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Revelation 8:10

a great star fell from heaven
Star is ἀστὴρ [astēr] , the same root word as the “stars of heaven” which fell to earth at the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. Rev. 6:13+). In both cases, the astronomical body is most likely a meteor or asteroid. See commentary on Revelation 6:13. Some have suggested that this star is an angel, possibly even Satan.1

This “great star” evidently symbolizes a distinguished ruler responsible as set in the moral firmament to give light in the dark night of the world’s history, but he is an apostate personage—one under the immediate judgment of God, “burning as a torch”; in this respect like the “great mountain burning with fire.” The epithet “great” is attached to the mountain, and also to the star; only in the former a corporate power or system is referred to, whereas in the latter an exalted individual is meant.2

This view finds support by those who understand the star, already fallen , in Revelation Rev. 9:1+ to be this very star. Since the star there is clearly a spiritual being who unlocks the bottomless pit, then perhaps his fall is recorded here. Although there are many parallels between this verse and the fall of Satan (Isa. Isa. 14:12; Luke Luke 10:18; Rev. Rev. 9:1+; Rev. 12:4+), the context appears to be describing a cosmological event involving a large physical object. This star is said to be burning and appears to rain down upon a wide area of the globe causing the waters to become polluted. These characteristics speak more readily of natural phenomena than a malevolent spiritual being. As we discussed concerning the interpretation of symbols, once the choice is made to take physical descriptions as being symbolic, there is no end to the conjecture which attends the interpretation of what God is attempting to convey. Again, we ask the question: If God had wanted to describe a time of extreme physical catastrophe, how would He have done so differently than what we have before us? A second question presents itself: How could God tell us about future physical convulsions if we forever insist on taking the text as some form of veiled apocalyptic political intrigue? See The Genre of the book of Revelation.

burning like a torch
Torch is λαμπὰς [lampas] , which was used in ancient times to describe meteors and comets.3

springs of water
Springs is πηγὰς [pēgas] which is elsewhere translated as fountain (Mark Mark 5:29; Jas. Jas. 3:11; Rev. Rev. 7:17+; Rev. Rev. 21:6+) and well (John John 4:6; 2Pe. 2Pe. 2:17). The emphasis is on water as a life-giving source. When men must exist without food or drink, it is lack of water which first leads to death. There is an intentional contrast between the experience of the earth dwellers who are dependent upon these water supplies and those in the previous chapter coming out of the Great Tribulation who are led by the Lamb to living fountains (πηγὰς [pēgas] ) of waters. Though it is God who made these springs of water to maintain physical life (Rev. Rev. 14:7+), He now destroys them to demonstrate the dependence of all life upon Him. God is systematically setting about to remove all the props which allow the earth dwellers to imagine there is no God.

Notes

1 “Whenever the word star is used symbolically, it is a common symbol of an angel, and this is the case here. The angel’s name is Wormwood, showing the angel to be a fallen one.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 226.

2 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), 181.

3 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 8:10.

Read Revelation 8:10