This brief appendix shows that in the book of Revelation, God uses the sea as an image of Gentile or unbelieving nations while the land represents the nation of Israel or believers. This supports the mapping of dry land appearing on day 3 to the establishment of the nation of Israel in Chapter 2, Mapping days 1-4.
This premise of the sea as people groups can be seen in Revelation 10:2-11, 12:12, 13:1 and 21:1. The sea of glass is another picture in Revelation 15:2 of a people group, but this time as a place for those who had victory over the beast. The following paragraphs show how this understanding also gives insight into the text in Revelation. But if you just want a simple black and white summary, Revelation 17:15 says it plainly:
15 And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.”
The beast comes up out of the sea in Revelation 13. This suggests that the sea stands for those people who oppose God. But then there is a second beast that comes up out of the earth in Revelation 13:11 and looks like a lamb. This is probably some prominent Christian leader, because he came from the earth, who turns from the faith. This second beast tries to force all people to do certain things, but it specifically says in verse 14 that this beast deceives those who “dwell on the earth”, that is, other believers. Can you see how it makes sense – no need to deceive the other people groups because they are already deceived because they have rejected Jesus. I am not sure why the dragon is standing on the “sand of the seashore” in verse 1. I don’t want to offer unnecessary conjecture as to why, but the sand also speaks of Abraham’s descendants, who were going to be “as the sand of the sea” in number (Genesis 32:12).
Revelation 20:11-15 describes how the “sea” and “death and Hades” give up their dead to be judged. But the land does not give up its dead. Verse 11 does say “the earth and heaven fled away”, which I take to mean that these different realms were removed so there was no place to hide, but it could also mean that these realms were not subject to judgement. Either way, it ties in with the “sea” as a representation of unbelievers and the land as believers.
Revelation 21:1 says there is “no more sea”. It seems strange to have a heaven without the beauty of the sea. But if the sea is a prophetic image of the people that reject God and the dry land points to God’s chosen people, then it makes sense. In the age to come, “no more sea” simply means that those who reject Jesus and hence reject God are excluded from heaven. But in the day 3 mapping we are dealing with Old Testament times where God’s chosen nation was Israel and those nations who did not know God were the Gentiles.
Matthew 13:47 and Jude 1:13 provide further New Testament support for this mapping. Perhaps look at Psalm 98:7, noting how parallelism ties both lines of this verse together. Psalm 46:3-6 also confirms it, if you see the link between the roaring in verse 3 and verse 6. What about Isaiah 17:12-13? But if all this does not convince you, then let the plain simple logic of it all speak to you.
I could go on to suggest there are two images used on day 3. One is dry land for the whole nation and the other of vegetation. This is because God distinguishes between the nation in general and those righteous ones who really are Israel; who do His will and seek Him (Isaiah 48:1). God is continually preserving just a remanent of Israel.
You have probably read chapter 9 by now which describes how each Hebrew letter has an associated pictogram. These pictograms have their own meaning. The Hebrew letter Mem has a pictogram of water. It can mean “water”, “people” or “nations”. So water and nations have this duality even in the Hebrew language. For more details, see point 2 in: