Second Trumpet - Burning Mountain

OVERVIEW - The second trumpet blast harmed much of the commerce on which Babylon and the “inhabitants of the earth” depended – Revelation 8:8-9

Shipwreck by Sam Power on Unsplash
The second trumpet blast upset the sea, disrupting a third of all seaborne commerce. In the 
book of Revelation, the “sea” is vital to the commerce on which “Babylon” depends, and it is the source of evil, and later, the “beast.” In part, this explains why, at the end of the book, no “sea” was found in “New Jerusalem.” In the symbolic world, the “sea” is linked to the “Dragon” and the “beast” - [Photo by Sam Power on Unsplash].
  • (Revelation 8:8-9) – “And the second angel sounded; and as it were, a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third of the sea became blood, and the third of the creatures which were in the sea that had life died, the third of the ships was destroyed.”
John did not see a literal mountain, but something he likened to “a great mountain burning with fire.” This is a simile. The first plague impacted the earth and vegetation; now, the second harms the “sea.” In Revelation, the “sea” corresponds to the “Abyss”:
  • (Revelation 11:7) – “And as soon as they have completed their witnessing, the beast that is to ascend from the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and slay them.
  • (Revelation 13:1-7) – “And the Dragon stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw, out of the sea a beast ascending…And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.
The second trumpet echoes the first Egyptian plague, when Yahweh turned the waters of the Nile into blood to curtail Egypt’s economic life:
  • (Exodus 7:17-21) - “The fish in the river died, and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.”
The “mountain burning with fire” alludes to a passage from the book of Jeremiah, a judgment dirge against Babylon, the “destroying” and “burning” mountain:
  • (Jeremiah 51:25) - “Behold me against you, O destroying mountain that destroys all the earth! Therefore, will I stretch out my hand over you and roll you down from the crags, and make of you a burning mountain.”
In a later vision, Babylon is called the “great whore” that sits on “seven mountains.” The mountains represent the kingdoms over which Babylon held sway, especially in the economic sphere - (Revelation 17:9-10).

Casting the “burning mountain” into the “sea” echoes the angel who took a censer, filled it with fire, then “cast it onto the earth.” The image of Babylon as a “burning mountain” hurled into the “sea” symbolizes its judgment and the results for global commerce. Just as this “great burning mountain was cast into the sea,” end-time “Babylon will be “cast into the sea like a great millstone,” which will cause all merchants, shipmasters, and sailors to lament that “in one hour that so great riches came to nothing” - (Revelation 8:5, 18:16-21).

The second trumpet also caused the “ships to be destroyed (diaphtheiro).” The clause translates a Greek verb borrowed from the Septuagint version of Jeremiah 51:25 - “I am against you, destroying mountain that destroyed all the earth (diaphtheiro).” The verbal connection is deliberate. The same verb occurred again when the seventh trumpet sounded:
  • (Revelation 11:18) - “And the season came to reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and to destroy them that destroy the earth (diaphtheiro).”
The destruction of a third of all ships is detrimental to trade. The destruction will become total with the final overthrow of end-time “Babylon.” The “burning mountain” anticipates that judgment. Here, the picture is of the partial destruction of her economic base, the source of her power and influence - (Revelation 18:16-20).
  • “God uses the ‘blazing mountain’ of Babylon, the ‘destroyer of the whole earth,’ to pollute the sea on which Babylon itself depends for the maintenance of its commercial empire” [G.B. Caird, Revelation, 1999, p. 114].
Thus, this cosmic enemy of the people of God is used in an ironic fashion by the “Lamb” to execute judgment on the unrepentant “inhabitants of the earth.” The very thing they idolized, “Babylon,” became the agent of their destruction.


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