“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” (Rev. 8:12).
The fourth trumpet is blown, and the visitation comes upon the sun, moon, and stars. The judgment is partial, not total, but it is nonetheless striking. The question raised by the image is this: is the sun, for example, partially eclipsed, with a third of it covered? Or is the light from the entire sun diminished by a third, as could happen with thick air pollution? I take this as symbolic, not literal, but the nature of the picture affects the understanding of what is being pictured. I take this as an indication of political upheaval in and around the time of the Jewish War—during which the Roman emperors Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius all died, and not peacefully in bed either. And yet, Rome continued.
Throughout the Old Testament, the language of a collapsing or failing solar system is the language that indicates judgment upon a nation or city. Consider the following (Is. 13:9-11, 19; 24:19-23; 34:4-5; Ezek. 32:7-8, 11-12; Joel 2:10, 28-32; Acts 2:16;21). The sun, moon and stars are representation of earthly rulers, and what is happening to them in the heavenly vision is what is actually going to happen to their counterparts on earth. In this case, the indication is of a partial judgment.
It is at least worth mentioning that later in the book, the dragon (who is the devil) dragged down a third of the stars with his tail (Rev. 12:4).