Joel Richardson WND
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As a well-known prophecy teacher, my email inbox is frequently full of questions, comments and news articles from those interested in biblical prophecy. While some of these emails are certainly helpful and interesting, there are also many that I would put into the category of “biblical prophecy as morbid trivia.” What I mean is that there are many believers who are overly fixated on discussing the many intricate details concerning the many dark events looming on the horizon. Now, to be clear, I say this as someone who deeply values biblical prophecy, but I will be the first to admit that much of what passes for biblical prophecy today is a mixture of conspiracy theories and extra-biblical concepts with only a thin ribbon of biblical passages intertwined throughout, so as to give it the appearance of credibility. I will also be the first to acknowledge that there are numerous Christians who have lost their way, having become completely distracted from the primary mandate of the Christian church, which is the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom – in both word and deed.
On the other hand, there are many Christians, who have overreacted to the unhealthy emphasis of some and now avoid the subject of biblical prophecy altogether. This is equally grievous. The Lord did not fill the pages of the Bible with prophecy because he wanted us to avoid the subject.
Although there are numerous highly relevant reasons for Christians to study biblical prophecy, I would like to use the remainder of this article to touch on just one deeply relevant reason specifically as to why the emerging Islamic Antichrist theory is so essential for the church to get a hold of. In brief, the answer is because the future of the missions movement depends on it. Allow me explain.
Today there are approximately 6.7 billion people in the world. Roughly 2.2 billion consider themselves Christians. This number is divided almost evenly in half between Roman Catholics and Protestants (with about 240 million Eastern Orthodox believers). There are also close to a billion secularists without a religion, a little less than a billion Hindus and only about 500 million Buddhists. The number of Muslims globally however is approximately 1.6 billion. This means that Muslims are far and away, the largest non-Christian people group in the world. More than any other people group in the world, Muslims need the gospel. The Islamic world needs missionaries. So one would expect the church to be obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus as found in Matthew 28:19 among Muslims:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Such, however, is far from the case. Although the Islamic world represents the greatest need, it has the least number of missionaries. In fact, on average, for every 1 million Muslims, there is only one Christian missionary! This is an absolute scandal, and I have no question that heaven is not pleased.
Now, while there is more than one reason why Christians are not going to the Islamic world, I want to touch on one very popular theological idea, a prophetic scenario actually, that is deeply demotivating a multitude of potential missionaries within many mainstream denominations from pursuing missions and church-planting among Muslims.
Briefly, this prophetic scenario holds that a series of imminent wars, most often referred to “the Psalm 83 War,” followed immediately by the “Battle of Gog of Magog” will soon result in the complete annihilation of most Muslims in the Middle East and Islam as a religion essentially drying up and fading away. This scenario is not some oddball prophetic interpretation, but is widely taught by numerous very well-known Christian leaders and teachers. Consider below just a small sampling of quotes from some such prophecy teachers, as it relates to future of the Islamic world:
“[T]he war of Ezekiel 38 will result in the annihilation of nearly all the armies of the Muslim nations of the Middle East. … Thus, if the Antichrist is a Muslim who is going to rule a Muslim empire in the Middle East during the Tribulation, then he is going to rule over an empire that has been reduced to ashes!” (David Reagan)
“I believe that the Ezekiel 38-39 war plays a key role in the rise of the Antichrist. It is clear in this passage that Iran and the Muslim coalition suffers a humiliating defeat. I believe God will use this war to bring the ultimate downfall of the Islamic religion and the false god Allah.” (Randy White)
“The elimination of this Russian-Islamic alliance and all their troops will pave the way for the Antichrist to posture himself to take over the world.” (Mark Hitchcock)
“Islam is just another system that will be wiped out before the Antichrist instills his system.” (Nathan Jones)
There is power in prophecy. What prophecy teachers teach has widespread and lasting implications. This teaching that Islam is about to disappear is truly destructive to the completion of the Great Commission among Muslims. And what makes matters worse is that the idea of the Battle of Gog of Magog as a distinct and separate battle from the final battles of the Antichrist described elsewhere throughout the prophets can easily be shown to be a bogus interpretation.
In my book, “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist,” I walk the reader carefully through the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 (The Battle of Gog of Magog), Psalm 83 and many others, so as to thoroughly dispel this false idea that the Islamic world and religion is about to face “annihilation” or “will be wiped out.”
In fact, if there is one primary underlying point I would wish to make with my book and which I am struggling to awaken the Christian church regarding, it is the simple fact that Islam is the single greatest challenge the church will face before the return of Jesus. But until he returns, it is not going away.
The mandate of the church at this moment in history is to rise to meet the challenge of Islam. Now is not the time for armchair prophecy-enthusiast Christians to sit back and passively await the destruction of the Islamic world.
Numerous Western Christians today are openly calling for war with Iran, yet few are aware of the fact that Iran is experiencing the single greatest Christian revival in the world!
Now is not the time to pray for the judgment of the Islamic world. Now is the time for the church to lift up their eyes and recognize the fact that the fields are white unto harvest and pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the fields! (Matthew 9:37-38; John 4:35)
It’s time that the church casts these false and deeply demotivating interpretations of prophecy into the waste basket. Hundreds of millions of souls are depending on it.