Back on earth, the seventh seal is broken, and things begin to happen on the earth that no one prays for and no one hopes will happen. Seven trumpets are ready to be blown, and each will unleash a new plague on the earth. The first four plagues have to do with things that will happen in creation, and the last three will be plagues on the people. And incredibly, the plagues do seem to have something to do with the incense, the prayers of the saints. Are the terrible things that are happening a sort of repayment for what has been done to God's people? I don't know. And I'm not sure that it is good to try to think about it too hard, to figure it out too closely. It is enough to know that Terrible Things are happening on the earth. Some of the references will be familiar to those who read the Old Testament (regarding wormwood, and also locusts, and the day becoming like night).
It's a pretty dark picture, with people begging for death, but not dying, and yet not repenting of their sins, continuing to focus on themselves and on things that aren't lifegiving. And if I thought that anyone gloated over such a scenario, and said, "they will get theirs!", I would want to throw the book of Revelation out of the Bible.
But then, I think about the Holocaust, and those who were vilified, and imprisoned, and killed. The star of David was imprinted on them, but used as a means to seek them out and kill them. And I wouldn't blame them at all if they thought of those who sent them to gas chambers, and if they thought, "they will get theirs! They won't ever repent!"
That's the sort of time that Revelation was written for.
So during this dark time, those who had a seal on them will be saved. It that seems heartless, think of it like a star of David, which at one time was used to identify those who would be killed. But not it will be used to identify those who would be protected. I think that's what John is doing. "You were singling us out for death," he says. "But later, God will single us out for protection."
Then (notice again) the scene shifts to heaven again, and the most awesome angel imaginable appears on the scene. John is not allowed to record what he hears from the roaring of the voice of the angel. And he orders John to eat the scroll, and he finds it both bitter and sweet, like the Word of God contains both promises and commands, both comfort and judgment.
And John is ordered to prophesy again.