Here’s a snippet from the Book of Revelation that I was thinking about recently:
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8 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;
9 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. (Revelation 8:6-9)
These verses and those that follow are pretty scary when we consider the plagues that follow after the trumpets sound, but it hit me suddenly that the principle we are to notice and understand from it is that the plagues don’t happen until after the trumpet sounds. The angels with their trumpets are symbolic of warnings from God. The angel is a messenger from God. The trumpet is a signal used to warn in battle and other times. So we learn that none of the fearsome plagues will come without there first coming a warning from God, and most likely through prophets. So if we heed the warnings from the prophets, we will escape the plagues. I find this incredibly reassuring.
Of course, if we aren’t very faithful about heeding the prophetic warnings now, we won’t be very good at heeding the warnings for those plagues, so how we respond to the prophets’ warnings now really matters.