Revelation 8.8, 9.
Rev. 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 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.”
As the fulfillment of the first trumpet brings us up to and including the flood, the time of the second trumpet must therefore be sought in the first post-flood destruction preceded by a message. And to locate its beginning, we need only to reason that since scripturally a mountain represents a church or a kingdom (Zech. 8:3; Isa. 2:3), then the “great mountain’s” being enveloped in fire, as was the bush from which God spoke to Moses (Ex. 3:2, 4), can mean only that God’s presence was then in the midst of and round about His people. And at that time they were, we know, the Israelite movement the first post-flood church with a message — the ceremonial system. Leading this mighty army of the Lord, went the pillar of fire before; and shielding it, followed the pillar of cloud behind.
After the mountain was afire, it was “cast into the sea.” The sea, the storehouse of the waters, represents the original abode of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). Hence, while it stands for the world as a whole the place wherein the nations (waters) reside it definitely localizes the place wherein the church (mountain) appears. This is borne out by the prophet’s words: “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea [where the world originated — Palestine], and all that is therein.” Isa. 42:10.
Bear in mind that only the third part of the “sea [world] became blood,” also that the Israelite movement reached only a part of the world (in symbolical terms, the “third part” of the “sea”) — those heathen with whom the movement came into close contact, especially in the Promised Land. Very obviously, then, the “mountain” is symbolical of the Old Testament church.
When the “mountain” (the church) was cast into the “sea,” and “the third part of the sea became blood,” “the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.” The “blood” again, of course, represents mortal life. This being so, then it follows that the third part of the “sea” (world) which became “blood” (life), was that portion into which the “mountain” was “cast,” into which God’s people were brought. Accordingly, that portion, Palestine, became a life-saving refuge to those who fully united with the movement, but a shambles for those who did not, just as Noah’s ark was a life-saving refuge to those who entered in, but an agent of destruction to those who remained out.
Concerning the third part of the creatures which died, the Bible would be in guilt of gross superfluity to say that they “had life” if by that It meant mortal life, for how could they have died unless they had mortal life? Hence they were figurative only of those living who were privileged to have eternal life, and who once embraced it, but who later, through wickedness, lost it. Thus, only a symbolical “third part” of all who had eternal life, but who sinned it away (“died”), were destroyed.
Rev. 8:9, last part. “And the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
The “sea” being symbolical of the old world, the “ships” must accordingly be figurative of objects which were supposed to shelter and to convey people, and which, though promising to transport them safely over the sea (world), fail to reach the shore beyond. They, consequently, can portray only the heathen religions and their temples, which offered to their adherents transport to a world hereafter. But not seaworthy, they met with disaster while in voyage. Both they and their temples were destroyed by the Israelites in response to the command of the Lord: “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places [temples — “ships”], wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods upon the high mountains, and upon the hills and under every green tree: and ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” Deut. 12:2, 3.
In another instance, under a different set of circumstances, when the church is figuratively passing over land instead of over water, chariots in place of ships are used to symbolize the church. (See Tract No. 2, The Warning Paradox.)
In their perfectly fitting respectively the first two periods of the ancient world, the first two trumpets give warranty that the succeeding periods are also perfectly symbolized by the succeeding trumpets. The truth therefore concerning the third period, is symbolized by THIRD TRUMPET