The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die,
but the darkness grew.
—From The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter Five
Did I ever mention that my wife and I are huge LOTR fans? Did I ever mention my extreme love for anything Tolkien related? No? Well, then I have failed in my quest. Today on this greatest of Saturdays (It’s the greatest of Saturdays because today we get our new dog, pictures coming soon) we will be diving into some LOTR themed devotionals here and there. Well, let’s get started yeah?
The Balrog is portrayed in the movie as a creature of fire and flame. Tolkien also presents it as a creature of darkness—one of many—and not the darkest of the dark, either. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien writes,
What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before it.
The idea that darkness would present itself as a being with not only a visible form but also an intellect and will—is terrifying. When this being first appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, there is instant panic among the members of the Fellowship. It’s like they’ve suddenly been struck blind with fear, confusion, and despair. Such an encounter is more than any of them bargained for in this journey they agreed to take with Frodo, a kind of nightmare that surpasses anything Frodo himself could have imagined before leaving the front door of Bag End. Aragorn and Boromir beg to fight the creature, but Gandalf says instead his most famous line, “Fly you fools.” Gandalf fought this giant creature of darkness and it cost him everything.
So what’s the point of bringing up this painful memory of a beloved character being dragged down into darkness?
There is actually such a creature in our world as the Balrog. In fact Tolkiens lifelong friend, C. S. Lewis, in his famous book The Screwtape letters, Lewis pictured him dressed in a business suit. The analogy being far from perfect.
But he is real.
At the heart of the spiritual opposition of the Creator God is a character that I think we all know well. He goes by many names: Satan, Beelzebub, the devil, the enemy, the evil one. But Satan was once an angel who rebelled against God. He fled the light to establish his own throne of darkness.
Jesus said of Satan in Luke 10:18
And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Since that time Satan has been waging war with God and all who belong to Him ever since.
Whatever the murky history of his past, Satan is real. He specializes in absorbing light, in casting shadows, and in creating fear and spiritual blindness. He is especially good at blocking the way of those who serve Jesus Christ and at stopping them from accomplishing whatever tasks God has given them to do (1 Peter 5:8-9). He has also mastered the art of convincing people that he doesn’t exist, that there’s no such thing as darkness (Isaiah 5:20). And he takes particular delight in enslaving people to the darkness before they have a chance to love the Light, by teaching them to hate the Light itself (John 3:19-20).
So what does this have to do with the Balrog that dwelled within the heart of Moria? I am glad you asked.
We are small, yet our foe is big.
So I leave you with this question and open this up for disscussion.
What are we going to do about it?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the authorities, against the
powers of this dark world and against the spiritual
forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”