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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 8 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And the second angel sounded. Compare See Barnes "Re 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 are 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," Da 2:35. Compare Zec 4:7; Jer 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 east 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 fulfilment 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 fulfilment in some country lying beyond the sea, or in some sea-coast 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.

{a} "burning" Jer 51:25 {b} "sea" Am 7:4 {c} "blood" Re 16:3; Ex 7:19-21

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