Second Trumpet

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Revelation
By: Tom Lowe Date: 3-9-2016

Lesson: III.C.3: Second Trumpet: Third of Sea Creatures and Ships Destroyed

Revelation 8:8-9 (KJV)

8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.


When the second trumpet sounded, what appeared to be a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea so that a third of it became blood, and a third of the creatures in the sea were killed, and a third of the ships were destroyed. This is a combination of the first Egyptian plague in which the water in the river, streams, and wells was turned to blood, so that all the fish died and no one could drink the water (Exodus 7:14-25), with an astronomical phenomenon in which a huge star that looked like a burning mountain fell into the sea

This judgment in particular, reminds us that the sin of man can and does adversely affect the rest of creation in a way that reacts disastrously upon his own life. John would have agreed with all that Paul says about the creations bondage to frustrations and decay: “ For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:20-22).

8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea.” The Bible is true in every minute detail. We say it is verbally inspired. When “the second angel” blew his trumpet (“sounded”), one-third of the “sea” was “destroyed.” The great mountain of fire “was thrown into the sea,” causing the disruption. (We are not told exactly who did the throwing.) Some say the Holy Spirit is careful to point out here that this is not a literal mountain—but “as it were” a great mountain (meaning, a fiery object that was like a great mountain). The vision looks like the picture of an incredibly powerful volcanic eruption. Destruction comes upon one-third only of the sea, one-third of “the creatures which were in the sea,” and one-third of the “ships” on the sea. Hence, at this time, the mercy of God is greater than His judgment. The general idea is that the convulsions of nature are the shadow cast by the approach of the terrible day of Christ (8:6-12). This day is a time of terror, darkness, and wrath. It is a “day of visitation” (Isaiah 10.3), a “day of the wrath of the Lord” (Ezekiel 7.19), the “great day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1.14).

Note: these verses have been interpreted in several ways by fine Bible commentators. In the paragraphs that follow I will pass on to you those interpretations I am aware of, and then, at the end I will give you my explanation.

It has been suggested that the apostle is given a vision of an immense falling meteor or asteroid or an immense meteoric mass, surrounded by gasses that will ignite as it enters earth’s atmosphere and becomes ablaze with fire. God simply turned loose one of the giant meteors and it plunged to earth in a blaze. Upon impact in the sea, it disrupts the ecology of the sea and creates a tidal wave. There are many theories concerning this “great mountain burning with fire;” you may have one too, that’s o.k. But whatever it was, it looked like a mountain, “as it were a great mountain.” This immense meteoric mass resembled a mountain ablaze.

The sea in Scripture is a well-known symbol of “godless mankind” (Isaiah 57:20). A mountain is frequently used to symbolize a great nation. Babylon, for example, is called a destroying mountain (Jeremiah 51:25), and the Lord’s coming worldwide empire is likened to a mountain (Daniel 2:35). The mountain mentioned here in the Apocalypse is a volcano, a burning mountain. The imagery may reflect the eruption Vesuvius on the West Coast of Italy on 24 August 79, about 16 years before John writes about his vision.

Some interpreters 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 5000 feet deep. But it is likely that all the major bodies of salt water are included in this judgment.
“And the third part of the sea became blood.” When this great burning mass fell into the sea, it turned a third part of the sea into blood. This may refer to an event known as red tides, caused by billions of dead microorganisms poisoning the water—in this case the result of the meteor’s collision.

Yes, the salt water became blood—not symbolic blood, just plain blood! If you doubt that water could be changed into blood, read about the first Egyptian plague when Pharaoh rebelled against God (Exodus 7:19-21). Read the account where God turned the waters of the Nile into blood: “So Moses and Aaron did even as the LORD had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:20-21). The only difference between this first Egyptian plague and the effect on the sea by the falling of the burning mass is that only one-third of the sea shall become blood when the burning mountain strikes.

“And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.” Considering that the oceans occupy about three fourths of the earth’s surface, you can imagine the extent of this judgment. The pollution of the water and the death of so many creatures would greatly affect the balance of life in the oceans, and this would undoubtedly lead to further unsolvable problems.

“And the third part of the ships were destroyed.” Included in the sounding of the second trumpet is the serious effect it has upon commerce, the third part of the world’s ships being destroyed. As of January 1, 1981 there were 24,867 ocean-going merchant ships registered. Imagine the shock waves that would hit the shipping industry if 8,289 valuable ships were suddenly destroyed! And what about their cargoes!

This event is more than just pollution of the water, since one-third of the living creatures shall die and one-third of the ships shall be destroyed. The loss of so many ships, fishing vessels included, would decrease man’s local food supply still further and would decrease his means of obtaining food from distant places. This will possibly be caused by the giant tidal wave created when the burning mountain falls into the sea. Think of it! (It was a giant storm that destroyed the Spanish Armada.) This will be an ecological and an economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.

For an economy that depended on the sea for its trade and food, as Rome’s did, this would be especially terrifying. Because travel by land was slow, Rome depended on the sea for most of its transport of goods. The key cities in the Roman Empire were the ports on the Mediterranean Sea. Rome’s navy ensured the safety of travel on the Mediterranean. But they could do nothing against God’s judgment.

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