Wednesday, 30 December 2020
Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. Revelation 8:10
John’s attention is now directed to the trumpet sounding of the third angel. With that, he says, “And a great star fell from heaven.”
Here, the word translated as “star” is aster. It is used for meteors and planets as well as other heavenly bodies. It’s also used in a metaphorical sense for people, angels, and even Jesus Himself. Because of this, some commentators have come to the conclusion that this (and the previous object) is actually an angel who has been cast out of heaven and is now in the earthly realm causing havoc.
Others have seen it as a great leader (a prince, ruler, one of high rank, and so on). It could even be a foreshadowing of the lawless one mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. It is impossible to deny these views at this point because they are future to us (based on a dispensational view of the events). This star, however, could be something literal that John is trying to describe. If so, this could be speaking of some type of missile with a chemical, radiological, or biological warhead.
Because the word “star” has been (and will be) used both literally and figuratively in Scripture, both literal and figurative views must be considered. This continues to be true with the thought of it falling from heaven. Both real objects will fall from the heavens, such as meteors and missiles, and also spiritual objects, such as the angels being cast out of their heavenly realm or human leaders that fall away from the truth of God. Any of these may be correct. Whichever John sees, it next says it is “burning like a torch.”
If this is to be considered a literal meteor or a missile, this is exactly what such an object would look like to John. If a missile, the effects of such a warhead would be as one might anticipate, and as will be next described. If this is to be taken figuratively, with the Lord simply providing a physical object to describe a spiritual truth, the result would be the same – death and destruction. It would, however, be spiritually applied.
John next says, “and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.” If taken literally, the same thing must be considered as before. Is this speaking of the entire world, or only the land of Israel where the main focus of attention is? Again, to be dogmatic may be barking up the wrong tree. If on a global scale, the same truth would be applied as if only in Israel. However, it would simply be on a greater scale.
If this is speaking figuratively, Albert Barnes provides one possible explanation, saying, “if it be understood as having a more metaphorical sense, to regard it as affecting those things which resemble rivers and fountains – the sources of influence; the morals, the religion of a people, the institutions of a country, which are often so appropriately compared with running fountains or flowing streams.”
If figurative, then speaking more from a spiritual sense, it may be a corruption of religion as in a great turning away from the gospel that is being foretold during the tribulation period.
Any of these views are, at this point, equally to be considered. The Bible speaks of both literal and figurative fulfilling of such things. It also is applied to spiritual and non-spiritual entities (such as human leaders in religious matters and humans leaders of governments). What is certain is that once the events are complete, they will be understood as the fulfillment of them.
Life application: It is good to consider every aspect of these events, and to not get caught up in too much arguing over points that are both future and that have various possible explanations. In the end, those of the church will be taken out of the world to be with Christ before these events come to pass. Our hope is in Him, not worrying about who the antichrist will be, or whether we will be directly affected by the plagues that are prophesied to occur.
Because of this, let us have our hearts and minds focused on Christ, and let us trust that what is coming will be properly revealed and perfectly fulfilled in their due time. Until then, let us fix our eyes on JESUS!
O God, we look to the events prophesied about the future, and they often seem incredible and yet distant. But these things really are coming to pass, and real people will be affected by them. Help us to get the word out that there is salvation in Christ Jesus. The more we delay, the more people won’t hear the good news. The time of the fulfillment of those things is coming. And so, may we stir our hearts to action. Amen.