“The name of the star is Wormwood.” Revelation 8:11
A particular television show host and author recently wrote a book about what he calls the “Wormwood Prophecy.” To be sure, the book of Revelation talks about wormwood, but it is not a standalone prophecy. It is one part of a real prophecy concerning the seventh seal judgment. It is important to make this distinction so that we do not get caught up in false teaching, red herring conspiracy theories, or other lies from the devil.
It seems the author once had a dream about an asteroid hitting the earth. He later equated it to Revelation 8:11. But let us take a closer look at what the Bible describes in this portion of end times prophecy and if his opinion of it is biblical.
The Seventh Seal Judgment
In this section of the book of Revelation, the Tribulation has begun, and the antichrist has come to power. Christ has raptured those who received His gift of grace, both dead and alive (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The antichrist has desecrated the third and currently yet-to-be-built temple (“abomination of desolation,” Daniel 9:27, 11:31; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-; Revelation 13:14-15), has broken his covenant of peace, and his power of evil is coming to a peak.
Chapter six describes the six judgment seals Jesus will open and the different colored horses that will carry out the judgments (wars, scarcity of food, widespread death, and cosmic disturbances). Chapter seven describes the last and final gathering of people who accept Christ after the rapture. They will be sealed before the Lord and granted a place in heaven.
After Jesus rescues the last of all believing Jews and Gentiles, angels will sound a series of trumpet blasts which we read about in chapter eight. The first trumpet call will bring hail and fire to the earth, causing one-third of the trees and grass to burn.
The second trumpet involves a meteor hitting the earth, causing one-third of the ocean to appear as or realistically turn to blood. The Bible does not clarify which it is. Regardless, one-third of all sea creatures will die.
Verses 10 and 11 concern the third trumpet call and include the mention of something called wormwood.
What is Wormwood?
Wormwood is a poisonous plant with a bitter taste. It can be consumed in small quantities and has many medicinal benefits and treatments, such as:
- Pain relief
- Reducing inflammation such as arthritic conditions
- Treating parasitic infections
- Reducing antioxidants in the body that contribute to conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s
In small quantities, wormwood is safe. But, as they say, too much of a good thing can kill you.
In large quantities, wormwood initially causes a hallucinogenic reaction. Higher consumption levels cause extreme toxicity levels to people. Pregnant women and their babies, and those with kidney and heart diseases and epilepsy are most vulnerable.
Eventually, high levels of wormwood cause death.
Wormwood Symbolism in the Bible
Aside from Revelation 8, the Bible mentions wormwood in three other places in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 29:18, Moses chastises the Israelites for their idolatry and tells them they will suffer severe consequences. He makes a covenant with them before the Lord that whoever turns and follows God will be eternally blessed.
“…So that there may not be among you any man or woman or family or tribe whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood.” Deuteronomy 29:18
Here, a wormwood root is used to describe the potential for poisoning an entire tree (i.e., the body of Christ) because of one family’s or one individual’s idolatrous actions.
The prophet Jeremiah refers to wormwood to describe God’s anger toward the Israelites who chose to worship false idols and follow false teachers.
“Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink.’” Jeremiah 9:15
“Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, concerning the prophets: ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood and make them drink the water of gall.’” Jeremiah 23:15
In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah again refers to wormwood in chapter three in expressing his sorrow toward God.
“He has filled me with bitterness. He has made me drink wormwood.” (v15)
“Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall.” (v19)
The verses in Lamentations use wormwood as a symbol of profound grief. Otherwise, it is a symbol of bitter-tasting poison that God will use to destroy those who disobey Him.
The Wormwood Prophecy
Why then does Revelation 8 talk about wormwood?
In verses 10-11, a space object (perhaps a meteor) falls from heaven (not heaven where God sits in power but outer space). The Bible says people will call it Wormwood, and it will burn like a torch, which we might take to mean a fiery trail such as a comet or meteor might have.
The Bible does not tell us if the space object hits the earth intact or if it breaks up as most do. What we do know, however, is that it will affect one-third of the earth’s rivers and waterways. Because it covers such a wide area, the event seems to point to the suggestion (not necessarily a conclusion) that the object will break up as it enters the earth’s atmosphere. And as it breaks up, it will sprinkle across the globe.
If the idea is accurate, theoretically, the chemistry of these bodies of water will become polluted as the debris falls into them. The Bible says they will become wormwood.
One-third of the world’s drinking water will be contaminated, and the people will not refuse it since they will rely on it so heavily. As a result, the Bible tells us in verse 11 that many people will die.
“A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water because it was made bitter.” Revelation 8:11
Is a meteor of such magnitude and power possible? Does it exist? Scientists say yes.
Currently, a 1,200 foot (370 meters) wide asteroid named Apophis is hurtling through space and has been for decades. It is the celestial body on which the previously mentioned author bases his theories. But the author and the scientists have considerably different opinions about it.
According to the author, Apophis is heading to earth and will slam into it on Friday, April 13, 2029, a veritable “doomsday.” However, scientists disagree and say we should not be so quick to panic.
As it is, Apophis is large enough that, if it hit the earth, it would drastically impact our planet—the weather and climate, living conditions, available natural resources, and more. However, scientists estimate asteroids of this size hit the earth only every 800,000 years. Also, Apophis is currently on a trajectory that scientists believe will take it past the earth.
To be clear, scientists project Apophis to be one of the closest and largest asteroids to ever come past the earth, so close we will be able to see with the naked eye. But it is not expected to hit us.
Still, scientists do not like near misses, which is why NASA and the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University are planning to alter Apophis’s path should it come uncomfortably too close. The scientists have created a Double Asteroid Redirection Test Mission (DART), a test project set to launch soon (November 2021) that will impact a different asteroid far from here. The idea is the impact will “punch” the asteroid and alter its course.
If the test is successful, the hope is the same technology could “punch” Apophis if it approaches the earth too closely.
Two Other Possibilities
Another asteroid called Bennu is also considered hazardous and expected to pass near the earth. However, based on samples collected directly from the asteroid in 2020, the chances of Bennu hitting the earth are 1 in 1,750 (0.057%). Researchers were also able to identify September 24, 2182, as the likeliest date of an impact, and it has a probability of only 1 in 2,700 (0.037%).
A third known asteroid called 4660 Nereus is on course to pass by the earth on December 11 of this year (2021). Measuring 1,083 feet (330 meters) long, it is taller than the Eiffel Tower and twice as tall as the Washington Monument. It is classified as “potentially hazardous” even though it will be 3.9 million kilometers (2.4 million miles) away from us.
Apophis, Bennu, and 4660 Nereus are currently some of the most dangerous celestial bodies in our solar system. Scientists agree none of them will hit the earth based on current trajectories, contrary to the author’s opinion.
And we should also note most of all—scientists have not named any of them Wormwood as the Bible says the “big one” will be.
The Fourth Trumpet
The first five trumpet calls in Revelation 8 and 9 all refer to celestial events.
During the fourth trumpet sound, God will dim the sun’s light by one-third, causing the light of both the moon and stars to dim by one-third as well. The Bible does not say some cosmic object hurtling randomly through space will hit them. We see this in the first trumpet call as well.
However, the second trumpet call could refer to a meteor or asteroid.
“And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” Revelation 8:8-9
Could Apophis or Bennu or 4660 Nereus be this first asteroid? We do not know for sure, though it seems 4660 Nereus would be the most unlikely based on certain prophecies in the books of Revelation, Ezekiel, and Daniel that have yet to be fulfilled. One of these crucial prophetic events yet to occur is the rapture of the saints.
As for the second prophesied asteroid named Wormwood in Revelation 8:11, it does not yet exist, which means the earth is not coming to an end in April 2029.
Until then, Christians should reject conspiracy theories that stoke a sense of fear and draw us away from trusting in God’s sovereignty. We must decline to believe any human-created, logically lacking ideas about God. Simply put, if it does not line up with the Bible, it is not true.
We Must Be Ready
More important than any amateur speculation about future events is the need to be ready for Christ’s return.
We need to stay focused on walking in obedience to His commands, praying, serving, seeking truth, and sharing the gospel, which are all far more important than guessing about any asteroids and the exact date of the seventieth week (Daniel 9). Let us emphasize saving souls rather than trying to get the Bible to match up with a dream we might have had.
If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and continue steadfastly holding to our faith, none of the prophecies will matter because we will not be here. We will be caught in the air with Jesus and miss the entire thing (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
So let us not dwell on any astronomical events or wormwood contamination. Instead, let us dwell on the One who is coming again and who will spare the faithful from it all.