Signs of the end of the age 7 – Islam

The final sign in this series is both controversial and not as yet so widely accepted.

At the end of this present age an empire will gain ascendancy. In Revelation it is described as a beast which the whole earth follows after (Rev 13: 3). The beast is both an empire and a man who heads the empire and leads the final revolt against Christ (Rev 19:19). It has been generally accepted that this man is also the one who is described elsewhere as ‘the man of lawlessness’ (2 Thess 2: 3).

Over the centuries various interpretations have been offered with regard to this man. The Westminster Confession declared; “nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God”. The Pope was identified as the man of sin and the Roman Catholic Church as the Harlot of Revelation 19. More recently interest has switched to either a revived Roman Empire in the form of a united Europe or a Globalist conspiracy. Both are seen as the possible background to the rise of the man of sin and the beast empire.

An alternative view is that Islam is best placed to fulfil the prophecies regarding the Beast and his empire. Set out below are some reasons for identifying Islam with the Beast.

Doctrine

“This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” 1 Jn 2: 22
“Say (O Muhammad): “He is Allah, The one and only; Allah to whom all creatures turn for their needs; he begets not, nor was he begotten; there is none like him.” Qur’an 112: 1-4.

From its inception Islam denied that God had a son. No other world movement, philosophy or religion has so emphatically denied the fatherhood of God. There have been many movements which have denied the existence of God or tried to supplant Him. There has been much false teaching and misrepresentation of God. But only Islam has built its whole creed on the denial of the Father and the Son. The oldest Islamic writings in existence are the mosaics in the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. They contain an emphatic denial that Jesus is the Son of God.

Character of Islam

“its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and baked clay.” Daniel 2:33
This is part of the prophecy of the statue to be found in Daniel 2. The prophecy sees five empires which will arise in the future. The first kingdom is Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. The final empire is described as feet and toes made of iron and clay which will be shattered at our Lord’s return. It is a fitting description of Islam, which in some ways is strong but is also deeply divided into factions. It is interesting that the Chaldean word for mixed used in this chapter is arab.

The time of the Antichrist’s kingdom

“And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour”. Revelation 17:12
It is difficult to reconcile this prophecy of the kings, only holding power for one hour, with the nations of Western Europe. The kingdoms of Europe have exercised considerable authority over this world for many centuries. In the Middle East there are ten nations, which have only recently gained independence. The time of their formation corresponds to the same period in which the new nation of Israel was established. They are all Muslim and have yet to achieve authority over other nations..

The beliefs of Islam

Muslims believe that Jesus was born supernaturally of the Virgin Mary, but he was only a man. He was a great prophet, but little of his teaching is found in the Bible as the early church tampered with the records. He was not crucified. Someone else was mistaken for Him and crucified in His place. At the end of his ministry, He was taken up to be with God in heaven and it is from there that He will come again. The main beliefs about his coming are:

• He will descend from heaven, although it is not known where. Mecca, Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem are all considered possible sites.
• He will declare that he is a man and not God and will oppose and seek to eradicate all false teaching that he is divine.
• He will pledge loyalty to the Mahdi and together they will overthrow the Dajjal (the antichrist).

Others have undertaken more detailed studies on this subject. (‘The Islamic Antichrist’ by Joel Richardson, available from Amazon.co.uk is one which I recommend). The Islamic beliefs about the return of Christ parallel the Bible’s teaching on the Antichrist. In consequence a large proportion of the world’s population is already programmed to receive the man of sin when he comes.

The Empire which died

Revelation 17: 10 identifies the seven heads of the beast as seven kings. These are usually interpreted as the seven empires which have dominated the Holy Land. In turn these empires were: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. We are told that five have fallen and one is. At the time the prophecy was written Rome the sixth empire ruled Israel. In the succession there is a seventh empire. From history we know that following the fall of Rome, Islam controlled the Holy Land for the next 1300 years. The phrase in verse 10 that ‘he must remain a little while should be interpreted in the context of Revelation which sees the coming of the Lord as ‘soon’. Against the immediacy of all the other prophecies this one has a period of time connected to it. Then an eighth empire which is one of the seven will close this sequence.

In another description of the beast empire in Revelation 13:3 one of the heads has received a fatal wound. To the amazement of the world it recovers from this wound coming back to life. Therefore this eighth beast empire is one of the former empires which has recovered from a fatal wound to the amazement of the world. Some look to a revived Roman Empire to fulfill this prophecy. But Rome did not die from a fatal wound. It petered out over a thousand years. The empire which did die was Islam. With the removal of the Caliph in 1924 the heart of Islam was ripped out.

One Islamic group has described the event in these words: “The 3rd of March, 1924—the world was plunged into darkness. The Khilafah—His light, spread from East to West for over a thousand years—was brought to an end. The consequences were unimaginable: death, destruction, chaos, exploitation. After 80 years of the absence of the Khilafah, the Muslim world has awakened from its slumber, and the Ummah [the community of all the world’s Muslims] is ready to resume its political destiny. From the darkness will emerge a new light.”

For decades Islam was seen as a moribund religion. Even in Islamic lands there were strong movements to abandon Islam and copy the West. Then came the Islamic revival. Islam is growing in influence day by day.
Location of the Antichrist’s Kingdom

In his book “The development of Antichrist” published in 1852, Andrew Bonar demonstrates that scripture identifies the Eastern part of the Roman Empire not the West as the place where the Antichrist takes power. He was writing to challenge the then popular view that the Pope was the Antichrist.

The Antichrist when he arises will reign over the area formerly ruled by the Greek, Persian and Babylonian empires, the area we know today as the heartland of Islam.
This geographical location is underlined in Daniel 11 which describes a conflict between the King of the North and the King of the South. Much of this prophecy is now history. History firmly anchors the context in a struggle between two powers which seek to dominate the Middle East. One power based in Egypt (the King of the South) the other in Syria/Babylon (the King of the North). It is widely accepted that the final part of this prophecy has a future fulfilment. In the divided context of Islam it is easy to envisage how such a conflict may arise. There are deep tensions between the rival factions in Shiite dominated North and the Sunni dominated South.

The Lord loves the descendants of Abraham’s other son Ishmael. In the above interpretation there is hope. The move to restore the Caliph is widespread within Islam. There a longing for Islam to regain its former glory. Many Muslims believe that the restored Caliph will be their promised Mahdi who will usher in a reign of peace over the whole world. Initially all Muslims will welcome him. But according to the Bible there will come a time when he requires worship. At that time their eyes will be opened to the deception. The worship of a man is an anathema to the true Muslim. Too late they will realize that they have been deceived and rise up against the imposter (Daniel 11:40). We pray that in defeat many will turn to their true Saviour Jesus Christ.

The rise of Islam to fulfil its destiny as the eighth and final empire is the seventh sign that we are approaching the end of the age.