“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
“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” (Rev. 8:8–9).
The doom predicted by Jesus is falling upon Jerusalem, and these events are fulfilled in the Jewish War of 66-70 A.D. In order for this to become plain to us, we have to begin with how the Bible talks about such things. Kingdoms are frequently spoken of as “mountains,” and the judgments that fall upon them are described with appropriate imagery. We see this both with expressions of faith in times of trouble, and expressions of dismay in times of judgment.
Here is an expression of faith:
“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Ps. 46:2; cf. Is. 2:2; Zech. 4:7).
And how is a terrifying judgment against Babylon described?
“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” (Jer. 51:25).
So we have Old Testament expressions of judgment on nations in terms of mountains being burnt, and mountains being thrown into the sea. And recall what happened when Jesus cursed the fig tree—which was a sign of the coming judgment upon Israel. What does Jesus say?
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done” (Matt. 21:21).
What mountain? This mountain, the mountain they were standing on, the mountain that the city of Jerusalem was built on (Matt. 21:18). In other words, Jesus cursed the fig tree, representing Israel, and then told His disciples that their authoritative command, delivered in faith, would be the instrument that would cause Jerusalem to be thrown into the sea. Who overthrew Jerusalem? In one sense, the Roman Titus did. But in another sense, Jerusalem was thrown down by the twelve apostles.
That sea probably represents the Gentile nations, as it does throughout Scripture. The image of a mountain city being thrown into the sea is an image of judgment, and is not meant to be taken literally—as though Mount Zion was destined to go whistling overhead. And in the same way, the sea is symbolic of the Gentile world, into which the Jews who survived the war would be dispersed. The burning object, like a mountain, was thrown into the ocean and quenched, and it caused devastation there as well.
There may be a literal element in the fulfillment however. Josephus records a battle between the Romans and the Galileans that occurred on the Sea of Galilee. It was a slaughter—“one might see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them escaped.” The result is not hard to compare to the results of the second trumpet: the “dead bodies all swelled; and as the dead bodies were inflamed by the sun, and putrefied, they corrupted the air . . .” (Wars III.10.9).
Jerusalem was cursed. Jerusalem was burned in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was settled on a great mountain. Jerusalem persecuted the apostles as they had done with their Lord. And so the apostles commanded, and it was done.