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Revelation 9 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Revelation 9 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

(9:1-3) "I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth."
The fifth trumpet sounds and another star falls from heaven. The angel is given the key to a bottomless pit, containing smoke and powerful locusts.
Surprise, a star falls from heaven, and the author of the SAB understands this has to be taken symbolically, instead of as a literal star! So why not in chapter 8:10?
The star that falls from heaven symbolises the fallen angels: once in heaven, serving God, they rebelled, were defeated and removed from heaven. Although they are sent to hell, they are not yet bound there, but roam the earth, and bring as it were from hell this terrible plague, see verse 7

2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

(9:4-6) "They should not kill them [those without marks on their foreheads], but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion."
The angels are instructed not to "hurt the grass [How could they? All the grass was killed in 8:7] ... but only those men which have not the seal of God on their foreheads." God tells his angels not to kill them, but rather torment them with scorpions for five months. Those tormented will want to die, but God won't let them.
What the Bible says about torture and suicide
The first four trumpets hurt man in their supposed securities, the physical assets they trusted. The next trumpets indicate woes that hurt man in his soul.
Note, unlike the assertion of the author of the SAB, in chapter 8:7 only a third of the grass was killed, not all. The meaning is that although God exposed man to the folly of trusting in his goods, God tempered his judgement, so man would repent.
On suicide, this is not a command, but it is a judgement upon those that were so afflicted: they were hurt in their earthly possessions, but they did not repent. So God sends a powerful deception.

5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

(9:7-10) "Their power was to hurt men five months." God makes some horse-like locusts with human heads, women's hair, lion's teeth, and scorpion's tails. They sting people and hurt them for five months.
These creatures are an ugly and unseemly mix of what God created. As per verse 4 these creatures were to torment the soul, and are best taken to indicate heresies, lies and deception. They last only for some period, as the passage of time exposes them for what they are, see Prov. 12:19.

8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

(9:15-19) "Their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."
Four angels, with an army of 200 million, killed a third of the earth's population.
Although this should not be taken literally, as if there will be a time when creatures like this will kill a third of the earth's population, it indicates that God sends judgement upon the people of this earth, because their sins require it.

16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.