life on earth had come to an end. They asked Jesus what did He have to do with them knowing full well what He had to do with them. The word “If” shows a presumption on their part that the issue of their existence was up for discussion and that all options were on the table. Then they tried to plant the seed of their escape by suggesting that if He was going to cast them out, why not simply allow them to indwell a herd of hogs instead of imprisoning them in the Pit before their time. This shows that spirit beings do not know the timeline of God as they evidently thought that their judgement and confinement was in the distant future. Their suggestion at first blush seemed logical. The man would be free of them, they would be confined in the hogs, the valuable hogs would still be alive and Jesus, having accomplished His mission, could now return home. In the words of Shakespeare, “All’s well that ends well”. But as Jesus well knew, their solution would actually create an even greater problem.

Jesus explained to His disciples a demon spirit will always look to indwell a creature with the highest intelligence, thus a human. This is because a creature with a high intellect allows a demon the widest possibilities of creating despair, confusion, fear and social upheaval in a community. The complex lifestyle of a human being far exceeds the limited lifestyle of a grazing animal. But also, the mind and lifestyle of a human is more in line with what many Biblical scholar believe was once a demon’s original physical hybrid body. Therefore, to simply release a demon does not solve the problem. Jesus tells us they will continue to roam the earth looking for an amoral person to indwell. It is not easy for them to indwell a person but they will not stop trying until they succeed (Matthew 12:43-45).

So, if Jesus simply allowed the demons to indwell the hogs, just imagine a massive herd of demon possessed hogs rampaging through the country side killing and eating every living thing they found. It would be no different than releasing a pack of six thousand rabid dogs into a community. Can you imagine the chaos and death count? Not to mention the fact that hogs have long been considered the most intelligent of all domesticated animals. Thus, their ability to adapt, strategize and survive would be all the more horrific on an entire nation.

But because Jesus knew the ramifications of their request, the nature of hogs and this part of His mission, He let the demons and Satan believe that they had pulled a fast one over on the Son of God. With only the word, “Go!” He instantaneously exorcised all the elated demonic spirits out of the man and into the pigs. What happened next was a complete shock to the pigs, the demons, Satan, the herders and the disciples, but not Jesus. It is very interesting to note at this point that a saved person loves Christ, runs towards Him and receives eternal life and rewards. Conversely, the unsaved person fears Christ, runs away from Him only to receive death and judgement.

Hogs Chose Suicide Rather Than Live Indwelled By Demonic Spirits

The instant the grazing hogs realized they had become possessed by unknown malevolent spirits, they all immediately stampeded down the mountain side, and following a ravine to its end, threw themselves headfirst off the cliff down into the sea below and drowned (Luke 8:33; Mark 5:13). However, they did not drown because they landed in water. No, they intentionally drowned themselves and we can know this for certain because it is a well-documented fact that a hog can swim over five miles in the open ocean. So, it seems that even a hog would rather commit suicide than live indwelled by a demonic spirit. The stampede and carnage that ensued was on a scale never before witnessed by anyone at any time in recorded history. Within literally seconds, a perfectly healthy and calm herd of hogs grazing on a bucolic mountain side were now all dead at the bottom of a cliff gently floating on a calm sea.

There were any number of ways Jesus could have dealt with the demons. But in this way, the man was freed from the demons, the demons were destroyed, the disciples witnessed the power of Jesus over demonic spirits and the herders eye witnessed two thousand hogs being indwelled and committing suicide. So, when the village people arrived at the scene, they were forced by the sheer weight of evidence to accept the idea of a massive demonic exorcism involving their herds. And today, we as readers of Scripture can be assured of the veracity of this event because there was an entire village of witnesses. While this miracle involved the death of the hogs, it must be considered that they were always destined to be slaughtered at some time. While their deaths might have been untimely, the village butchers would have immediately arranged to have the carcasses retrieved from cool fresh waters of the shoreline, taken to various facilities, quickly processed and packed in salt for preservation purposes. Therefore, the owners, the industry and the village’s economy that relied on the hogs was not destroyed only caught off guard. And because the animals drowned, the meat was in perfect condition to be consumed.

As for the demonic spirits, Scripture is clear that all spirts are immediately released from the body at the moment of death. So, at the death of the hogs, the demons spirits were released and drawn down into the watery deep and imprisoned in the Pit to await their judgements for their demonic activities. Thus, just at the very moment the demons thought they had outsmarted the Son of God, they found themselves trying to put the brakes on their new hosts who were headed headlong for destruction. It must have been like riding a psychotic horse through a burning barn. And it would be hard to say who was screaming the loudest, the herders, the pigs or the demons. But the sound must have caused even Satan to cover his ears. And, had the herd been allowed to live, besides the mayhem they would create for the population of the country, upon their deaths, the demons would simply have been released and sought yet other human victims to torture.

The herdsmen immediately ran to the city to report the details of what had occur to a slack jawed and unbelieving audience. While they mentioned Jesus and the recovery of the mad man living in the tombs, the only thing the crowd heard or cared about was the hogs. If the choice was the survival of one man verse the death of over two thousand hogs, the hogs and the revenues they generated would win out every time (Luke 8:34). The herd owners, accompanied by the entire village, immediately went to the grazing pasture by the sea (Luke 8:35). The first place they looked was on the mountainside, but the herd was missing. No doubt their hearts went in their throats and cries of despair were starting to be heard. They then followed the muddy tracks of two thousand hogs or eight thousand hoof prints down the ravine. Then, standing on the edge of the cliff and looking out at the sea, they were astonished to see the bodies of thousands of hogs floating lifeless and calmly in the water with some beginning to be gently washed ashore.

Crowd From Town See Dead Hogs And Beg Jesus To Leave Their Country

The crowd then turned to see Jesus who was flanked by His disciples and the man, now in his right mind, clothed and sitting calmly at His feet. No doubt you could have heard a pin drop as no one knew what to say. As they glared at Jesus, the herders once again went over the details of the event moment by moment in excruciating detail (Luke 8:36). This recounting only served to further frighten the crowd. They saw Jesus as having gone out of His way, to come uninvited to their country, and unnecessarily exercising His supernatural powers in a very destructive and costly way. Finally, the terrified crowd came to their senses, and calling out to Jesus, began to beg Him to please leave their country (Luke 8:37). In other words, doing the right thing had once again caused Jesus to be an inconvenient truth to the Jewish religious leaders, now the gentile civic leaders and soon the pagan Roman leaders.

The irony was that Jesus had, with only one word, eradicate the entire earth of practically every immortal demonic spirit not to mention the exorcism and salvation of a human being. But, He was neither recognize nor thanked for His compassion and help. Instead, He was asked to go away and not return. The town no doubt would have preferred to tar and feather Him but were rightfully much too afraid of His supernatural powers to let Him know exactly how they felt. But Jesus knew how they felt towards Him and not doubt once again sighed in His spirt. He would do this again because of the crowds reaction towards Him during the resurrection of Lazareth (John 11:37-38). See related: Lazareth Raised from the Dead but Paid a Grave Price.

Man Begs to Follow Jesus

Jesus now turned to reenter the boat and sail back to Capernaum as the people turned their backs on Him and walked towards the village. The poor saved man now stood alone in the breach. Should he follow Jesus or go back to his old life in town? Would the people of the town even be willing to take him back? During his demonic indwelled state, he had caused much damage both physically and mentally to the people of the village. And while Jesus had freed him of the demons, it was at a staggering cost to the village. So, he first turned to Jesus and asked if he might go with Him (Mark 5:18: Luke 8:38-39). The man no doubt had two great concerns. The greatest was the inordinate fear that the demons might return once Jesus left Him. Therefore, he wanted to keep Jesus as close as possible. The other was his fear of the retribution he might face in town. However, Jesus told Him to return to his own house and family in order to tell the story of the wonderous blessings that God had provided him. Also, because the man was a gentile, it would not have been deemed appropriate at that time for him to follow a Jewish Rabbi with Jewish disciples in the Jewish nation of Judea. Nonetheless, the man was satisfied with Jesus’ command and even emboldened to dedicate his life to make the story of his healing by Jesus known throughout the village and country. He became yet another evangelist for the Lord {His title} Jesus {His name} Christ {His mission}.

In the end, everyone got what they wanted. The man was freed from his demons and returned to his life in the village. The demons were allowed to go into the pigs only to be cast into the Pit to await their judgement. The pigs were freed from the demons in death. The village herd owners gathered up and processed the pork. The disciples faith was strengthened by witnessing firsthand the power of Jesus over nature and demons with only a single word. And finally, it was the Christian church that eventually destroyed the last few remaining demon sprits left on the earth.

It has been said with a smile that the people of the village had such a large glut of pork to deal with that, out of necessity, they invented deviled ham. While others decided to stop using the phrase “I’ll believe that when pigs fly”.

When Jesus docked back at the city of Capernaum, among the waiting crowds was a man who was completely paralyzed (Matthew 9:1-6; Mark 5:21). Jesus would not only heal the man, but publicly declare that his sins were forgiven. So, during only one day of His ministry, Jesus commanded nature to conform to His will, exorcised demonic spirits from a man, destroyed over six thousand demons, healed a paralyzed man, forgave him of his sins, and later that same evening, he would locate and commission the disciple Matthew (Matthew 9:9). It was a very full day indeed!

Matthew Working on Tax Accounts of Capernaum

On a closing note, in 1969, a monastery built circa 480 A.D. was uncovered during work on a scenic stretch of road that runs along the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

View Looking East Across Sea of Galilee

The building was excavated and partially reassembled between 1970-1973. It consists of several columns, archways and 8,600 square feet of beautiful mosaic flooring of which over 5,000 square feet were still intact.

Partially Reconstructed Monastery

Directly adjacent to the monastery, a steep paved path was excavated that lead to a cliff where a small open air chapel had been constructed in such a way as to help preserve a huge 22 foot high boulder.

Walkway That Leads to Chapel Overlooking Cliff

By the end of the first century, pilgrims wrote that the boulder marked the exact spot where the exorcism and resulting Miracle of the Swine stampede took place. The spot was officially dedicated as such by the church in 200 A.D. and a 12,000 square foot Basilica was built adjacent to this location circa 480 A.D.

Boulder Adjacent to Chapel That Marks Location of Stampede Off Cliff

The remains of the nearby village is known by several names. Luke called the village Gerasa while Matthew and Mark call it Gadara. The Jews called the village Gergeshta while third century Church Father Origen states that the village was called Gergesa. The city is located 300 yards east of the basilica ruins but can only partially be seen as the area has not been excavated. The entire site is open to the public and located in the Kursi National Park in Israel.

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