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The Real Truth - Will the Antichrist Arise from the Middle East?

Will the Antichrist Arise from the Middle East?

A growing theory among Evangelical Christians asserts that Iran, or another Muslim nation, will give rise to the nefarious end-time figures known as the Beast and False Prophet. Careful Bible students must put this idea to the test.

Source: Thinkstock

The Middle East seems like fertile ground. In the Bible, a figure known as the Beast—some call him the Antichrist—is slated to appear just before Jesus Christ returns. This man will lead a great military-political combine backed by a religious authority known as the False Prophet.

In the book of Revelation, the two are said to deceive the world and persecute Jews and Christians alike—subjugating or executing those who do not fall in line.

A Beast arising from a hardline Islamic nation or group appears to make sense. Crowds across the region regularly chant, “Death to America,” and that they will “drive Israel into the sea.” The Islamic State beheaded Coptic Christians in Libya on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea—allowing the blood to flow into the water toward Europe, aka Christendom. Radical Muslim terrorists constantly vex the West.

Some prophecy watchers also point out that many Muslims are looking for a prophetic figure, known as the Mahdi, who appears to mirror the Beast.

Islamic tradition points to the coming of an end-time Mahdi, who is a figure the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes as “a messianic deliverer who will fill Earth with justice and equity, restore true religion, and usher in a short golden age lasting seven, eight, or nine years before the end of the world.”

To many, this description matches closely with a prophecy found in Daniel 9: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven prophetic years]: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…” (vs. 27).

In the Islamic Antichrist theory, this verse refers to a Muslim figure who will confirm a seven-year covenant with the nation of Israel, which he will break three-and-a-half years into it. Proponents state that the Antichrist will reign for seven years during a period known as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).

With the Mahdi supposedly ruling about the same length, things seem to fit. In addition, many believe both men will persecute Jews and Christians after breaking an Israeli peace agreement.

Such similarities between the Beast and Mahdi are a major pillar of the Islamic Antichrist theory. In addition, many Muslims believe that Jesus Christ will return at this time and assist the Mahdi by telling the world to follow Islam—a team that appears to mirror the Beast/False Prophet in the Bible.

A comprehensive list of shared characteristics can be found in the book The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast. This longer list helps set the stage. (Note: Some of the “Bible” views contain inaccurate interpretations, which are addressed later in the article.)

Bible: “The Antichrist is an unparalleled political, military, and religious leader that will emerge in the last days.”

Islam: “The Mahdi is an unparalleled political, military, and religious leader that will emerge in the last days.”

Bible: “The False Prophet is a secondary prominent figure that will emerge in the last days who will support the Antichrist.”

Islam: “The Muslim Jesus is a secondary prominent figure that will emerge in the last days to support the Mahdi.”

Bible: “The Antichrist and the False Prophet together will have a powerful army that will do great damage to the earth in an effort to subdue every nation and dominate the world.”

Islam:“The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will have a powerful army that will attempt to control every nation of the earth and dominate the world.”

Bible:“The Antichrist and the False Prophet institute new laws for the whole earth.”

Islam:“The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus institute Islamic law all over the earth.”

Bible:“The Antichrist and the False Prophet will execute anyone who does not submit to their world religion.”

Islam: “Likewise, the Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will execute anyone who does not submit to Islam.”

Bible: “The Antichrist and the False Prophet will attack to conquer and seize Jerusalem.”

Islam: “The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will attack to reconquer and seize Jerusalem for Islam.”

Bible: “The False Prophet is said to do many miracles to deceive as many as possible into supporting the Antichrist.”

Islam: “The Mahdi himself is said to control the weather and the crops. His face is said to glow. We can also assume that since Jesus is viewed as having been empowered by Allah to work miracles when He was here on earth the first time, He will most likely be expected to continue to do so when He returns.”

The list in the book is much longer. The sheer volume of proposed similarities—and the use of both Islamic sources and Bible verses—can make this seem like an open-and-shut case.

Yet closer examination and proper interpretation of God’s Word reveals an utterly different picture. In addition, debunking this theory clears up many other common misunderstandings regarding the Antichrist.

Faulty Foundation

The first red flag for the similarities between the Mahdi and Beast comes when examining the Islamic sources for the Mahdi prophecies.

Read what Britannica further stated about the Mahdi teaching (emphasis added): “The Qur’an (Islamic sacred scriptures) does not mention him. Several canonical compilations of ḥadith (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) do include traditions concerning the mahdi, although such traditions are notably absent from the two most-revered compilations, those of al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjaj. Many orthodox Sunni theologians accordingly question Mahdist beliefs, but such beliefs form a necessary part of Shi'i doctrine.”

The Koran (Qur’an)—Islam’s most sacred text—does not mention a Mahdi! Only less-revered secondary sources contain this doctrine. In addition, Sunni theologians question this teaching. Realize that Sunnis make up 87 to 90 percent of the world’s adherents to Islam.

Ask yourself: Why would a Christian wanting to follow God’s Word look to Islamic literature for confirmation of prophecy?

The only place to test the Islamic Antichrist theory is the Bible itself.

70 Weeks

A bedrock rule of Bible study is to always start with the simplest, clearest verses on any subject. When discussing the final Antichrist, however, many turn to and fixate on Daniel 9:26-27. It states: “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.”

Confused?

Do not feel bad if you are. This is not a “God is love” (I John 4:8) or “Seek you first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33) type of verse. It is actually quite complicated and part of what is known as the 70 weeks prophecy (Dan. 9:24). To understand it, one has to delve into history, the biblical calendar, and God’s Word. There is even a little math involved.

Yet you can understand it. The article What Is the “Seventy Weeks” Prophecy? carefully explains this difficult passage. It is worth a read as it shows Daniel recorded the exact year when Christ’s ministry would occur. God fulfilled this prophecy to a tee—which provides more rock-solid proof of the Bible’s authority!

Daniel 9:26-27 is particularly complex, however, because it jumps from prophecies pertaining to the life of Jesus to events that would happen soon after He returned to heaven—then back to Christ’s ministry and ultimately to events that have not yet occurred.

For the purposes of this article, note that the phrase, “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…” refers to Christ Himself. The earthly ministry of Jesus took place over three-and-one-half years (half of seven) and His crucifixion negated the need for daily sacrifices.

With this understanding, the idea of a seven-year reign of the Antichrist falls to pieces—as nowhere else in the Bible supports this notion. In addition, this means the idea of a Mahdi/Antichrist also suffers another blow.

Another commonly held prophecy idea that falls apart with this knowledge is the idea of a seven-year Tribulation. This period is clearly only two-and-a-half years, followed by a one-year Day of the Lord. Daniel 7:25 corroborates this by stating that the Beast will “speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High” for “a time and times and the dividing of time.”

Other Bible translations more simply state “time and times and the dividing of time” as three and a half years.

Basic Verses

To understand from where the political/military leader known as the Beast and religious leader known as the False Prophet will arise, you must understand some basic facts.

First note that a final Antichrist is never named as such in the Bible. The term antichrist is found only five times in God’s Word—all in the apostle John’s epistles.

For example, I John 2 states: “It is [a] last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists…” (vs. 18).

Notice that there can be many antichrists—more than one. The word antichrist simply means someone or something that is against Christ. (Both the Beast and False Prophet are antichrists.) Also note that John stated that antichrists could come from and work within Christian groups.

Real Truth Editor-in-Chief David C. Pack explained this in his booklet The Antichrist – Who, What and When! He stated: “Make no mistake. Antichrists have continued throughout the 2,000-year history of God’s Church—and into our time. In fact, the greatest number of them—and the worst ones—are at work today. And these deceivers operate in and around all of the groups and organizations of professing Christianity.”

Consider. If the Beast and False Prophet came from Islam, would you follow them? Would the majority of the world’s largest religion—professing Christianity—go along with this?

In fact, Jesus stated that in the last days Christians would be in danger of being deceived by antichrists: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24).

How would this be possible if Islam was the “antichrist” religion?

Where to Look

Proponents of the Islamic Antichrist theory have an alternate interpretation for the metal man vision in Daniel 2—and the successive empires they represent (also represented by beasts in Daniel 7). They stick with the traditional view to a point: the gold head for Nebuchadnezzar’s Neo-Babylonian Empire, breast and arms of silver for the Medo-Persian Empire, belly and thighs of brass for the Greco-Macedonian Empire, and legs and feet of iron for…

This is where Islamic Antichrist proponents differ from the commonly held belief. The most natural fit here is that the iron represents the Roman Empire. Yet some who believe in a Middle Eastern Beast feel it describes the Islamic Caliphate.

But there is a problem with this. While the widespread common view is not always right, it is in this case. And there is conclusive proof to back it up.

In Daniel 7, the Roman beast pictured has 10 horns. A corresponding creature in Revelation 13 has 10 horns with 10 crowns. The Bible defines these: “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [governments] that shall arise” (Dan. 7:24).

The apostle John recorded even more in Revelation 13: “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (vs. 3).

In summary, the Bible states that the Roman Empire would have 10 distinct “horns” (kingdoms) and that it would have a “deadly wound,” which would later be “healed.”

History backs up each of these details—to the year!

After Ancient Rome peaked and declined, it was overrun by a series of three Germanic tribes—the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths in AD 476. This is when the “deadly wound” occurred and the Roman Empire appeared to be dead. These tribes represent the first three horns.

In AD 554, Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s army recaptured Italy and led his Imperial Restoration. The wound was healed at this time, and this was the fourth of the 10 horns.

The next four horns were Charlemagne’s Frankish kingdom, Otto I’s Holy Roman Empire, Charles V’s Hapsburg dynasty, and Napoleon’s kingdom.

From AD 554 until Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne in 1814, this system repeatedly united Europe for a period of 1,260 years.

After the deadly wound was healed, the Bible states that “power was given unto him [the Roman governmental system] to continue forty and two months” (Rev. 13:5).

What does 42 months have to do with 1,260 years? Mr. Pack answered this in his booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation?

He wrote: “Ezekiel 4:4-6 and Numbers 14:34 show that, in prophetic fulfillment, each day counts for a year. This is critical to understand in regard to many other prophecies. Without recognizing this principle, all of these Bible prophecies have remained closed—sealed—to those who sought to understand them. How does ‘a day for a year’ apply here?

“Forty-two months is three and a half years. God’s sacred years contain 360 days. 360 days times 3 1/2 equals 1,260 days—or 1,260 years in prophecy.”

Do the math: AD 554 to 1814—from Justinian to Napoleon—is exactly 1,260 years!

Another weaker resurrection of the Roman system (ninth horn) began when Giuseppe Garibaldi united Italy in 1870. This culminated with the Axis powers during WWII.

One final horn remains, which will occur when the Beast power arises. With history as a guide, this can take place in only one area: Europe, as part of a revived Holy Roman Empire.

Future of the Middle East

Some may ask, given its current prominent place in world news, what will be happening in Iran during this time? For the immediate future, it will likely continue to be an important part of world news. Prophecy does not indicate, however, that it will be a major player as the Beast and False Prophet take the world stage.

While the Bible does mention Iran, it is under its traditional name of Persia. Its alliances in the coming years will be much the same as they were in the past during the Medo-Persian Empire.

The Medes are the Russians, which are also tied to Gog, Magog, Tubal and Meschech. These connections are thoroughly covered in the two-part article series The Future of Russia – Part 1.

Notice Ezekiel 38 mentions this power bloc, which includes Persia in verse 5. This united army, which will also likely include China, Japan and other Asian nations, actually goes to war against the Beast power. Revelation 16:12 refers to these nations as the “kings of the east.”

The last revival of the Holy Roman Empire is also known in the Bible as Babylon. God uses the Gog and Magog army to punish the empire of the Beast, who first hears about this alliance as “tidings out of the east and north” that “trouble him.”

After the Beast and False Prophet—and their army—are destroyed (Rev. 19:20), God uses Gog and Magog to punish the willing citizens of their empire. Jeremiah 50 describes a nation “out of the north” (vs. 3) that will come against Babylon to “make her land desolate.” Verse 9 calls this “an assembly of great nations from the north country.”

Even clearer, in Isaiah 13:17, God declares He “will stir up the Medes against” Babylon to destroy it.

Ultimately, the armies of Gog and Magog will be destroyed as is described in Ezekiel 38-39. This takes place after Christ has returned. Ezekiel 38:11 describes those in Israel as dwelling in “unwalled villages” where they “dwell safely.” This clearly is not a picture of today!

Other Middle Eastern nations will align with the Beast as indicated in Psalm 83, which lists a confederation of Muslim nations: “The tabernacles of Edom [Turkey], and the Ishmaelites [Saudi Arabia]; of Moab [southern Jordan], and the Hagarenes [Syria]; Gebal [Lebanon], and Ammon [northern Jordan], and Amalek [Edomites scattered throughout the Middle East]; the Philistines [Palestinian Arabs, including Gaza] with the inhabitants of Tyre [Lebanon]” (vs. 6-7).

These are said to align with Assur, or Assyria, whose descendants migrated to Europe and now reside in parts of Germany.

Still other Islam-majority nations will make up a power bloc known as the “king of the south,” which is mentioned in Daniel 11. This group of nations will be south of Jerusalem—the center of the compass for all directions in Bible prophecy.

Why the Beast?

Putting together the complex puzzle that is Bible prophecy is quite enjoyable. Finding details “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:13) can be both exciting and rewarding. This is certainly the case when painting the picture of what the world will look like when the Beast power emerges.

Yet few stop to ask why a loving God would allow the Beast and False Prophet to rise up, and then later bring divine punishment on the nations involved.

The answer to this question can be set up by addressing a final misconception brought about by the Islamic Antichrist idea. Proponents think that since the Bible is a Book centered on Israel and the immediate surrounding region, the final Beast will arise from there.

While the Bible centers on Israel, it does not just include the modern nation in the Middle East. The Jews living in the Holy Land today are primarily descended from the tribe of Judah. Many more descendants—known by some as the Lost Ten Tribes—are also spread across the entire globe, primarily in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and northwestern Europe. Regular readers of this magazine know that America and Britain line up with the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, respectively.

Throughout the Bible, God issues a special dire warning to the modern descendants of ancient Israel. He wants these nations, which He has abundantly blessed, to repent and follow His commands. The Real Truth and its publisher The Restored Church of God help proclaim this warning.

The major result of ignoring clear passages in the Bible? Brutal takeover by the Beast power.

God will use this system, which is soon to arise in Europe, as a tool (Isa. 10:5) to punish a disobedient people so that they wake up—and listen to their Creator.

Yet there is another reason for the Great Tribulation punishment—it should be a thundering message for the entire globe.

In Ezekiel 5:14, God declares He “will make you [the American and British peoples] waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about you, in the sight of all that pass by.”

Verse 15 explains why: “So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about you, when I shall execute judgments in you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the Lord have spoken it.”

When the Beast’s armies conquer modern-day descendants of ancient Israel, it should instruct the rest of the world. It should be obvious that the living God of the Bible is issuing a severe chastisement.

Those who refuse to heed this warning will be punished later with the Beast and still later with the Gog and Magog army.

What you have read in this article is a lot to absorb. Bible prophecy is complex, but you can understand it!

Revelation 1 describes a pre-requisite to understanding it in crystal-clear detail—which is also the way to avoid terrible times of trouble soon to befall Earth. Verse 1 states that prophecy is written “to show unto” Christ’s “servants things which must shortly come to pass.” The first step is to ensure you fall into the category of a servant of God—someone who does what He commands.

To have a clearer view of all Bible prophecy, read Mr. Pack’s book The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked! – A Voice Cries Out. The book will dispel any wrong prophetic ideas you may have acquired and makes plain what it takes to be considered a true servant of God.

These prophetic events will occur—and soon. The time for action is now!


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