Koinonia House: In our previous article, we explored the possibility that while we understand that the coming world leader, whom we commonly call “the Antichrist,” is predicted to come from the Roman Empire,1 we tend to be myopic regarding the extent of this designation: we tend to equate the Roman Empire with Western Europe, ignoring the eastern leg of this empire, which outlasted the western leg by a thousand years!
If we carefully examine the many references in the Old Testament, we discover a surprising number of allusions to this dominant personage as “the Assyrian.”2 This would seem to focus on the region that we know today as Syria and Iraq. With the current world tensions over that very region, it seems quite timely to re-examine some of our perspectives regarding the potential role of that region in the climactic Biblical scenario!
Satan’s Seven Empires
The Bible profiles man’s history in terms of seven major empires:
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. -Revelation 12:3
These would appear to be Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persian, Greece, and Rome, this last one in two phases: Ancient Rome (“Phase I”) and the final re-emergent revival of the Roman Empire (“Phase II”).
This perspective derives from a careful study of Daniel 2 and 7, which profiles the “times of the Gentiles” from Babylon until God establishes His own Kingdom, with the Messiah reigning as King of Kings. In both Daniel 2 and 7, we see four major kingdoms:
Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome-with the fourth one fragmenting, but then ultimately re-emerging in the “last days.”
Strangely, the prophecies of Daniel provide a surprising amount of detail concerning both Greece and Rome, with both Chapters 7 and 8 highlighting a “little horn” that emerges among the prominent “10 horns” that will dominate the final scenario.3
This “little horn” – an 11th, in effect – is another designation for the climactic world leader we commonly call “the Antichrist.”
When Alexander the Great died, four of his generals divided up the Greek Empire, with Ptolemy in the south and Seleucus in the east taking the largest shares. In fact, the contentions detailed in Daniel 11 chronicle – in advance – the rivalries between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids over the subsequent centuries with such an accuracy that skeptical critics have attempted to “late date” these passages to avoid acknowledging the supernatural aspect of these prophecies.4 [The fact that the Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint Version) during the early part of this period refutes these attempts.]
It is noteworthy that in both Daniel 8 and 11, prophecies highlighting the final world leader emerge from the passages involving the sequence of the leaders of the Seleucid Empire: the region now known as Syria and Iraq. 5 The seven empires are also the focus of Revelation 17:
And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. – Revelation 17:10
The “five are fallen” would seem to refer to the five kingdoms that had preceded John’s day: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The “one is” would seem to be the one existing when John was writing: Rome, in its “first phase.” The “other is not yet come” would seem to point to that final world empire that will be taken over by the “11th horn.” The following verse also focuses on this final empire:
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. -Revelation 17:11
It would seem that this final “eighth” empire is one “that was, and is not,” and yet is among the list of seven. The only empire among the seven that doesn’t exist in some form today is Assyria. It strangely disappeared from history until the sensational discoveries of Henry Layard in 1849.
The Return of Nimrod?
The first world dictator was Nimrod (whose name means “we rebel”), who ruled from Babylon.6 It is interesting that Micah also refers to the “land of Nimrod” in his allusion to the final world empire. Could it be that this final world dictator will be, in some sense, a return of Nimrod? Could it be that there will also be some kind of climactic ellipsis of Satan’s kingdoms7 as we approach the final judgment? If so, it is noteworthy that Nimrod ruled from Babylon.
The Mystery of Babylon
This may add an additional dimension to the mysteries surrounding the future of Babylon: Is it just used as a symbol? Or will Babylon literally rise to prominence on the banks of the Euphrates once again?
There are those who regard “Babylon” as simply a rhetorical device, and who interpret the prophetic passages symbolically. There are also those who feel that the “Mystery Babylon” of Revelation refers to the Vatican. 8 However, there are passages in both Isaiah and Jeremiah that clearly describe a destruction of Babylon that has never happened-yet.9 (Many Bible commentaries and helps are in error on this point: one must not confuse the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 B.C. with the destruction of Babylon detailed in the Bible. When Cyrus conquered Babylon, he was able to brag to the world that he did it without a battle!)
It is significant to compare the accounts of Babylon’s destiny in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Revelation. [See Table]. Contrary to the details emphasized in the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the building materials of ancient Babylon have been reused; the area has been inhabited over the centuries, contrary to the prophetic passages. We feel that it is quite significant that Saddam Hussein has made significant efforts to rebuild Babylon and has used the rebuilt Nebuchadnezzar’s palace for state occasions. It appears that the cataclysmic destruction described by Isaiah and Jeremiah (“like Sodom and Gomorrah”) is still in the future.
A strange vision in the Book of Zechariah may hold the key.
Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. – Zechariah 5:5-8
An ephah was a familiar volumetric measure in commercial practice, about a bushel in capacity. The talent of lead was a commercial standard of weight, about 96 Avoirdupois (U.S.) pounds. The woman that was sealed into this container was labeled “wickedness.”
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base. – Zechariah 5:10-11
It should be borne in mind that the stork was, in Jewish terms, an unclean bird.10 This vision has “sinister” written all over it! Shinar is the geographic location where Babylon was located. It seems that this woman – wickedness, mother of harlots, etc. – is to be relocated to where it all began.
All idolatry and paganism had its roots at Bab-El, which became Babylon. The pagan priesthood and its attendant rites then followed the political power structures of each succeeding empire until it ultimately settled in Rome. Thus, the various false gods they worshiped followed in various forms: Ishtar and Tammuz of Babylon became Isis and Osiris in Egypt, Aphrodite and Zeus in Greece, Venus and Jupiter in Rome, and Ashtoreth and Baal in Chaldea. Zechariah’s vision seems to indicate that this pagan centroid of power will migrate back to where it all started to receive its final judgment.
There are those who also suspect that the final world leader will be an apparent “reincarnation” of a prominent leader of the past. Nero was a common suggestion. Others even believe it could be Judas reincarnated.11 (“Reincarnation” has been a traditional lie of Satan, echoing his lie at Eden: “Ye shall not surely die.”12
Reincarnation is clearly refuted in Scripture,13 although Satan may stage a counterfeit.) But there are other possibilities as well. What about cloning from a protein sample of the past? Is it possible that this “eighth” is “of the seven” in microbiological sense? Also, remember the strange hint that Jesus gave us:
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. -Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26
In order to appreciate this allusion, it is essential to understand what the “days of Noah” were like, including the strange mischief caused by the fallen angels. It has been suggested that this coming leader may be a Nephilim, a recurrence of events in Genesis 6 that brought the previous cataclysmic judgment of the flood upon the earth.
With the current world turmoil surrounding Iraq and the Middle East, it is likely that the coming months and years will bring some striking changes. It is essential that we stand back from our presumptions and prejudices and listen carefully to what the Biblical text is telling us. We are living in exciting times, but we need to be diligent in our study of God’s Word. The only certain barrier to truth is the presumption that we already have it.
Isaiah 10:5, 24; 14:25; 30:31; Ezekiel 31:3f., Micah 5:5, 6.
Daniel 7:8, 20-26; 8:9-14.
Daniel 8:9-14; 11:36ff.
2 Corinthians 4:4.
Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, is the classic work here. However, Dave Hunt’s A Woman Rides the Beast , has emerged as the definitive work here; well researched and documented, it is a “must read” on this topic.
Isaiah 13, 14; Jeremiah 50, 51.
Leviticus 11:19; Deuteronomy 14:18.
Psalm 55:11-14; Isaiah 28:18, Revelation 6:8; Matthew 12:41-43; John 17:12; John 6:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Acts 1:25, with Revelation 11:7. (He emerges out of the Abousso , Rev 11:7.)
Dear bothers and sisters in Christ, Bible Prophecy In The News and The Beast From the East recently posted a new article entitled Debunking the European Antichrist. A certain number of individuals have challenged the Assyrian Antichrist connection by saying that it was the Roman government that ordered the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, therefore it does not matter whether the Roman soldiers were Assyrians or not. In fact, the opposite is true.
In his work, The Wars of the Jews book 6 chapter 4, Josephus who most likely was an eyewitness to these events says that the Roman government DID NOT want the Temple to be destroyed. The Roman soldiers did it out of disobedience to the Roman government simply because they hated the Jews. The Roman legions that destroyed the Temple were composed mostly of Assyrian soldiers as we mention in the article by citing many different historical sources.
Read the updated version of our article in which we cite almost the entire passage of Josephus to show that the idea that it was the Roman government ordered the destruction of the Jewish Temple is simply not true. Go to the article by clicking to following link:
If the link does not work, go to www.beastfromtheeast.org , go to the article page and look for Debunking the European Antichrist. It is the first article at the top of the page.
In Christ’s service,
By Walid Shoebat
THE THREE CHALLENGES
Does the beast of Revelation involve Middle Eastern Muslim nations, is it exclusively European, or is it both? Some say the notion that Islam could play a prominent role in the coming revival of the Roman Empire is impossible, unorthodox, untraditional, the work of Ҍone RangerҠtype interpretation, and even revisionist.. 1
The majority of American evangelicals believe that the Antichrist system must be exclusively European, yet this view is changing after the last few years with the rise of Islam.
So, could Islam play a role in this end-times scenario? You might think to yourselfسo what? Why should we care? Well, why then did the Almighty give us Daniel and Revelation? Even better still נwhy did God give us all the Messianic prophesies regarding JesusҠfirst coming? Careless followers that missed these ended up without salvation, regardless of whether they sacrificed lambs in the Temple or obeyed the lawطhen it comes to the issue of Messiah, they missed the most crucial event in history. All for not paying close attention to Bible Prophecy. And what about the second coming? Are we to be careless with respect to the evidence presented in the Bible? I am not saying that you will lose your salvation, but if you end up on the side of Antichrist, you never had salvation in the first place.
Yet today, the debate is brewingطhat about the threat of Islam? Did the Bible warn us about it? Are we supposed to keep our focus exclusively on Europe?
To shed light on the implications of such detailed evidence (which spawned countless challenges and questions) I decided to write Godӳ War on Terror regarding Islamӳ involvement in end-times. Consequently, I get challenges daily, not only by Muslims that want me dead but also from Christians who are dogmatic about their views. Ironically, we have no record of any Christian minister killed for exposing the E.U. as the work of Satan, yet we have millions who gave their lives for standing up to Islam. So please allow me to alleviate some pressure and present you with only three challenges:
CHALLENGE 1: Did traditional Prophecy scholars teach that Europe is exclusively the Antichrist kingdom?
You might be shocked to know that the highest caliber commentators of old did not believe that Europe was the exclusive player in the End-Times. A revival of a Roman Empire never meant a revival of a European Empire.
Many of our best western scholars on Bible prophecy believed that Islam would be a major player and will revive in the end of days as part of this end-time beast. John Wesley interpreted the Iron in Daniel 2 as Islam (Works, 1841). Hilaire Belloc foresaw Islamҳ rise.2 Gregory Palamus of Thessalonica interpreted the martyrdom of Christians during the Great Tribulation to come from Islam. Josiah Litch interpreted Revelation as the ushering in of Islam.3 He even described the magnitude of Islamӳ role being Antichrist to the extent of calling it the ԧeneral agreement among Christians, especially protestant commentators.ԠCyril of Jerusalem (315-368 A.D) in his Divine Institutes believed that Antichrist proceeds forth from the region of ancient Syria 4, which today extends from Syria well into portions of Asia Minor (Turkey). Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (560-638) and Maximus the Confessor (580-662) identified Islam with Antichrist and lived through Islamӳ invasion of Jerusalem. Maximus was also an important theologian and scholar of the early Church who helped defeat the Monothelite heresy referred to the Muslim invasions as ԡnnouncing the advent of the Antichrist.ԠJohn of Damascus (676-749) was another very important figure in the early church. In his famous book, Against Heresies, he identified Islam as the forerunner to the Antichrist. Eulogius, Paul Alvarus and the Martyrs of Cordova (9th century) believed Muhammad to be a false prophet and the precursor to the Antichrist. 5 Many are not aware that while Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Reformation, believed that the Papacy played the role of the spiritual harlot, he also believed that the Muslims were the Kingdom of Antichrist. 6
John Calvin interpreted Daniel 2 eastern leg as the Eastern-Roman Islamic Empire and that Daniel 11:37 applied to the Muslims. 7 Even Jonathan Edwards the great American congregational preacher, revivalist, and president of Princeton University, like Luther and Calvin, saw Islam as one of the premiere elements of the Antichrist Kingdom. 8 Calvin even interpreted Islamӳ fall at the sound of the great trumpet 9 Islam falling at the sound of the great trumpet even carries Islam into the Great Tribulation and not as many of our contemporary prophecy analysts who allege that Islam must be removed prior to Christ coming.
Even Sir Robert Anderson, perhaps one of the best prophecy experts who unlocked the seventy weeks of Daniel, in his remarkable book The Coming Prince, insists to focus on the Levant (Eastern) parts rather than the Adriatic (West). 10
Countless other Bible commentators warned about Islam being the kingdom of Antichristؓelnecker, Nigrinus, Chytraeus, Bullinger, Foxe, Napier, Pareus, John Cotton, Thomas Parker, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, and George Stanley Faber. 11
Also added to the list is Rev. Professor Dr. Francis Nigel Lee who sums up the traditional view in his excellent work Islam in the Bible: Ԧrom the seventh century onward ֠[the two legs] would degenerate respectively into the Papacy (which progressively took over the West) and Islam (which progressively took over the East.Ԡ(p. 5)
Making Europe the exclusive body of Antichrist kingdom is not the orthodox or even the traditional view. Some insist that Antichrist is Italian since he comes from the Roman Empire, but Roman does not strictly mean Italian, just as Alexander the Great was Grecian, this does not mean Athenianبe was from Macedonia. Antiochus Epiphanies, another biblical prediction was Syrian not Athenian or Cypriot. Why then, when it comes to Antichrist, insist on an Italian ignoring the whole empire. Even Jesus insisted that Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-13, was the seat of Satan and not the gymnastically altered interpretation for an archeological relic that sits in Berlin.
While contemporary prophesy analysts trumpet the idea that the fourth composite of Daniel 2 iron metal as strictly European, traditionalist views differ. Dr. Matthew Henry comments: “Who is this enemyطhose rise, reign and ruin are here foretold? Interpreters are not in agreement. Some will have the Fourth Kingdom to be that of the Seleucidae and the Ҭittle hornҠto be Antiochus…. Others will have the Fourth Kingdom to be that of the Romans, and the Ҭittle hornҠto be Julius Caesar and the succeeding emperors, as Calvin says. The Antichrist, the Papal Kingdom, says Mr. Joseph Mede.
Others make the Ҭittle hornҠto be the Turkish Empire [Muslim]; so Luther, Vatablus, and others. Now I cannot prove either side to be in the wrong. Therefore, since prophecies sometimes have many fulfillments, we ought to give Scripture its full latitude (in this as in many other controversies)؉ am willing to allow that they are both in the right.Ԡ12
Most students of prophecy that ascribe to a revival of the Roman Empire ignore that North Africa (Phut) encompasses five Muslim nations historically part of the western wing of the Roman Empire, and already mentioned literally in several end-times references. In order for the exclusively European model to fit, the whole of this Muslim region must be irrelevant. So what part of the Roman pie do we slice off and what parts do we include?
CONTEMPORARY VS TRADITIONAL
So what happened? Why do we have such a variation between contemporary versus traditional? The problem began in 1981 when Greece joined as the tenth nation in the European Union and many sounded a false alarm that announced they unlocked the mystery and have the fulfillment of Revelation 17, all with its ten horns, to later be embarrassed when the European Union mushroomed into twenty some nations.
Instead of pulling back their books, these analysts ran back to the drawing board, not to confess their error, but to insist that the E.U. model must shrink to only ten.. They still chose to finagle with the theory. Some, like Arnold Fruchtenbaum, realized that this was wrong: ԉt has become common today to refer to the ten kingdoms as being in Europe only, especially the Former Common Market, now the European Union. But the text does not allow for this kind of interpretation. At the very best, the European Union might become one of the ten, but it could hardly become all of the ten.” 13
According to Fruchtenbaum, the European model comprises only one tenth, a mere slice of the whole pie. Jamieson Fausset & Brown insist that, Դhe ten toes are not upon the one foot (the west), as these interpretations require, but on the two (east and west) together, so that any theory which makes the ten kingdoms belong to the west alone must err..Ԡ
CHALLENGE 2: Besides the argument on whether Magog is Russia, can anyone cite any literal reference to a nation that God destroys in the End-Times that is not Muslim?
Only if you ponder this question can you grasp its magnitude. On one occasion during a lecture to a group of prominent Bible prophecy teachers in the Pre-Trib Prophecy Conference in Dallas, I asked this question and no one raised a hand to answer.
In frustration, I pointed to Dr. Randall Price, a known Prophecy teacher and asked him to respond, in which he pointed that when it comes to literal references there are none. Grant Jeffrey, another known author, once attempted to respond with Cush, not realizing that biblical Cush (a reference sometimes translated as Ethiopia) is defined in the Unger Bible Dictionary as a landmass south of Egypt. Today this will be Sudan and Somalia.
Grant Jeffrey chose one of the most fundamentalist Muslim nations as a response to find non-Muslim nations in end-times. David Reagan of the Lion and Lamb Ministries with frustration pointed to Mystery Babylon 14 ignoring that the crucial word in that question is ԬiteralԮ If Babylon is a response to cite any literal reference for a non-Muslim nation that God destroys, this would still support my viewנMystery Babylon is an allegoric reference.
CHALLENGE 3: In every portrayal of Christӳ return to the earth, is He not fighting a nation that today is Muslim?
The significance of this question is as follows سcholars are unanimous, that Christӳ second coming must happen after Antichrist appears on the scene. Christӳ mission will be to destroy Antichrist and establish His Millennium kingdom. The European Union model has the Muslim hordes destroyed before the Tribulation period. Yet the text shows that Messiah Himself deals with Muslim nations.
The next prophecy conference you attend ask, ԉs Jesus on earth on the Day of the Lord?Ԡ Ezekiel tells us of that day, Ԇor the day is near, even the Day of the Lord is nearԠ(Ezekiel 30:3). Yet this is when ԃush and Phut, Lydia [Turkey] and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with EgyptԠ(Ezekiel 30:5). Other prophesies show these nations are cast into Hell, including Asshur ֠ԉraq ֠SyriaԬ (Ezekiel 32:22-23) Elam ֠ԉranԠ(Ezekiel 32:24-25) Meshech & Tubal ԁsia minorؔurkeyԠ(Ezekiel 32:26) ֠Edom ֠ԁrabiaԠ(Ezekiel 32:29). These nations are punished for striking terror against Israel and the believers (Ezekiel 32:22-24 & 27).
Perhaps sharing a few from the volume of hundreds of prophecies of JesusҠwars during the Great Tribulation can shed more light on the matter: ԓee Jehovah rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within themԠ(Isaiah 19). Does this remind you of the song Ԣehold He comes riding on the cloudsԿ Yet rarely are we told that Jesus here is fighting Egyptء Muslim nation.
Even in Christӳ judgment of the nations (Joel 3) He is fighting Muslim entities. Ԏow what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon [Lebanon] and all you regions of Philistia [Gaza]Ԡ(Joel 3:4) It couldnӴ be more clear! It was as if Jesus Himself was speaking directly to Hezbollah (Tyre and Sidon) and Hamas (Philistia), challenging them regarding their bloodlust against the Jewish people. Their fight against Israel is in reality a declaration of war on the King Himself.
In Isaiah 25:9-10 at the time of the Lordӳ return, we have Christ fighting Moab ԁnd it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under Him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.Ԡ(Isaiah 25:9-10).
Even in Isaiah 63, scholars unanimously agree that He fights Edom (Arabia).
Are the Muslim nations in prophecy destroyed prior to the Christӳ coming? Will the Antichrist then establish his European rule? Can anyone find a verse in the Bible in which Christ fights and nations are literally mentioned which are not Muslim?
This is why many who exclusively see Europe as Antichrist insist on removing Islam from the scene prior to the coming of Christ. Since the Muslims still exist on earth upon the Lordӳ return fighting against Him, their whole premise of an exclusively European Antichrist falls apart.
Walid Shoebat, Godӳ War on Terror www.Shoebat.com (720)935-2826
1 Lamplighter Newsletter, David Reagan, January 2009 edition.
2 The Great Heresies, chapter 4 March, 1936, page 127-128
3 Hosiah Litch, The Three Woe Trumpets, Fall of The Ottoman Empire, August 11, 1840
4 Divine Institutes, 7:17
5 Paul Alvarus, Memoriale sanctorum 2.4
6 Martin Luther, Tischreden, Weimer ed., 1, No. 330
7 Calvin On Islam Revelation Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, Lamp Trimmers El Paso, 2000
8 Jonathan Edwards, The Fall of Antichrist, Part VII, page 395, New York, Published by S. Converse 1829
9 Jonathan Edwards, The Fall of Antichrist, Part VII, page 399, New York, Published by S. Converse 1829
10 The Coming Prince, Page 273
11 Froom: op. cit., II pp. 323f, 325f, 331, 340f, 412f, 458 & 518f and also III pp. 40f, 74f, 125-31, 149, 183, 240f, &352f.
12 M. Henry: A Commentary on the Holy Bible, with Practical Remarks andObservations, London: Marshall Bros. Ltd., n.d., IV:1270f.
13 Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, page 36
14 Lamplighter Newsletter, David Reagan, January 2009 edition.
On December 22, 2008, I received an e-mail from Dr. David Reagan. Attached was the January / February 2009 issue of Lamplighter Magazine of which he is the editor. The cover story was Will the Antichrist be a Muslim? What followed was a critical review of four books, including my first book Antichrist: Islamӳ Awaited Messiah and Godӳ War on Terror, a book that I had the privilege of co-authoring with Walid Shoebat. Dr. Reagan’s article has since been posted on his web-site. You may read it there. After reading through the article, I sent Dr. Reagan an e-mail, cordially inviting him to partner with me in discussing his theological concerns publicly or even co-authoring a book where he could present the Roman / European end time theory and I the Islamic / Middle Eastern end time theory. This would allow us to present our positions in a clear and Christ-like manner on an equal and fair playing field. I believe that such a project would greatly benefit the Body of Christ in light of the ongoing global spread of radical Islam. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, Dr. Reagan was not interested in participating in such a project. So while I still would enjoy the opportunity to discuss the several theological concerns that Dr. Reagan brought up, for now, I have chosen to reserve my response to only those criticisms that Dr. Reagan expressed which were a bit more personal in nature.
Dr. Reaganӳ article begins by reviewing Phillip Goodmanӳ The Assyrian Connection and Pastor Jack VanKoeveringӳ The Man of Sin. After this, Dr. Reagan turns the bulk of his attention to my first book Antichrist: Islamӳ Awaited Messiah and then onto Godӳ War on Terror. Reagan began his criticism thusly:
I wish I could tell you something about the author, but he states in the bookӳ introduction that he is using a pen name due to fear of Muslim threats on his life. I was really turned off by this revelation and almost decided not to read the book. People who speak out publicly on issues should be willing to put their name to their words. And being motivated by fear is certainly not a biblical attitude (Psalm 118:6).
Obviously, this portion of Dr. Reaganӳ criticism was very personal. What is clear is that Dr. Reagan either didnӴ think through this criticism very well or he was making a purposeful effort to begin by painting me in a negative light. Anyone who has read my book will recall that what Dr. Reagan fails to mention to his readers is that my decision to use a pseudonym came as a result of a series of very specific death threats promising not only that I would be murdered, but my family as well. Simply stated, the risk involved in openly criticizing the Vatican or the European Union as Dr. Reaganӳ ministry does, cannot even begin to compare to the very real risks involved in openly confronting Islam. Adding to my decision, as I was placing the final touches on Antichrist, my first book, the news swept through the missionary community that a family in New Jersey was brutally murdered because the father was both active and successful in evangelizing Muslims on the Internet. You can read the details here:
Dr. Reagan states that in using a pen-name, I am obviously ԭotivated by fearԮ He then quotes a Bible verse so as to establish the fact that my behavior is unbiblical. To be clear, even if I was excited to die as a martyr tomorrow, this is simply not a choice that I believe I should make for my three little girls or my wife. What Dr. Reagan calls ԦearԬ I simply view as the wisdom of a father. In my opinion, Dr. Reaganӳ lack of respect on this point was insensitive to say the least.
Next, Dr. Reagan begins critiquing my actual work by claiming that my presentation of Islamic eschatology is Զery misleading.ԠThis is a serious charge for one Christian teacher to make of another teacher. His reason for making this claim is because, according to Dr. Reagan, belief in the coming Mahdi (Islamӳ primary Messiah figure) is strictly a Shiӡ belief and is not at all embraced by Sunni Muslims. Dr. Reagan confidently states that, ӹ0% of all Muslimsشhe Sunnisءre not looking for a Mahdi.ԍ
Dr. Reagan could not be more wrong on this point. His claim here also leaves me a bit suspicious. If Dr. Reagan had carefully read either Antichrist: Islamӳ Awaited Messiah or Godӳ War on Terrorشhe two books he was reviewingبe would not have made this mistake. For it is in both of these books that I cite several highly reliable Sunni sources that make it very clear that belief in the Mahdi is indeed something that is embraced by both Shiӡ and Sunni Muslims alike. For now, a few references should suffice to establish this fact. Letӳ begin with a fatwa (a religious ruling) issued by the General Secretariat of the World Muslim League, one of the largest non-governmental Islamic organizations in the world. The fatwa was written by the then General Secretariat Sheikh Muhammad Muntasir al-Katani, and was approved by a committee of four other scholars. After listing the names of twenty disciples (Sahaba) of Muhammad that recalled and narrated his statements regarding the Mahdi, as well as listing numerous renowned scholars who have written exclusively regarding the Mahdi, the fatwa states:
“The memorizers and scholars of hadith have verified that there are reliable and acceptable reports among the hadith on the Mahdi; the majority of them are narrated through numerous authorities. There is no doubt about their status as mutawatir and sahih (trustworthy, well-established and reliable) reportsŠbelief in the appearance of the Mahdi is obligatory, and that it is one of the beliefs of the people of the sunna (Sunni) and jamaӡh (Shiӡ); and none denies it except those who are ignorant of the sunna and innovators in doctrine. (Parenthesis mine)
I cite this fatwa in Godӳ War on Terror. It was an awfully significant reference to disregard on Dr. Reaganӳ part. But this was not the only reference that he chose to overlook. Going back well over a millennium, Ibn Kathir, the renowned Sunni scholar from the eighth century states:
After the lesser signs of the Hour appear and increase, mankind will have reached a stage of great suffering. Then the awaited Mahdi will appear; He is the first of the greater clear, signs of the Hour.
Later Ibn Khaldun, the famous 14th century Muslim historian and author of The Muqaddima writes:
“It has been (accepted) by all the Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family (of the Prophet) will, without fail, make his appearance, one who will strengthen Islam and make justice triumph. Muslims will follow him, and he will gain domination over the Muslim realm. He will be called the Mahdi.”
Nearer to home, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America also declares that:
The coming of the Mahdi is established doctrine for both Sunni and Shiӡ Muslims, and indeed for all humanity.
It was also providential that at the time that Dr. Reaganӳ article was sent to me, I was interviewing Adnan Oktar, a Turkish intellectual and the author of numerous books and articles on Islamic eschatology and Mahdism. Because Mr. Oktar is himself a Sunni, I asked him the following question:
A Christian author named Dr. David Reagan has just released a very critical review of some of my writings. In his criticism, he claims that I am “very misleading” when I claim that belief in the Mahdi is not exclusively held by the Shi’a but is also held by a wide range of Sunnis as well. Dr. Reagan then states that ԓunnis are not looking for the Mahdi.Ԡ What would you say to Dr. Reagan? In your experience, what percentage of Sunnis generally believe in the Mahdi?
What follows is Mr. Oktarӳ response:
Scholars of the people of the Sunnah (Sunnis) who have stated that the Mahdi will appear:
1. AL-IMAM AL-A`ZAM ABU HANIFAH
2. IMAM AHMAD IBN HANBAL
3. IMAM AL-SHAFIӉ
4. IMAM MALIK
5. IMAM AL-BUKHARI
6. IMAM MUSLIM
7. IMAM AL-TIRMIDHI
8. ABU DAWUD
9. IBN MAJAH
10. MUHAMMAD IBN ‘ABD AL-RASUL AL-BARZANJI
11. AL-MUTTAQI AL-HINDI
12. ҁBD AL-QADR AL-GAYLANI
13. IMAM AL-GHAZALI
14. IMAM RABBANI
15. MUHYI AD-DIN IBN AL-ARABI
16. IBN KATHIR
17. IBN TAYMIYYA
18. ZAHID AL-KAWSARI
19. JALALUDDIN AL-SUYUTI
20. BEDIUZZAMAN SAID NURSI
21. IBN HAJAR AL-ASKALANI
22. HUSEYIN HILMI ISIK
23. MAHMUD ESA’D COSAN
24. MAHMUT SAMI RAMAZANOGLU
25. ABU AL-QASIM AL-TABARANI
26. HAMDI YAZIR OF ELMALI
27. OMER NASUHI BILMEN
28. MUHAMMAD ALI AL-SHAWKANI
29. MUHAMMAD JAMAL AD-DIN AL-QASIMI AL-DIMISHQI
31. IMAM AL-MATURIDI
32. IMAM AL-AJURRI
37. IBN AL-ҁRABI
38. IMAM ABU JAFAR AT-TAHAVI
40. SAYYID AL-ALOUSI
41. ABU ӌ-MUNTAHA
43. ABDUL MUHSIN BIN HAMD AL-ABBAD
44. ABU MUHAMMAD AL-BARBAHARI
45. MUHAMMAD NASR AL-DIN AL-ALBANI
46. SHAMS UD-DIN MUHAMMAD BIN AHMAD AS-SAFARAYNI
47. ABU ABD-ALLAH MUHAMMAD B. JAFAR AL-QATANI
48. SHAHAB AL-DIN AHMAD B. MUHAMMAD AL-GHUMARI
49. HASANAYN MUHAMMAD MAKHLUF AL-MISRI
50. ABUL-HASAN MUHAMMAD IBN AL-HUSAIN AL-ABURI
51. SAID HAWWA
52. SHEIKH HASSAN AL-HAMZAWI
53. SIDDIQ HASSAN AL-QUNUJI
54. MUHAMMAD B. HASSAN AL-ASNAWI
55. NUR AD-DIN ATAR
56. ABU-SADAT MUHAMMAD B. MUHAMMAD ABU SHOHBA
58. ABU ‘L-FADHL ABD-ALLAH B. MUHAMMAD AL-IDRISI
59. MUHAMMAD AL-MAKKI
60. ABU BAKR AHMAD B. MUHAMMAD AL-ISQAFI
61. ABU BAKR B. HAYSAMA
62. ABU BAKR MUHAMMAD IBN IBRAHIM BUKHARI KALABAZI
63. ABU AL-QASIM ABD AL-RAHMAN AL-SUHAYLI
64. YUSUF B. YAHYA AL-MAQDISI ASH-SHAFIӉ
65. SHEIKH IBRAHIM IBN MUHAMMAD HAMWINI
66. IBN HAJAR ASH-SHAFIӉ AL-MAKKI
67. IBN HAJAR MAKKI
68. SHEIKH MUHAMMAD B. AHMAD AS-SAFARINI AL-HANBALI
69. SULAYMAN AL-QUNDUZI
70. SHEIKH SIDDIQI AL-QANUJI
71. ABU ‘L-FADHL ABD-ALLAH B. MUHAMMAD AL-SIDDIQ
72. ALLAMA SHAWKANI
73. AL-HAFIDH AL-ASQALANI
74. IBN HAJAR AL-HAYSAMI
76. EGYPTIAN SHEIKH MUHAMMAD AL-HANAFI
77. SHEIKH MUHAMMAD SABBAN
79. AHMAD BIN ZAYNI DAHLAN ASH-SHAFIӉ
80. ABD AL-VAHHAB ABD AL-LATIF
81. ALLAMA ABU-TAYYIB
82. SAID BIN JABR
83. NIYAZI MISRI
85. ALI AL-QARI
87. SHEIKH MANSUR ALI NASF
88. SAYYID QUTB
89. SHEIKH FAQIH IMANI
90. ALI AS-SABUNI
91. MUHAMMAD MAHDI AL-KHORASAN
92. SHEIKH AL-ISLAM MUSTAFA SABRI EFENDI
Belief in the Mahdi is an article of faith in the 4 schools of Sunnism (Hanafi, Shafiө, Hanbali and Maliki). The Mahdi is also awaited by all sects; the Nakshibendi and the Kadiri movement… They are all agreed on expecting the Mahdi to appear. Nobody in Sunni belief holds any contrary opinion regarding the coming of the Mahdi. A few religious scholars in Sunni communities do, however, say things that depart from Sunni teachings. But these represent only a very small group. These people are a minority and nobody subscribes to their isolated beliefs.
The above list represents only one part of those Sunni scholars who believe in the coming of the Mahdi. Belief in the coming of the Mahdi is therefore very strong and certain in both Sunni and Shia belief.
The reason why present-day anticipation of the Mahdi is not as evident in Sunni belief as it is in Shiism may be that belief in the Mahdi has been forgotten over the course of time, and there has been a weakening in anticipation of the Mahdi over the last 20-30 years in particular. But saying that the Mahdi will not appear and silence on the subject of the Mahdi is one of the signs of his coming.
And if all of this is not enough to establish my point, I should also highlight Dr. David Cook, a scholar at Rice University and the Western Worldӳ foremost authority on Islamic apocalyptic belief, who makes it very clear in both of his books; Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic and Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature that Mahdism is indeed very much both a Sunni and Shiӡ belief. Likewise, Dr. Timothy Furnish, a Ph.D. in Islamic History in his book, Holiest Wars, Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama Bin Laden, reviews the eight most prominent false Mahdist uprisings in Islamic history. Every last one was a Sunni movement led by a Sunni Mahdi claimant. I consulted both Dr. Cook and Dr. Furnish while writing Antichrist.
Dr. Reagan then displays the following image with the caption ԁn artistӳ concept of the MahdiԮ
But Dr. Reagan once again only displayed his lack of knowledge on this subject. For in fact the image is not an artistӳ depiction of the awaited Mahdi, but is instead a fairly well-known historical portrait of Muhammad Ahmad Ibn As-sayyid abd Allah (a Sunni) who was a Mahdi claimant from Sudan that led a revolt against the Ottomans in the late 19th century. The story is popularly retold in the book, The Mahdi of Sudan and the Death of General Gordon. That said; let me be clear that ignorance is not a bad concept in my book. I am quite ignorant of far more things than I am knowledgeable of. Who isnӴ? But when someone publishes authoritative statements about something that they demonstrably know little about, even to the point of calling a brother and fellow Christian teacher Զery misleadingԬ then a strong and clear correction is needed. Dr. Reagan was speaking outside of his arena of knowledge and he made an enormous mistake. I exchanged a few e-mails with Dr. Reagan and attempted to inform him of his error as gently as I could, but he was entirely unwilling to reconsider his stance. He response was brief:
I have read extensively regarding Islamic eschatology, and every expert I have ever consulted has stated that the conept of a Mahdi is characteristic of Shi’it (sic) thought, and not Sunni. I just consulted Wikipedia, and it confirmed that.
Needless to say, little needs to be said about relying on Wikipedia, the infamously unreliable Internet encyclopedia created by the general public. But even more oddly, when I looked up the actual Wikipedia article on the Mahdi, it didnӴ substantiate Dr. Reaganӳ claims at all. Instead the article simply states that Mahdism is more emphasized by Shiӡ, (a point I state very directly in my book) but nowhere does it state that all Sunnis reject Mahdism as Dr. Reagan adamantly claims. In two follow up e-mails, I asked Dr. Reagan specifically which ԥxpertsԠhe had consulted, but he refused to reveal any. That said, I believe that Dr. Reagan is a man of integrity. Personally, I would hope to see him issue a retraction in his next issue of Lamplighter Magazine.
Dr. Reaganӳ critique continues:
Another misleading aspect of Richardsonӳ presentation is his constant talk about the ԡmazing parallelsԠand Գtartling similaritiesԠbetween Islamic and biblical end time prophecies. Actually, there is nothing startling or amazing when you consider the fact that Mohammed borrowed nearly all his key ideas from Bible stories he heard from both Jews and Christians, stories he often got thoroughly confused. This is a well proven fact, and for overwhelming evidence, I would direct you to Dr. Samuel Shahidӳ book, The Last Trumpet. Also misleading is Richardsonӳ heavy reliance on quotations from the Hadith to establish his scenario for end time events. He treats the Hadith as if it contains inspired prophecy, when, in fact, it is nothing more than the ramblings of a demon-possessed man.
Dr. Reagan has entirely misunderstood the whole point of my research. I am in complete agreement with him regarding the fact that many of the Islamic narratives are merely borrowed and distorted versions of Biblical, Gnostic and Zoroastrian accounts. However, the fact that many of the Islamic prophecies perfectly mirror Biblical prophecies albeit in an inverted mannerسomething that I call an ԡnti-parallelԗis proof to me of only one thing; namely the satanic hand in the inspiration, development and evolution of the Islamic religion. Because many of my readers are Muslims, I make efforts throughout the book to express such matters in a sensitive manner, but my ultimate conclusions are obvious. In fact, I doubt that I could have been clearer:
In thinking through the implications of the fact that the biggest Ԣad guyԠin the Bible; the Antichrist, has been literally transformed into the coming savior of Islam, while the biggest ԧood guyԠin the Bible, namely Jesus, has been transformed into the biggest Ԣad guyԠin Islamic eschatology, one must be willing to ask the obvious question: Has Satan been specifically involved in the inspiration of Islamӳ end-time doctrines? Has Satan devised in the Islamic traditions a preemptive means to carry out his final plan? Now, of course in natural history there were real men and numerous developments that contributed to the formation of these traditions as we have them today. But I am speaking of the invisible spiritual factors and beings that are behind the formation of these traditions. The specificity, detail and extent of the parallels demand the acknowledgement of design, while the twisted and cynical nature of these ԡnti-parallelsԠclearly point to the malevolent nature of the ersonԠdoing so.
If Dr. Reagan had truly read my book, and still published the claim that I Դreat the Hadith as if it contains inspired prophecyԠthen it is he who is being misleading. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he skimmed over this portion of my book. My whole effort is to show that through their own prophetic traditions, Muslims have been set up to receive the Antichrist as their Mahdi / Messiah figure and also to fight against the real Jesus as if he is the Dajjalشhe Islamic Antichrist. My research simply shows what the ancient Islamic tradition has led Muslims to expect. The result is that we as Christians should pray with compassion for mercy and the spirit of enlightenment for our brothers and sisters in humanity who are deceived by the Islamic religion. All of us were once blind and when we see the degree to which Muslims have been set-up by their own ancient prophecies, we can pray that the Lord would awaken them, even as He has awakened us.
While Dr. Reagan may feel comfortable off-handedly brushing aside the striking quality of the numerous anti-parallels that exist between Islamic and Biblical prophecies, (Walid and I list dozens of them) these realities have in fact been enough to convince at least a few Muslims to convert to Christianity after reading these books. But as to these things, I will simply leave it to the readers to review the material and decide for themselves.
Finally, Dr. Reaganӳ criticism then turns to my friend, Walid Shoebat. About Walid, Dr. Reagan says, Էhen it comes to Bible prophecy, his ideas are very unorthodoxŔ
What Dr. Reagan is doing here is exactly what guardians of Evolutionary science attempt to do toward any who do not embrace Darwinian evolution; first they claim that Darwinian Evolution and ԓcienceԠare synonymous and then they paint any who embrace Creationism, Intelligent Design or any alternative position as being ԡnti-ScienceԮ It is also precisely what the Pharisees did toward a certain preacher named Jesus who came along and challenged many of their traditional interpretations of Scripture. Likewise Dr. Reagan attempts to paint his eschatology as ԯrthodoxԠand the Islamic Eschatological Paradigm as ԵnorthodoxԠ(read: heretical). The ironies here are many. First of all, the mere notion that there has ever existed any universal orthodoxy regarding the end times within the Church is demonstrably not the case. Secondly, Dr. Reagan himself holds many eschatological positions that disagree with many other notable theologians including Dr. John Walvoord or Dave Hunt. Dr. Walvoord for instance argues that Rome cannot be the City of Seven Hills / Mystery Babylon (I agree with Dr. Walvoord) . And Dave Hunt argues that Ezekiel 38 and Armageddon are one and the same (I agree here with Dave). What I am saying is that there is ample room within the field of biblical eschatology for one to hold varying opinions without being called ԵnorthodoxԮ Ironically, on other foundational doctrines, such as the eternality of hell, Dr. Reagan openly holds to a position that is in fact unorthodox by all standards. But most importantlyءnd repeating a patternr. Reaganӳ claim is simply not true. As Walid and I document in Godӳ War on Terror, those who have held to one form or another of the Islamic or Middle Eastern End Time Theory include some of historical Christiandomӳ greatest minds and leaders. Among those who have expressed various elements of the Islamic or Middle Eastern End Time Theory are; Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, John of Damascus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and many other prominent Christian and Jewish commentators throughout history and up until this day. In recent days, several prominent prophecy teachers such as Chuck Missler have embraced the Islamic End Time Paradigm. To say that Walid and I hold a minority position would be accurate, but ԵnorthodoxԠwe most certainly are not.
In Dr. Reaganӳ defense, new theories within the realm of Christian eschatology come along frequently and many are admittedly strange and out there. But if there is one arena of theology where we as believers need to be extremely careful not to become overly rigid in our assumptions, it is the arena of eschatology. Holding to an inflexible ԯrthodoxyԠwith regard to prophecy was one of the most foundational reasons that many from among the Pharisees fell short when Christ arrived in the first century. So while I certainly sympathize with any who are slow to embrace ԮewԠideas within the realm of biblical eschatology, a humble consideration of this thoroughly biblical paradigm is all that Walid and I are asking.
Dr. Reagan concludes his critique by venting his frustrations:
One irritating point that Shoebat keeps making in his public presentations is that one must have an Eastern mindset in order to understand Bible prophecy. He claims that all of us in the Western world have completely misunderstood Bible prophecy because we interpret it from a Western mentality. This is not only a prideful viewpoint, it is also unbiblical
Once again, this is simply not true. I know Walid personally and while he certainly does attempt to bring new insights to the subject of Bible prophecy that he has gained from his life experiencesخamely growing up in Bethlehem and working for a recognized Muslim terrorist organizationبe simply does not claim, ԡll of us in the Western world have completely misunderstood Bible prophecyԮ I myself am a ԗesternerԠand Walid and I exchanged plenty of ideas, thoughts, and insights as we wrote Godӳ War on Terror together. In the book, Walid personally acknowledges the beneficial and edifying qualities of the ministries of many other ԗesternԠBible teachers. So Iӭ not sure exactly why Dr. Reagan personally finds Walid so ԩrritatingԮ Walid is no doubt a unique and colorful character with a colorful personality. But this is exactly why he is loved so much by so many. In this particular case, Walid is simply making the same point that Joel Rosenberg makes and which many others are awakening to: The Epicenterشhe entire focus of the whole Bible is indeed Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East. The Bible is Israel-centric to its core. Why is it so offensive that someone who grew up in Bethlehem might have some insights into the language and worldview of the Bible that we Americans might not be so keen to catch? Walid was a former operative in the PLO. When he read the Biblical prophecies about Godӳ judgments against the gentile neighbors of Israel, he saw himself and many of his fellow Muslims in those prophecies. This is how he came to Christ. Why should it offend anyone that Walid would share what he saw and what he learned? To call Walid ԩrritatingԠand ridefulԠfor sharing his perspectives was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary and uncalled for.
There are several more theological challenges that Dr. Reagan makes, as I said, all of which are entirely worthy of further discussion. But again, Dr. Reagan was unwilling to further discuss these things publicly. Nevertheless, I believe a book that presents both the Roman and the Islamic end time theories would greatly benefit the whole body of Christ. Beyond Dr. Reagan, I have extended the invitation to a couple of other prominent prophecy teachers. Perhaps in time, such a project will come to be. These are surely the times when the Church, with the Bible in hand and the Holy Spirit as their guide, need to be ever more watchful as The Day quickly approaches.
Joel RichardsonRead More
A week or so ago, I mentioned that Dr. David Reagan had written an article which contained a critical review of Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah as well as God’s War on Terror, which I co-authored with Walid Shoebat. The article is now online on Dave’s site in the latest issue of Lamplighter Magazine. Click here to read the PDF.
My initial response was to invite Dr. Reagan to discuss our theological disagreements in a book together. This would give the body o Christ a chance to compare our respective cases. That invitation may be read here. Unfortunately due to prior commitments, Dr. reagan was not interested in such a joint venture.
Since then, Dr. Reagan and I have exchanged several very cordial e-mails but have essentially agreed to disagree. I did inform Dr. Reagan that I have written a response to his article which will be released here in another week or two.Read More