Saturday, 25 February 2017 22:13

54. The third trumpet: poisoning the truth * Revelation 8:10-11

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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.

 

*** A great star fell from Heaven ***: In lesson #9, we studied about the mystery of the seven stars in Jesus’ hand. Those starts were the churches messengers, and Jesus called them angels (Revelation 1:20). The word "angel" in Greek is angeloi, and the word in Hebrew is mal·’aḵ. The word angel means messenger or representative. Even though we see, in the Old Testament, a reference to the church leader as being “the messenger [mal·’aḵ] of the Lord” (Malachi 2:7), the meaning of this section of Revelation seems to agree with the more common meaning. In the Old Testament, the word mal·’aḵ is most often than not translated as the celestial being “angel”, as we can see in Judges 2:4. The angel/star of the third trumpet is, however, different. He was great, and he fell from Heaven as if he were a lamp. Isaiah 14:12-15 talks about the fall of Lucifer, who became known as Satan after his fall: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the farthest sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to sheol, to the sides of the pit.” Lucifer was one of the highest angels in Heaven. But his selfish thoughts took control of him, and he began to desire the position that is only God’s. He wanted to be God. His behavior no longer fits with the way God operates. Lucifer’s rebellion led him to be cast out of Heaven. Jesus mentioned Satan’s fall in Luke 10:18: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

*** The star fell upon one-third of the rivers and fountains of water ***: We will see the term “one-third" over and over in the first four trumpets. The judgments are to fall on only one-third of the group. In this case, the text mentions “rivers and fountains of water”. Please see the full explanation about the meaning of ‘one-third’ in lesson #53. In summary, one-third is always the incomplete picture and is related to those opposing the truth. This is the case in the third trumpet as well. The ones who have rejected Jesus’ message are the target of this trumpet plague. And so, the judgment continues to be partial. The judgment itself is coming in the form of rivers and fountains. The great star fell on those waters. Some versions translated ‘fountains’ as ‘springs of water’. Jesus said: “He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38). He also said in Revelation 21:6: “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Spiritual nourishment comes from the spiritual Living Water, which keeps alive those who accept the source of that water: Jesus. Springs of water represent the teachings that can enrich the spiritual growth of a person. It is the knowledge that comes from the truth.

*** The star was called Wormwood ***: The word wormwood comes from the Greek absinthes, and from Hebrew la-‘ă-nāh. They refer to a plant known to be very bitter (Deuteronomy 29:17-18; Lamentations 3:19). We read in Jeremiah 9:13-15, God warnings about how He would give the people wormwood and gall because of their disobedience to God’s Law. In the Old Testament, wormwood is a symbol of God’s punishment due to disobedience, and apostasy. The waters mentioned in Revelation 8:10 are different from the original and pure source offered by Jesus. When the bitter wormwood fell on part of the waters of the Earth, it turned that portion of water into poison (only a third of the water became poisonous - Revelation 8:11). The water became contaminated, and people started to drink from a spiritual message that was mixed with impurities. And bitter water represents a spiritual message that is incomplete or filled with half-truths and lies. The waters became bitter as a consequence of people falling back into apostasy. Revelation 8:11 says that the star itself was called Wormwood. Satan is the one responsible for introducing false teachings mixed with the real message of God. Satan poisoned the message, and he is serving it up to anyone who will drink from his lies.

*** One-third of the waters became wormwood and many died ***: The punishment of impure water does not fall over the entire population. It only affects one-third of the waters. Just like the first and second trumpets, the third trumpet is not final or complete towards humanity (please see study #52 for a more detailed explanation on the one-third of the Earth). The truth of God became mixed with human tradition. Twisted arguments poisoned God’s message as an attempt to spiritually starve and murder those who do not seek to drink from the unaltered, full strength, Living Water straight from the hands of Jesus. As we saw in the studies of the Seven Churches, false prophets started to introduce messages contrary to the original teachings of God. These false teachings were not easily identifiable as false, or inherently bad. They made sense and sounded good. The overcomer can only identify such lies through careful examination of Scripture. This is the only way to shield ourselves from being poisoned with Satan’s wormwood water. Revelation 8:11 says that many who drank from this poisonous water died. Spiritual death is inevitable if we are not plugged into the source of Life.

*** Prophetic application ***: At first, it seems strange that God is the one in charge of the water pollution when in fact Satan is the one actually polluting God’s truth. Jeremiah 9:13-15 says: “And the LORD says, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked in it; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them: Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water poisonous to drink.” (See also Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 23:15). God is not polluting the water, but He is allowing it to happen. He is allowing the consequences of people’s choices to take place. He is allowing all the participants in this great spiritual rebellion taking place on Earth to show their character, to reveal who they actually are. It will be clear to the entire Universe, that God is who He says He is. God is love, and He wants to give everyone a chance to know Him and to search the Bible for the truth. We saw this historic and prophetic period of spiritual famine when we studied the church in Thyatira. Just to recap: the first trumpet dealt with the fall of Jerusalem, and the second trumpet referred to the fall of the Roman Empire. The third trumpet represents the period following the second trumpet, which historically was the period known as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages. During that time, the people had little to no access to scripture. Persecution, actual famine, diseases, were the norm. The church experienced apostasy and spiritual deterioration, as altered doctrines began to flood the pure message of the Gospel. Bible truths began to be replaced with traditions and non-biblical teachings.

*** Overview ***: Paul talked about this great period of apostasy that would come over the church (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He mentioned “the restrainer” (verse 6 and 7), in reference to the Roman Empire, which was delaying this process. Prophetically, the period of the third trumpet could only occur after the fall of the pagan Rome (second trumpet). The historical events that happened during the period of the second trumpet led to the changes inside the church during the Middle Ages. The shifting away from the original message of God, towards human tradition and teachings that were not based on Scripture, led the people astray, and right into their spiritual death. The polluted waters were poured right inside the church, and people were encouraged to open their minds to accept false teachings. Although this reflects a situation that happened in the past, many of the false teachings introduced at that time are still being passed along today. Our only shield against such poisonous and deadly teachings is to dive completely inside God’s word, which is the true and pure fountain of Living Water. If a doctrine is not Bible based, it is not worth following.

   
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