Most people who are familiar with the Bible have heard of the many possessed by a legion of demons. Why is it that demon possession is not referred to very much in the Old Testament but talked about frequently in the New Testament? Demon possession probably occurred in the Old Testament times (especially in the days of Noah) but is not mentioned because it was simply not necessary to do so until later. After the flood, demon possession was probably almost unheard of until much later when the earth had been replenished with more people.
You have to keep in mind that during the time of Jesus when he walked this planet, Satan had not yet been defeated because Jesus had not yet sacrificed himself to redeem mankind. When Jesus was born, Satan knew his defeat was imminent and so he did everything in his power to stop Jesus from going to the cross. This brings up a valid point: Anything that stands between Jesus and the cross is satanic. Peter tried to stop Jesus from being arrested by lopping off one of the ears of one the men arresting Jesus. Jesus told Peter, "Get behind me Satan!". Matthew 16:23
Demonic activity greatly increased during the time of Jesus because the war between good and evil, heaven and hell, God and Satan, had escalated. Observe the world around you today. Is demonic activity increasing? Terrorism, abortions, crumbling families, the teaching of evolution, the proliferation of occultic beliefs, sexual immorality, and much more clearly demonstrates that Satan is alive and well on planet earth today.
Why is demonic activity increasing today? Because the war between heaven and hell is reaching a climax. Christ is coming back to establish his kingdom on earth and He is going to cast Satan into a bottomless pit for 1,000 years. To better understand demonic activity, studying encounters Jesus had with demons is a must.
The most well known demonic encounter Jesus had was with a man who was possessed by a "legion" of unclean spirits. Luke gives the following account in Chapter 8 7- 39.
A Demon-Possessed Man Healed
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" 29For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
30 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. 32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. 33Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. 37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.
38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39"Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you." And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Story summary - Jesus and his disciples needed a break from ministering to the Jewish people so they sailed to a land populated by Gentiles. Jesus encountered a man who was quite obviously insane due to the many unclean spirits constantly tormenting him. (Makes you wonder if many of our people in mental institutions are suffering from demonic attacks rather than some kind of illness). What would you do if you encountered a naked man running around in a cemetery? Probably call the police.
When the man saw Jesus, the unclean spirits spoke through the man asking Jesus not to torment them. Don't believe in a place called hell where unsaved souls go? These unclean spirits knew exactly what hell was like and they simply didn't want to go there period. When Jesus asked the demon entity what its name was, it replied "My name is Legion for we are many." A "legion" of Roman soldiers was 2,000. It's really hard to comprehend that 2,000 unclean spirits were tormenting one man.
Jesus had mercy on these spirits and allowed them to enter a herd of pigs. However, the pigs didn't like it at all and drowned themselves. Thus the unclean spirits had to move on...probably back to their proper abode.
It's interesting to not the reaction of the Gentile populace. Were they glad that the once insane raving lunatic that threatened their very lives was now a normal calm person? No. They asked Jesus to leave because he was hurting their economy. After all, Jesus was responsible for the death of an entire herd of swine..a valuable commodity to them. They asked Jesus to leave.
We can learn a valuable lesson from the reaction of the Gentiles. Jesus was okay as long as He didn't do anything to disrupt their daily lives. But when their daily routine was disrupted and their true god, money, was exposed, this group of Gentiles wanted nothing more to do with Jesus..
That is the danger of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that you see proclaimed so often on television. This gospel says that Jesus will bless you materially as long as you pay your tithes and obey His commandments. I know that their have been many disillusioned Christians who have done exactly that and have not been blessed with material things. Why weren't they blessed?
Because the things of this world are enmity to the things of God. All the things of God are permanent in nature and the things of this world are only temporary. When Christians ask for material blessings from God they are asking from a selfish and carnal viewpoint and God will not hear their prayers. Because we live in the world, it is a struggle that every Christian must face and deal with.
All Christians will be rewarded greatly in heaven but most want at least some of their rewards now. We elect governing officials on the basis of how good they are for the economy. The Gentiles didn't like Jesus messing up their economy by casting out demons and this world will gladly host an army of demons as long as the economy is good.
What does James 4:3 & 4 have to say about asking God for material blessings? When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel preachers are partially correct. If you do obey God and his commandments, you will be blessed. But not necessarily with material things which have a tendency to become another God or an idol.