Image above: The naum aquia (naval battle in the flooded Colosseum). Painter: Ulpiano Checa, 1894.
8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
The first trumpet judgment involved disasters on the lands of the persecuters of Christ’s people. Let me make one fact clear. I do not believe the wrath of God falls on His people. They are shielded from harm by God Himself, just as ancient Israel was shielded from Egyptian plagues. (cf Exodus 9:6).
Note also that with some of the plagues, Israelites had something to do to insure God’s protection, Exodus 9 —
18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.
19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.
20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.
God’s providential care of His people oftentimes includes the use of means that are human. God can act directly or He can act through secondary causes. We are to seek wisdom from God about our circumstances! Then, we are to follow that wisdom to insure our safety and well-being.
Note God’s instructions to His people when He judges His enemies in Isaiah 26 —
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.
There comes a time when God’s people have to absent themselves from the life of the world and carefully observe God’s wisdom in His word.
The wrath of God falls in punishment on those who are not believers. Revelation 7 records the census of God’s warriors and their sealing with the seal of the living God. They are secured from heresy and harm by God’s wrath.
I. We should hear God’s warning in every sea disaster.
Fresco with Mount Vesuvius behind Bacchus and Agathodaemon, as seen in Pompeii’s House of the Centenary ca. AD 79.
vs. 8 The burning mass cast into the sea — This vision seems in John’s mind to be a volcanic-like eruption that slides into the sea. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was fresh in the minds of all around the sea. The Greek word hôs (“like”) is used, so it is difficult to say how literally this vision’s fulfillment should be taken by us. The Romans referred to the Mediterranean Sea nostri maris (“our sea”). They were at the time the masters of their world in their thinking. Yet we know who is the Master — The Lord God Almighty!
The Rev. Peter Marshall preached at the Naval Academy hours before the announcement came that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. His prayer at that time was helpful as a great many would soon be at sea in war.
In the Old Testament, “mountains” are symbolic of nations, especially evil, overweening nations (see Jeremiah 51:24-25; click the links in any of my posts and they will open in another window so you won’t lose your place here).
This is most surely a battle at sea that affects and destroys 1/3 of the salt water and creatures therein.
One third of the sea became blood — This imagery suggests the first plague in Exodus 7:20-21. The word “sea” has the definite article indicating the Mediterranean Sea was in John’s mind. see Isaiah 15:9 for a reference to “blood” as an image of a battle.
vs. 9 One third of the creatures in the sea are smitten and 1/3 of ships destroyed — This plague afflicts the salt water inhabitants. It also affects commerce and trade.
We should see in every disaster involving the sea, a battle the Almighty institutes against those who persecute His people. Our God is the sovereign over the environment.
10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
II. In every disaster in connection with fresh water we should hear God’s warning.
vs. 10 The Fresh Water Smitten — This plague is the fresh water counterpart to the previous one that affected the salt water. This is a burning object. It along with the volcano in the last trumpet is symbolic of Divine visitation. The text says that it affected 1/3 of the rivers and the springs.
At times, God touches the fresh water of a land to draw people away from earthly pursuits and fix them on the eternal! Such things are warnings to unbelievers and to believers alike. The Texts on which the following hymn are based: Isaiah 55:1, 2; Matthew 11:28-30.
vs. 11 The Star that Fell — Wormwood” (apsinthos in Greek) is a bush like our western sage bush. It is a variety of artemesia absinthium. All of them have a bitter taste.
There is a liqueur made from it that can either kill a man, if given in a large dose, or leave him mentally deranged, in a smaller dose.
Bitter Water — This judgment against the fresh water leads to the death of many (polloi) . It is restricted to 1/3 of mankind. This is a reversal of the miracle at Marah (Exodus 15:23 ff)
Next time, the fourth trumpet and the announcement of the Three Woes.
Notes (Sources of this study)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
Hendriksen, Wm. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Johnson, A. F. (1996). Revelation (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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