|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:7-13 The first angel sounded the first trumpet, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. A storm of heresies, a mixture of dreadful errors falling on the church, or a tempest of destruction. The second angel sounded, and a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood. By this mountain some understand leaders of the persecutions; others, Rome sacked by the Goths and Vandals, with great slaughter and cruelty. The third angel sounded, and there fell a star from heaven. Some take this to be an eminent governor; others take it to be some person in power who corrupted the churches of Christ. The doctrines of the gospel, the springs of spiritual life, comfort, and vigour, to the souls of men, are corrupted and made bitter by the mixture of dangerous errors, so that the souls of men find ruin where they sought refreshment. The fourth angel sounded, and darkness fell upon the great lights of heaven, that give light to the world, the sun, and the moon, and the stars. The guides and governors are placed higher than the people, and are to dispense light, and kind influences to them. Where the gospel comes to a people, and has not proper effects on their hearts and lives, it is followed with dreadful judgments. God gives alarm by the written word, by ministers, by men's own consciences, and by the signs of the times; so that if people are surprised, it is their own fault. The anger of God makes all comforts bitter, and even life itself burdensome. But God, in this world, sets bounds to the most terrible judgments. Corruption of doctrine and worship in the church are great judgments, and also are the usual causes and tokens of other judgments coming on a people. Before the other three trumpets were sounded, there was solemn warning how terrible the calamities would be that should follow. If lesser judgments do not take effect the church and the world must expect greater; and when God comes to punish the world, the inhabitants shall tremble before him. Let sinners take warning to flee from the wrath to come; let believers learn to value and to be thankful for their privileges; and let them patiently continue in well doing.
Verse 11. - And the name of the star is called Wormwood. The plant known to us under the name of wormwood is doubtless identical with the Αψινθος of this passage. The present English word is a corruption of wer-mod (equivalent to ware-mood), which may be rendered "mind-preserver," a name given to the plant by the Saxons, on account of its fancied virtues; for it was believed to be a protection against madness. Such properties were formerly frequently ascribed to plants possessing bitter and nauseous tastes, such as that of the wormwood. Varieties of the plant are common in Palestine, and are widely distributed in the world. Among the ancients it was typical of bitter sorrow. Thus Lamentations 3:19, "Remembering my misery, the wormwood and the gall;" Jeremiah 9:15, "I will feed them with wormwood." Here, therefore, the name indicates the effect of the star, viz. to cause intense trouble and sorrow. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; that is, became bitter as wormwood, that is, charged with sorrow and disaster. The general effect of the incident is described in the name given to the chief actor, as in the case of the fourth seal (see Revelation 6:8). And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter; many of the men. Possibly (though not necessarily) of the men dwelling near the waters. For the first time mention is made of the death of men, though, doubtless, it is implied in the preceding judgments. We may notice the contrast in the miracles of Moses, who sweetened the waters of Marah (Exodus 15.), and of Elisha (2 Kings 2:22).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the name of the star is called Wormwood,.... Because of the bitter afflictions, sorrows, and distresses which it was the instrument of; just as Naomi called herself Mara, because the Almighty had dealt bitterly with her, Ruth 1:20;
and the third part of the waters became wormwood; that is, the inhabitants of the provinces and cities belonging to the Roman empire were afflicted with grievous and bitter afflictions and calamities; so great distresses are called wormwood, and waters of gall given to drink, Jeremiah 9:15;
and many men died of the waters, because they were bitter; through the barbarities and cruelties of these savage people, who afflicted the empire: there seems to be an allusion to Exodus 15:23.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. The symbolizers interpret the star fallen from heaven as a chief minister (Arius, according to Bullinger, Bengel, and others; or some future false teacher, if, as is more likely, the event be still future) falling from his high place in the Church, and instead of shining with heavenly light as a star, becoming a torch lit with earthly fire and smouldering with smoke. And "wormwood," though medicinal in some cases, if used as ordinary water would not only be disagreeable to the taste, but also fatal to life: so "heretical wormwood changes the sweet Siloas of Scripture into deadly Marahs" [Wordsworth]. Contrast the converse change of bitter Marah water into sweet, Ex 15:23. Alford gives as an illustration in a physical point of view, the conversion of water into firewater or ardent spirits, which may yet go on to destroy even as many as a third of the ungodly in the latter days.
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