They had tails like scorpions and stingers. And with their tails they had the authority to harm the human race for five months. They had a king over them, the Angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek his name is Apollyon. Rev 9:10-11.
I was a pastor in New York City in the year 1980. One of the perks of living in the big city is access to world-class culture. Our favorite part of that was the Museum of Natural History, on the west side of Central Park in Manhattan. The museum has wonderful dioramas of scenes from all over the world, thousands of gems and minerals, and gigantic dinosaur skeletons that fill the eyes of children with wonder.
My wife and I enjoyed the place so much we decided to become members, which introduced us to another level of New York culture. Members of the museum received special invitations to lectures and classes. Another perk was the opportunity to see special showings of new exhibits before they were open to the public.
On one occasion, the museum was hosting a display of artifacts from the ruins of Pompeii. A members-only showing was scheduled one evening. At a reception beforehand we rubbed shoulders with New York City's elite. Then, after viewing the exhibit, we were treated to a showing of the 1935 movie The Last Days of Pompeii. I was absolutely stunned. The movie was a powerful story of the gospel and its effect on the values of people in the first century. It was nothing like the secular fare Hollywood produced in the 70s and 80s. I realized for the first time what a powerful impact secularization has had on the Western world.
That impact multiplied at the conclusion of the movie. As the lights came on, the moderator of the program came to the podium and said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, "Well, we've just received a lot of moral instruction, haven't we?" I was amazed at how far we had wandered away from Christian values in just 45 years! The interesting thing is that we hardly noticed. Like a frog in a kettle, we experienced secularization's gradual increase in heat and never noticed when God ceased to play a major role in our lives.
The fifth trumpet warns us not to succumb to the flashing lights of materialism and technology. A life without God results torment and anguish (Rev 9:5-6). There is a loss of meaning and direction. There is a frenzied emptiness that people may only notice in the still of the night. Although he hides behind the mask of fun and games, the Angel of the Abyss is a hard taskmaster.