Seven seals give way to seven trumpets, each of which signals for calamity to come on the earth. A third of the earth is destroyed, a third of the sea, a third of fresh water and a third of the stars are destroyed.
You’d think that would be enough, but no.
When the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, deliberate, pointed and planned judgment against the rebellious is effected by emissaries from hell – the abyss. Too often we think of heaven as God’s dominion and hell as the devil’s, but that’s not true. Hell is God’s dominion too, and those released from it are bound to do God’s bidding. The creatures from the abyss are horrible to behold, and painfully powerful. The whole process of their work has but one goal: to get people to take their eyes off this world, look to God, and change their ways (9:20ff).
But most of them do not.
That God uses physical pain to move people to turn to him is a biblical fact. It is but a foretaste, a warning if you will, of the unbearable pain of recalcitrant behavior.
I see two lessons here: First, to be reminded that no matter what befalls you in life, it’s nothing really to what can befall you in death. “Couldn’t get much worse, right?” Wrong. It can get worse. Which brings me to the second lesson: When things are going your way, that may not be a good thing. It does not necessarily signal God’s approval, but only that you have moved so far from Him he can see no way to bring you back. And third, when things go bad, it’s not necessarily a bad thing: God may be signaling you to come home. The fact that you can feel the discomfort means you still hear His call.