Continuing a thought from Stuart’s blog, I wanted to look at the passage in question, but more specifically, Ἄψινθος/וְלַעֲנָֽה.
Then the third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch. It fell on one-third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star was Bitterness. It made one-third of the water bitter, and many people died from drinking the bitter water. (Rev 8:10-11 NLT)
I note that in the process of the Trumpets, the third trumpet is the first trumpet where people are specifically said to die.
Ἄψινθος/וְלַעֲנָֽה translates as bitterness, or more specifically, Wormwood. Immediately, it is a thought of poison and disease. In the Old Testament, Ἄψινθος/וְלַעֲנָֽה is used as a symbol of God’s punishment to Israel.
so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. (Deuteronomy 29:18 NASB)
I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you– no man, woman, clan, or tribe– will turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. (Deuteronomy 29:18 NLT)
Further, it is used in Jeremiah/Lamentations (Jeremiah 9:15, 23:15; Lamentations 3:15,19) and Amos (5.7, 6.12) in the same way. It is used in no other way, regarding judgment, except in relationship with God and Israel. So, why then would it be different in the New Testament, especially given the Jewishness of Revelation? It maybe that the author say the persecution as a purging of the Church, at least at the start. I am reminded of the Petrine comment,
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17 NASB
For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 1 Peter 4:17 NLT
If the author, who is clearly a Jewish-Christian, uses Ἄψινθος/וְלַעֲנָֽה to describe the first judgment upon humanity which brings death, then it is upon sinful humanity or upon the sinful believers in Christ?