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 “Lone Ranger” type 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 the end-times scenario? You might think to yourself—so what? Why should we care? Well, why then did the Almighty give us Daniel and Revelation? Even better still, why did God give us all the Messianic prophesies regarding Jesus’ first coming? Careless followers that missed these ended up without salvation, regardless of whether they sacrificed lambs in the Temple or obeyed the law—when 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 could lose your salvation, but if you end up on the side of Antichrist, you never had salvation in the first place.
Today, the debate is brewing—what about the threat of Is-lam? 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 God’s War on Terror, regarding Islam’s involvement in the end times. Consequently, I get challenges daily, not only by Muslims who 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 mil-lions who gave their lives for standing up to Islam. So please allow me to alleviate some pressure and present you with only three challenges (the first in this issue and the other two next month):
Did traditional prophecy scholars teach that Europe is exclusivelythe 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 aEuropean Empire.
Many of our best Western scholars on Bible prophecy believed that Islam would be a major player and would 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 Islam’s 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 Islam’s role being Antichrist to the extent of calling it the “general agreement among Christians, especially protestant commentators.”
Cyril 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 Is-lam with Antichrist and lived through Islam’s invasion of Jerusalem. Maximus, who was also an important theologian and scholar of the early Church who helped defeat the Monothelite heresy, referred to the Muslim invasions as “announcing the advent of the Antichrist.”
John of Damascus (676-749) was another very important figure in the early church. In his famous book,Concerning 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’s “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 premier elements of the Antichrist Kingdom.8 Calvin even interpreted Islam’s 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 believe, who allege that Islam must be removedprior 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 Antichrist—Selnecker, 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: “…from 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).”
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, but not Athenian—he was from Macedonia. Antiochus Epiphanies, another Biblical prediction, was Syrian, not Athenian or Cypriot. Why then, when it comes to Antichrist, do we 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 archaeological relic that sits in Berlin.
While contemporary prophesy analysts trumpet the idea that the fourth composite of Daniel 2’s iron metal as strictly European, traditionalist views differ. Dr. Matthew Henry comments: “Who is this enemy—whose 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 “little horn” to be Antiochus. Others will have the Fourth Kingdom to be that of the Romans, and the “little horn” to be Julius Caesar and the succeeding emperors, as Calvin says. The Antichrist is the Papal Kingdom, says Mr. Joseph Mede. Others make the “little horn” to be the Turkish Empire [Muslim], as do 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): I am willing to allow that they are both in the right.”12
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 be-tween contemporary and traditional views? The problem be-gan 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 proclaimed the fulfillment of Revelation 17 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: “It 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, “the 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.”