Copyright 1994 - 2017 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
February 23, 1998
Last Updated :
March 8, 2012
Comet Hale-Bopp And The SLO, The Vatican And Wormwood, The Chernobyl Disaster, A Deadly Comet?, Spiritual Beings And Stars, The Fall Of Satan, The Salt Of The Earth, The Lord's Footstool, A Flood Of Lies, Bitter And Sweet Waters, Cup Of The Lord's Wrath, The Destruction Of Babylon And Armageddon
During the first half of 1997, the world witnessed another awe-inspiring astronomical event with the passing of the now-famous comet Hale-Bopp. Although the orbit of this celestial visitor did not bring it nearly as close to the Earth as comet Hayakutake of the previous year, due to its large size, Hale-Bopp nevertheless put on an impressive display of light and color for those who were in a position to observe it. While our location did not afford the best of views, I was still excited and amazed by the dim sword of light which hung in the evening sky for several weeks before returning to the blackness of deep space. I am reminded of the following words written by King David in his nineteenth Psalm:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
Psalms 19:1, KJV
The Apostle Paul also reflected upon the Lord's Creation and explained that the natural world is a constant witness to the fact that God does exist; and thus, evil man has no excuse whatsoever for his rebellion and unbelief in what is so obvious to the Believers:
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
Romans 1:20, KJV
As comet Hale-Bopp neared the Earth, wild speculation arose concerning a purported bright object known as the SLO -- or "Saturn-Like Object" -- which certain astronomers and New Agers claimed was hidden in the tail of this astronomical wonder. According to some sources, this object was many times larger than the Earth, and was under intelligent control. Within certain UFO circles, it was believed that this object was actually a large inter-galactic vehicle which housed millions of reptile-like creatures, which were bent on the destruction and/or enslavement of the citizens of planet Earth. At the same time, other New Age advocates claimed that the SLO was under the control of benevolent "Space Brothers" of a higher spiritual order who were arriving to assist the Earth and her inhabitants as they transcended into a higher level of spiritual awareness and existence. Tragically, as I explain in another article, it was this latter belief which led to the tragic death of thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult.
At the height of the speculation which surrounded Hale-Bopp, I read an article regarding an ex-Vatican priest who claimed to have accidentally broken into a computer terminal located at the Vatican. According to the letter which was said to have been written by this priest, the Vatican had a direct link to the Hubble Space Telescope. This priest further claimed that the HST was pointed directly at the comet Hale-Bopp. Upon doing further investigation into his amazing discovery, this article stated that the priest learned that the Vatican was questioning whether or not Hale-Bopp might be the star known as Wormwood mentioned in the Book of Revelation. For those of you who are not familiar with the Endtime prophecies of the Scriptures, consider the following verses which mention Wormwood, and which describe the affects it will have upon the Earth at the time of its arrival:
"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; 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."
Revelation 8:10-11, KJV
The arrival of the great star Wormwood will mark the fulfillment of the third of seven Trumpets predicted in the Book of Revelation. The Seven Trumpets are discussed in more detail in other of my Endtime articles. As I write this, almost a full year has now passed since Hale-Bopp's passage. It should be evident to everyone that the comet did not scourge the Earth as described above by John the Revelator. In fact, in an astronomical sense, it didn't even come close to our planet. Thus, in my view, it is highly unlikely that Hale-Bopp was the fulfillment of the Wormwood prophecy. While the passage of time has caused the wild speculation surrounding Hale-Bopp to vaporize into the air from whence it came, perhaps the previous story with its odd mixture of New Age thought and Prophetic Truth at least made more people aware of the fact that the Bible does indeed predict the arrival of the deadly Wormwood.
Following the arrival of this celestial visitor which poisons the waters of the world, the very next verse in the Book of Revelation continues by describing other terrifying events which will occur when the fourth angel sounds his mighty Trumpet:
"And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise."
Revelation 8:12, KJV
If we interpret this verse strictly in an astronomical sense, it may possibly be referring to solar and lunar eclipses. However, I have never known an eclipse to last for eight hours, that is, a third part of a day. Of course, literally speaking, a third part of the daylight hours would be only four hours; and a third part of the nighttime hours would also be four hours. This amount of time could more easily be associated with a solar or a lunar eclipse. Looking at it from this perspective, these verses make more sense. However, if there is one thing we know, a solar or lunar eclipse does not make the stars disappear. In fact, it does the exact opposite. When a total solar eclipse occurs, it is quite common for some of the brighter stars to become visible when they would normally be blocked out by the Sun's glare.
While I have cast some doubt upon a possible literal interpretation of Wormwood and the events which follow it, we must remember that we cannot limit God; and that He is free to choose any means of chastisement that He desires. Just because our human minds cannot grasp how the sun, moon and stars can be darkened for a third part of the day or night does not mean that it cannot or will not happen. I am reminded of something the Angel Gabriel said to Mary when he announced that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived John the Baptist in her old age:
"For with God nothing shall be impossible."
Luke 1:37, KJV
In like manner, while comets are known to possess low levels of hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous and bitter chemical compound, this does not mean that the Lord cannot prepare a special comet filled with this deadly toxin which would then slam into, or at least brush by the Earth. Such a strike or near passage could very easily poison our planet's water systems in the process. In fact, if such an object were to collide with the Earth, it might very well throw so much dust and debris into the atmosphere that it would cause a partial blotting out of the heavenly spheres, thus fulfilling the prophecy. If the Lord was able to prepare a great fish to swallow the disobedient Prophet Jonah, certainly He is also able to chastise the world for their rejection of His Son by sending a poison-laden comet. But the question remains: Is this what Wormwood symbolizes?
As I have stated before, one challenge facing all students of eschatology -- that is, the study of Endtime events -- is to know when a literal or a symbolic interpretation should be applied to certain Scriptures. If the previous verses concerning the sun, moon and stars being darkened are to be understood in a more symbolic sense, perhaps the Wormwood prophecy fits this same pattern. If this is the case, then its fulfillment might not be quite as obvious as some are inclined to believe. For example, some time ago I was given some interesting information regarding the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which occurred in the Ukraine in 1986. Within certain circles of prophetic study, there are those who are convinced that the brilliant explosion caused by the accident was the direct fulfillment of the words "a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp" contained in the Wormwood prophecy.
According to one acquaintance of mine, he was told by his father -- who is of Russian descent -- that the Ukrainian word for Wormwood is "Chernobyl". He assured me that he is absolutely certain of this fact. At the same time, another friend who happens to be an educator, provided me with some additional information. According to his message, he had a young lady in one of his classes who was from the Ukraine. This woman was kind enough to provide him with her understanding of the name "Chernobyl". Thus, she said that "Chern" is the root of the word "cherneej" which means "black". She also stated that "Beel" is a variety of grass found in the plains of Russia. Thus, according to her, collectively, "Chern" and "Beel", or "Chernobyl" as it is written in English, refers to the grassy fields which have been burned in order to plow and cultivate the land. This is a common practice in many farming communities of the world.
To add to the complexity of this issue, my research endeavors yielded very different information concerning the meaning of the word "wormwood". According to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, the "Wormwood" of the Book of Revelation is derived from the Greek word "apsinthos". The Hebrew lexicon of the Old Testament states that "wormwood" is derived from the root word "laanah". This Hebrew word is translated seven times as "wormwood", and once as "hemlock". I will share some of these verses later on in this article. Easton's Bible Dictionary agrees with these definitions and provides this additional information:
----- Begin Quote -----
"The Artemisia absinthium of botanists. It is noted for its intense bitterness. In the symbolical language of the Apocalypse, a star is represented as falling on the waters of the earth, causing the third part of the water to turn wormwood. The name by which the Greeks designated it, "absinthion", means "undrinkable". The absinthe of France is distilled from a species of this plant. The "southernwood" or "old man", cultivated in cottage gardens on account of its fragrance, is another species of it."
----- End Of Quote -----
To further expand my understanding of the word "wormwood", I then consulted The American Heritage Desktop Dictionary. As you can see, it further confirms the information already provided by the Greek and Hebrew lexicons, as well as by Easton's Bible Dictionary:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Any of several aromatic plants of the genus Artemisia, especially Artemisia Absinthium, native to Europe, that yields a bitter extract used in making absinthe and in flavoring certain wines. Also called Absinthe. Something harsh or bitter."
----- End Of Quote -----
After studying these different definitions, it became obvious to me that if the name "Chernobyl" is correctly translated into English as "Wormwood", then it must in some way be associated with the plant described above. If this plant is indeed native to the Chernobyl area of the Ukraine, then I would be more inclined to accept "Wormwood" as a valid English translation. If this is the case, and I don't know that it is, then one can only wonder if it is simply a matter of coincidence that the site of the Russian nuclear reactor bears the same name as this apocalyptic star.
Considering how national governments tightly control their mass media, could it be that there was actually more longterm damage in the Chernobyl area than what has been officially reported by the Soviet government? Could it be that many more people have died, and that the water sources of Russia and Europe have been contaminated with a much higher level of radiation than anyone has been willing to admit? Depending upon the degree of exposure, be it from direct radiation, or from poisonous fallout or isotopes contained in the drinking water, it could take literally years for everyone to die who has been affected by it. Outside of a trained medical eye, it might go by completely un noticed by less-informed people. As frightening as this may sound, today, twelve years later, people might still be dying in Russia and Europe due to the "invisible" longterm affects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Not only might the water sources continue to be contaminated, but the intake of beef, dairy products and grain crops from the affected areas might also continue to pose serious health risks. If there is any truth to this, the governments selling these products are probably aware of it. If so, one might ask why they continue to do this. One answer might be that the people simply must be fed. It is my understanding that the Ukraine is the bread basket of Russia. As history will clearly prove, a starving people makes a country ripe for revolution. Thus, poisoned food might be better than no food at all. Aside from this, countries are constantly under economic pressure to fulfill their international trade agreements. In short, as sad as it may be, maintaining a robust national economy and a strong international image may take precedence over the health status of a nation's people. Thus, some countries are willing to generate revenue by any means available to them, regardless of the effects it may be having upon its own citizens! If you doubt that world governments are capable of doing such things, allow me to remind you of the true nature of the heart of man:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Jeremiah 17:9, KJV
While my previous comments are indeed alarming, it is important that you realize that I do have some problems with fully accepting the Wormwood/Chernobyl interpretation. Aside from the proper English translation of the name "Chernobyl" being in question, this is also due to the timing of the event. As I stated earlier, according to the Book of Revelation, Wormwood is the third of seven Endtime Trumpets. It is the final Seventh Trumpet which will herald the Lord's glorious Second Coming and the long-awaited Rapture of the Saints.
Simply put, while I believe that we may be near the end of this current worldly system, based on my understanding of Endtime Scriptures, it is difficult for me to accept that we have advanced that far along the prophetic timeline. Considering that the Chernobyl accident occurred twelve years ago as I write this, and accepting for the sake of argument that it was the Third Trumpet mentioned by John, where does that place us today in the fulfillment of the remaining four Trumpets? It seems to me that if we are indeed that close to the End of man's rule of the Earth, then by now we should have witnessed such things as the Seven-Year Middle East peace treaty, the Antichrist, the Beast and the False Prophet, the Mark of the Beast, and the invasion of Jerusalem. Accepting Chernobyl as Wormwood simply leaves me with too many unanswered questions; thus, I am hesitant to accept it.
Another possibility is that the Wormwood prophecy is to be understood in an even more symbolic or spiritual sense. One school of thought meets this idea halfway. It proposes that the great star falling from Heaven is not actually referring to the Chernobyl explosion itself, but rather to an angel or demon which caused the disaster. In other articles I have clearly shown that there is indeed Scriptural support for interpreting stars in the Bible as spiritual beings. For example, in the Book of Job where the Patriarch is discussing how the Lord created the world, he mentions how the sons of God, referred to as "the morning stars", were present at the time of Creation:
"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job 38:6-7, KJV
In the Book of Isaiah, we find a rather mysterious prophecy concerning the fall of the king of Babylon. In this ancient prophecy, the fall of the Babylonian king appears to be synonymous with the fall of Satan himself. In the following verse, the name "Lucifer" is derived from the Hebrew word "heylel" which means "light-bearer". It is also translated as "shining one" and "morning star":
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"
Isaiah 14:12, KJV
Following this same idea of comparing spiritual beings to sources of light, be it physical or spiritual light, the Apostle Paul also made mention of how Satan can deceptively appear as an angel of light to the unwary:
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV
As I pointed out in the article "The Children of Light: Are You One of Us?", there are quite a few Scriptures found throughout the Bible which also compare God and His children to celestial lights. In these next verses, the Apostle Paul uses astronomical bodies to explain the coming rewards of the Righteous following the First Resurrection:
"All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
1 Corinthians 15:39-44, KJV
In the Old Testament, King David and the Prophet Daniel both used astronomical symbolism to describe the Lord and His Children. In the New Testament, besides Paul, the Apostle James also followed this same pattern. Here are some additional examples for your consideration:
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalms 84:11, KJV
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Daniel 12:3, KJV
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17, KJV
In Revelation chapter twelve we find the great battle in the heavens in which Michael the Archangel and the Heavenly Host cast Satan and the rebellious angels down to the Earth. In this symbolic picture, Satan is represented by a great Red Dragon; but notice too that the demonic horde which follows him is represented by a third of the stars of Heaven:
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born . . . And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9, KJV
It's possible that the above scenario is synonymous with a third part of the stars being darkened during the Fourth Trumpet following the prophecy concerning Wormwood. In other words, because of their falling from God's favor due to their rebellious hearts, perhaps these angels-turned-demons are stripped of their spiritual power or authority. They are stripped of their spiritual light, and thus become darkened stars. To add weight to this argument, consider the interesting comparison Jude made when he wrote in his short epistle concerning the false disciples which had crept into the Early Church during the First Century:
"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day . . . Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."
Jude 1:6, 13, KJV
I discuss the fate of these rebellious demons in more detail in such articles as "Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism". When the Seventy Disciples returned to Jesus following their first "faith trip", marveling at the things which they were able to do in His name, the Lord also made an interesting comment in which He described the fall of Satan:
"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
Luke 10:17-19, KJV
In the above verses, the word "lightning" is derived from the Greek word "astrape" which has the secondary meaning "of the gleam of a lamp". This is extremely interesting because in the prophecy concerning Wormwood, you will recall that one of the key phrases was ". . . a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp . . ." This phrase makes a direct connection between Jesus' words and the prophecy concerning Wormwood! While I formerly believed that Jesus was referring to actual lightning, I am now wondering if perhaps He wasn't comparing Satan's spiritual fall from Heaven to a streak of light created in the night sky by a falling meteor, also known as a "shooting star". Remember, the Lord had the custom of spending the early morning hours, before the break of day, in deep meditation; so such a comparison to the bright trail left by a meteor is quite appropriate:
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."
Mark 1:35, KJV
Based on what I have discovered thus far in the Scriptures, I am beginning to wonder if the star Wormwood might not only represent a fallen spiritual being, but that it might also specifically symbolize Satan himself. If you consider the compelling evidence I have presented, perhaps you will agree:
1. In His own words, Jesus describes Satan's fall as "lightning" or "the gleam of a lamp" according to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon.
2. John describes the Third Trumpet, the star Wormwood, in the same manner with the phrase "burning as it were a lamp".
3. In the very next Trumpet following Wormwood, we witness a third of the stars being darkened.
4. In Revelation chapter twelve, Satan is described as a Red Dragon which uses its tail to cast a third part of the stars/angels to the ground/Earth.
Another clear indication that the stars of the Book of Revelation are sometimes symbolic of spiritual beings, can be found in the very next chapter following the prophecy concerning Wormwood. Chapter nine begins in the following manner:
"And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit."
Revelation 9:1, KJV
Here we witness another angel arriving on the Earth to open the Bottomless Pit. There is no way that a real star can be given a key to open the Bottomless Pit; and this star is described with the pronoun "he". I discuss this event in more detail in my series "The Seven Heads". However, what is important for this discussion is that this so-called "star" is actually a spiritual entity, probably a fallen angel, and not a real star. In thinking about the fact that these stars "fall" or are cast to the ground, that is, to the Earth, I am also reminded of what Jesus said regarding those who become useless to the Lord's service:
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
Matthew 5:13, KJV
Just as we can become useless to the Lord's service through pride, rebellion, and other sins in our hearts, apparently God's spiritual agents possess the same capacity. In other words, just as there is choice on Earth, there is also choice in Heaven. You will find this topic discussed in more detail in other articles I have written. In the case of Satan and a third of the angels which follow him, we know that they made the wrong choice. It is for this reason that the Book of Revelation tells us that they are cast down to the ground, that is, to the Earth, to be trodden under God's feet, just like useless flavorless salt. If you doubt that this is so, consider the following revelatory verses which indeed tell us that the Earth is God's footstool where He casts His enemies in His hot displeasure:
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?"
Isaiah 66:1, KJV
[A Psalm of David] The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Psalms 110:1, KJV
"How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!"
Lamentations 2:1, KJV
"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
Romans 16:20, KJV
"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
1 Corinthians 15:24-28, KJV
"Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him."
Hebrews 2:8, KJV
Thus we see that there is not only ample Scriptural evidence for applying a symbolic interpretation to the fallen star Wormwood, but we also see why the Lord chooses to cast these rebellious beings to the Earth. In the Lord's appointed time, they are all going to be crushed or defeated under His feet, and under ours as well if we remain faithful!
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
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