In PART X we continued to consider the case for a Muslim Antichrist. Today we’ll summarize those arguments and look at the response from the other side.
AC: MUSLIM or ROMAN ?
When considering Islam, one of the key questions we must ask ourselves is: What is its role in the End Times? With so many prophecies either being fulfilled or lining up for fulfillment, we can know that we are on the edge of that culmination of prophetic history. Just the story of Israel; its rebirth and the restoration testify to that. So what is the place of Islam in the Last Days equation?
Dr Joe Van Koevering has emerged as a strong apologist for the position that the Antichrist will come out of Islam. He points to Revelation 13 to build his case. In the first part of the chapter, John sees “a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.” (Revelation 13:1) This is clearly a reference to the Antichrist himself. But a little further down, beginning in verse 11, we see another figure emerge. To Van Koevering, this second beast represents an entirely different people. “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:11-17)
This passage outlines much of the career of what had come to be known as the False Prophet; which is of course all tied up with that of the Antichrist. Dr Van Koevering finds the clue to the identity of this figure (FP), right there in verse 11. He is described as having “two horns” like a “lamb”. This is clearly a religious figure. In Scripture, the Lamb of God is clearly Jesus Christ, and he believes that the 2 horns represent Christianity and Islam. This then is the presentation of a False Christ, an imitation of the true role of Jesus. In this scenario, Islam will emerge with a false version of Christianity at the Time of the End. In some ways it is already moving in this direction. Chrislam is fast becoming a religious force. This of course, refers to the emergence of a movement that would in some fashion or another combine the two major monotheistic religious systems. [We don’t have room to get into it in detail here, but many Roman Catholic leaders through the ages have offered their opinion that the final pope would be an apostate who would betray the Church of Christ. These thinkers included such luminaries as St Francis of Assisi, Pope Pius X, Cardinal O’Connor and the late Bishop Sheen who warned us to look for a “religion without a cross.” The unification may center around Mary, who is revered in both Catholicism and Islam.] So it is interesting to note that just earlier this year, Pope Francis arranged for Muslim prayers to be uttered at the Vatican. A watershed moment if ever there was one![i]
Now the False Prophet will just be the figure that assists the Antichrist to gain and maintain power. But it is Islam that seeks the establishment of a Global Caliphate, running interestingly parallel to the World-wide Kingdom of Antichrist that is spoken of in scripture. There are a few other arguments to be made in its favor. Authors Philip Goodman and Zane Hodges both argue that the Antichrist must be an Assyrian as eluded to in Micah 5:5 – and if Assyrian ….well then Muslim. [But this begs the issue that the overwhelming number of Assyrians identify Christian – meaning that just because you are Assyrian does NOT mean that you’ll be a Muslim.]
So now, having built up the notion of an Islamic Antichrist over the last several installments let me usher in the arguments against it. Anchoring these arguments is the prophecy scholar, David Reagan. Reagan calls such efforts to identify the future AC as a Muslim as “newspaper exegesis,” – in other words reading today’s headlines and building a theory of eschatology around that. To get specific, Reagan finds “nothing startling or surprising about” the similarities in Islamic and Biblical End Times stories. “Mohammed got most of his ideas concerning the end times from discussions with Christians and Jews. And these ideas were later embellished by his followers who were even better acquainted with biblical prophecies….It is only natural that the Mahdi, like the Antichrist, should be viewed as a great leader who will conquer the world and institute a one world religion. The assertion that the Mahdi will return on a white horse is, of course, borrowed directly from Scripture, as is the idea of the False Prophet.”[ii]
Another problem that must be addressed by the Islamic Antichrist crowd concerns the passages found in Daniel, chapter 2 & 7 that describes the four major world empires in chronological order. From oldest to youngest they are: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Daniel 9 clearly lets us know that it is the people of this last empire, Rome, that will be the driving force behind the Antichrist’s Empire. Verse 26 reads: “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (NASB) That turned out to be the Romans, who in 70 AD destroyed both Jerusalem and the Temple. The End Times role of the Antichrist is defined in Daniel 9:27. “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” Thus the Antichrist must somehow have a connection to the Roman Empire. But…say the Islamic Antichrist crowd….the Legions that destroyed Rome came from the Eastern part of the Empire – nations that are now Islamic. Perhaps! Other scholars say this is not so. Sean Osborne writes that the V, X & XV Legions that destroyed Jerusalem hailed from Macedonia, Austria / Slovenia and the Italian mainland.[iii] And with no point of agreement, the debate rages.
Another more salient point lies in the question: Could the modern-day Israeli population ever accept as Messiah someone from the world of Islam? On the surface at least it seems not. And finally I’d like to bring up the issue of the prophesied Psalm 83 War. This along with other related prophecies puts a strong test to the Islamic Antichrist theory. Here’s Dr David Reagan’s reasoning.
“This psalm portrays an attack on Israel by a Muslim coalition consisting of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Assyria (Syria). The Bible clearly teaches that God will protect Israel against all such attacks in the end times (Zechariah 12:6). The outcome of this war most likely is detailed in Zephaniah 2:4-5. These verses indicate that the attacking nations will be devastated by Israel. It is during this war that Damascus, the capital of Syria, will probably be destroyed completely, never to be rebuilt again (Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27). That is most likely why Syria is not mentioned in Ezekiel 38 as one of the Russian allies. The outcome of the Psalm 83 war is what will most likely produce peace for Israel, the peace that it is prophesied to be enjoying when Russia and its allies decide to launch the Ezekiel 38 invasion. The war of Psalm 83 followed by the war of Ezekiel 38 will result in the annihilation of nearly all the armies of the Muslim nations of the Middle East, and these wars are most likely going to occur before the Tribulation begins! Thus, if the Antichrist is a Muslim who is going to rule a Muslim empire in the Middle East during the Tribulation, then he is going to rule over an empire that has been reduced to ashes!”[iv]
So there you have it; the arguments for and against. Islam’s role may well be to produce the Antichrist. Or it may be to usher in the wars (Psalm 83 & Ezekiel 38 (Gog / Magog) that set the table for ACs arrival on the world scene. One cannot know for certain. Through all of this it is best to realize that we do not have all the answers – but God does. We may not know the exact details of all that will follow, but we can clearly see the foreshadowing of future prophetic events in the unfolding of today’s headlines. And we know the One who holds not only our future – but that of the entire world in His hands. “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
[i] Historic First: Islamic Prayers Held at the Vatican, CBN, June 10, 2014
[ii] Dr David R Reagan, The Muslim Antichrist Theory, Lamb & Lion Ministries, December 2010
[iii] Sean Osborne as quoted by Chris Schang, The Myth of an Islamic Antichrist, viewed November 7, 2014
[iv] Dr David R Reagan, The Muslim Antichrist Theory, Lamb & Lion Ministries, December 2010