Sunday, 29 November 2020
And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Revelation 6:13
The previous verse spoke of a great earthquake and the darkening of the sun and the moon. The events continue in the heavens in this verse where John says, “And the stars of heaven fell to the earth.” The symbolism that was presented by the Lord in Matthew 24:29 continues here. There, He said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven.”
Concerning these stars, there are two general ways the words are interpreted. The first is that these are literal meteors in the heavens falling to earth, which to John would appear as stars. This then could indicate the timing of the surrounding events – such as during a Perseid or Leonid meteor shower.
This would be perfectly in line with the symbolism of the sun and moon being darkened in the preceding verse and the earthquake before that – each of which is plausible and likely if the events are to be taken literally. If this natural explanation is correct, it is important to remember that the Bible, at times, describes events as they would appear to the spectator, not in scientifically accurate terms.
However, there is a second option as well. It could be that the stars are references to people in high positions, religious or otherwise. This terminology is used elsewhere in the Bible, such as in Daniel 8:10 – “And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them.”
The symbolism of stars being equated to rulers or leaders is found elsewhere as well. In Numbers 24:17, there is a prophecy that says, “A Star shall come out of Jacob.” That is then defined by the next clause, saying, “A Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” It is a messianic prophecy of the coming Messiah. Later, in Isaiah 17, the “day star” of verse 12 is referred to. In verse 13, he then says, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”
Such references (and others) are to leaders, religious or civil. If this is the correct interpretation, then the symbolism appears to be that the religious leaders are abandoning their religious allegiances and focusing on the anti-Christ.
Not only then is military power being solidified, but also the religious activities of the world are being brought into one large body of apostasy, of which Israel participates. As this is during the tribulation period, Israel’s final seven years under the law (Daniel 9:24-27), this allegorical meaning is quite likely. With this in mind, John then says, “as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.”
The symbolism here continues in Matthew 24:29 (cited above) in its final clause –
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
An early description of these events (the stars of heaven falling to the earth and the fig tree dropping its late figs) is found in Isaiah 34. There, it says –
“All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree.” Isaiah 34:4
This then is to be taken together with Jesus’ words of Matthew 24 –
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35
Jesus speaks of the fig tree being tender and sprouting. At that time, the events of these terrible times will begin to come to pass. What the fig symbolizes, then, must be determined. It was first mentioned in the Garden of Eden. After the fall, it says –
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7
The fig, or teenah in Hebrew, can be seen here and elsewhere to signify a connection to God or a disconnect from Him. Jesus provided a clue of this symbolism when He cursed the fig tree in Mark 11 –
“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’” Mark 11:12-14
He was making a living parable of the cutting off of the spiritual connection to God through the ineffective temple worship. No fruit was borne through it, and it was to be terminated. Thus, Jesus’ words of Matthew 24 are saying that there will be a time when the spiritual connection to God is blossoming. However, that will be terminated as prophesied with the words “the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs.”
The temple that is supposed to bring a reconnection to the Lord will fail to do so. Only by coming to God through Christ can this truly come about.
Life application: What is written in the Bible is from our human perspective. Even in modern times we do this, such as saying, “The sun will rise at 7:10 am.” The sun doesn’t actually rise, but from our perspective it does. Therefore, the Bible cannot be accused of dishonesty when otherwise odd pronouncements are made, such as stars of heaven falling to earth. They are for the benefit of the reader.
Therefore, even if they appear as “stars” to John’s eyes, they can simply be meteors. However, the symbolic typology is more likely concerning what is referred to here. It is speaking of rulers who are supposed to be exalted, but who instead are disgraced.
Either way, literally or symbolically, the world is in its tailspin and the events are on a global scale. These things will be fully understood only after they come to pass, but there is enough information provided now to give us insights into what is coming. The only way to not be swept up in the catastrophes that lie ahead is to accept the gospel now and to call out to Jesus. It is He who is the true Star that blazes brightly from the throne of God. He is our great Lord and Savior. He is JESUS.
Thank You, Lord, for allowing us to peer into the future events prophesied in Your word and to see what is coming. Although we may struggle with individual interpretations, we know the overall outcome. It is wonderful to know that you have complete control over the future and that we are already safe in You. Glory be to You, O God. Amen.