What is the meaning of wormwood in Revelation?


“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 8:11

“Wormwood” The Greek word is “Apsinthos” meaning a bitter plant, wormwood grows in desolate places, the use of the word is symbolic of a calamity. During the tribulation in Revelation, a third of man’s water supply becomes bitter at the source, bitter in the context of being poisonous, since men die from drinking it

"He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood". Lamentations 3:15

The word “wormwood” is mentioned only here in the New Testament, but it appears eight times in the Old Testament, each time associated with bitterness, poison and death. The Revelation passage may not be saying that the star falling to the earth will actually be called Wormwood by the inhabitants of the earth. Rather, wormwood was a well-known bitter herb in the biblical period, so by naming the star Wormwood, we are told that its effect will be to embitter the waters of the earth, so much so that the water is undrinkable.

It won’t be a matter of simply a bitter taste to the water; it will literally be poisonous. If drinking water is unavailable to one third of the earth’s population, it’s easy to see how chaos and terror will result. Humans can only survive a couple of days without water, and the inhabitants of the affected areas will be so desperate as to actually drink the poisoned water, causing the death of thousands, if not millions of people.

This is a prophecy that is yet to come in the last seven years of this age, also known as the 70th week of Daniel. This is only one of the natural disasters in the seven trumpets that will usher in the rise of the Antichrist to world power very quickly (Revelation, chapter 13). Since one-third of the earth is destroyed by these trumpet judgments, this is only a partial judgment from God. His full wrath is yet to be unleashed.

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