And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.…
A star falling from heaven may be interpreted as something bright that leaps from its proper place, or may be used as the symbol of many things that are out of their true position, and as the type of many persons who are wandering, or who have wandered, or who will wander from their proper locality. It stands for broken plans, broken character, for virtue turned upside down, and for a world filled with riot, confusion, and shame.
1. As we study history, we find, in each age, a large number of prominent men who for a long season gave a brilliant light, and then all at once became eclipsed by their sins, being struck from the celestial skies. Is there any sight more sad than this? It is opportunity clipped, virtue smothered, consummate grandeur scorched, and a posterity robbed of examples that might have been splendidly luminous beyond all human estimate. Such men have struck a blow at humanity, and they stand unenvied, in the niche of fame, as traitors to their race, aliens from God, and bad specimens of a discrowned morality; and such is the penalty of a high position misused, of a great trust betrayed, and of a grand possibility disgraced.
2. Again, great cities and countries that have become extinct are fallen stars — Babylon, Nineveh, and Tyre, and others of like nature, which once led the world in beauty, culture, commerce, and force, but which now are lost in the ashes that serve as their mausoleum. No one could have foreseen their fate, because so stately, so magnificent, and so glorious did they appear, and right royal in their beauty.
3. In each one's personal history we discover that bright luminaries have fallen from their place; for no one can look back upon a past life without detecting various periods when awful slips were made. How innocent we once were! What bright dreams of goodness flitted athwart the brain, crowned the soul, and illuminated a possible future! Ah! "the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak." We meant to do that which was right, but temptation came, then we turned aside to the evil way; and probably there is not a person in the world at the age of twenty-one who has not lost somewhat of the freshness of early life, and we all moan over some good thing that we have too easily let go. Are we as truthful as we once were? as honest? as pure? Ah! the firmament of our souls has become strangely darkened, and many of the brilliant lights that once studded it appear to have died out. Only here and there twinkles one little star, very lonely, sad, obscure. Clouds and darkness are round about us, while a thick vapour has thrown its fearful shroud over our original beauty. Yet, all this we can remedy; and these choice constellations of early days, now so disguised, can be made to shine with renewed glory, can once more proclaim their power, and can yet again blaze with gorgeous splendour. And Jesus came on purpose to tell us how to keep these starlike virtues in their orbit, how to call them back when they have wandered, and how to summon up their original splendour. He did not wish us to be freed from all temptation, that, merely by the absence of exposure, our innocence might be eternally fortified, and that our goodness might be iron-clad — no, not that; but He endeavoured to show us how to meet temptation, how to conquer it, how to take our innocence and to push it into virtue, and how to change a mere passive goodness into a decided, active, and glorious nobleness of character.
(Caleb D. Bradlee.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.