Chernobyl Shuts Down

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant closed on Friday, December 15, 2000. The event made front-page news worldwide, as people reminisced about the world’s worst nuclear disaster. There was no champagne. Nobody reveled in the glory of it all. The nostalgia was dark. So dark, in fact, many of the news reports filed on the event included a Bible reference—an ominous prophecy from Revelation.

Chernobyl Prophecy Comes to Light


You see, it so happens that the very name of the power plant, Chernobyl, appears in the 8th chapter of the book of Revelation. And the event described fits what happened when the accident occurred.


The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986, in the Ukraine, part of the then- Soviet Union. Many innocent people died that day. More died in the ensuing weeks. And millions, yes millions, more will be laid to rest long before their natural time—their bones helplessly infected with the radioactive material Cesium-137.


The Chernobyl meltdown occurred during a test of the plant’s safety systems. Human error was involved. Six errors to be exact. The results were devastating. Many died. But there were other results. Many died, but many were saved. This is because many were made aware of the prophecy and came to trust in the truth of God’s Word. After all, what other conclusion can a person come to upon realizing the Bible predicted the Chernobyl catastrophe 1,900 years in advance?


The Prophecy

The thought of Bible prophecy being quoted by the secular media…well, it just brings a smile to the face of prophecy teachers and Bible lovers of all types. A star will fall from heaven, reads the prophecy. It will be a burning star, and it will fall upon one-third of the rivers. These waters will become poisoned, and many people will die because of the poisoned waters. And, oh yes, the star will have a name. It will be called Wormwood.


That’s it—the entire Third Trumpet prophecy in a nutshell. That’s what all the hullabaloo is about.


Did Chernobyl fulfill the Third Trumpet? Oddly, the news media seems to think the evidence demands a second look at the very least. We may very well be dealing here with something more than a mere passing coincidence. So let’s take a look for ourselves. Let’s explore what happened on that fateful spring day at Chernobyl. Our first of business, however, will be to look at…The Name.


Does Chernobyl Really Mean Wormwood?

The Chernobyl Disaster, a secular book by Soviet-born Viktor Haynes, begins not with an introduction, but with the prophecy and a quote from The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 6th edition: “Chernobyl is a Russian transliteration of the Ukrainian word ‘chornobyl’, which in English means wormwood, ‘a perennial herb of genus Artemisia with bitter, tonic, and stimulating qualities used in preparation of vermouth, absinth and in medicine.” According to the Dictionary of the Russian Language by S. Ozhegov, the word “chernobylnik” means “a variety of absinthe (wormwood) withred-brown or deep purple stem.” The book Chernobyl: A Documentary Story byIurii Shcherbak, translated from the Ukrainian language, says, “Ancient Chernobyl gave its bitter name (Chernobyl is the common wormwood) to the powerful nuclear power station whose construction began in 1971.”


Another secular source is a documentary about the disaster by the Films for Humanities and Sciences. A team of Japanese scientists and investigative reporters went to Europe to examine the effects of the accident. Its film is called “Chernobyl—The Taste of Wormwood.” It begins with the prophecy. It is never mentioned again.


Most striking is the testimony of Hans Blix, Executive Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a speech given before the UN General Assembly on October 23, 1990. To this great body he quoted Revelation 8:10-11 and said,

In Slavic languages, including the Ukrainian and Byelorussian languages, there is a word ‘chernobyl’, which means wormwood, bitter grass. This has a striking relevance to the Chernobyl tragedy. I am no fatalist. I do not believe in the blind inevitability of fate, but who can fail to be moved by these tragic and elegiac words from Revelation, which must leave their indelible imprint on the heart.

Any good unabridged dictionary will have about 500,000 words. Including technical and medical terms, it is estimated there are 2.5 million words in the English language. One of those words is wormwood. And it’s the name of the nuclear power plant that released ten times the amount of radiation into the atmosphere than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima released 41 years earlier.


How did this happen? Did God Almighty reach into His unabridged dictionary and select a name for this prophecy at random? Or did He foreknow this would be the name of the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster? This is a question every person must answer for themselves. Coincidence? One in 500,000? One in 2.5 million? Or the hand of God?

There’s more.

Many Will die From the Waters

Let’s look at the specific wording of the prophecy:

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. (Revelation 8:10-11)

Notice that many would die when the Third Trumpet blows. How the deaths would occur is very specifically stated in verse 10. It would be because of the waters— the waters would be made bitter. They would become “wormwood.”


Relatively speaking, the number of deaths that resulted directly from the meltdown itself, about 125,000, were few compared to the millions who have been poisoned with radiation. Over 200 million are estimated to have experienced excess exposure, 3.5 million seriously. But are the deaths linked to the water?


The Winds Blew, the Rains Fell

The first explosion came with such a force it blew the two million pound concrete lid off of the reactor. It went into the air, and came down cocked leaving the atmosphere fully exposed to a nuclear fire for the next three weeks. A second explosion hit just a few seconds after the first explosion. Radioactive material was blasted one mile up into the sky. The wind caught the radiation, and carried it into Scandinavia, Northern Italy, Germany, Great Britain and, in a diluted form, to the east coast of the United States.


Then the rains came. It rained incessantly for the next five days. The radioactivity was transferred from the clouds down into the soil. The most deadly thing about the rain was that the water flowed into the rivers. These deadly rivers then wound their way throughout all of Europe.


Remember the prophecy. It says that many men died because of the waters — because the waters were made bitter. As these waters flowed through Europe, everyone who drank of those waters absorbed the nuclide Cesium 137 into their body. Cesium 137 has a half-life of thirty years. It goes into the bone marrow and can lay there for thirty years before it causes cancer.


Doctors and scientists say that the worst is yet to come. Generations will be affected. They do not even know how to predict the far reaching implications of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.



The prophecy of the Third Trumpet emphasizes that the waters were made bitter by a star called “Chernobyl.” The greater the rainfall, the greater was the amount of radioactivity. Much of Europe was affected. To those who write The Name off as coincidence, consider that the Bible said many would die. Many died. But it’s more specific. It foretold what they would die from. Gunshot? Great hailstones? The beast? A black horse? No. Many would die because the waters were made bitter.


Name your own odds. Then multiply these odds by 500,000 and you will be staring at your personal level of coincidence to overlook.


The prophecy says “the third part” of the rivers and fountains of waters would be affected. It does not specify the third part of what. Europe’s waters? The earth’s waters? The Bible is silent on this issue. Were one-third of Europe’s waters made bitter? Maybe. We don’t know. We’ll never know. But God does. Shall we overlook the preponderance of other proof because this one detail cannot be nailed down? When is enough,  enough? Again, this is a decision that everyone will have to make individually. It is not a salvation issue.


On the tenth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Ukrainian writer Victor Lychyk penned an article for the Ukrainian Weekly, May 26, 1996 entitled, “Did the Bible Predict the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster?” Endtime requested permission to reprint the article. The request was denied. You can see it here.


Chernobyl closes. Secular papers, upon reflection, quote Revelation’s Third Trumpet, but they know not what to do next. But you do. There are still many out there to be saved.


Does Chernobyl Mean Wormwood?

Endtime editor Irvin Baxter relates how he first came to understand the significance of this prophecy:


To conclude that the Third Trumpet prophecy was fulfilled in 1986 was contrary to everything I had been taught in the past. Like many others I was made to understand all of my life that the 7 Trumpets would sound during the Great Tribulation. I started looking in my Bible for proof. To my astonishment I found none. There are no scriptures which teach that the Trumpets would all be contained within the final 3 1/2 year Great Tribulation, or even within the final seven years.


I have been teaching prophecy for over thirty years, and a lot of wild theories have come across my desk. I receive mail constantly telling me why Henry Kissinger is the Antichrist. Some explain how, if you let this letter equal this letter, and that letter equal that, then multiply the sum by nine and turn your result upside down, you end up with the number 666. Of course, we all know that Ronald Wilson Reagan was going to be the Antichrist, because Ronald has six letters, Wilson has six letters and Reagan has six letters. Yes, there are a lot of wild theories out there about Bible prophecy. Bible prophecy, however, is of God. Even though there have been mistaken interpretations, there are also true and correct interpretations that God intended for someone to understand.


Starting in late 1986, I began to hear rumors that the Russian word for wormwood was Chernobyl. I sloughed it off. Frankly, I was busy, and I thought this was just another one of those prophecy rumors. I disregarded it for a number of years.


In 1995, however, I was sitting in my office writing our Understanding the Endtime course. We were behind on our deadlines, and I was working very hard at my computer that particular day. Things were coming together really well, and I was excited. I was flying; making tremendous progress! Then, while I was all alone in my office, I felt like the Lord spoke to me and said, “Do you remember that thing you heard about the Russian word for wormwood being Chernobyl? I want you to check that out.”


I was all by myself. It was just me and God. I said, “God, you know I don’t have time to do that right now. I’m very busy. I have got to get this course done. I’m three months behind, and I don’t have time to spend three or four weeks in the library trying to prove whether this is true or not true.” You have to understand — it was just me and Him. We were just… sort of having a conversation. To tell you the truth, the thought of stopping my work on Understanding the Endtime, and launching into what I felt would be a wild goose chase was somewhatannoying. It seemed unreasonable.


But then, it was as though the Lord spoke back to me, and said, “Look, it won’t take you any time. Just call the library, and they will do the research for you.”


Well, seeing Who it was, I was a little afraid to disregard what I was hearing. In frustration, I yanked the drawer open to my desk, pulled out my phone book and dialed the reference department at our public library. I said, “Ma’am, this is Pastor Irvin Baxter. I have heard a rumor that the Russian word for wormwood is Chernobyl. Is there is any way that you could research that for me and tell me whether or not it is true?”


What she said stunned me. “Yes, that is true. You see, the Russians used to take wormwood for medicinal purposes, and the wormwood would turn their tongues black. The Russian word for black is ‘chernin.’ This is why they called wormwood ‘chernobyl.’” She then proceeded to rattle off the most horrible string of information you have ever heard in your life.


“I don’t doubt that what you are telling me is true,” I replied, “but I am going to write an article on this, and I would like to have documentation. Is there any way you can helpme with this?”


She called me back twenty minutes later with books and page numbers proving that Chernobyl was the Ukrainian and Russian word for wormwood.


Just before I hung up the phone, I said, “Ma’am, I have to ask you one more question. It’s not normal that you would have known all of these things off of the top of your head. How did you happen to know this?”


This was her response: “Well, I’m working on my doctorate in Russian right now, and I have just been studying these things.”


Needless to say, when I hung up that phone I was in awe. It made me reappraise the whole Third Trumpet prophecy. I now had proof that the Russian word for wormwood was Chernobyl.


By Eddie Sax

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