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Rev 22:7

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Revelation 8:7-13

Revelation 8 - Quick Links

  • Silence in Heaven
    and the golden altar

    Revelation 8:1-6

  • Trumpet Judgments 1-4
    Revelation 8:7-13

  • Revelation 8:7-13

    Revelation 8:7 - The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

    Recall from Revelation 8:1, the Trumpet judgments begin in the second half of the Tribulation. This is the time that Jesus characterizes as "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be," (Matthew 24:21) and begins when the antichrist, or the beast, breaks the covenant he brokers with Israel found in Daniel, by causing the "abomination of desolation":

    Matthew 24:15, 21 - "Therefore when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand)... "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
    Mark 13:14 - "So when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.... For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be."
    Daniel 9:26-27 - "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."

    Incidentally, God pictures His annulling of this "covenant with death" like sweeping it away with hail and the destructive flood waters that result from the hail melting:

    Isaiah 28:15-18 - Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily. Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet; the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trampled down by it."

    It is interesting, and perhaps by design, that when the Lord sweeps the "covenant with death" away figuratively with hail, there will be real hail mixed with fire and blood thrown to the earth, after the first angel blows the first Trumpet judgment. While there is clearly symbolic hail associated with the annulling of the covenant, there is no reason to spiritualize away the first Trumpet judgment, as God physically poured out a similar judgment on Egypt:

    Exodus 9:22-25 - Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt - on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field.
    Psalms 78:43, 47-49 - When He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan... He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost. He also gave up their cattle to the hail, and their flocks to fiery lightning. He cast on them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, indignation, and trouble, by sending angels of destruction among them.
    Psalms 105:27, 32-33 - They performed His signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.... He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land. He struck their vines also, and their fig trees, and splintered the trees of their territory.

    Just as God sent hail mingled with fire that destroyed trees and vegetation in Egypt, He will likewise destroy trees and vegetation on the earth, after the first angel blows his trumpet. In this first Trumpet judgment, a third of the trees and all the green grass will burn up. The Greek word translated as "grass" could also refer to herbage, growing grain, or hay. This suggests that all vegetation that is green that has leaves, stalks, or stems is in view, which would ravage the food supply. However, the impact on vegetation would only last to the next growing season, as vegetation generally rebounds in a process called "serotiny" (source). Indeed, we see vegetation present again by the fifth Trumpet judgment:

    Revelation 9:4 - They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

    Trees are heartier and can withstand fire damage better than vegetation because they are denser and contain more water (source). This may explain why only a third of the trees burn up, and not all of them.

    Note that this first judgment of hail, fire and blood mingle with it. Recall from Revelation 6:13, that a comet or similar heavenly body may pass by the earth at the beginning of the Tribulation in the sixth Seal judgment. The debris tail can enter the earth's orbit and/or the earth would move through the debris field every year. The debris from such a heavenly body could explain several of the Tribulation judgments, including the first Trumpet judgment.

    Comets consist of ice. If pieces of a comet break off and fall to the earth before they melt, it would be like hail falling. Comet particles would burn as they enter the atmosphere. If the earth passes through a debris field large enough to affect both sides of the earth, during at least one revolution of the earth, with enough particles sizable enough to survive the plunge through the atmosphere, it could catch enough of the vegetation on fire to spread and engulf all it, along with a third of the trees. A rapid spread of fire is certainly reasonable to expect, especially if the two witnesses pronounce a drought on the world at the beginning of their ministry, as Elijah did for the same time span of three and a half years:

    Revelation 11:3, 6 - And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.... These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
    Luke 4:25 - But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land...

    A comet debris field could also explain the blood mingled with the hail and fire. The Greek word for "blood" is "haima," which is where we derive our words like "hemoglobin" in human blood, which consists of iron, and "hematite," describing the blood-red color of iron oxide (source). Iron oxide has been found in comets (sources: 1 2 3 4). Iron oxide could cause water to look like blood (sources: 1 2 3). Iron oxide in dust particles have been known to form blood rain (source). Therefore, comet fragments entering the atmosphere could look like hail and fire, mingled with blood.

    It is interesting that God throws hail and fire, mingled with blood to the earth in this judgment, which targets the creation, not man. The harlot religion "Babylon the Great" rules during the first half of the Tribulation. This religion, clearly steeped in idolatry, worships the creation and not the Creator (Romans 1:25). Even today we see glimpses of the worship of creation in the environmentalist movements and mystic religions. Men will still cling to their idolatry into the second half of the Tribulation, through all the Trumpet judgments:

    Revelation 9:20 - But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

    When God used Nebuchadnezzar to judge the Jews for their idolatry by sending them into exile, He also destroyed the land in southern Israel with fire that burned all the vegetation and trees, much like in the first Trumpet judgment:

    Ezekiel 20:46-48 - "Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South, and say to the forest of the South, 'Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched."'"

    Under the Law, stoning was the punishment for idolatry and blasphemy:

    Deuteronomy 13:6-10 - "If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
    Leviticus 24:16 - And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.

    God destroys a large part of the creation in the Tribulation judgments, starting with hail and fire. Those who do not stop worshiping the creation instead of the Creator in idolatry, will themselves later become subject to "stoning" with large hail at the end of the Tribulation, reminiscent of the punishment under the Law:

    Revelation 16:21 - And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

    It is also interesting that God commanded Israel to burn idols in the Old Testament:

    Deuteronomy 7:25 - You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.
    Deuteronomy 12:2-4 - You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things.

    Like with the hail, God Himself burns much of the creation in the first Trumpet judgment, and will later burn those who do not repent of their idolatry and blaspheme His name:

    Revelation 16:8-9 - Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

    As we will see, God uses these judgments to systematically take away what many have taken for granted or worshiped instead of God, giving no thought of dependence on God for the needs He provides through the creation. God is a jealous God and consumes in His wrath those who reject their Creator and worship the creation as their god:

    Deuteronomy 6:13-15 - You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.
    Zephaniah 1:17-18 - "I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse." Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.

    Make no mistake, God's wrath is not just in the Bowl judgments, He merely finishes it with them. As discussed in Revelation 6:17, God's wrath is in all the Tribulation judgments. His wrath is also found in the Old Testament, when He judged Israel for breaking the Law of Moses and going after idols (2 Kings 22:13-17, 2 Chronicles 34:21-25), and other nations steeped in idolatry who came against Israel (Psalms 78:43-51, Jeremiah 50:9-15, Nahum 1:1-14). While hail and fire is found in the first Trumpet judgment, it is found in other passages which speak about God's wrath and indignation:

    Ezekiel 13:10 - "Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace - and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar - say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?'" Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. "Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, 'The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' " says the Lord GOD."
    Isaiah 30:27-28, 30 - Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with His anger, and His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a devouring fire. His breath is like an overflowing stream, which reaches up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of futility; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.... The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones.
    Psalms 18:7-14 - Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.

    In short, it is primarily idolatry and forsaking God in pride that brings forth His wrath, as shown throughout the Scriptures. The Tribulation judgments will permanently take care of this issue:

    Isaiah 2:12, 18-21 - For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up - and it shall be brought low.... But the idols He shall utterly abolish. They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.

    Revelation 8:8 - Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

    On the heels of the first Trumpet judgment, the second angel sounds his trumpet. God throws something that looks like a mountain burning into the sea, turning a third of it to blood. A mountain in Scripture may symbolize governments or nations. Jesus used the impending destruction of Israel as an object lesson of faith by comparing the nation to a fig tree and a mountain thrown in to the sea:

    Matthew 21:21 - So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done."
    Mark 11:20-24 - Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away." So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."

    Daniel saw God's kingdom compared to a mountain that will destroy all other kingdoms on the earth:

    Daniel 2:44-45 - And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold - the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.

    God compares Babylon to a destroying mountain that He will destroy and make desolate forever:

    Jeremiah 51:24-26 - "And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight," says the LORD. "Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth," says the LORD. "And I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain. They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever," says the LORD.

    Indeed, the Lord will permanently destroy Babylon at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 18) and covered by the sea:

    Jeremiah 51:42-43 - The sea has come up over Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of its waves. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land and a wilderness, a land where no one dwells, through which no son of man passes.

    However, there is nothing in Scripture that suggests a nation thrown into the sea will figuratively turn it to blood, especially when the next verse speaks of physical death to sea creatures and destruction to ships (Revelation 8:9). Besides, Moses physically turned the water to blood in one of the plagues against Egypt:

    Exodus 7:19-21 - Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.'" And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
    Mountain on fire

    Recall from the last section and Revelation 6:13, that debris from a heavenly body such as a comet can contain iron oxide. Iron is what gives blood its red color. Iron oxide mixed with water is similar chemically to human blood. A sizable piece of debris from a heavenly body that consists of iron oxide could make a large body of water become as blood.

    There is debate on whether the "sea" is speaking of the oceans collectively, or just the Mediterranean Sea. While it is true that the Mediterranean is in view in most references to "the sea." But other references in Scripture also call other bodies of water, like the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea as the "sea." The global view of the rest of the Trumpet judgments suggest that the oceans are in view, and not just the Mediterranean Sea.

    Revelation 8:9 - And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

    Creation suffers in God's judgment against man (Romans 8:20):

    Hosea 4:1-3 - Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: "There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away."
    Zephaniah 1:2-7 - "I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land," Says the LORD; "I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," Says the LORD. "I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests - those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom; those who have turned back from following the LORD, and have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him." Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests."

    The death of the sea creatures will not only affect the food supply, but will also affect commerce when the burning mountain destroys a third of the ships. Ships have been the standard for trading merchandise for millennia:

    Isaiah 60:9 - Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the LORD your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you.
    Ezekiel 27:9, 25 - Elders of Gebal and its wise men were in you to caulk your seams; all the ships of the sea and their oarsmen were in you to market your merchandise.... The ships of Tarshish were carriers of your merchandise. You were filled and very glorious in the midst of the seas.

    Ships can also show the military might of a nation:

    Daniel 11:40 - At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.

    When God destroys ships in judgment, it humbles those who are confident in their own power and wealth:

    Isaiah 2:12-17 - For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up - and it shall be brought low - upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan; upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up; upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall; upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops. The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day...
    Isaiah 23:14 - Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For your strength is laid waste.
    Revelation 18:19 - They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.'

    If the heavenly body that looks like a burning mountain affects a third of the oceans, and not just a third of the Mediterranean Sea, it would surely be enormous, affecting not only ships and sea creatures, but would also certainly devastate the coastlines too in the tsunami it would generate on impact.

    Revelation 8:10 - 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.

    When the third angel sounds his trumpet a "great star...burning like a torch" falls on a third of the rivers and springs, it will poison a large part of the drinkable water on the earth. The Greek word translated "torch" is "lampas," which can also be translated as a lamp or lantern, and is the same Greek word used in Revelation 4:5 to describe the seven lit lamps on the lamp stand, which represents the Holy Spirit and the churches. In other words, this star looks like a flame or a shooting star, which could be a meteoroid or a comet fragment falling to the earth.

    Some like to spiritualize this star away as an angel, since stars symbolize angels sometimes in Scripture, as discussed in Revelation 1:20. The physical devastation described from this fallen star clearly argues in favor of this "star" being a physical heavenly body like a meteor or a piece of a comet, as discussed more in the next section.

    Since the heavenly body falls on a third of the springs and rivers, it is possible it will break apart as it enters the atmosphere, with the pieces scattering on a third of the fresh water sources. The Greek word for "springs" is "pégé," which is the same word used in the last chapter for "fountains":

    Revelation 7:16-17 - They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

    Recall from Revelation 7:17, living fountains of water are a picture of eternal life found in the Lord, which is fitting, as water is a vital necessity for life. As we will see in the next section, many will die from poisoning of a third of the rivers and springs, apparently including Tribulation saints, as discussed in Revelation 7:16. However, the lost will have eternal spiritual thirst, but the Tribulation saints that die will never thirst again:

    John 4:13-14 - Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

    Revelation 8:11 - The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.

    John tells us that "Wormwood" is the name of the star that falls on a third of the rivers and streams. Wormwood is a shrub that grows in the Mediterranean, used as an herbal medicine for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and for intestinal issues (source). In Scripture it is known for its bitter taste and used to describe bitterness in idolatry and immoral women:

    Deuteronomy 29:14-18 - "I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today (for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them - wood and stone and silver and gold); so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood..."
    Proverbs 5:3-4 - For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

    The prophet Jeremiah associates "wormwood" with the bitterness of God's judgment, in addition to gall, which is a bitter and poisonous substance (source):

    Jeremiah 9:13-16 - And the LORD said, "Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them," therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them."
    Jeremiah 23:13-15 - "And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err. Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: 'Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land.'"
    Lamentations 3:15-19 - He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood. He has also broken my teeth with gravel, And covered me with ashes. You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. And I said, "My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD." Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall.

    The prophet Amos described injustice as wormwood and gall, which still speaks of bitterness:

    Amos 5:7 - You who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth!
    Amos 6:12 - Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there with oxen? Yet you have turned justice into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.

    Giving bitter water to drink that poisons people is reminiscent of the peculiar ritual under the Law of Moses, where the priest gave bitter water to a woman suspected of being unfaithful to her husband:

    Numbers 5:12-15 - Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'If any man's wife goes astray and behaves unfaithfully toward him, and a man lies with her carnally, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and it is concealed that she has defiled herself, and there was no witness against her, nor was she caught - if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself - then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, an offering for remembering, for bringing iniquity to remembrance.'
    Numbers 5:16-22 'And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD. The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. Then the priest shall stand the woman before the LORD, uncover the woman's head, and put the offering for remembering in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that brings a curse. And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, "If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband's authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you" - then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman - "the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot." 'Then the woman shall say, "Amen, so be it."
    Numbers 5:23-28 - 'Then the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall scrape them off into the bitter water. And he shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her to become bitter. Then the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman's hand, shall wave the offering before the LORD, and bring it to the altar; and the priest shall take a handful of the offering, as its memorial portion, burn it on the altar, and afterward make the woman drink the water. When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children.'

    While the unfaithful woman was subject to a curse of barrenness from the bitter water for her harlotry, the inhabitants of the earth will be subject to the curse of death from the waters poisoned by Wormwood for their harlotry with idols and rejection of God. It is interesting that an innocent woman who went through the bitter water ritual the Lord supernaturally protected from the poison. If the Lord can turn water to wine (John 2:1-11), He can certainly turn bitter, poisonous water to safe, sweet water, just like He did through Moses and Elisha:

    Exodus 15:23-26 - Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
    2 Kings 2:19-22 - Then the men of the city said to Elisha, "Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren." And he said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, "Thus says the LORD: 'I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.' " So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.

    Healed water will come out of the temple in the Millennium, and bring life to wherever it flows:

    Ezekiel 47:1, 8-9 - Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes."

    On the eternal earth, living water proceeds from the throne of God:

    Revelation 22:1-2 - And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    The healed and healing waters in these passages is a picture of Jesus, who is the source of the spiritual living water that gives eternal life, as discussed in the last section and in Revelation 7:17. The third Trumpet judgment of bitter waters will physically poison the waters, but it is also a picture of the spiritual death that most will face if they continue to reject the Lord like Israel did, as an unfaithful woman who played the harlot with idols instead:

    Hosea 4:12 - My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.
    Ezekiel 16:2, 28-34 - "Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied. "How degenerate is your heart!" says the Lord GOD, "seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot. "You erected your shrine at the head of every road, and built your high place in every street. Yet you were not like a harlot, because you scorned payment. You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband. Men make payment to all harlots, but you made your payments to all your lovers, and hired them to come to you from all around for your harlotry. You are the opposite of other women in your harlotry, because no one solicited you to be a harlot. In that you gave payment but no payment was given you, therefore you are the opposite."
    Ezekiel 16:35-41 - 'Now then, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your filthiness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotry with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them, surely, therefore, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved, and all those you hated; I will gather them from all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy. I will also give you into their hand, and they shall throw down your shrines and break down your high places. They shall also strip you of your clothes, take your beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. "They shall also bring up an assembly against you, and they shall stone you with stones and thrust you through with their swords. They shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women; and I will make you cease playing the harlot, and you shall no longer hire lovers."

    Going back to the "star" that falls on a third of the rivers and streams, it is interesting to note that comets contain hydrogen cyanide, which has a bitter taste (source). If a piece of a comet enters the atmosphere, it could rain down this gas on waters or streams, and/or hit a significant water source that could make a third of the rivers and streams bitter, as discussed in Revelation 6:13.

    Instead of a comet or asteroid, some believe that the star called Wormwood might be a nuclear explosion that rains down radioactive contamination on the rivers and streams, poisoning them. They look to the Russian nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Incidentally, "chernobyl" is the Russian word for "wormwood." Today, a concrete sarcophagus contains the reactor, but it will not last indefinitely. There are plans to build a more permanent containment sarcophagus. Unfortunately, delays plague the construction plans to better contain the reactor, pushing the current containment sarcophagus to the end of its expected lifespan (source). Bible teacher Jack Kelley explains how Chernobyl might play into the Wormwood prophecy:

      "A nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl power plant exploded during testing, releasing amounts of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere 300 times greater than the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima. If you saw the movie "China Syndrome" you learned that out of control reactors can burrow into the ground and once that happens are all but unstoppable. There's no official word on whether that did or can happen at Chernobyl. But containment efforts are still ongoing 25 years later, and if European aquifers become contaminated, it's easy to see how this view of Revelation 8:11 could be accurate."

    Revelation 8:12 - Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.

    Recall from Revelation 6, the number "four" relates to the earth and the creation. The first four trumpet judgments are on the creation, while the last three are judgment on man, through interaction between the physical and spiritual realms. On that note, it is interesting that the fourth day of creation transitions from the inanimate creation to creation of living creatures and humans on days five and six, who have the breath of the "spirit of life" (Genesis 7:21-23). It is also interesting that God created the luminaries on the fourth day, which He strikes in the fourth Trumpet judgment:

    Genesis 1:14-19 - Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

    God striking the luminaries in this judgment serves as a sign to those on the earth that Jesus is going to return soon. These signs will terrorize those not saved, but give comfort to believers:

    Luke 21:25-28 - "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

    It is very clear in our passage of discussion that the luminaries themselves are struck. This is not an obscuration in the earth's atmosphere dimming the light, like volcano ash, or smoke from the fires that destroy the vegetation, but something that physically darkens the luminaries themselves. The reflected light of the moon and planets are dependent on the sun. Therefore, if the sun darkens by a third, then the moon will also darken proportionally.

    Stars like the sun go through magnetic cycles. During the years of peak solar activity, magnetic activity causes areas of lower temperatures which look like dark spots, called "sunspots":

                                                  Picture Sources: 1 2

    These areas harbor energy that can produce solar flares and coronal mass ejections (source). Other stars exhibit similar activity (source).

    Another type of darkening on the sun is the coronal hole:

    Coronal Hole
    Source: NASA

      "Coronal holes are dark, low density regions of the sun's outermost atmosphere, the corona. They contain little solar material, have lower temperatures, and therefore, appear much darker than their surroundings.... The holes are important to our understanding of space weather, as they are the source of a high-speed wind of solar particles that streams off the sun some three times faster than the slower wind elsewhere. While it's unclear what causes coronal holes, they correlate to areas on the sun where magnetic fields soar up and away, failing to loop back down to the surface, as they do elsewhere."

    Coronal holes can cause geomagnetic storms. These storms can affect communication systems and cause radiation poisoning outside of the earth's atmosphere, but generally they are not as severe or sudden as the coronal mass ejections and solar flares from sunspots (sources: 1, 2).

    The picture above was of a massive coronal hole on the sun during the summer of 2013. It covered nearly a fourth of the sun. Nothing of consequence occurred on the earth from the solar wind stream that glanced by, though there was a rash of news commentators that suggested this coronal hole could have caused an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or Carrington super flare event. The following article shows the error in that theory and why sunspots are much more dangerous to the earth than coronal holes:

      "My biggest concern is that my Fox News comments miscommunicated the real risks of solar activity ("fearmongering" as some of my critics called it). I noted that coronal holes happen all the time, but that is only part of the story. Because holes are an ongoing source of the high-speed component of the solar wind, they contribute to the background effects of space weather. The real risks come from those explosive events, the flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs-the equivalents to hurricanes and tornadoes as opposed to a day of high winds....

      The real concern, which I highlighted at the end of my Fox appearance, is that the sun might experience a superflare: an extreme explosive event far more intense even than the typical flare, but also far rarer. I pointed out that the last true superflare happened in 1859, an eruption known as the Carrington event; milder ones happened in 1921 and 1960. Such a solar eruption is quite different than a coronal hole. In fact, it's essentially the opposite. A coronal hole is a slow, steady release of solar plasma from a magnetically open region of the sun. A superflare is a fast, explosive release from a place of extreme magnetic confinement.

      A superflare could wreak havoc on electronic technology. Damage to communications satellites alone would total tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. The even bigger concern is that a superflare would induce intense power surges in the electrical grid, possibly overloading transformers and triggering a blackout across a large part of the world...."

    Between sunspots and coronal holes, I believe sunspots better fit the description in the fourth Trumpet judgment. While the sun has never had more than several sunspots at a time, let alone covered by a third them, the fourth Trumpet judgment is not a normal occurrence. Luke 21:25 shows the judgments that affect the luminaries are meant for a sign. People on the earth will visually witness God's sovereignty over the creation when He strikes all the luminaries in this judgment and again in future judgments.

    Take note that the fourth Bowl judgment makes the sun scorch men with fire:

    Revelation 16:8-9 - Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

    As discussed earlier, sunspots harbor energy and can produce solar flares. If the sun becomes covered in sunspots, an assault of massive solar flares on the earth and the rest of the solar system are likely to occur.

    Also note, day and night shorten by a third on the earth. If the second and third trumpet judgments of the burning mountain and Wormwood occur in rapid fire succession, and if one or both these heavenly bodies are massive enough hit with enough force, it could affect rotation of the earth. Reduction by a third would bring the hours in a day, or rotation of the earth to sixteen hours, instead of twenty-four. This would also explain what Jesus said about the shortened days in the second half of the Tribulation:

    Matthew 24:22 - And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.
    Mark 13:20 - And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

    Most of what God destroys in the Trumpet judgments He does so by a third:

    Third of the trees burned up Revelation 8:7
    Third of the sea became blood Revelation 8:8
    Third of the living creatures in the sea died Revelation 8:9
    Third of the ships destroyed Revelation 8:9
    Third of the rivers and springs became wormwood Revelation 8:10-11
    Third of the sun struck Revelation 8:12
    Third of the moon struck Revelation 8:12
    Third of the stars struck Revelation 8:12
    Third of the luminaries darkened Revelation 8:12
    Third of the day did not shine Revelation 8:12
    Third of mankind killed by fire, smoke and brimstone Revelation 9:15-18

    The number "three" speaks of God's divine nature:

    God's nature Attributes Godhead Member Eternal
    One Omnipotence Father Past
    Two Omniscience Son Present
    Three Omnipresent Holy Spirit Future

    "Three" also shows perfection or completion in God's plan, as demonstrated in the scriptural examples below:

    • Three sons of Noah populated the earth after the flood (Genesis 9)
    • God made His covenant with Abraham by cutting 3 three-year old mammals in half (Genesis 15)
    • Three angels appearing as men told Abraham about judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18)
    • Moses was hid for three months (Exodus 2)
    • It was a three days' journey from Egypt to the wilderness for the Hebrews to sacrifice to God (Exodus 3)
    • Egypt had three days of darkness before the last plague of the death of the firstborn (Exodus 10)
    • The people prepared to meet God for three days (Exodus 19)
    • Three times the men were to go to Jerusalem to keep the feasts (Exodus 23 & 34)
    • Balaam struck the donkey three times before God opened its mouth to speak (Numbers 22)
    • Balaam blessed Israel three times (Numbers 23-24)
    • The Hebrews prepared for three days to cross the Jordan (Joshua 1)
    • Gideon divided his army into three companies (Judges 7)
    • Samson told Delilah about the source of his strength after he lied to her three times (Judges 16)
    • God called Samuel three times, before Eli realized it was God speaking (1 Samuel 3)
    • Saul separated the army into three companies when they defeated the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11)
    • Saul and his three sons died the same day, ending Saul's dynasty (1 Samuel 31)
    • God brought three years of famine during David's reign due to a sin of Saul (2 Samuel 21)
    • God gave David a choice of three punishments for taking the census (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21)
    • Elijah stretched himself out on a dead child three times, praying for the Lord to revive him (1 Kings 17)
    • Elijah poured water on the alter three times before God consumed the sacrifice in fire (1 Kings 18)
    • Elisha said Israel would strike Syria three times as the king struck the ground three times (1 Kings 13)
    • Assyria besieged Samaria for three years before they took it (2 Kings 17-18)
    • Esther fasted for three days before facing the king (Esther 4)
    • Three men survived Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace (Daniel 3)
    • Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights (Jonah 1)
    • Jonah preached to Nineveh for three days (Jonah 3)
    • Three of Jesus' disciples see three men in the transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9)
    • Testimony is established on the witness of two or three (Matthew 18, Deuteronomy 17)
    • Jesus was buried and rose on the third day (1 Corinthians 15)
    • Jesus asked Peter three times if He loved Him after Peter denied Him three times (John 21)
    • Paul was blind and fasted for three days before he was healed and baptized (Acts 9)
    • Peter saw the unclean animal vision three times before three Gentiles came to him (Acts 10-11)
    • Three groups (Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles) received salvation through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 & 11)
    • There are three heavens: The atmosphere, the cosmos, and God's dwelling place (2 Corinthians 12)

    Click here for more on prophetic patterns in numbers.

    Only striking parts of the creation by a third, shows that God is not complete in His judgment. In other words, three shows perfect completion, while a fraction in thirds shows less than complete. The Lord will continue to show restraint until the very end of the Tribulation in the Bowl judgments, right before He returns, which will complete His wrath (Revelation 15:1), as shown in the passages below:

    Revelation 16:3-4 - Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
    Isaiah 13:9-10 - Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.
    Matthew 24:29 - 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.

    We see this restraint of God's judgment with the remnant of Israel He spares, as He protects a third of them through the Tribulation:

    Zechariah 13:8-9 - "And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

    A third of the angels fell with Satan, which shows a departure from the divine perfection of God. Incidentally, God will spare a third of Israel through the Tribulation, after Michael and the holy angels cast Satan and his angels out of Heaven about the same time the Trumpet judgments begin, which affect a third of many elements in the creation:

    Revelation 12:4-9 - His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

    Revelation 8:13 - And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"

    After God smites the luminaries by a third, a flying angel announces more doom coming to the inhabitants of the earth. This angel flies in the "midst of heaven," which is the same Greek used to describe the earth's atmosphere in the following verses:

    Revelation 14:6-7 - Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."
    Revelation 19:17-18 - Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."

    We know John is speaking of the atmosphere and not the cosmos or God's dwelling place, because the people on the earth can hear the angel preaching the everlasting gospel, and the birds hear the invite for the supper of God. The following passages support this notion, because people acknowledge that the Lord is behind these judgments, as though they have heard what the angels have said, yet they continue in their rebellion:

    Revelation 6:15-16 - And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
    Revelation 16:10-11 - Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

    As a side note, other Bible versions translate the flying angel as an eagle instead. Many commentators have gone to great lengths to find significance to an eagle announcing the three woes because it departs from the pattern of angels and seraphim calling out judgment in Revelation. Also, there is no other eagle in Scripture that calls out judgment, let alone speak. Personally, I do not favor the eagle translation.

    Other translations that have a flying eagle come from a different Greek text. Here are two articles that explain the difference between the two Greek texts: "New Testament Manuscripts," and "Textual History of the Bible."

    Only angels, the living creatures, and the prophets in the Old Testament call out judgment elsewhere in Scripture. Besides, we find another flying angel later in Revelation in translations based on both Greek texts, which gives strength to the argument for the translation of an angel in this chapter:

    Revelation 14:6-7 - Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."

    The flying angel in this chapter warns of three "woes" coming on the earth. As we will see in later chapters, these three "woes" will complete God's wrath, which fits with the meaning of completion in the number "three," as shown in the last section. The prophets frequently used the word "woe," while they were denunciating someone or something, showing grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lament over coming judgment, instead of protection and well-being from the Lord:

    Lamentations 3:38 - Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?
    Jeremiah 45:3-5 - 'You said, "Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest." "Thus you shall say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."'"

    Recall from Revelation 5:1, Ezekiel ate a scroll that had lamentations, mourning and woes written on the inside and outside like the sealed scroll the Lamb takes from the right hand of God:

    Ezekiel 2:9-3:1 - Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe. Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel."

    The writing on the scroll given to Ezekiel was a warning to Israel of impending judgment if they did not repent. The Lord did not seal this scroll like the one in Revelation. Ezekiel's warning of coming judgment was conditional, though the Lord knew Israel would continue in rebellion; judgment eventually came as a result (Ezekiel 2-3).

    "Sealed" in the Greek means to close, or make secure. The Lord did not seal the scroll He gave to Ezekiel, and thus, its contents contained a conditional warning. In contrast, the scroll in Revelation is a sealed document; its contents cannot be revoked, similar to the way the seal of a king's signet ring made pronouncements irreversible (Esther 8:8, Daniel 6:17).

    The scroll in Revelation is the same as Ezekiel's scroll, in that the judgments deliver lamentations, mourning and woes. In this case, the three woes announced by the angel are not just cries of distress of the last three Trumpet judgments, but define and characterize the enormity of what will befall the inhabitants of the earth in these coming judgments. In other words, these three woes are specific judgments that are increasingly severe, compared to other judgments already come.

    Some believe the third woe is when Satan evicted from Heaven:

    Revelation 12:12 - Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.

    This is not the case, as the flying angel specifically tells us that the "woes" are for the remaining blasts of the trumpet, which are the fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments:

    First Woe Fifth Trumpet Revelation 9:1-12 Demonic locusts torture men for five months
    Second Woe Sixth Trumpet Revelation 9:13-21, 11:14 Demonic army kills a third of mankind
    Third Woe Seventh Trumpet
    & Bowl Judgments
    Revelation 11:15-19, 15 Coronation of the King and the Wrath of God complete right before the Lord returns

    Confusion on where the three woes fall typically stems from a misunderstanding of the interludes interjected in the main narrative of the judgments, as shown below:

    Revelation 8-16 Interludes

    Recall from Revelation 7:1, an interlude is a parenthesis in the main dialogue, where we obtain more information, or a different perspective to the main storyline. There are clear indications in each of these interludes that they reach back or forward in time, and generally return to where the primary narrative left off. The timing of these interludes will make more sense in later chapters.

    Note that the two witnesses' resurrection and earthquake in Revelation 11:11-13 are not a "woe," but an interlude event that takes place between the sixth and the seventh Trumpet judgments, or the second and third woes. The third "woe" is the last Trumpet judgment and the "Coronation of the King" in Revelation 11:15-19, which rolls into the Bowl judgments in Revelation 15-16. Revelation 12-14 are a series of interludes that go back in time to tell us more of the story, before returning to the narrative in Revelation 15. It will become clearer in later chapters, that these three "woes" contain the rest of the judgments of God found within the sealed scroll from Revelation 5.

    In closing, while the first four Trumpet judgments are horrible, an increase in severity of the rest of the judgments in future chapters will certainly bring more lamentations, mourning, and woe than ever seen before on the earth; so much so, if the Lord does not shorten the days in the fourth Trumpet judgment, the last of the judgments in the three woes would destroy all flesh:

    Matthew 24:19-22 - But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.
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    Revelation Flow Chart

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