May 18, 2021

Under a Dark Cloud

Revelation 9:1-3

The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.

—  Revelation 9:2

In the ongoing story of the opening of the seventh seal, we read of trumpets sounding and of great destruction and darkness coming on the earth (Revelation 8:6-13). Today, as we read about the sounding of a fifth trumpet, we see the opening of the Abyss, a great bottomless pit that belches smoke like a gigantic furnace.

The Abyss is a detestable place, and perhaps it is best left locked. This is the Bible’s way of describing the hiding place of evil powers and forces that threaten to undo the goodness of God’s creation. Here Revelation pictures the Abyss opened and its occupants brought out so that their identity can be exposed.

Light has a way of exposing what otherwise would remain hidden. I’m reminded, for example, of what I see most mornings when I walk into my henhouse. The air in the chicken coop looks clear until a beam of sunlight shines through a window. Then suddenly every dust particle in the air becomes visible.

When the Abyss opens, a thick cloud rises—darkening the world like smoke from a vast, raging fire. In our everyday lives, something similar happens when dark secrets of corruption and abuse are exposed. What was hidden comes out in the open, and it can feel like a dark cloud has come over us. There are times when we wish the Abyss had remained closed. We don’t like it when dark sins are exposed, but we need to be prepared. With God’s help, we need to look evil in the eye, name it, and work against its power to destroy.

Lord, shine your light into our darkness and set us free, we pray. Amen.

About the author — Jim Poelman

Pastor Jim Poelman and his wife, Linda, served five churches in Ontario and British Columbia for thirty-nine years. They enjoy family gatherings with their extended household of children and grandchildren—29 members in all—often creating lots of happy noise.

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