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Summary: When our Lord hung upon the cross, His enemies “Gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall” (Matthew 27:34). But at the sounding of the third trumpet, many wicked men will die from water made bitter by the Divine Judge.

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By: Tom Lowe Date: 3-27-2016

Title: Third Trumpet: Third of Rivers and Springs Become Bitter, Many Die (Revelation 8:10-11)

Revelation 8:10-11 (KJV)

10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Introduction

At the blowing of the third trumpet, a star with the name Wornwood falls from the sky and lands on a third of the rivers and springs, making a third of the water toxic. The plant with the same name as the star, Wormwood, is a bitter plant often used as a metaphor for something bitter to the taste, though it is not usually considered a poison.

The blowing of trumpets called the Israelites together for instruction (Numbers 10:3) or for marching (Numbers 10:3-7); it summoned them to assemble for war (Jeremiah 4:19; 42:14, etc.), and to return from dispersion (Isaiah 27:13); it announced release in the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-10), and here it announces judgment. The trumpet judgments are quite similar to the plagues which God sent upon Egypt at the time of the deliverance of Israel, though they do not occur in the same order. After the Exodus, Israel encountered bitter waters at Marah (which means “bitter”) and Moses had to purify the water supply (Exodus 15: 23-27). But no supernatural purification will be available during the Tribulation.

Commentary

10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven.” This occurred when a great flaming star fell out of the sky. Some Bible commentators believe that this may be a comet. If this is taken literally, a third ecological disaster is depicted. The trees, the grass, the sea have all been devastated; now the rivers and fountains of waters are spoiled. But a disaster affecting the water supply of mankind hardly seems a sufficient explanation of what happens under this trumpet. The events described must probably be taken symbolically, even though interpreters have varied widely in seeking to identify the fallen star. Simon Magus; Attila, “the scourge of God;” Muhammad; and even the Jewish historian Josephus have been suggested. Some have identified the fallen star with the AntiChrist. Others identify the star as Satan. Since the star that falls at the sounding of the fifth trumpet (9:1) is an angelic being, it is possible that Wormwood is also an angel. But no star or fallen angel named Wormwood can be found in any other source.

The clue to the interpretation is in Revelation 12:12, where we read, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” The earlier part of the chapter tells how, in his original fall, the devil, the great red dragon, cast a third part of the stars (i.e., his angels) out of heaven. With Satan’s fall from heaven, recorded incidentally in Revelation 13, a new woe is to be added to the horrors taking place on earth. Michael warns mankind that Satan’s expulsion from heaven causes woe on earth. It is significant that the last three trumpets are specifically called “woe” trumpets. Revelation 13 lends strong support to the view that the fallen star is Satan himself. He is given the symbolic name of Wormwood, and he poisons the third part of “the waters,” which become bitter and result in the death of many men. The symbolism of the waters is explained in Revelation 17:15: “the waters . . . are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” In other words, Satan’s fall to earth results in the immediate poisoning of human life and society. The peoples of the earth take on the character of the evil one and become “wormwood” too. Satan is bitter because he has been cast out of heaven. Men become bitter, and many people die.


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