Revelation 8:8
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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8, 9) And the second angel . . .—Translate, 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; and the third part of the creatures that were in the sea died, those which have lives; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. The sea becoming blood reminds us again of the plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7:20-21); but we must once more note the variation. It is not an uplifted rod like that of Moses which produces this result: it is the casting into the sea of a huge mass, as it were a great mountain, burning with fire. Professor Stuart calls this image appropriate or peculiar to St. John. The prophet Jeremiah, however, in a chapter which in many particulars is parallel to this and the following chapter (comp. Revelation 11:18), makes use of a very similar image: “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth; and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain” (Jeremiah 51:25). The mountain was the emblem, in Jeremiah’s prophecy, of the strong consolidated power and institutions of Babylon. Not only must the loftiness of man be brought low, but the mountains which they made so strong for themselves. The power of God’s advancing cause would hurl the rooted mountains from their base. The power of faith, Christ declared, would suffice to do this (Matthew 21:21); and it is at least a singular coincidence that this saying of the Lord’s respecting the overthrow of a mountain should occur in His own comment on the destruction of the fig-tree, just as, in this chapter, the vision of the mountain overthrown follows that of the destruction of tree and grass life. Our Lord encourages the faith of His disciples: “Your power will not only expose the pretentious religionisms of the world, as My word has shown the worthlessness of this tree, but you will overthrow also the long established usages and evil customs of nations which corrupt the world.” The powers which seemed strong as the great mountains would be seen to be but evil powers, burning, poisoning, destroying; but its power to destroy is checked: it is cast into the sea. Yet no great institution, or nationality, or evil principle is overthrown without some corresponding disadvantages. The falling mountain carries evil even in its fall, the sea becomes blood, the ships are destroyed. The fall of a great nation—a Babylon— is always fraught with unavoidable miseries to the world and its nations. Doubtless, the interests of commerce and shipping suffer; but this is not, it seems to me, the point of the vision. The symbolism is only weakened by supposing an allegorical mountain to fall into a literal sea and to destroy literal ships. The force of the vision is that certain gigantic forms of evil will be overthrown, but the overthrow will be accompanied with the development of new evils: the advance is made, but the step forward unveils the subtle force of evil. Every corrupt institution is destroyed with the risk of the evil elements diffusing themselves elsewhere; just as the political victory of Christianity was followed by the infusion of certain Pagan elements into the Church. The vanquished always manage to impose some laws on the victor. Even the advance of the Church is accompanied by some such experience.

Revelation 8:8-9. And the second angel sounded, and, as it were, a great mountain burning with fire — That is, a great warlike nation, or hero; for in the style of poetry, which is near akin to the style of prophecy, heroes are compared to mountains; was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea died — The sea, in the Hebrew language, is any collection of waters, as Daubuz observes: now, as waters are expressly made a symbol of people in this prophecy, Revelation 17:15, the waters which thou sawest are people, and nations, and tongues; the sea here may well represent the collection of many people and nations into one body politic, or empire; and when a sea is considered as an empire or a collection of people into one body, the living creatures in that sea will be the people or nations whose union constitutes this empire. And the third part of the ships were destroyed — Ships, from their use in trade, are a proper representation of the riches of the people; and as they are of use in war, especially to maritime nations, they are proper emblems of strength and power. As ships were of both uses in the Roman empire, they may be well understood both of the riches and power of that empire. Thus we have a description, in this part of the second period of prophecy, of a judgment to come on the empire, in which the capital should suffer much, many provinces should be dismembered, as well as invaded, and the springs of power and riches in the empire should be very much diminished. And accordingly we find in history that this was indeed a most calamitous period. The year 400 is marked out as one of the most memorable and calamitous that had ever befallen the empire; and in the latter end of the year 406, the Alans, Vandals, and other barbarous people, passed the Rhine, and made the most furious irruption into Gaul that had yet been known; passed into Spain, and from thence over into Africa; so that the maritime provinces became a prey to them, and the riches and naval power of the empire were almost quite ruined. But the heaviest calamities fell upon Rome itself, besieged and oppressed with famine and pestilence. After Alaric and his Goths, the next ravagers were Attila and his Huns, who, for the space of fourteen years, shook the east and west with the most cruel fear, and deformed the provinces of each empire with all kinds of plundering, slaughter, and burning. They first wasted Thrace, Macedon, and Greece, putting all to fire and sword, and compelled the eastern emperor, Theodosius the second, to purchase a shameful peace. Then Attila turned his arms against the western emperor, Valentinian the third; entered Gaul with seven hundred thousand men, and, not content with taking and spoiling, set most of the cities on fire. But at length, being there vigorously opposed, he fell upon Italy, took and destroyed Aquileia, with several other cities, slaying the inhabitants, and laying the buildings in ashes, and filled all places between the Alps and the Appennines with flight, depopulation, slaughter, servitude, burning, and desperation. Such a man might properly be compared to a great mountain burning with fire, who really was, as he called himself, the scourge of God, and the terror of men, and boasted that he was sent into the world by God for this purpose, that, as the executioner of his just anger, he might fill the earth with all kinds of evils; and he bounded his cruelty and passion by nothing less than blood and burning.8:7-13 The first angel sounded the first trumpet, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood. A storm of heresies, a mixture of dreadful errors falling on the church, or a tempest of destruction. The second angel sounded, and a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood. By this mountain some understand leaders of the persecutions; others, Rome sacked by the Goths and Vandals, with great slaughter and cruelty. The third angel sounded, and there fell a star from heaven. Some take this to be an eminent governor; others take it to be some person in power who corrupted the churches of Christ. The doctrines of the gospel, the springs of spiritual life, comfort, and vigour, to the souls of men, are corrupted and made bitter by the mixture of dangerous errors, so that the souls of men find ruin where they sought refreshment. The fourth angel sounded, and darkness fell upon the great lights of heaven, that give light to the world, the sun, and the moon, and the stars. The guides and governors are placed higher than the people, and are to dispense light, and kind influences to them. Where the gospel comes to a people, and has not proper effects on their hearts and lives, it is followed with dreadful judgments. God gives alarm by the written word, by ministers, by men's own consciences, and by the signs of the times; so that if people are surprised, it is their own fault. The anger of God makes all comforts bitter, and even life itself burdensome. But God, in this world, sets bounds to the most terrible judgments. Corruption of doctrine and worship in the church are great judgments, and also are the usual causes and tokens of other judgments coming on a people. Before the other three trumpets were sounded, there was solemn warning how terrible the calamities would be that should follow. If lesser judgments do not take effect the church and the world must expect greater; and when God comes to punish the world, the inhabitants shall tremble before him. Let sinners take warning to flee from the wrath to come; let believers learn to value and to be thankful for their privileges; and let them patiently continue in well doing.And the second angel sounded - Compare the notes on Revelation 8:2-7. This, according to the interpretation proposed above, refers to the second of the four great events which contributed to the downfall of the Roman empire. It will be proper in this case, as in the former, to inquire into the literal meaning of the symbol, and then whether there was any event that corresponded with it.

And as it were a great mountain - A mountain is a natural symbol of strength, and hence becomes a symbol of a strong and powerful kingdom; for mountains arc not only places of strength in themselves, but they anciently answered the purposes of fortified places, and were the seats of power. Hence, they are properly symbols of strong nations. "The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth," Daniel 2:35. Compare Zechariah 4:7; Jeremiah 51:25. We naturally, then, apply this part of the symbol to some strong and mighty nation - not a nation, necessarily, that issued from a mountainous region but a nation that in strength resembled a mountain.

Burning with fire - A mountain in a blaze; that is, with all its woods on fire, or, more probably, a volcanic mountain. There would perhaps be no more sublime image than such a mountain lifted suddenly from its base and thrown into the sea. One of the sublimest parts of the Paradise Lost is that where the poet represents the angels in the great battle in heaven as lifting the mountains - tearing them from their base - and hurling them on the foe:

"From their foundations heaving to and fro,

They plucked the seated hills, with all their load,

Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops

Uplifting, bore them in their hands," etc.

Book vi.

The poet, however, has not, as John has, represented a volcano borne along and cast into the sea. The symbol employed here would denote some fiery, impetuous, destructive power. If used to denote a nation, it would be a nation that was, as it were, burning with the desire of conquest - impetuous, and fierce, and fiery in its assaults - and consuming all in its way.

Cast into the sea - The image is very sublime; the scene, should such an event occur, would be awfully grand. As to the fulfillment of this, or the thing that was intended to be represented by it, there cannot be any material doubt. It is not to be understood literally, of course; and the natural application is to some nation, or army, that has a resemblance in some respects to such a blazing mountain, and the effect of whose march would be like casting such a mountain into the ocean. We naturally look for agitation and commotion, and particularly in reference to the sea, or to some maritime coasts. It is undoubtedly required in the application of this, that we should find its fulfillment in some country lying beyond the sea, or in some seacoast or maritime country, or in reference to commerce.

And the third part of the sea became blood - Resembled blood; became as red as blood. The figure here is, that as such a blazing mountain cast into the sea would, by its reflection on the waters, seem to tinge them with red, so there would be something corresponding with this in what was referred to by the symbol. It would be fulfilled if there was a fierce maritime warfare, and if in some desperate naval engagement the sea should be tinged with blood.

8. as it were—not literally a mountain: a mountain-like burning mass. There is a plain allusion to Jer 51:25; Am 7:4.

third part of the sea became blood—In the parallel second vial, the whole sea (not merely a third) becomes blood. The overthrow of Jericho, the type of the Antichristian Babylon, after which Israel, under Joshua (the same name as Jesus), victoriously took possession of Canaan, the type of Christ's and His people's kingdom, is perhaps alluded to in the SEVEN trumpets, which end in the overthrow of all Christ's foes, and the setting up of His kingdom. On the seventh day, at the seventh time, when the seven priests blew the seven ram's horn trumpets, the people shouted, and the walls fell flat: and then ensued the blood-shedding of the foe. A mountain-like fiery mass would not naturally change water into blood; nor would the third part of ships be thereby destroyed.

There is a great variety of senses also about this

mountain of fire cast into the sea. Some by it understand things happening in Judea; but this had been not to have showed John the things which should be, but which had been. Others will have the devil understood; others, the power of the Roman empire; others, some great war stirred up amongst people; others, some notable heresy or heretic; others, some famous persons in the church: but I most like Mr. Mede’s notion again here, who understands by this mountain, Rome, the seat of the western empire; great cities being called mountains in Scripture phrase, Isaiah 37:24 Jeremiah 51:25.

And the third part of the sea became blood: this phrase speaks only the great effusion of blood upon the taking of Rome by its enemies. And the second angel sounded,.... His trumpet:

and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; by which is meant not the devil, as some think; called a "mountain" from his height of pride, a great one from his might and power, and a "burning" one from his great wrath and malice against Christ, his Gospel, and his people; and who may be said to be "cast into the sea" of this world, and the men of it, whom he instigates against the saints, and who are like a troubled sea that cannot rest: but rather some heresy, and, as some have thought, the Macedonian heresy, which was levelled against the deity of the Holy Spirit, as was the Arian heresy against the deity of the Son; the abettors of which looked big, and were supported by power, and showed great zeal for religion, and pretended to great light and knowledge; and which heresy much affected the sea of pure doctrine, particularly the third part of doctrine, in which the third Person, the Spirit of God, is more especially concerned; and was of so pernicious a nature, as to kill many that professed the Gospel, and had a name to live, and destroy many particular churches, comparable to ships; but, as before, it is best to understand this of another incursion of the Goths into the Roman empire, and of the effects of it; and it seems to have respect to the taking and sacking of Rome by Alaricus, king of the West Goths, in the year 410, or 412 (m). Rome is very fitly represented by a great mountain, as kingdoms and cities sometimes are; see Zechariah 4:7; seeing it was built on seven mountains; and its being taken and burnt by Alaricus is aptly expressed by a burning mountain, as the destruction of Babylon, which is another name for Rome, is by a burnt mountain in Jeremiah 51:25; the "sea" into which this was cast may signify the great number of people and nations within its jurisdiction which suffered, and were thrown into confusion at this time; so distresses and calamities in nations are expressed by a like figure in Psalm 46:2;

and the third part of the sea became blood; that is, a third part of the jurisdiction of Rome, signified by the sea, see Jeremiah 51:36; was afflicted with wars and bloodshed by this same sort of people; for while these things were done in Italy, a like calamity fell on France and Spain; the Alans, Vandals, and Sueves, having depopulated France, passed over the Pyraenean mountains, and seized on Spain; the Vandals and Sueves on Gallaecia; the Alans on Portugal; and the Silingi, which was another sort of Vandals, invaded Andalusia (n); the Goths under Ataulphus entered France, and the Burgundians seized that part of it next the Rhine (o): see Exodus 7:20.

(m) Cassiodor Chronicon in Honor. & Theodos. 43. Petav. ib. p. 276. Hist. Eccl. Magdeburg. cent. ib. p. 872. Vid. Hieron. ad Gaudentium, fol. 34. M. (n) Cassiodor. ib. Petav. ib. (o) Cassiodor. Chronicon. ib.

{6} 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;

(6) The second execution on the sea, in this verse and all things that are in Re 8:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 8:8-9. Upon the sound of the second trumpet, follows a sign which exercises its injurious effects upon the sea, together with creatures living therein and on ships.

ὡς ὄρος

θάλασσαν. Ebrard’s view, that a volcano was torn away from its station along the seacoast by the force raging within, and cast into the sea, conflicts with the ὡς as well as with the idea lying in the connection, that the ἐβλήθη (cf. Revelation 8:7) occurred by a special, wonderful, Divine working.[2476] The meaning of the ὡς was given already by N. de Lyra.[2477] By the comparison with a great mountain all on fire, only the dreadful greatness of the fiery mass is made manifest, which, if we consider its source in general, must be regarded as coming from heaven (cf. Revelation 5:7). Hence it cannot in any way be said,[2478] that the form of the representation is taken from that of a volcano. An allusion to Jeremiah 51:21[2479] is entirely out of place.[2480] The effect (Revelation 8:8 b, Revelation 8:9) is described after the model of the Egyptian plague, Exodus 7:20 sqq., only that here it is not as there all the water, but, in analogy with Revelation 8:7; Revelation 8:10 sqq., 12 sqq., a third that becomes blood, and likewise a third of living creatures and ships that is destroyed.

τὰ ἒχοντα ψυχάς. The expression designates all living creatures. The nom. apposition to ΤῶΝ ΚΤΙΣΜ. ΤῶΝ ἘΝ Τ. ΘΑΛ. stands like Revelation 3:12, Revelation 9:14, Revelation 14:20, without construction.

The allegorizing commentators guess here and there without any foundation, because the text throughout contains nothing allegorical. Beda[2481] explains the whole: “As the Christian religion grew, the Devil swollen with pride, and burning with the fire of his own-fury, was cast into the sea of the world.” On Τ. ἝΧ. ΨΥΧ. he remarks: “those alive, but spiritually dead.” Luther: “Marcion, the Manichaeans, etc.” Grot, may be considered the representative of the expositors who make conjectures in general concerning the distresses of the Romano-Judaic war. According to him, ὌΡΟς, Κ.Τ.Λ., designates the citadel of Antony, i.e., the soldiers therein who threw themselves with madness (ΚΑΙΌΜ.) into the city (ἘΒΛ. ΕἸς Τ. ΘΑΛ.), killed men (ἈΠΕΘΆΝΕ, Κ.Τ.Λ.), and stole what was movable (Τ. ΠΛΟΊΩΝ). Also Vitr., Beng., Stern, yea, even Hengstenb, understand the whole as referring to the devastation of war, while they interpret the details with lack of judgment like Grot.,[2482] and only differ from him in that Vitr., etc., find the inroads of the Goths into the Roman Empire, and Hengstenb., wars in general, prophesied. Hengstenb, has the view in general, that, in all the trumpet-visions except the last, the same thing is represented, viz., war.[2483] According to Ebrard, the whole means that “the vulcanic, Titanic energy of covetous or pleasure-seeking egoism poisons the intercourse of men, the intellectual as well as especially the domestic.”

[2476] Cf. Hengstenb.

[2477] “A vast glowing globe.”

[2478] Vitr., Ew.

[2479] δώσω σε ὡς ὅρος ἐμπεπυρισμένον.

[2480] Against Vitr.

[2481] Cf. Zeg., etc.

[2482] The “ships,” e.g., are, according to Vitr., small states; according to Hengstenb., cities and villages; the “fish” are in Hengstenb., just as in Grot., men slain by the raging warriors.

[2483] Matthew 24:7.Revelation 8:8-9. A fiery mass, huge as a mountain, is flung into the sea—a description which would recall the fiery volcanic bombs familiar to inhabitants of the Egean. The catastrophe includes, as in the first Egyptian plague, the turning of water into blood and the destruction of marine animals (4 Ezra 5:7, Verg. Georg. iii. 541 f.), besides havoc among the shipping. Volcanic phenomena (cf. Introd.§ 8) in the Egean archipelago (e.g., at Thera) are in the background of this description, and of others throughout the book; features such as the disturbance of islands and the mainland, showers of stones, earthquakes, the sun obscured by a black mist of ashes, and the moon reddened by volcanic dust, were the natural consequences of eruption in some submarine volcano, and Thera—adjoining Patmos—was in a state of more or less severe eruption during the first century. All this suggested the hideous colours in which the final catastrophe was painted by the imagination of pious contemporaries. In the eruption of 1573, the sea round Thera was tinted for twenty miles round, and even when the submarine volcano is quiescent, “the sea in the immediate vicinity of the cone is of a brilliant orange colour, from the action of oxide of iron”. In 1707 a large rock suddenly appeared in the sea, during the eruption, and owing to noxious vapours “all fish in the harbour died”.The Second Trumpet, Revelation 8:8-98. a great mountain burning with fire] Cf. Jeremiah 51:25. It can hardly be said how far the image may have been suggested to either prophet by the natural phenomenon of a volcano: of the two, St John is likelier to have seen one than Jeremiah. Volcanoes are almost always near the sea.

became blood] This plague, like the last, reminds us of one of the plagues of Egypt, Exodus 7:17 sqq.Revelation 8:8. Ὡς ὄρος, as a mountain) A mass of barbarian nations is meant; concerning the migration and irruption of which, attended with the greatest injuries, from the third century, history is so full, that it is needless to quote particular authors. The mountain thrown into the sea is aptly expressed from the Varia of Cassiodorius, where a sufficiently obvious mention is made at the same time of the Goths and Romans.Verses 8, 9. - And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea. Jeremiah 2:25 contains a somewhat similar description, with, however, a different meaning. There the mountain is the heathen power; here it is the instrument of the punishment of the ungodly world. Alford objects to calling the mountain a volcano, though that, or something of the same nature, seems obviously to be meant. The contiguity of such appearances to St. John in the Isle of Patmos may have suggested the idea. The judgments appear to increase in severity as we go on. The first affects vegetation, thus causing trouble, but not destruction to men; the second begins to affect animal life; the third causes many men to die; and the following ones affect men as direct punishments. The vision may be said generally to typify great trouble and commotion. The figure is used in other places to denote something remarkable and awe inspiring (cf. Matthew 21:21; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Job 9:5; Job 28:9; Judges 5:5; 1 Kings 19:11; Psalm 46:2; Isaiah 34:3; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 38:20; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5). It is also the symbol of a great power. In Isaiah 2:2 it signifies the Church; in Amos 4:1 an earthly power; in Isaiah 41:15 the enemies of Israel. We may therefore conclude that a judgment of great magnitude and force is foretold; and though it is possible to point to particular events (such as the overthrow of Rome by the Gothic power) as a fulfilment of the prophecy, yet we must remember that the complete fulfilment will not he accomplished until "all enemies are put under his feet." And the third part of the sea became blood; 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; even they that had life (Revised Version). (On the "third part," see on ver. 7.) Whether one third part of the sea, separated in some way from the rest, and all the creatures in that third part, or whether a third part diffused over the whole extent, is meant, it is impossible to say. The whole is a vision, and not subject to natural laws. The meaning is evident. As before, a large part, but not the largest, is signified and this time the judgment is directed against another portion of creation. The sea, as well as the productions of the earth, can be used by God as his agent by which to punish and warn mankind. The attempt to press the vision into a particular application has led to a variety of interpretations. Wordsworth and Elliott both think that the destruction of Roman ships is foretold; the former pointing to the ships as the instruments of commerce and luxury, the latter referring to the destruction of the Roman navy. Bengel, Grotius, Vitringa, see here a vision of war'. Hengstenberg believes the sea to typify this world; the living creatures, mankind; and the ships, villages and towns. Those who place the fulfilment of the vision in time subsequent to the sealing of Revelation 7. fail to see that the trumpets do not follow the seals in chronological order, but that both are being fulfilled side by side in the same epoch; viz. that of the existence of man. As it were (ὡς)

Not a mountain, but a fiery mass so large as to resemble one.

Blood

Reminding of the first plague in Egypt (Exodus 7:20, Exodus 7:21).

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