Update 312


The Mystery of the Atonement Rituals

On Saturday, September 22, 2007, the Day of Atonement, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “The Mystery of the Atonement Rituals.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetsevices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.


This is the LAST weekly Update prior to the Feast of Tabernacles. We will resume publication on or about October 11, 2007.

We are wishing all of our readers a spiritually rewarding and blessed Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles 2007.

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Reaction Time

by Dave Harris

Hand-eye coordination defines the greatest of athletes in certain sports. For instance, the ability of a batter to see the ball thrown by a baseball pitcher and then hit it consistently has become the stuff of legends.

The split second reaction time of superior athletes in tennis, soccer or any number of other sports is humbling for those of us who are merely capable of being spectators.

But each one of us is called upon to make spontaneous responses in our everyday lives! Not the kind of thing an athlete does; rather, we are confronted with the necessity to choose what we THINK, what we SAY and what we DO!

It all kind of boils down to this: Do we “give as good as we get,” or do we practice what Jesus Christ taught us to do? We really aren’t growing the way we should if we still erupt in foul language; if we try to avenge every slight; if we continue to speak and act before we think it through.

So you see, we Christians have to be concerned with our own reaction times, because this illuminates our progress in conversion. Try taking on an area of your own life in which you know your “reaction time” is faltering. Don’t ignore it—work on it, and ask God to help you overcome your weakness.

In the final analysis, overcoming and doing it right is what our reaction time is all about!

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France “Offers” Germany the Bomb…

Der Spiegel Online reported on September 17, 2007:

“Ever since Nicolas Sarkozy became French president, he has been bewildering the German government with one controversial idea after another. The latest shocker? The new man in Paris has offered German Chancellor Angela Merkel French nuclear weapons.

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t mention the bomb right away. Instead, he took a little detour by way of atomic energy: Whoever is serious about averting global warming should build more nuclear power plants, he told Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during last week’s informal meeting in Meseberg palace, the German government’s guest residence north of Berlin. Then came the surprise offer.

“Seeing as they were discussing the benefits of all things atomic, the French president continued, he had another suggestion as well: Because the French nuclear umbrella protected France’s neighbors as well as La Grande Nation itself, perhaps the Germans would consider taking a political stake in the French atomic arsenal?

“Both the chancellor and her foreign minister were speechless. The idea of possessing nuclear weapons is taboo in Germany. Sarzoky’s predecessor Jacques Chirac cautiously brought up the issue 12 years ago, but he quickly realized it was pointless to pursue it. Steinmeier was the first to regain his composure, explaining that Germany did not seek to become a nuclear power, which is why the country had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975. Merkel offered a friendly smile and backed up her foreign minister…”

Sarkozy Annoys Merkel

Press TV wrote on September 16:

“Four months after Sarkozy became president, a cool wind is blowing between Paris and Berlin as tensions appear in his relationship with Merkel. From a bruising European Union summit in June, through weeks of simmering discord over the independence of the European Central Bank to a patronizing remark on nuclear power last Monday, Sarkozy has repeatedly offended Merkel, observers in both capitals say. The German daily Rheinische Post spoke of a ‘deep crisis’ between the leaders of the two countries who regard themselves as the driving force of the EU…

“During a joint news conference on Monday, an impatient Merkel stood tensely as Sarkozy lectured her on the virtues of nuclear power, an energy source she favors but cannot foster because of a phase-out deal forced upon her by her coalition partners.

“Sarkozy is reported to have lost his temper with German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck in Brussels in July when he criticized France’s budget policy and to have waited in vain for Merkel to rebuke her minister. A guest editorial by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Le Figaro on Friday said the chancellor should learn from former chancellor Konrad Adenauer who said that when dealing with the French, one must salute their flag three times before getting down to business.”

Germans, Be Watchful!!! — “Legal Considerations Would No Longer Apply”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 17:

“Germany’s Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung [of the Christian Democratic Union, CDU] has sparked fury by saying he would order a hijacked passenger jet to be shot down if necessary — even though the country’s highest court ruled last year that such a move would be illegal… The court in 2006 overturned the Air Security Act which empowered the defence minister to order a plane to be shot down even if innocent people were on board. The court ruled that weighing ‘life against life’ was in breach of Germany’s constitution. The debate has raged in Germany ever since the September 11 terror attacks and security has moved back to the top of the agenda ever since the arrest two weeks ago of three Islamists suspected of plotting bomb attacks.

“Jung’s comments outraged the opposition and met with strong criticism from members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which shares power with Merkel’s conservatives. SPD leader Kurt Beck said: ‘It’s simply inconceivable to take that course of action.’ Beck told reporters that if Jung ordered pilots to fire on an airliner, he would effectively be turning responsibility for the action over to them. ‘And after all we’ve taught people since the Nazi dictatorship … a German soldier would have to say No, this command isn’t compatible with the constitution.'”

“Germany’s organisation of army fighter pilots VBSK also rejected the idea. ‘I can only advise pilots not to obey the minister’s command in such a case,’ Thomas Wassmann, VBSK chairman, told the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. He said Jung’s statement was akin to ‘calling on pilots to carry out an illegal order.’ Bernhard Gertz, chairman of the German Army Federation, a union representing the interests of military personnel, said pilots would make themselves liable to prosecution if they shot down a passenger jet that was being used as a missile.

“But a spokesman for the Defence Ministry defended Jung on Monday, saying it was conceivable that the GOVERNMENT COULD CALL OUT A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN WHICH LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS NO LONGER APPLIED — in that case, PILOTS WOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO DISOBEY THE COMMAND.”

This is extremely dangerous language! Legal considerations would no longer apply? Pilots would not be ALLOWED to DISOBEY an ILLEGAL order?

These kinds of developments in Germany are of great interest, as Germany is DESTINED to play a leading role in Europe. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.” Also, make sure to view our latest StandingWatch program, “The Mystery of Revelation–Solved.”

Euro at All-Time High

The Wall Street Journal wrote on September 20:

“The euro hit a new all-time high against the dollar, trading above $1.40 for the first time since the common European currency was introduced. The 13-nation euro bought $1.4023 in early European trading, up from its previous high of $1.3987, hit in New York late Wednesday.”

Getting Hot in the Middle East

Haaretz.com reported on September 16:

“The target of an Israel Air Force raid 10 days ago in Syria was a nuclear installation that was constructed in the northeastern corner of the country, with North Korean assistance, according to foreign media reports. Yesterday, The Washington Post published an article saying the strike was aimed at a shipment that had arrived in Syria aboard a North Korean vessel three days earlier, and may have included equipment and materials related to nuclear technology…

“Meanwhile, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported yesterday that a German naval vessel patrolling the coast of Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission identified two F-15 fighters penetrating Syria’s airspace on its radar 10 days ago. A Western military source, quoted in the report, claimed that the aircraft were on their way to attack a Syrian arms shipment to Hezbollah, but were surprised at the speed with which Syrian air defenses became aware of their presence.”

“Tensions Sky-High on the Golan Heights”

The Age.com.au reported on September 15:

“In recent months Syria has renewed its old alliance with the Kremlin, which lapsed when the Cold War ended. Over the past year President Vladimir Putin’s Government has sold Damascus large quantities of the portable anti-tank weapons which Hezbollah’s outnumbered fighters used to humiliate Israel’s invading army in south Lebanon last year.

“Syrian President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime has also bought new Russian anti-aircraft systems which could erode the Israeli air force’s long-prized ability to overfly and bomb its neighbours without encountering defences, as it did in Lebanon…

“While Russia views the eastern Mediterranean as part of a global chessboard, for both Syria and Israel the conflict is purely, intensely local. At its heart is control of the Golan Heights, 1250 square kilometres of mountain, farmland and scrubby uplands seized and colonised by Israel 40 years ago last June. Since then the focus of Syrian foreign policy has been to regain the Golan Heights and to return to their homes the descendants of the 50,000 to 80,000 Syrian civilians driven out in the fighting and whom Israel has since replaced with 16,000 of its own settlers…

“Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated this year that Israel will never return the Golan to Syria. Opinion polls suggest a clear majority of Israelis would not give up the Golan even [at] the price of peace… Amid renewed rumours of war, this summer Israeli tank brigades staged large-scale manoeuvres on the Golan Heights… Economically, the Golan is the source of about half Israel’s water resources, produces most of its wine grapes and has the country’s only ski resort. Cattle ranchers and hikers can roam in the upland plateau…”

For more information on prophesied events in the Middle East, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

America Preparing for War With Iran?

The Sunday Telegraph reported on September 16:

“Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail… Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.

“In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq – arming and training militants – would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories… Under the theory… US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even its armed forces. Senior officials believe Mr Bush’s inner circle has decided he does not want to leave office without first ensuring that Iran is not capable of developing a nuclear weapon.”

Iran Ready To Strike Back

The Jerusalem Post wrote on September 17:

“Six hundred Iranian Shihab-3 missiles are pointed at targets throughout Israel, and will be launched if either Iran or Syria are attacked, an Iranian website affiliated with the regime reported on Monday… According to the report, dozens of locations throughout Iraq, which are being used by the US Army, have also been targeted. The Shihab missile has a range of 1,300 km, and can reach anywhere in Israel.

“On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the nuclear Iranian crisis forces the world ‘to prepare for the worst,’ and said that in this case it ‘is war.'”

“America’s Standing as a World Power Severely Damaged”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on September 12:

“Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker told the US Congress this week that the ‘surge’ could come home — but the rest of America’s troops in Iraq need to stay there indefinitely. German commentators reacted coolly to the news… [and] were typically skeptical of US policy and the future for Iraq…

“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“‘… The various “reconciliation talks” between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are dominated by partisan jockeying for position and no progress has been made on the real issues. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is criticized for his close ties to Tehran, has proven to be incompetent or even worse. … In parts of the country, especially in the south, there is fighting among various Shiite factions. Millions of Iraqis have fled abroad, while hundreds of thousands are caught up in ethic and religious cleansing, driven from their hometowns or the lands Saddam Hussein settled them on and seeking refuge somewhere. The economic results, especially those from oil production, have hardly improved. Billions of dollars in contracts that the American government has pumped into the country have run into the sand or — to be more precise — landed in the wrong pockets.

“‘Whether the representatives and senators in Washington are realistically evaluating these facts at all is another question altogether. In the discussion about Iraq in Washington … the only real question is when the withdrawal will begin and how quickly it will be carried out… On this issue there are only two things which are certain: Iraq’s future will not be rosy, and the standing of America as a world power is severely damaged after this deployment.’

“Austria’s Der Standard writes:

“‘One feels like one has gone back in time to before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. After the US government’s recent PR campaign, the world is once again divided into believers and disbelievers when it comes to the US’s Iraq policy…'”

Chaos in Iraq Inevitable

The Los Angeles Times wrote on September 15:

“President Bush and his Iraq team spent the week trying to change the nature of the debate over the war. But they failed to offer any new military or political strategy for extricating the United States from Iraq. And so countless hours of testimony by Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and an Oval Office speech by the president changed no minds… Americans are more bitterly divided than ever, politically and morally stalemated over our responsibility for creating and for resolving what can now only be called a quagmire. For chief among the president’s ever-shifting justifications for staying in Iraq is that it is far too dangerous to leave.

“Petraeus and Crocker did succeed in boxing in some moderates who want to end the war but are afraid to cut off funding. They did succeed in making us hope against our better judgment that military progress can yet produce stability. And they distracted the public from the underlying problem, which is that the United States has no power to compel an Iraqi cease-fire, let alone the necessary political reconciliation.

“To their credit, Petraeus and Crocker avoided offering promises, or even benchmarks for progress, which have so often disappointed in the past. They were wise enough to recognize the emptiness of each event that the war’s supporters have heralded as a turning point — the capture of Saddam Hussein nearly four years ago, the two national elections, the drafting of a constitution, the killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi last year, the formation of a government and parliament, and most recently, the ‘surge.’ By contrast, Bush’s new rhetoric about a ‘return on success’ and defending an ‘ally’ that has requested U.S. help was twisted and misleading in the extreme.

“And while all this was going on in Washington this week, what was happening in Iraq? The civil war went on, as it always has, on Iraqi time and Iraqi terms. Sheik Abdul Sattar Rishawi, the tribal leader who became the key U.S. ally against Al Qaeda in Anbar province, was blown up with his bodyguards just 10 days after meeting with Bush. Hope that the dysfunctional parliament would agree to share oil revenue crumbled as a tentative agreement struck in February broke down, and lawmakers said no legislation could be passed any time soon. Similar gridlock was reported on legislation to re-integrate alienated former Baathists into the government. And sectarian slaughter continued, with an average of 10 corpses found dumped in Baghdad alone every day last week…”

Oil–the Prime Motive for the War With Iraq?

The Sunday Times wrote on September 16:

“America’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil. In his long-awaited memoir… Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

“… it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. ‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,’ he says… Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam’s support for terrorism.”

Subsequently, CNN reported on September 17 that Greenspan “clarified” that he did not want to imply that oil was the “motive” for the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq.

The “Apocalyptic War”

The Daily Mail wrote on September 14, under the headline, “How the world was plunged into an apocalyptic war”:

“The total number of American servicemen and women killed in action already amounts to 3,826, with 168 British forces having been killed. And between 500,000 and 600,000 Iraqi men, women and children have died. What’s more, since Saddam fell, four million Iraqis have become refugees, either inside Iraq or beyond.

“Meanwhile this week, another two British soldiers have been killed by the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, bringing the total British losses since 2001 to 78… The truth is that despite Bush’s ‘war on terror’ and the American-led occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamist terrorism has continued to seethe and bubble across the world – and sometimes explode, as in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

“This summer, an attack on Glasgow Airport mercifully failed because of the terrorists’ own incompetence. And German counter-terrorism police foiled a plot (meant to mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11) which was aimed at truckbombing Frankfurt Airport and the US air base at Ramstein…

“Bush and his vicepresident Dick Cheney are fundamentalist Christians, while Bush’s own political base lies in his fellow fundamentalists of the American ‘Bible belt’. And tragically for Britain, Tony Blair passionately shared Bush’s belief that world policy must be inspired by religious faith. The grim truth is that when George W. Bush declared ‘a global war on terror’, he was really announcing a jihad of his own – a struggle to convert the whole world to American-style capitalist democracy…

“‘We’ are the righteous, while our chosen enemy is ‘the Axis of Evil’ or ‘the Great Satan’ (take your pick) with whom no compromise is possible, and against whom any violence is permissible. Al Qaeda and its associated jihadists massacre the innocent to the cry of ‘Allah Akbar’ (‘God is Great’). Meanwhile, President Bush launches ‘shock and awe’ aerial onslaughts on Iraqi and Afghan villages and cities in the sure belief that Jesus Christ wants him to spread democracy around the world.

“Yet belief in the righteousness of the cause is only the vehicle for something deeper and even more alarming. And that something is sheer emotion… Such emotion is terrifyingly dangerous. The great German philosopher on war, Carl von Clausewitz, pointed out that the intensity of a conflict is determined by the importance of the political object at stake…

“Today, Iran has become the prime target of Bush’s ideological mission. He recently trumpeted: ‘We will confront this danger before it is too late. Either the forces of extremism succeed or the forces of freedom succeed. Either our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or we advance our interests.’ In this inflamed rhetoric, echoing his rants in 2002 and 2003 about Saddam Hussein and his alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, we can hear the louder and louder beat of war drums.

“… war, no matter how passionate the belief in the righteousness of the cause, is inherently uncontrollable, its outcome quite unpredictable…”

No matter what America is trying to do in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and in other countries, it will not succeed. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.” You might also want to view our recent StandingWatch programs, “God Warns America!” and “America–Wake Up!”

Pope Refused to Meet With Condoleezza Rice

Press TV reported on September 20:

“Pope Benedict XVI has refused a recent request by the US Secretary of State to discuss the Middle East and Iraq, Vatican sources say… Italian daily Corriere della Sera says the evident snub ‘illustrates the divergence of views’ between the Vatican and the White House over the ‘initiatives of the Bush administration in the Middle East.’

“Sources cite at least two reasons for the Pope’s refusal to have a private meeting with Rice:

“First, it was Rice who just before the outbreak of Iraq war in March 2003 made it clear that the Bush administration was not interested in the views of the late Pope on the immorality of launching its planned military offensive. Secondly, the US has responded in a manner considered unacceptable at the Vatican to the protection of the rights of Iraqi Christians.”

Will Putin Make a Comeback–Without Ever Really Leaving?

AFP wrote on September 14:

“President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia’s 2008 presidential race is wide open, with at least five candidates — including his surprise new prime minister, Viktor Zubkov. He also did not rule out making a comeback in the following presidential campaign in 2012… Putin’s decision to pluck Zubkov from obscurity just ahead of December parliamentary elections has fuelled intrigue over who will win the Kremlin in the March presidential vote, when Putin is required by the constitution to leave office. Most observers believe that the race will be minutely controlled by Putin’s entourage to ensure that a loyal candidate wins…

“Under the constitution the president cannot have more than two consecutive terms, but can in theory return after a break… Some analysts believe that Zubkov is a straw man promoted purely because of his loyalty to Putin. One theory is that Putin is weakening the already pliant government to concentrate further power in the Kremlin and lay the groundwork for him to retain power behind the scenes.”

Russia’s Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov — And The Russian Military

TheAge.com.au stated on September 16:

“Russia’s Prime Minister has pledged to boost the country’s military might, amid growing signs that he could emerge as President Vladimir Putin’s successor next year…

“Keen to demonstrate his allegiance to his boss, Mr Zubkov told deputies that he would dedicate his attentions to advancing Mr Putin’s favourite projects — the restoration of Russia’s military might and the resurgence of Russia’s energy-fuelled economy. Since Mr Putin came to power in 2000, the Kremlin has poured large amounts of cash into Russia’s rusting military in what appears to be an attempt to regain the nation’s superpower status.

“On Thursday British and Norwegian jets intercepted Russian military aircraft after they breached NATO air space close to Britain and Finland. Finland’s Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen, demanded an explanation from Moscow over the violation of Finnish air space, the latest in a spate of recent incursions…

“Last night, Mr Putin was scheduled to revel in a military display of a different sort, taking the salute in Red Square from troops participating in Moscow’s first military tattoo… The presidential regiment band and the central band of the Russian Army were to be bedecked in imperial uniforms not worn since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.”

Inspection of Islamic Courses and Teachers in Austria?

Press TV reported on September 15:

“Austria’s controversial politician, Joerg Haider, has called for intensive inspection of Islamic courses in the country’s education system. The former head of the far-right Freedom Party and the hawkish governor of Carinthia told the reporters in a press conference that the government’s policy to converge with foreigners has not been successful yet and now the foreigners are to adapt themselves to the conditions in Austria.

“Haider has recently announced his plans to prohibit the construction of mosques in Carinthia and has emphasized that the contents of schoolbooks should be changed and the Islamic education in Austria ought to be brought under intensive inspection. He also stressed that the move should be initiated by inspecting the teachers of the Islamic courses.”

Tattoo Remorse

CNN reported on September 17:

“Laura Hathaway initially had no regrets after getting a tattoo on her lower back when she was 21. But now, 10 years later, she wants it gone… it doesn’t fit in with her current lifestyle as the mother of a 2-year-old boy who just started to talk…

“Dr. Scott Karempelis of Atlanta Dermatology Associates is performing a multitreatment laser procedure that will gradually erase Hathaway’s tattoo with little or no scarring. The process is painful, expensive and time-consuming… The American Academy of Dermatology reports tattoo regret is common in the United States. Among a group of 18- to 50-year-olds surveyed in 2004, 24 percent reported having a tattoo and 17 percent of those considered getting their tattoo removed…

“Hathaway expects to go through 10 sessions several weeks apart, each lasting less than a minute. She admits it’s a lot more painful than getting the original tattoo. ‘It’s prickly,’ describes Hathaway. ‘It feels like a bee is sitting on your back stinging time and time again. Afterwards, the pain does go away and you’re a little sore for a few hours.’ Patients with bigger tattoos are sometimes given the option to use a topical anesthetic, but Karempelis points out that it adds to the cost.

“Like other dermatologists, he charges by the square inch for the laser treatment. By the time Hathaway’s done, she expects to pay more than $2,200. There’s no guarantee that she won’t have a scar… Certain tattoo colors, such as green, yellow and purple, are harder to remove, Karempelis says.”

For a Biblical Discussion on Tattoos, please see our Q&A in Update #113, titled, “Does the Bible teach anything about the use of tattoos?”

Meteorite Hits the Earth–Causes Mysterious Illness

AFP reported on September 17:

“Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday. Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.
“Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a ‘strange odor,’ local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP. Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being hospitalized, Lopez said.

“Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene, where the meteorite left a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) and 20-foot-deep (six-meter-deep) crater, said local official Marco Limache.  ‘Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned,’ he said.”

This episode might perhaps remind us of much greater catastrophes to come, as described in Revelation 8:8, 10-11: “The second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea… Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch… A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.”

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Would you please explain Revelation 17:9? Who or what are the seven heads of the scarlet-colored beast, on which the fallen woman sits, and who is that woman?

There can be little doubt what Revelation 17:9 describes. The previous verses in the same chapter talk about a fallen woman sitting on a scarlet-colored beast, with seven heads and ten horns. As we explain in our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy,” the scarlet-colored beast on which the woman sits depicts the last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire.

In Biblical terminology, a religious entity is many times depicted as a woman. The true Church of God is identified as a woman (Revelation 12:6, 13-17); a virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2); and the wife of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:7). Likewise, Christ’s true followers are identified as “virgins” (Matthew 25:1; Revelation 14:4).

However, the woman who sits on the scarlet-colored beast is a FALLEN rich woman who has committed “fornication” with the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 17:2; compare also verse 4, and Revelation 18:3, 9). She is identified as “the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication” (Revelation 19:2). In Biblical terminology, she is a fallen church, pretending to be the true Church of God, but persecuting Christ’s true disciples.

The woman is called, in verse 5, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.” This fallen church is called the “Mother Church,” which has “daughter churches.” We are told in verse 6 that the woman is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

Verse 18 explains: “And the woman whom you saw is that GREAT CITY which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

Again, in Revelation 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, Babylon is identified as a prosperous and wealthy “great city” and a “mighty city” (compare, too, Revelation 14:8). Revelation 18:23 adds that by “your sorcery all the nations were deceived,” and Revelation 19:2 speaks of the judgment of the woman “who corrupted the earth with her fornication.”

With this background, let us read Revelation 17:9, which says: “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.”

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the Greek word for “mountain,” “oros,” means “mountain” or “hill” (see Strong’s No. 3733).

Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible agrees, defining the Greek word used in Revelation 17:9 as “mountain, mount, hill.”

This same word is used in Matthew 5:14, where Christ says: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a HILL cannot be hidden.” It is also translated as “hill” in Luke 4:29.

The New English Bible translates Revelation 17:9, as follows: “The seven heads are seven HILLS…” So do the Revised English Bible; the New International Version; the New American Bible; the Moffat Translation of the Bible; the Jewish New Testament, by David Stern; and a German Bible translation, “Die Gute Nachricht.”

The New Jerusalem Bible states: “The seven heads are THE seven hills…”

The Living Bible gives the following interpretation of the verse: “And now think hard: his seven heads represent a certain city built on seven hills where the woman has her residence.”

Verse 10 explains that the seven mountains or hills symbolize seven kings–seven military and political rulers. They describe the seven last resurrections of the ancient Roman Empire–with the last king or revival of the Roman Empire still to appear in the near future (compare verse 10).

But remember that the woman is also identified as a CITY which sits on seven mountains or hills.

Some Catholic and Protestant commentaries grasp for an explanation of this passage, which is different from the most obvious one (discussed below), because they realize that the passage is speaking about them. If they were to give the intended meaning of the passage, they would indict themselves as deserving of Godly judgment. Others accept the obvious explanation (discussed below), but claim that it has only historical relevance, without any meaning for us today or our immediate future. However, Revelation 17 is a prophecy, culminating, in Revelation 19, in the return of Christ–something which did not yet happen.

So, what, then is the OBVIOUS explanation of Revelation 17:9? Which RELIGIOUS city is built on seven mountains or hills?

Let us quote several commentaries which are honest enough to represent the obvious intended meaning of Revelation 17:9 without apology or an attempt to hide the truth.

Some few commentaries claim that the city described is Jerusalem. But this explanation makes no sense, neither historically nor prophetically. As Stan Lindsay accurately explains in “The Human Drama,” on page 91:

“The most problematic passage in identifying Babylon as Jerusalem is Revelation 17:9, which says that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains upon which the woman sits. This has been taken almost universally as a reference to Rome’s origin on seven hills. While topographically Jerusalem might be divided into seven hills, utilizing important ‘mounts’ that are inside and outside of the city walls, it would sound contrived. The seven hills almost certainly signify Rome.”

As mentioned by Lindsay, this is the overwhelming consensus of most Biblical commentaries, and for valid and correct reasons.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains:

“As the woman is a city… these seven mountains, on which she sits, must be so many mountains on which the city is built; and what city can this be but Rome, which is so famous for being built on seven hills? This is taken notice of by Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Claudian, Starius, Martial, and others; and indeed there is scarce a poet that speaks of Rome but observes it: hence it has been sometimes called, by writers, the seven hilled city, and sometimes Septiceps, the seven headed city, which comes near to the language here: the names of the seven mountains were these, Capitolinus, Palatinus, Aventinus, Esquilinus, Coelius, Viminalis, and Quirinalis; the four first of these were taken in by Romulus, the first founder of it, and the three last by Servius Tullius, when he enlarged it; and upon the addition of the seventh mountain there was a feast kept, called Septimontium; and which was kept in seven places in the city; and was annually observed; and in this situation it was in John’s time; for Pliny, who was contemporary with him, expressly says, that in his time it took in seven mountains; and that this refers to a city in John’s time, then reigning over the kings of the earth, is certain…

“Now there was no imperial city, so built in his time, but Rome: for though Constantinople is built on seven hills, yet this was not in being in John’s time, but was built by Constantine many years after, in imitation of Rome; and though the situation is much altered now, being in Campus Martius, it being greatly reduced, and in a less compass, yet this hinders not but that it is the same city here designed: and this confirms that the beast before spoken of, on whom the woman sat, is the Roman empire, since she is here said to sit on the seven mountains, on which Rome, the metropolis of that empire, was built; and this shows the pope of Rome to be antichrist [however, this designation is Biblically incorrect, see our Q&A in Update #285, “Who Is the Antichrist Prophesied to Come?”], the great whore, Babylon, the mother of harlots, since no other has his seat at Rome but he.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible states: “Seven mountains – the seven hills on which Rome stands…”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible agrees: “The seven heads are seven mountains – Referring, undoubtedly, to Rome–the seven-hilled city–Septicollis Roma.”

He adds, in his comments to Revelation 12:3: “Rome was built, as is well known, on seven hills… and was called the seven-hilled city (Septicollis)… Tertullian: ‘I appeal to the citizens of Rome, the populace that dwell on the seven hills’ (Apol. 35). And again, Jerome to Marcella, when urging her to quit Rome for Bethlehem: ‘Read what is said in the Apocalypse of the seven hills.’…”

Halley’s Bible Handbook points out:

“This description of Babylon the Great Harlot, Seated on the Seven-Headed Ten-Horned Beast, while it may have ultimate reference to a situation yet to appear, Exactly fits Papal Rome. Nothing else in World History does fit.”

Unger’s Bible Handbook states:

“The revived Roman Empire with its end-time emperor (the beast) appears as the agent of the harlot’s destruction… The revival of the Roman power under the beast will occasion great wonder and deception… The woman (ecclesiastical Babylon) has her headquarters in the beast’s capitol… which is the seven-hilled city of Rome… He rules over a ten-kingdom federation… and makes war against the Lamb… The harlot who has dominated and exploited the peoples of the earth… and who has ridden into last-day power on the beast, shall find the beast turning against her at the end to utterly destroy her… Destruction is her judgment… because of her evil desire to dominate earthly rulers for her own selfish and deceptive interests.”

Dave Hunt, “A Woman Rides the Beast,” quotes the “Catholic Encyclopedia” on page 67, as follows: “‘It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of the Vatican State proper is now confined.”’

The Ryrie Study Bible adds: “the name [Babylon] here seems to be a symbolic reference to Rome… In chapter 17 Babylon represents the false religious system that will center in Rome during the tribulation period. In chapter 18 it represents more the political and commercial aspect of the revived Roman Empire… Thus the term stands both for a city and for a system (religious and commercial) related to the city (much like ‘Wall Street,’ which is both a place and a system).”

The Nelson Study Bible states: “The seven heads of the beast… symbolize both seven mountains and seven kings. Since the word mountains also means ‘hills’… most interpreters understand this as referring to the seven hills along the Tiber River, a well-known designation of the city of Rome. However, seven mountains may also refer to successive world empires…”

The New Scoffield Reference edition points out: “There are two forms which Babylon is to have in the end-time: political Babylon… and ecclesiastical Babylon… Political Babylon is the beast’s confederated empire, the last form of Gentile world dominion. Ecclesiastical Babylon is all apostate Christendom, in which the Papacy will undoubtedly be prominent; it may very well be that this union will embrace ALL RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD.”

Lehmann Strauss writes in “The Book of the Revelation,” pages 295-301: “The Babylon of the Revelation is an apostate religious system clearly identifiable with all of Christendom, with papal Rome taking the lead in its formation… the world might applaud such a union, but we may be certain God is not in it… We are not surprised, then, when we see men and women of various religious faiths making pilgrimages to Rome to see a man who has been exalted as ‘the holy father,’ ‘the voice of God,’ and then bowing down to him as though he were a god.

“The Roman Catholic Church is playing her most strategic role in world affairs. Never before has she wooed and won so many devotees of other religions… Rome is known as the seven-hilled city… Here then is a prophecy referring to papal Rome, not history referring to pagan Rome… The wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations combined adds up to many billions of dollars… Students of ancient coins remind us that the coin of Vespasian represents Rome seated on seven hills. The Roman Catholic Church itself, in the Confraternity Edition of the New Testament (new edition, New York, 1963, page 337), claims that Rome is Babylon.”

In conclusion, any honest evaluation of Revelation 17:9, in its context, must admit to the fact that John is describing, in prophetic terms, an end-time religious system, which is centered in the seven-hilled city of papal Rome, influencing and dominating the peoples of this world.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

Michael Link and Noelle Jacobs are happy to announce their engagement. They are planning to get married sometime next year.

A new StandingWatch program (#138) has been posted on Google Video and on our Website. The program is titled: “Bible Study: The Mystery of Revelation–Solved!” A summary of the program is set forth below:

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Woman Riding the Beast. Antichrist. The Mark of the Beast. 666. The Great Tribulation. The Day of the Lord. The Heavenly Signs. What do all these expressions mean? Can you know?”

Several of Norbert Link’s recent video-recorded sermons and bible studies were posted on Google Video.

A new video-ad for our booklet, “Human Suffering… Why and How Much Longer” was placed on Google Video.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

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