The Second Trumpet

SECOND TRUMPET The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8-9)

Blazing Mountain Thrown into the Sea – This is not likely a reference to a literal mountain, but rather “something like a huge mountain” that is ablaze. Again, John is trying to describe devastation unlike anything he had ever witnessed or even imagined as possible. This vision may also be
an allusion to Jeremiah 51:25 and Amos 7:4.(1) There are four primary interpretations.

Volcanic Activity – This could be describing a great volcanic eruption, like Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.(2) But of course this would have to be extremely widespread to affect 1/3rd of the seas.

Heavenly Bodies – Many believe that the mountain is best understood as being a literal large body, such as a meteor or asteroid, falling from the heavens.(3)

Thermonuclear Exchange – Others see this as a vision of atomic warfare, something John would find difficult to describe. Whatever it is, John describes it as destruction that is beyond our wildest imagination and greatest fears.(4)

Symbolic – In Jeremiah 51:24-25, Babylon is referred to as a fiery mountain. As we will learn later in Revelation, Babylon is also symbolic of a false religious system. In the Bible, the sea is also used symbolically to represent people or nations. Taken together, some believe that this mountain is the false religion of Mystery Babylon that will affect one-third of the earth’s population.

If literal, what it is (volcano, asteroid, warfare), is not as important as what it does, leading to ecological and economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.(5) Regrettably, when studying Revelation, an inordinate amount of time is often spent speculating about what things might be, when the focus should be on why they are happening, what is the message to us, and what are the consequences.

Impact on Sea, Sea Creatures and Ships – It may be best to interpret these events literally, though the description of the sea being “turned into blood” may mean it has the appearance of blood as in the mention of blood after the first trumpet blast.(6) The sea (1/3rd) turning to blood is reminiscent of the first plague in Egypt (Exodus 7:20, 21).(7) It is not clear if the sea turning to blood results in the death of 1/3rd of the sea creatures, or whether the death of the sea creatures contributes to the blood-like appearance of the sea (which comes first?). For example, when plankton (minute particles of sea vegetation) dies, it turns red. The “blazing mountain” cast into the sea is so destructive that it also results in destruction of a third of the ships.(8)

Considering that the oceans occupy about 3/4ths of the earth’s surface, one can imagine the devastating impact this judgment would have. The pollution of the water and the death of so many creatures would greatly affect the remaining balance of life in the oceans, and this would undoubtedly lead to further problems.(9) As was the case with the first trumpet, some see the 1/3rd as representative of a certain locale,(10) as opposed to 1/3rd of all the oceans. Others take “the sea” to mean the Mediterranean Sea. However, this would make a relatively small impact on the world, since the Mediterranean covers only 969,100 square miles and averages just 5,000 feet deep. It may be more likely that all the major bodies of saltwater are included in this judgment.(11)

Some interpreters believe that the ships are a symbolic reference to churches. The Greek term used here for ships is not the common one, but that used in the Gospels of the fishing vessel from which Christ taught. Also, the first churches were in the shape of an inverted ship. Finally, the Greek term used for destroyed is also used of heresies corrupting the Church (1 Timothy 6:5).(12)

Up Next – The Third Trumpet.

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References

  1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 571). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  2. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 8:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 951). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 1080). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 593). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 951). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 506). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  8. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 951). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 593). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 8:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 593). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  12. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 572). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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