Hello there! In case you are just joining us for our study in the book of The Revelation, let me bring you up to speed. We began in January in Revelation 1:1 and have worked our way through the book to the point at which we find ourselves today….Revelation 8.
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Okay. On to today’s lesson. The sound of a trumpet calls all sorts of memories to mind for me.
The high school marching band
The Georgia fight song played from the south corner of Sanford stadium before a game
The blowing of the shofar in Jerusalem
One day there will be seven trumpet blasts that will herald God’s judgment on the earth, and there will be no good memories that come from these trumpet sounds. We have studied two of these soundings, and today we come to the third trumpet judgment. Let’s read about it.
Revelation 8: 10-11 (ESV)
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.
The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
What do we know from an initial reading of these verses?
- The third angel blows his trumpet
- A great, burning star falls from heaven. The name of the star is Wormwood
- The star falls on the earth’s fresh water (rivers and springs)
- 1/3 of the waters become wormwood, or bitter
- Many people die from drinking the water
John describes what he sees as a result of the blast of the 3rd trumpet as a great burning star falling from heaven. Commentators surmise that what he saw was a meteor, or perhaps a radioactive missile. Regardless of what the star represents, the effects are devastating. The fact that this object is burning tells us that it probably does not fall to the earth intact, but rather breaks up into many pieces and falls all over the globe into the earth’s fresh water. Therefore, a single missile does not seem like a likely answer.
According to Reference.com, there are 165 major rivers in the world. The US Geological Survey tells us that longest of these are the Nile at 4,132 miles, the Amazon at 4,000 miles in length, and the Yangtze at 3,915 miles. In the United States, our mighty Mississippi River measures 2,340 miles long. There are thousands of smaller rivers and streams around the world. If the blast of the third trumpet elicits an event that causes 1/3 of all the fresh water to be poisoned, there will be catastrophic results. In addition to the deaths of fish and land animals that rely on fresh water for life, the Bible says that ‘many’ people die from drinking the poisoned water.
We do not know the number of deaths that ‘many’ represents. We do know that the opening of the fourth seal allowed the rider on the pale horse to kill ¼ of the earth by famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. So, if we assume the earth’s population is already decreased by 25%, the additional death that is wrought by the poisoning of earth’s fresh water would be mind-blowing. This also does not take into account any deaths that have resulted from the other seals and trumpets which we have already studied.
The word ‘Wormwood’ offers some interesting pondering fodder. This word in the Greek, apsinthos, when translated gives us our English word absinthe, which is a drink, or spirit, used in some countries. This is the only usage of ‘wormwood’ in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the word ‘wormwood’ is used eight times (Deuteronomy 29:18, Proverbs 5:4, Jeremiah 9:15, Jeremiah 23:15, Lamentations 3:15 and 19, Amos 5:7, and Amos 6:12). In each usage it is associated with bitterness, poison, and death.
As you can see, the third trumpet judgment brings increasing death and destruction to earth and its inhabitants. Yet, men and women refuse to repent and turn to God. The next time we open Revelation, we will examine the fourth trumpet judgment. I’ll meet you back here soon.