When the third angel sounded its trumpet, a great star fell from heaven (Revelation 8:10). It would be ridiculous to take such a thing literally, since a star crashing into the earth would completely destroy the whole planet. Therefore, it must be taken symbolically to represent something or someone else. Metaphorically, a star can represent Christ (Numbers 24:17), rulers of the land (Daniel 8:10), and the spiritual leaders of the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:20). Jude refers to men who have attacked the Gospel as wandering stars (Jude 1:10-13), meaning false teachers. So, the star that fell from heaven in Revelation 8:10 can indicate either a civil leader or a spiritual leader who fell from his high office to do evil in the sight of the Lord.
In the context of what we have come to understand in the Apocalypse thus far, this leader had to have been a Jew, and, probably, the high priest, who was understood to be, not only the nation’s spiritual leader, but also its civil leader, as well (under the Roman oppressor, of course). This star, representative of a Jewish leader, fell, burning as though it were a torch or a lamp (G2985). Torches and lamps (G2985) were lit to give light. They were used by the ten virgins awaiting the return of the Lord (Matthew 25:1-8), and they were used to guide those seeking to arrest Jesus on Mount Olives during the dark night (John 18:3). However, the star in Revelation 8:10 is a falling star, which logically presumes its light is for evil, not good. That is, the truth is hidden, and something else is offered in its place.
If we permit the blowing of the third trumpet to be a reply to what was done in the first trumpet, we should be able to understand there was a war of words going on, not only in the land of the Jews but throughout the Roman Empire. The Gospel was preached by Jesus’ disciples (the hailstones of Revelation 8:7), but they were persecuted for serving the Lord, and an evil message (false doctrine) was sent after them (Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 1:6-7; cp Revelation 6:1-2).
Moreover, if we continue in this line of reasoning, the persecution referred to in the hail and fire mingled in blood (Revelation 8:7) is the persecution that was conducted ‘after’ Paul’s capture in Jerusalem and incarceration at Caesarea (cir. 56 AD). During the period of 56-66 AD the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem planned and executed an attack on the Gospel in the form of intimidation and outright persecution. This intensified effort on the part of the Jewish leadership to eradicate the effect of the Gospel is recorded by James, Peter and Jude and alluded to by John.
James sent his letter to the “twelve tribes that are scattered abroad” (James 1:1), and then mentioned the trying of their faith (James 1:2-4, 12). Jude, also, wrote to the churches that they had to earnestly contend for the faith that had been delivered to them, because of the infiltration of false teachers (Jude 1:3-4). Peter wrote to five provinces in Asia Minor (1Peter 1:1; part of present day Turkey), and almost immediately spoke of their trial of faith (1Peter 1:6-7). In fact, much of Peter’s epistle is centered around persecution that his readers were forced to endure (cf. 1Peter 2:19-20; 3:14; 4:13-16). What is interesting to me about this particular persecution is that all five provinces endured the same type of persecution at the same time. How could that have happened, unless it had a common source? The fact that the persecution, the same type of persecution, was conducted over such a wide area presumes a single plan and a single authority. Who would be powerful enough to execute such a plan successfully?
The emperor of Rome would have such power, but this wasn’t a persecution championed by Rome. We know this, because, first, Rome’s official policy at this time was that followers of Christ were considered a Jewish sect and judged harmless, as far as a possible insurrection was concerned. Aside from Nero’s persecution of Christians, cir. 64 AD, by blaming them for the fire that destroyed so much of Rome, no emperor persecuted Christians during the first century AD. Nero’s persecution was short and localized to Rome. It never spread throughout the empire. Moreover, Rome’s policy was to seek out their enemies and destroy them, not fight them with false teachers. So, if Rome wasn’t the persecuting agent, who could be behind the persecution that engulfed the five provinces of Asia at the same time? Who was that powerful?
Other than Nero, I believe the only person powerful enough to plan and execute such event against the Messianic Church, which had become an empire-wide movement, was the high priest at Jerusalem. He had the respect and loyalty of Jews throughout the Diaspora. Remember, Rome wanted to release both Jesus and Paul. Yet, Jesus was crucified, and Paul remained a prisoner at Caesarea for over two years and then sent to Rome to appear before Nero, all because of the powerful Jewish leadership who was able to sway the Roman governors at those times. And, behind it all was the high priest, the spiritual and civil leader of the Jews. So, in the context of the star falling from heaven, as though it were a lamp (Revelation 8:10), we are being informed of a great spiritual battle of doctrine conducted by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem against the Gospel. This battle engulfed at least many of the Messianic churches throughout the empire in the first century, between the years of 56 AD, when Paul was imprisoned, and the beginning of the Jews’ war with Rome in 66 AD, with an intensified effort made in the final three and a half years before that war.