Something amazing has happened in the last three decades. The Palestinian cause in the Middle East has widened out into a full-scale Islamic revolution. The rapid expansion of Islamic power has directed new speculation about the events that will unfold during the Tribulation. Specifically, many are now suggesting that the Antichrist will arise out of the Islamic world.
Persuasive books and other publications are now making the case for this development. The Islamic Antichrist, by Joel Richardson and God’s War on Terror, by the former Muslim Walid Shoebat have both linked Mystery Babylon with latter-day Islam. Certainly, Islam has an “Antichrist Spirit.” But can it really be true that the Antichrist will arise from the Islamic culture?
Really, the question boils down to this: Will he arise from Islam society, or as the Bible has been interpreted for centuries, does he come from the West? There are at least two strong arguments in favor of his Western origin. First, the power of Islam is broken in a war at the beginning of the Tribulation. Second, the Bible gives the genealogy of the Antichrist that strongly points to his Graeco-Roman origin.
Let’s begin by briefly reviewing recent Mideast history, then compare these events with Scripture.
After years of ineffectual struggle, the current Arab uprising first gained real momentum in Tunis when, in January, 2011, longtime President Ben Ali was overthrown, leading to new elections for the beleaguered and impoverished people. Their success, followed by the ensuing Libyan revolt, heralded what the Western press came to call “The Arab Spring.” When the radicals saw their propaganda successfully taking hold, they were spurred on to new revolts in Egypt and Syria.
Out of these developments, we witnessed the coalescing of a new power, as the Islamic Brotherhood declared itself the reigning Arab leadership. Libya’s Moammar Khadaffi was hunted down and killed. Egypt’s three-decade dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed and put on trial for crimes against the people.
Currently, the Brotherhood is exploiting a growing regional volatility of their own making, to create a new international power. Their professed objective is the realization of an obsessive dream – the establishment of a grand international caliphate. The last such centralized Islamic rule came to an end with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire around the time of World War One. It was then replaced by the Republic of Turkey.
Since that time, many Arabs have expressed their dream that a new caliphate would rise, bringing the Mideast to a golden age of strength and wealth. It threatens to expand beyond any national boundary, realizing the long-held goal of an Islamic caliphate that will cover the region from the British Isles to India’s western border and southward into Africa.
Following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Egyptians reluctantly forged a peace treaty with Israel. It came into effect in 1979 and was commonly referred to as the Carter-Sadat Treaty. It demilitarized the Sinai Penninsula and lasted for thirty years, until 2011, with the end of the Mubarak era.
From its beginning, this peace treaty was routinely mocked by other Arab states, and particularly by Yasser Arafat, who said it would never last. Arafat founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) with the idea of undoing everything Israel had done since forming their nation in1948.
Ironically, the present Arab uprising can be dated back to 1983, when Arafat was forced to move PLO headquarters to Tunisia, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Before that, he had established Al Fatah, and its military arm, Al Assifa, which grew to become the central authority of the Islamic resistance.
By 1988 Arafat, in a major tactical change, had given up his terrorist cause and freely spoke of Israel’s right to exist. A 1993 agreement with the PLO expressed Israel’s legitimate presence alongside a self-ruling Palestinian Jericho and Gaza Strip. The wily old founder of Al Fatah was then made president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). In 1995 and 1996, another agreement brought self-rule in all Arab cities on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
A more-or-less lasting peace in the region ensued until September of 2000, when Arafat’s forces were accused of attacking Israelis once again. He died in 2004, leaving a PLO divided between Fatah and the Islamic Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist arm, Hamas. For the last decade there has been a steadily deteriorating relationship between the PA and Israel. Ironically, when Arafat died, the process of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza was begun, to be completed in September, 2005. Always eager for peace, the Israelis had given up Gaza to Hamas as a gesture of good will. But it wasn’t long until internecine strife between Hamas and Fatah erupted into street fighting. The struggle for the “liberation” of Gaza rages to this day.
But Israel’s olive branch resulted only in greater hostility. It played right into the hands of Hamas, which has never concealed the fact that it’s prime desire is to see Israel annihilated. Its continual firing of rockets into Israel provided the background music for the arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It fueled the passions of the Iranians, who continually call for the death of the “little Satan” (Israel) and the “great Satan” (the USA).
It encouraged the Islamic Brotherhood, spurring them onward toward the great revolution that will bring the grand caliphate and their mahdi (messiah figure), who will convert the world to Islam. They now believe he is on the verge of appearing, but they disagree on how he will take control.
Who Will Lead?
The two major factions of Islam – Sunnis and Shiites – disagree on how their mahdi will rule. The Sunnis believe that the caliph who will someday head their government, should be elected by Islamic governmental representatives.
On the other hand, Shiite Muslims believe that the caliph will be chosen by Allah from among the direct offspring of Mohammed. The most radical Shiites, called the Twelvers, believe that the supernatural being, a messianic figure they call the Imam Mahdi, will personally come to present himself as leader, arising from a subterranean hiding place, where he has resided for the past few centuries.
Muslim leaders are quite vocal about his coming. Their outspoken bravado seems to have persuaded some in the West that his arrival will fulfill the biblical qualifications for the Antichrist.
Many Christians have begun to say that it is this mysterious figure, regardless of his method of arrival, who will rise to power, fulfilling the Bible’s description of the one who comes to deceive the Jews into believing that he is their true Messiah:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:3,4).
The sense that Islam is becoming stronger and more unified … that its vaunted period of rule has arrived, has caused many to assume that they will realize their goal. Certainly, Islamic leaders of the Middle East believe this. But it also seems that their belief is beginning to convince Western society … and even Christians!
Islam to be Destroyed
And this, in spite of the fact that Bible prophecy specifically calls for an unprecedented destruction of Islam in a coming great war. This war will begin in the Mideast and spread to the entire world. In breathtaking fashion, Israel will rise to victory as the war comes to an end. What then? Will the Jews accept an Islamic ruler from among the rag-tag survivors of the great war? That would be very doubtful, indeed. Remember, Scripture says that they will accept him as their long-awaited Messiah … but a Moslem?
This thought requires perspective: We must never forget that it is the recent publicity about the Twelvers’ belief in the coming Imam Mahdi that has most likely set in motion the speculation about an Islamic Antichrist.
This assumes that Islam will rise to a victorious position in the region. From the strictly secular point of view, there is now the growing impression that the Islamic juggernaut has reached the point of global prominence. It is infiltrating Europe and the Americas. It regularly boasts that it will control the world in a generation. But the Bible says otherwise.
The Coming War
For example, many have begun to point to Psalm 83 as a prophecy of Israel’s latter-day enemies. Eleven tribes of the Middle East are shown just as we see them today. This collection of enemies is a composite of all who have ever opposed Israel:
“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah” (Psalm 83:4-8).
And what happens to these Islamic offspring of all evil? They are summarily wiped out:
“O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD” (Psalm 83:13-16).
This Psalm constitutes a prophecy, stating both the goal of Israel’s enemies, and their final fate. These are the peoples that comprise today’s Islamic Brotherhood, defeated in the fires of war.
And where else do we see them mentioned? The prophet Zechariah speaks of the precise situation we find today:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:2-6).
Gog’s Hapless Invasion
To make the point once more, we have only to look at Ezekiel 38 and 39, in which an alliance of Russia, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Turkey, Eastern Europe and others combine to invade Israel. This is the great northern invasion of Gog of the land of Magog, dragged into the fray by the very zealots of the Islamic Brotherhood who are today crying for Israel’s blood. “And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth…” (Ezekiel 38:4).
And what happens to Gog and these mighty warriors? Observe:
“And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 39:3-6).
They are utterly destroyed in a crushing defeat that dwarfs anything ever seen in past wars. Here, we see that the fires of war blow back on Magog and the “isles” (the continents), showing that though it started in the Mideast it spreads to the entire world. The cleanup from this war stretches over a seven year period:
“Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog” (Ezekiel 39:8-11).
Many writers have already pointed out that Israel will bury the invaders’ bodies in the territory of Moab and Ammon, east of the Dead Sea. It takes them seven years to accomplish this feat, ruling out the possibility that the war takes place during the Tribulation, since Israel will be fleeing for her life during the second half of the Tribulation. The initial attack must take place far ahead of the seven-year period.
And where is the Imam Mahdi during this legendary rout? Has he emerged from the Twelvers’ subterranean well-shaft? If so, he witnessed only defeat. Is he elected to power by the sheikhs? If so, he has no land to rule.
Following this amazing victory, Israel will rise to power, led by a savior-figure who falsely claims to be their Messiah. And he will provide proof, standing up in a new temple and declaring himself to be a god. But certainly, he won’t be Islamic. At this time, when the smoke of battle still hangs heavy in the air, with millions of Moslems lying dead on the battlefield, would he claim to be the great Mahdi? No, he would certainly claim to be the Jew’s Messiah. Furthermore, he confirms a covenant with Israel’s leaders, insuring temple sacrifices and offerings, a promise which he soon rescinds:
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:26,27).
It is the signing of this false covenant that marks the precise beginning of the Tribulation.
Furthermore, Daniel gives us Antichrist’s genealogy, saying that this “prince” (the Antichrist) will be descended from the Flavian Dynasty of Vespasian and Titus. They are, after all, as Daniel puts it, “the people … who destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
Who were the Flavians? They were the Roman dictators who waged wars against the Jews during the close of the first century. Furthermore, they are well known to have intermarried with members of the Herodian dynasty. This intertwining began about 36 BC, when Caesar Augustus thrust the Edomite Herod the Great upon the Jews, insulting them by giving him the offensive title, “King of the Jews.”
Additionally, the Flavian bloodline included the Greek Seleucids, descending from Antiochus IV Ephiphanes, himself. In 167 BC, this evil character had captured the Jewish temple and placed a statue of himself in the Holy of Holies, dressed as Zeus. He is the foremost type of the Antichrist.
These three bloodlines … Herodian, Seleucid and Roman … converge in the Flavian dynasty. In the second century AD and following, the descendants of these royals became the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire.
Indeed, the entire eleventh chapter of Daniel is dedicated to tracing the Antichrist’s descent from Alexander the Great, through the Greek Seleucids and Antiochus IV Epiphanes, all the way down to the royal house of Rome and finally, Antichrist himself.
This will be the man who will pull the war-torn world together from the ashes of the coming Mideast war. Islam will be crushed in that war. But the global financial system will survive. Its merchant bankers, in league with the esoteric gods of the marketplace will rule the world.
The Jews would never accept an Islamic Mahdi who had allowed the destruction of his own people, then turned to offer himself as their savior!