If a poll were taken, I’d guess that the one biblical figure people would consider the most mysterious would be the one Paul called “the man of lawlessness”: the Antichrist.
For years, relentless speculation about his identity has bordered on the absurd. You know the usual suspects: European Union presidents, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, the pope.
Yet, separating fact from fiction seems difficult, given the unfortunate predictions of Antichrist’s identity.
Into this mix steps a new voice, Joel Richardson. Having written about this subject in 2006, and presenting a compelling case for this beastly figure being Muslim, Richardson has a new offering: “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist.”
Needless to say, his theory has been met with strong resistance by two divergent groups: Muslims (of course), and teachers of Bible prophecy, many of whom are emotionally invested in an Antichrist of European heritage.
Who knows, perhaps he’s both!
Frankly, what I’d call old school books on the Antichrist are not breaking new ground; Richardson’s work, however, is fresh and sobering. What he does in “Mideast Beast,” too, is make the case that Islam is the greatest threat to Christianity in our time. It is a defining moment and a defining war in world history.
Well, let’s get to it.
Whereas Richardson’s previous book, “Islamic Antichrist,” compared the eschatological positions of Christianity and Islam, “Mideast Beast” looks in-depth at the man himself.
One of the writing gifts Richardson has is the ability to clearly state relevance, such as his discussion of a highly relevant topic right now:
“As much of the church today, including large segments of the missions movement, increasingly embraces an approach toward reaching Muslims that flirts with syncretism and outright heresy (I am referring to what has become known as the “Insider Movement”), it is imperative that followers of Jesus determine exactly where they stand concerning the origins and nature of Islam.”
In fact, with Emergents and even mainstream evangelicals blurring the lines between the real Islam and its public persona, “Mideast Beast” takes on even greater impact for the reader.
Among the explosive topics Richardson takes on in “Mideast Beast”:
Is Islam a faith system that can create a genuine relationship with God, or is it purely a soul-destroying ideology?
Can one be both a Muslim and a follower of Jesus, as many evangelical missiologists claim?
Are the Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible one and the same?
The author also shows that he has a firm grasp on the core of Bible prophecy teaching: “Understanding the general nature of biblical prophecy is not nearly as difficult as many Western interpreters have sometimes made it. While nearly every prophecy has historical application in either the immediate or near future of the prophets, the ultimate burden of all biblical prophecy is the coming of the Messiah, the Day of the Lord (God’s judgment on the earth), and the messianic kingdom to follow.”
You see, understanding the identity of the real Messiah insulates us from falling prey to the false one. Richardson does a great job of explaining who Jesus is, and what sets Him apart.
Likewise, he pulls back the curtain on this Antichrist’s background – and Scripture is actually stingy with the details.
Certainly, Richardson has opened a can of worms by alleging that the Antichrist will be Muslim, but he does make some compelling observations with regard to traditional understandings. For example, he points out that the “European” Antichrist largely depends upon an interpretation of Daniel 9:26. He does allege that this theory is “built on a foundation of vapor,” but overall, I find his research and writings to be fair and balanced.
In a discussion of John 16:2,3, Richardson makes the fascinating point that those who have speculated that Antichrist would be an atheist might be missing the boat.
What is one of the hallmarks of modern Islam? True believers in that religion believe that by killing “infidels,” they are doing God’s work. Certainly, if Richardson’s theory hinged only on one verse, we might be skeptical, but it is certainly interesting that Richardson can tie in the agenda of modern Islam with Scripture that matches the agenda of God’s end-times enemies.
He also deals with the difficult “god of fortresses” passage in Daniel 11:38, and may I say, you will find it as fascinating as the rest of the book.
Finally, for now, aside from Richardson’s gripping scholarship, the reader will be treated to some more innovative thought, such as the identity of Gog, from the famous passages in Ezekiel 38-39. Suffice to say, those who are blessed to read “Mideast Beast” will be armed with the knowledge necessary to warn others, so many of whom have their heads in the proverbial sand.
Terrific job by Mr. Richardson; “Mideast Beast” is a big winner.
Jim Fletcher has worked in the book publishing industry for 15 years, and is now director of the apologetics group Prophecy Matters. His new book, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” has just been released by Strang’s Christian Life imprint.