By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Why do demons inhabit unpopulated places? Is that not inconsistent with their unholy passion to destroy human beings? Indeed, this very question was raised recently as an argument against the biblical teaching that all alleged ghosts are demonic deceptions--they saw this widespread phenomenon as proof that these "desolation dwellers" must be trapped human spirits! However, it is also a question that many of us who embrace a biblical view of ghosts, have puzzled about as well. I will do my best to answer this legitimate question, though I do think that there is an element of mystery here....more so than usual. And I desire feedback and questions, because we all can learn from each other.
A clarification point up front is in order: I have never said--and infinitely more importantly, the bible never says--that attacking humans directly is the ONLY activity Satan/demons are interested in. Warfare is more complicated than that.....more in a moment on that thought.
Graveyards, deserts (think of mid-eastern Djinn), abandoned dwellings of all shapes and sizes, mines (as in the TV show Haunted Mines), battlefields, and so on are examples of what I am referring to. Deserted places are legion. In the bible, the desert/wilderness is the location most associated with the unclean spirits/demons. Why?
Let us begin with what we can be certain of....occupation of abandoned buildings or land by unclean spirits must have some strategic military value. Evidently, no demon is just hanging out where it wants to, but is placed there for a specific reason by a diabolical superior. Some things just simply have to be, if we are to make any sense of the reality of spiritual warfare. So, to answer this question/objection, I think it would be helpful to place it in the context of kingdom expansion--just as their is a kingdom of God/heaven (used as synonyms throughout the New Testament), there is the kingdom of darkness. That is, how does the inhabiting of desolate places advance Satan's kingdom expansion agenda?
BTW, if this seems to be circular reasoning to you---assuming ghosts are demons and finding a way to explain this desolation phenomena within that assumption--then I make no apologies. I am not going to suspend my biblical convictions every time I deal with an alleged objection or question...nor do I think most of you would want me to. As a general rule, that (momentary suspension of belief) is being unfaithful to the authoritative Word. After writing a book and 137 blogs, all of which show the unbiblical and harmful nature of the notion of ghosts, I have seen that some folks simply WANT to believe in ghosts...nothing will persuade them otherwise.But others have been persuaded by the winsome and persistent witness of folks who are valiant for truth.
Let me say this--personally speaking, positing human soul/s as occupying these desolated places is more problematic than the biblical alternative. Why? Gregariousness is a salient aspect of humaness, which must continue after death. Adam needed Eve even though he was perfect. We have heard of how solitary confinement in prison has caused many to go insane. We need human interaction. Demons are intelligent, emotive, and volitional beings...but they seem to be too evil to care about companionship. Thus, they would make suitable desolation dwellers.
Do you think demons enjoy being around us? If they hate us, then of course not! The only "pleasure" would come from hurting those they hate. Otherwise, I can see demons being quite content dwelling AWAY from us. Only once in my life have I seriously struggled with hate towards a particular man... (he was partially responsible for destroying my marriage/family). Suffice it to say (even after much prayer), I could NOT be around this guy....not if I wanted to stay out of prison (obviously, I am leaving out personal details).
Perhaps some demons have shown that they are better suited for "alone patrol" simply because of how they have dealt with their hatred in the past? (remember some demons were so evil they were sent early to hell..Jude, 2 Peter) In The Demonologist, Ed Warren states that "ghosts are self-absorbed loners..." I respect this man,and I think that he has unwittingly given us--based on enormous amount of experience--a definition of demons that fits within the biblical parameters.
In a similar way, unless given specific attack orders on us, my guess is that demons would gravitate away from us...we remind them of everything they have lost. So, demons dwelling in desolate places makes a bit more sense to me with that notion in mind....although I admit this is conjecture.
In 1972, my older brother Mickey graduated from High School and joined the Navy, with the intent of becoming a Navy SEAL. However, after a briefing which included the fact that there was a 90% mortality rate at that time, he decided against it. I need to interject that another older brother had died a few months before in a tragic fraternity accident. Mickey did not want our mom and dad to be crushed again....good for Mick..
SEAL...sea, air, and land...expert warriors in all three environments (well, HALO-HAHO jumps!) Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force, and Army/Marine ground operations--three foci of human warfare.It would seem to me that, just as a general principle, Satan would be interested in this triad as well in spiritual warfare. I mention this just as a principle for further thought.
To say that attacking God's image bearers is priority number one.on the Satanic agenda, does not imply that other warfare goals are not important. Take the arch-demon who was Air Force, and the role it played in overseeing the operations in Persia...and another as Prince of Greece. Evidently, there was no direct contact with humans but its power and influence were such that Michael was dispatched to fight against it. (see Daniel 10) Evidently, this arch-demon was responsible for the territory of Persia. This introduces the element of territorialsim. More importantly, it is a rare glimpse "behind the veil" of demonic war strategy, and of personal fighting between high leadership on both sides.
Every where in scripture the earth is entirely the Lord's and under His absolute sovereign control. (Gen.1:1; Ps. 24:1; Isaiah 40-49 and so on). However, Satan, like an intelligent general, knows the value of geographic land occupation. Plus, they are ALL (Satan/demons) prideful and fancy themselves as GODS....Whatever land they can lay claim to simply plays into this moronic egomaniac tendencies they have. Any land or buildings they do lay claim to may be do to some "legal rights",but in the final analysis, it is really God's creation. He has temporarily given Satan some derivative authority over what he lays claim to--"the world" (which we discussed in recent issue)
Demonic attachment to some desolate building or land is not problematic, given the larger warfare agenda of Satan. Having occupation forces in countries has its own advantages, as we have seen in countless human arenas of war. Why not in spiritual warfare as well? Just because it is spiritual warfare does not negate the fact that the enemy enters from their dimension and takes "ownership" of what he can in our dimension.
This seems to be a sound biblical principle, buttressed by countless experiences--namely, that wherever humans were horribly mistreated or killed, then that opened a foothold for demonic infestation.
All of these abandoned hospitals, prisons, hotels etc. we see on TV, almost always had some tragedies connected with them. For example, the Haunted Mine on TV...I kept waiting for someone to discover a human horror. Sure enough, this mine which apparently has a demonic presence (if you give any credence to the story...and not total cynic, which I think is wrong) is some how connected with the brutal slaying of dozens of Chinese miners 100 years or more ago. That demons would sit "on their thrones" deep within this abandoned mine for many years without human contact/attack is not problematic.. As spirits, they need no food, water, or communication.
Places that are haunted, like the Crescent Mine, also become wonderful PR advertisements for the notion of ghosts. Satan knows that humans are suspicion prone, and he can kill several birds with the same stone...take control over larger areas of God's earth, let his army "reign" there, and over time it will gain reputation for being haunted--advancing Satan's most effective deception (spiritism). Is that not what has occurred in this mine, as the investigators ASSUME it is deceased Chinese and not demons? (and other places highlighted on TV/books)?
We do not know how many demons there are, but there a whole lot! So, Satan can afford to place demonic soldiers wherever it will serve his agenda. As in any war, there will be many fronts and battles. Wherever we give them legal rights to attach and dwell, they usually will. Regardless of human contact, they "OWN" this mine, and their pride is swollen to bursting. Same as an abandoned farm house a friend was telling me about recently. Apparently no human traffic for a long time, but when he stepped in the old house, this demon let him know he was not wanted there. Similar scenarios have played out millions of times all over. Unless specifically directed to attack us, many demons BECAUSE OF THEIR HATRED OF US, don't want anything to do with us. You can relate to that, can't you?! I can...
Lastly, only God knows how much land has been spiritually polluted in our country due to hatred or curses, or both. And if you build a new home on cursed land, chances are your house will soon become infested. The Old Testament speaks often of the land being spiritually defiled or polluted, and vomiting its' occupants out. On the other hand, we could say much more regarding land based curses, but it boils down to their being real and giving Satan a territorial foothold which can extend for many, many miles.
I bring us back to this organizing principle--whatever will advance the infernal agenda of the spread of the kingdom of darkness, is where we will see demonic presence and activity. Much of that is hidden from our view on purpose,and so we should EXPECT an element of mystery from our hated enemy.
Conclusion...Satan is prideful of all his assets, and as the ultimate miserly miser, not willing to give an inch without a fight.
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.