The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.1

In my soon to be published book, Back in 7: The Seven Seals, Trumpets & Bowls, I show how we are already in the process of killing a third of the earth’s marine-life and I’m sure many readers will already know of this. In this article, therefore, I just want to show how this great blazing mountain has already sunk ‘a third of the ships’.

‘A Great Burning Mountain’
When I first read this prophecy in the 1970s, I assumed it was a literal asteroid striking the earth, killing sea-life and sinking ships but I wondered, wouldn’t that be localised? How could one catastrophic splashdown affect shipping on the other side of the globe? What I didn’t know then was that John’s 1st century Jewish audience already had three historic Jewish metaphors to help them understand his vision. Let’s catch up with them.

(i) Mt Horeb/Sinai
Moses described Mt Sinai/Horeb as “burning with fire”2 as did the writer of Hebrews.3 So was John using that as metaphor?

(ii) An immovable, intractable problem
A “great mountain” was also a metaphor for a seemingly unresolvable problem:

What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’4

In Zerubbabel’s time, it had seemed impossible that his puny community of returnees from the Babylonian exile could rebuild Solomon’s Temple but, thanks to Haggai and Zechariah’s prophesying and the decrees of three Medo-Persian emperors,5 he did “bring forth the top stone”. Israel’s immovable, intractable problem was resolved. Jesus also used this metaphor but He added that the mountain can be “cast into the sea” if only we will trust in Him:

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 6

The Greek verb for “cast” is ballo, ‘to throw, propel’ and that is the verb John uses in Revelation 8:8 – his burning mountain does not fall into the sea but is thrown there.

(iii) The Babylonian Empire
Thirdly, Jeremiah prophesied the downfall of the Babylonian Empire in strikingly similar terms to John’s:

Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys the whole earth,” declares the LORD, “And I will stretch out My hand against you, And roll you down from the crags, And I will make you a burnt out mountain.”7

From being an active and “destroying mountain”, the great Babylonian Empire became an extinct volcano. So which of these three metaphors did John mean? Well, what do we see regarding literal ships and empires?

Ships Sinking
What destroys ships?

…and a third of the ships were destroyed.8

In peacetime, all ships are vulnerable to disastrous weather conditions, faulty design, crew error, and any combination of these. Consider the RMS Titanic. In 1912, the Titanic was the largest ship in the world and thought to be unsinkable but sank in calm seas with massive loss of life (1,517 dead, 706 survivors) due to faulty design, too few lifeboats, and human error.
However, in wartime, men deliberately sink ships and in the 20th century, we sank well over a third.

At the beginning of the century, the Battle of Tsushima between Russia and Japan ended with over two-thirds of the Russian Pacific fleet destroyed. In World War I, German U-boats sank over 6,000 Allied and neutral ships. Then came World War II which brought about the single, largest loss of shipping in a relatively short period of time that the world has ever witnessed. In just the Battle of the Atlantic, the Germans sank 5,151 merchant ships and 175 Allied warships while losing 442 U-boats and 47 surface warships.

Overall, British and Dominion Navies lost 278 of their 885 ships in service (31%). They sank 827 ships and 780 U-boats of the German fleet while the Germans scuttled over 200 U-boats to avoid capture in 1945. After the war, the victorious Allies scuttled another 174 U-boats in Operation Deadlight to completely destroy the Kriegsmarine, i.e. German War Navy (100%). The Allies also sank 56 ships and 85 submarines of the Italian fleet (54%) and 208 ships and 127 submarines of the Japanese Navy’s total of 645 ships (52%).

The US Navy lost 695 ships, having begun with just 350 and built another 1,200, so that was 44%.
Neutrality was no defence. Norway’s Nortraship was the world’s largest shipping company with a fleet of 1,081 and lost 570 (53%). After the war, the Greek merchant navy which had lost 245 of their 404 ships (61%) were able to buy some 500 Liberty ships but thousands of warships and Liberty ships were simply decommissioned and scrapped. The World of Warships website summarises:

There were 105,127 ships participated in WW2… 36,387 ships were destroyed at the end of the war.

That was another 35%, over a third, after the war. We have therefore seen well over ‘a third of the ships… destroyed’ (Rev 8:9) over those few years.

An Empire Ending
At the exact same time, we saw the end of a great empire.

I initially wondered if John’s ‘great mountain burning with fire’ was the direct cause of the carnage in the sea, but what would happen to any blazing mountain thrown into the depths of the ocean? It would of course be extinguished, just as the Babylonian Empire was. Remember, God described the Babylonian Empire as a “destroying mountain who destroys the whole earth” that He was about to make “a burnt out mountain” (Jer 51:15), i.e. an extinct volcano.

In World War II, a vast empire was extinguished. Consider what happened to not just one but three nationalist empires that had joined forces – the Axis Powers. This alliance between Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hirohito’s Japan began in 1936 and was joined by Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia in 1940, and by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Croatia in 1941.

By then, Hitler had taken over all of Western Europe, the Italians had taken over half of North Africa, Albania to their east, and the Horn of Africa, and the Japanese had conquered Manchuria, Korea, North China, and were heading for South East Asia. England was facing imminent invasion, having lost the Battle of France with 66,500 of their soldiers dead or in prison camps and 198,000 narrowly escaping via Dunkirk in June 1940. This was immediately followed by the Battle of Britain; by October 1940 the Royal Air Force was on the verge of collapse and the Blitz had begun, with London facing nightly bombing raids by up to five hundred planes.

Meanwhile, the USA was bound by US law to stay neutral and Stalin’s USSR had signed a peace treaty with Hitler in 1939 and taken half of Poland. Full of confidence, in June 1941, Hitler broke his treaty with Stalin and sent the largest army ever assembled into Russia and by December was close to Moscow. Capturing over 5 million Red Army soldiers, the Germans killed 2.8 million in POW camps in just eight months, mainly by starvation. It seemed his Third Reich had won the war for Europe.

In the East, the Japanese were similarly triumphant. By March 1942, they had captured the Philippines, Burma, Malaya, Borneo, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia), and the Solomon Islands, and were bombing Darwin in northern Australia. In January 1942, Hitler began his systematic massacre of Jewish men, women, and children, killing two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population; the death toll of six million was a third of all the Jews on the earth.

How then was this vast empire cast into the sea and extinguished? By human error, vast battles, and the faith of nations.

Error & Battles
Hitler made two critical errors. The first was regarding Dunkirk on 24 May, 1940, when he issued his famous Halt Order to the advancing German tanks and left them stationary for three days. On Tuesday, 28 May, dense fog and storms rolled in, grounding most of the Luftwaffe’s planes while a great calm descended on the English Channel for several days, allowing an extraordinary armada of small boats to shuttle back and forth evacuating the retreating soldiers. The British Army was saved.

His second blunder, a year later, was to underestimate Russian resistance, invading too late in the year. Stalin was able to call up millions of reinforcements to absorb the onslaught and an early Russian winter ended Hitler’s dreams at terrible, terrible cost:

For most of the war, 75-80 percent of the Wehrmacht had to be deployed in the East, a preponderance dictated by the sheer size of the front, and 80 percent of German war dead perished there: about four million of the five million German soldiers killed in World War II.

The casualty rate was appallingly worse for the Soviets. When the battle ended in 1944, they had lost twice the number of soldiers, 8.8 million, and 18.3 million civilians.

Mussolini and the Italians also made a fatal blunder in July 1942, weakening their army in North Africa by sending 235,000 soldiers to the Russian Front where they were heavily defeated by the Soviet Red Army at the Battle of Stalingrad.

Likewise the Japanese, but in the Pacific. On 7 September 1941, they bombed the American Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbour and while they initially inflicted terrible damage, they actually provoked and unleashed the wrath of the greatest military and financial power the world has ever seen. Within six months, in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway the Americans had seriously depleted Japan’s naval and air forces and, in February 1943, they stopped the Japanese advance in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The Faith of Nations
It is easily overlooked in the sheer physicality of war but there was also a vast spiritual battle being waged.

Daniel was shown in the 6th century BC that every great empire has an angelic counterpart. The angelic “prince of the kingdom of Persia” was able to delay the angelic prince of the Medes9 from reaching him;10 the angelic “prince of Greece” was soon to gain ascendancy11 with Alexander the Great who would defeat the Medes and Persians.12

In the 20th century, even the secular press was considering this possible. On 7 April 1941, in Britain’s darkest hour, Time magazine reported:

British clergymen and newspapers commented last week on certain possibly metaphysical aspects of World War II. Since the beginning of the war, Great Britain has observed two national Days of Prayer. The first was the dark Sunday, May 26, 1940, when the fagged-out British Expeditionary Force was fleeing under torrential Nazi fire toward Dunkirk beach. Five days later most of that Army got safely home through the fogs off Dunkirk.

Facing certain annihilation or imprisonment, 198,000 British and 140,000 French, Belgian, and Polish soldiers had been saved by a thousand ships and boats of all shapes and sizes, including 850 ‘Little Ships’ i.e. fishing trawlers, barges, lifeboats, launches, and yachts. This was widely hailed as the Miracle of Dunkirk. Time continued:

The second Day of Prayer was Sunday, March 23, 1941, when Adolf Hitler’s Balkan advance seemed to have the implacable flow of volcanic lava. Four days later came the upset in Yugoslavia. The same week came the British capture of Cheren and Harar, the Italian naval defeat in the Mediterranean. Twice Britain’s prayers had been answered.

In hindsight, Time should have included Britain’s stunning victory in 1940, the aerial Battle of Britain. Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding later testified:

I will say with absolute conviction that I can trace the intervention of God . . . Humanly speaking victory was impossible!

This ‘impossible’ victory stopped the invasion of the last outpost of Europe and was the first serious setback experienced by the Germans in the war.

Days of Prayer
On 24 May, 1940, King George VI called the entire British Empire to “…turn to God in a spirit of repentance and plead for Divine help” in a Day of Prayer on the Sunday, 26 May:

Let us with “one heart and soul” 13 humbly but confidently commit our cause to God and ask His aid that we may valiantly defend the right, as it is given to us to see it…

Churchill was an enthusiast for occasions of special worship… [he and his wife Clementine attended, and] he directed that every available government minister and senior civil servant should join the king and queen at the service in Westminster Abbey. Outside, the line extended for blocks and hundreds kept vigil. Across Great Britain, millions responded, with cathedrals, churches, synagogues and mosques overflowing. This continued all throughout the war:

…Churchill… approving two national days of prayer in each of the next three years. Then, in 1943 and 1944, he agreed to brief halts in war production so that factory and office workers could join in the BBC’s broadcast services.

For the 1943 Day of Prayer, Churchill asked the churches to offer special thanks for the Allied victory in North Africa.

British historian Phillip Williamson notes an extraordinary unity:

…these days of prayer established an entirely new co-operation between the principal churches in all parts of the United Kingdom… [These] national days of prayer were not simply generated by national leaders and the media: they were also notable expressions of public religiosity… For days of prayer held on weekdays in September 1942 and September 1943, gatherings for prayers were organised in factories, canteens, offices, schools, military locations, cinemas, theatres, fields and squares.

For the first time ever, the Anglicans, Catholics, the Methodists, Presbyterians, and the Free Church of Scotland prayed as one. Prof Williamson cites the headlines of the Daily Mirror, 4 Sept. 1942, ‘Britain’s factories turned into churches’, along with The Times (4 Sept. 1942, 4 Sept. 1943), and the Illustrated London News (12 Sept. 1942). He concludes that with ‘many other people listening to the broadcast services in their homes, a very high proportion of the population must have participated…’

International Response
There was a similar response throughout the Empire, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa.
Meanwhile, in the USA, President Roosevelt was reacting to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, proclaiming: 

…our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us. Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God’s help in days to come.

The British immediately joined in: 

At Churchill’s request the churches arranged special prayers in January 1942, in order to ‘associate’ the United Kingdom with a day of prayer held in the United States after its entry into the war…. 

Prayers were often requested for Britain’s other allies including the USSR and for the conquered nations of Europe.

General Bernard Montgomery was a Christian and called his troops to pray before battle, ‘Let us pray that the Lord, mighty in battle, will give us the victory’. After he defeated Rommel in the decisive battle for North Africa in October, 1942, the Jewish leaders in what was then called Palestine gave “Monty” an ornate Hebrew Bible with an inscription:

Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery, the gallant leader of the victorious British forces by whose hand God has placed salvation in Zion in the days of El Alamein, presented in token of the everlasting gratitude of Palestine Jewry by the Vaad Leumi, General Council of the Jewish Community in Palestine.

These leaders knew that if Rommel had captured Egypt and Palestine, Hitler’s death squads would have rounded up the 500,000 Jews there and killed them all.

Leaders’ Testimonies
On 8 May 1945, when the war ended in Europe, King George VI called on the Empire to join him in prayer:

Today we give thanks to Almighty God for a great deliverance. Speaking from our Empire’s oldest capital city, war-battered but never for one moment daunted or dismayed – speaking from London, I ask you to join with me in that act of thanksgiving.  

General Montgomery sent a personal message to all the troops under his command, quoting Psalm 118:

On this day of victory in Europe… We all have a feeling of great joy and thankfulness that we have been preserved to see this day. We must remember to give praise and thankfulness where it is due. ‘This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes’. 

General Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces on D-Day. On 4 June 1952, in his home town of Abilene, Kansas, he reflected on the events of that day:

This day eight years ago, I made the most agonising decision of my life. I had to decide to postpone by at least 24 hours the most formidable array of fighting ships and of fighting men that was ever launched across the sea against a hostile shore. The consequences of that decision at that moment could not have been foreseen by anyone. If there were nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an Almighty and merciful God, the events of the next 24 hours did it… The greatest break in a terrible outlay of weather occurred the next day and allowed that great invasion to proceed, with losses far below those we had anticipated…

The Bishop of Chelmsford Dr H.A. Wilson wrote:

If ever a great nation was on the point of supreme and final disaster, and yet was saved and reinstated it was ourselves…it does not require an exceptionally religious mind to detect in all this the Hand of God.

The Spirit of Antichrist
The Axis was led by three regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan that were inspired by the spirit of antichrist, as I showed in Book 2. One of them, Hitler’s Germany, perpetrated the Holocaust, massacring a third of the Jews, as described in Revelation 12 and covered in Book 1.

The Allies were initially led by the two major powers of Great Britain and the USA, both of which in those days had a strong Christian ethos and called for God’s help in national Days of Prayer. In fact, as I showed in Book 2, their entire political system of liberal democracy which has now spread throughout the earth is simply an application and outworking of the values and essential elements of the Kingdom of God. See the chapter titled, The Hidden Kingdom: What Has God Been Doing?
The Allies’ third major power, the USSR, was an atheistic antichrist regime which had only switched sides after being betrayed by Hitler. This regime also came to an end with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022) who served as the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to its dissolution in 1991. Although Vladimir Putin is said to be trying to resurrect it through his invasion of Ukraine, I do not believe he will succeed.
After WWII, however, the spirit of antichrist became resurgent in Mao’s China and the Islamic world, as I show in Book 2, due to the discovery and harnessing of vast oil fields and consequent vast wealth in the newly liberated Middle East. I also show that the Muslim Empire has today subdued a third of all the nations and directly threatens the existence of Israel.
Astonishingly, as I show in Books 4 and 5, it will be this final threat that causes the whole nation of Israel to turn to God and they will ‘look on Me whom they pierced’ (Zech 12:10) and fully 90% will recognise Jesus as Messiah before the Battle of Har-Magedon!

European cf. Arab Colonialism
Besides directly ending the German, Italian, and Japanese Empires, World War II also indirectly ended the European empires of the British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese.The US State Department’s Office of the Historian summarises this for us:

Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. There was no one process of decolonization. In some areas, it was peaceful, and orderly. In many others, independence was achieved only after a protracted revolution… In 1946, there were 35 member states in the United Nations; as the newly independent nations of the “third world” joined the organization, by 1970 membership had swelled to 127.

Today, the United Nations has 192 member states and the only empire that has not decolonised is the Arabian Empire, comprised of 22 nations. As Nigerian journalist Chinweizu Ibekwe states:

Unlike European colonialism, it is not even in nominal retreat. The Arabs in Africa are colonialists and are even now, with great determination, expanding their territories.

The Arab control of North Africa and the Middle East has been maintained through religious means rather than political, i.e. via Islam and the Qur’an. Just as Roman Catholicism used ancient Latin which could only be understood by its priesthood, Islam today uses Arabic as its holy language:

The Quran is only in Arabic, although it has been translated into almost every other language on earth. But the translation is not the same as the original.

It is also worth noting that Roman Catholicism officially renounced its empire in 1964 when Pope Paul VI laid aside the Triregnum Crown. In 2023, they also repudiated their notorious Doctrine of Discovery which was used to justify colonialism:

Nearly 500 years after papal decrees were used to rationalize Europe’s colonial conquests, the Vatican repudiated those decrees on Thursday, saying the “Doctrine of Discovery” that was used to justify snuffing out Indigenous people’s culture and livelihoods is not part of the Catholic faith.

The doctrine was invoked as a legal and religious standing by Europeans who “discovered” new lands and violently seized it from people who had been living there for generations. It has been cited in different arenas for centuries, including by the U.S. Supreme Court – as early as 1823 and as recently as 2005.

We see then that the only great empire still standing today is that of Arab colonialists allied with the antichrist regime of Islam, and their prime target is the tiny piece of land in the very heart of their lands – Israel.

We also see their manipulation of the United Nations to reclaim Al-Quds, their name for Jerusalem, and as I explain in Books 2 and 5, we are hearing the croaking of the frogs of Revelation 16:13-16.

The 2nd Trumpet?
In 1941, the war seemed lost but by 1945, everything had turned around. The three great Axis Powers led by three antichrist regimes had been defeated by nominally Christian nations with many genuine Christian citizens who earnestly and publicly prayed for “this mountain” to be “taken up and cast into the sea”.14In the process, ‘a third of the ships’ on earth ‘were destroyed’.
So is John’s ‘great mountain burning with fire’ literal or metaphorical?
There may one day be a literal asteroid that strikes the earth. If so, we will have to wait for that to happen. However, I believe we have already seen this vision fulfilled metaphorically with the extinguishing of the empire of the Axis Powers. If so, we have already heard the 2nd Trumpet and the 7th Trumpet will be proclaiming Jesus’ return.

What do you think?


Warship: By Phan J. Alan Elliott –  Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49729
Pearl Harbour: By Photographer: UnknownRetouched by: Mmxx – This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18147474
Churchil: By digitized by: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives – Flickr: Sir Winston Churchill, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41991931
Montgomery: By Unknown author – http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil NARA FILE #: 208-PU-138LL-3 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1017, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1505276
Holocast:By By No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Oakes, Harry (Sgt) – http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194194, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55241035
Israel: By User: Ling.Nutderivative work: Rafy – Six_Day_War_Terrritories.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16891593
  1. Rev 8:8-9*
  2. Deut 5:23, 9:15
  3. Heb 12:18
  4. Zech 4:7*
  5. Ezra 6:14
  6. Mar 11:23*
  7. Jer 51:25*
  8. Rev 8: 9
  9. Dan 11:1
  10. Dan 10:13
  11. Dan 10:20
  12. Dan 8:1-8
  13. Acts 4:32
  14. Mark 11:23