“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…,” my co-leader read as she gave her lecture Monday night. Afterward, as is our practice, she asked the students if they had any questions or comments.
“No sea?,” a young man questioned. He had just returned from Spring break at the ocean and he didn’t like the sound of that. None of us did.
Another student asked permission to read the footnote in his study Bible.
The footnote said something to the effect that the sea in John’s day was viewed as dangerous and changeable. It was also the source of the beast.
Does that mean that there will be a sea, but not the danger and changeableness that it represents?
Or does it literally mean, no more sea because of the danger it poses? In which case, what about the good things of the sea – the dolphins, the whales, the shrimp?
I had no answers, neither did my co-leader.
So this morning, I looked up the Greek word translated as “sea” in the Revelation 21:1.
The word, thalassa, (thal’-as-sah), according to my online Blue Letter Bible’s interlinear tool, is probably prolonged from the Greek word hals, which means salt.
Perhaps a better translation would be “there was no longer any salt in the sea.”
What makes the sea salty?, I wondered. Is it necessary for sea life?
According to the National Ocean Service, rocks on the land are responsible for the sea’s saltiness. The acid in rainwater erodes rocks, dissolving bits of them and causing their “salty” sodium and chloride ions to be swept downstream and into the sea.
Hmmm, so, bottom line, it’s rain that ultimately makes the sea salty.
Rain doesn’t actually appear in the Bible until the seventh chapter of Genesis. Quite a bit of human history elapsed between Genesis 2, when mankind was formed and fashioned, and Genesis 7, when rain first appears.
Near as I can figure, prior to Genesis 7, the earth was watered from below.
“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” Genesis 2:5-6
In rain’s first appearance it is used as a tool of destruction, of judgment.
So perhaps “there was no longer any sea” (or salt in the sea) means there was no longer any judgment.
Or perhaps it means there was no longer both danger and judgment. Or perhaps it simply means there was literally no longer any sea.
What do you think?
When it comes to Revelation, your educated guess is as good as mine.
“Some areas of the ocean are saltier than others. This image shows methane mussels living at the edge of a underwater brine pool in a cavern at a depth of 650 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The pool of brine in the foreground is nearly four times as salty as seawater and is so dense that a submarine can float on the pool (in fact, this photo was shot from a submarine).” – from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/whysalty.html