Revealing Revelation – The Third Trumpet

13Feb11

Rev. 8:10-11 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. [11] 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.

As has been discussed in the first two trumpets, we will again here find both a spiritual and literal fulfillment of this judgment.The judgments are continuing to remind the first century Israelite about their former, older, covenant and how they broke it ultimately by killing the Lord of Glory, the promised seed. They are continuing to be reminded that this Lord who took them up out of Egypt is judging them and ceasing the Old Covenant and introducing in full glory this New Covenant.

These acts of reminding are not subtle as the Lord is using plagues and acts similar to those that impacted Egypt and were promised to befall them if they were to break covenant with the Lord (Lev 26 and Deut 28).

Deut 28:60 He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you.

This third trumpet also refers back to the Exodus and impacts the most important physical need of a human being, and that is for fresh water. The reader may remember that when the Israelites came out of Egypt they arrived at the waters of Marah. The Israelites were thirsty and in need of replenishing their water supply. But the waters of Marah were bitter and non drinkable. Naomi would later refer to herself as “bitter” by referencing this name in the book of Ruth.

25 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

Here the Lord showed His compassion and love for His people by taking the bitter waters and making them sweet. This came with a promise that by continuing to live in covenant relationship with Him, Israel would not have the plagues and judgments of Egypt placed upon them. But conversely, the breaking of covenant would deliver upon them these plagues of Egypt.

It is here in Revelation that we see the results of this unfaithful living. The sweet water is reversed and symbolizes the breaking of the covenant with God. This judgment is punctuate with the use of the term “Wormwood.” Wormwood is a plant known for it’s intense bitterness and when associated with judgment in the Scriptures denotes sickness and death. Note the promised judgment below in Jeremiah.

Jer 9:13 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, 14but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them,” 15therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink. 16″I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them.”

This promised judgment regarding the soon coming Babylonian captivity is repeated here in Revelation. Even the “scattering among the nations” finds fulfillment with the judgement against Jerusalem in 70 AD. John here is combining familiar Old Testament references to note that Israel has, once again, become an apostate nation and is having the Old Covenant they were under revoked, and the promised New Covenant is finding it’s ultimate fulfillment.

One quick final symbolic note for your consideration. As we have stated previously the book of Revelation continues to make connection between Jerusalem and her two most hated enemies, Babylon and Egypt. With the plague of bitter water we find the connection to Egypt, but we also find here a connection to Babylon and shows, as we will find later, that Jerusalem is being compared to Babylon throughout the book.

Note below the description of Isaiah’s description of the fall of Babylon.

Isa 14:4 that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say…

12″How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!

Note how similar the picture of Babylons symbolic fall as a nation is compared to what we find in the currently discussed passage in Revelation.

Rev. 8:10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven

So, here we have John continuing to make the comparison between Babylon and Jerusalem. This comparison is used throughout the book to describe just how far from the Covenant Jerusalem has fallen. It is horrific to have broken the covenant in such a way as to be held captive by evil and pagan Babylon (as in the Old Testament), but it is even worse to be compared or likened to such a Godless and evil nation.

David Chilton rightly remarks, “Again, by combining these Old Testament allusions, St John makes his point; Israel is apostate, and had become an Egypt; Jerusalem has become a Babylon; and covenantbreakers will be destroyed, as surely as Egypt and Babylon were destroyed.” (The Days of Vengeance, p 240)

But as the the literal fulfillment of this passage and how Jerusalem was impacted by bitter and undrinkable water. Two factors impacted the drinking water for those in Jerusalem. The first is related to the second trumpet. As the rotting corpses around the sea continued to poison the water directly, they also indirectly impacted the fresh drinking inlets and feeding water sources. The diseased water spread upstream and much the fresh water become undrinkable for a while.

The second is a common military practice of the Roman army of damning and poisoning the fresh water sources that would serve as drinking water for the city under siege. This common practice would help speed up the surrender of the besieged city and make for an easier attack.

Again, John is making it obvious that these judgments are for an apostate nation who has broken covenant with the Lord. These promised seven fold judgments indicate the severity of the offense and the bleakness of the Tribulation. Remember, as noted in our discussion of the Olivet Discourse, the greatness of the Tribulation is not just the severity of the punishment, but the spiritual truth behind it that no nation in history can receive as severe a punishment because no other nation physically killed the Lord Jesus Christ. Even Rome’s offense in that act is not as severe because it had never been covenantally tied to the Lord in the same way Israel had been. That is why the Tribulation was considered great, and why no other Tribulation can match it no matter the “severity” of the events.

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3 Responses to “Revealing Revelation – The Third Trumpet”

  1. 1 Frank Brito.

    Do you have sources to prove that the roman army poisened the fresh water or that the dead corpses poisened it too? I am a preterist too and I am trying to get documentation on that.

  2. 2 Frank Brito.

    Do you have sources to demonstrate that “The second is a common military practice of the Roman army of damning and poisoning the fresh water sources that would serve as drinking water for the city under siege. This common practice would help speed up the surrender of the besieged city and make for an easier attack”?

    I am a preterist too and I’m trying to get more information on that.


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