The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch... (Rev 8:10)
Another topic I cover in the book concerns the Chernobyl disaster and its etymological link with the Ukrainian word for "wormwood" -which many commentators have previously suggested is connected with a passage in Rev 8:
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. 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.
The link between Chernobyl and the Ukrainian word for "wormwood" was first noted by S. Schmemann in a New York Times article dated to 25th July 1986, titled "Chernobyl Fallout: Apocalyptic Tale". Schmemann pointed out that the name of the site of the infamous nuclear reactor disaster is derived from the Ukrainian word chornobyl - which is the name of the plant Armetisia vulgaris, known as "common wormwood" - a close relative of the type of plant mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Another strong correlation between the Chernobyl incident and the above passage in the Apocalypse has been overlooked by other commentators however. During the same month the reactor went into meltdown on 26th April 1986, Halley's Comet completed its 76 year journey back to earth's orbit and was visible to the naked eye at this exact time period. It is of some significance then that the vast majority of scholarly commentaries on the Book of Revelation believe that the great star "blazing like a torch" referred to in this passage is a description of a comet - which were considered as harbingers of doom in many ancient cultures.
It is important to recognise here that the trumpet blasts of Rev 8-11 are arranged thematically, rather than chronologically. The first trumpet describes the destruction of the earth by fire - which is one of the last events in the chronology of the end-time given elsewhere in the Apocalypse. This event is to be equated with the plague of hail related to the battle of Armageddon in Rev 16:21 (in Rev 8:7 this hail is mixed with fire, just as the plagues of Exod 9:23); and also with fire coming down from heaven to destroy the armies of Gog and Magog in Rev 20:9. So the first trumpet heralds one of the very last events to occur at the end-time - the battle of Armageddon. Given this cue, we know that the trumpets should not be considered to unfold chronologically in the exact sequence of events depicted in this portion of the Book of Revelation - they are rather a pastiche of apocalyptic events arranged by theme, and thus have to be rearranged to determine their order in real-time. So the fact that the above events relating to the wormwood star takes place after the mountain is cast into the sea at the sounding of the second trumpet should not impact this interpretation.
It is also of some interest that just a year after the Chernobyl disaster, there were reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, seen by a crowds of thousands people at Hrushiv in the Ukraine, in 1987. A young Ukrainian girl named Kizyn Maria was the first to witness these apparitions, and claimed to have been given messages by Our Lady. Josyp Terelya, who was reputed to have experienced apparitions of the Virgin Mary while a imprisoned in the Soviet Gulags in the 1970's because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith, was another witness to these apparitions, and claimed to have received messages himself at Hrushiv. Although these apparitions have yet to be approved by the Church, they are interesting in their timing and location.
Terelya has recounted his experiences in his book Witness (which he co-authored with Michael H Brown of Spirit Daily) and recorded his testimony on video, which can be seen on Youtube (see below):
The village of Hrushiv was also the location of a reported Marian apparition 73 years previously to 22 people, on 12th May, 1914 - just two weeks before the outbreak of the First World War. During these apparitions the Virgin Mary was said to have foretold the future history of Russia. As we noted in the earlier post The Four Horsemen and the Four Beasts, as well as being home to Chernobyl and the Hrushiv apparitions, the Ukraine was also the centre of the worst plight during the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933, which claimed the lives of around 6 million people. It is still debated whether this famine was deliberately manufactured by the Stalinist regime to repress the people of the Ukraine, thus rendering this great tragedy as premeditated genocide.
See also the related posts:
Tunguska, Pope Leo XIII and the Opening of the Abyss
Signs in the Sky
The Two Towers and the Sixth Seal