There is a small movement today that sees the Antichrist as a Muslim who will arise from the Muslim nations.
The chief proponent and promoter of this view is Joel Richardson (b. 1971), author of Islamic Antichrist, Mideast Beast, and other books and video presentations.
Richardson has extremely dangerous associates, including Glenn Beck, who holds to the false gospel of Mormonism and yet has promoted Richardson’s teaching heavily. Beck has published Richardson’s “History of the Caliphate” and “The Emerging Leftist-Islamist Revolutionary Alliance,” and Richardson appeared in Beck’s video Rumors of War.
Even if Richardson is personally sound in the Christian faith, which we do not know, he is acting in open disobedience to God’s commands to separate from error (e.g., Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 8-11). Richardson’s association with Beck is only one example of this disobedience.
Richardson told one reporter, “I do not agree with various tenets of Mormon theology,” but he went on to say, “Glenn Beck is one of the most genuinely prophetic voices to have emerged in this nation in many years” (“Together at Last: Joel Richardson and Glenn Beck,” Feb. 18, 2011, Barthsnotes.com).
That statement alone would inform me that Mr. Richardson is the blind leading the blind. (See “Beck’s Restoring Love Program,” July 30, 2012, www.wayoflife.org.)
We have not been able to find out exactly what Richardson’s doctrinal position is or what church he attends, but he embraces the heresy of Pentecostal prophesying. On the talk show It’s Supernatural, Sid Roth declared that Richardson is “hand-picked literally by God to give revelation of the end time.” In his reply, Richardson agreed. He told of how that “a prophetess” prophesied over his wife-to-be and said, “Your husband, you will marry someone that will have significant insight into the end times, and he’ll release new prophetic understanding concerning the end times to the church and to the world.” Richardson then claimed that he and his wife were in a meeting when the speaker shared “a prophetic word” and called them out by name and “spoke things to us that no man could know ... he said that the Lord was gonna bring me into a season of divine revelation, which I knew intuitively was tied into this word about understanding the end times” (“Who Is Joel Richardson, Beck’s End Time Prophet,” Feb. 17, 2011, Mediamatters.org).
This is gross heresy. Instead of renouncing the female prophetess and the public soothsaying, Richardson embraces it and uses it to authenticate his ministry.
Friends, we would urge you in the most forceful way to be careful about what you read. God’s people should be studious, but you must know who an author is and what he believes and what his biases might be. God’s Word warns us to stay away from men that are unsound. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Ro. 16:17).
In the age of the Internet, it is a simple matter to find some basic information about an author. To fail to do this is very dangerous. The previous information about Richardson was obtained in a very short time.
Knowing these things about Richardson, I would never read him for personal profit. The reason that I have made the effort to read some of his works is to critique them biblically and to sound a warning to those who have been confused by his teaching.
And if you are not a serious Bible student with a good Bible education and a serious grasp of Bible doctrine; if you are “unskiful in the word of righteousness” and do not have your “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14); then you aren’t prepared to browse the Internet and use the books in a typical Christian bookstore safely. If you are the “babe” described in Hebrews 5, you can easily be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness” (Ephesians 4:14).
The Internet is a two-edged sword. On one side it has made it possible for sound Bible teaching to be disseminated to an extent previously unprecedented, but on the other side it has made it possible for heretics to disseminate their teachings to anyone with a laptop or tablet or smart phone.
To be able to use Christian writings effectively and safely, you must first become skillful in God’s Word and adept in spiritual and doctrinal discernment.
I would also warn that when it is difficult to find information about a speaker or author, such as his testimony of salvation, church affiliation, and doctrinal beliefs, that should be a loud warning in itself. This is the case with Joel Richardson. His web site gives no information along this line. We are told that he “travels globally teaching on the gospel,” but we are not told what gospel. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:1-4. Why doesn’t he have the gospel on his web site? Why doesn’t he tell us what church he attends and what he believes? Before I will allow a man to speak to me on Bible prophecy, I must know these things.
True Bible believers know that they are pilgrims in a dark world and that they have an enemy who wants to deceive them, and they walk in great caution. “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going” (Proverbs 14:15).
An almost endless number of things could be said on this issue, because Bible prophecy itself is a very large matter and Richardson has said and written many things. We have no intention of writing a comprehensive refutation of all of his teaching, but following are some fundamental reasons why we reject his position and why we warn God’s people to stay away from it:
1. The Muslim Antichrist position feeds on ignorance.
Even Joel Richardson, its chief proponent, says,
“I find myself presented with the interesting challenge of introducing much of the readership to more than one subject that most people are largely uninformed of. Certainly most people have some vague ideas about what the Bible says about the “last-days” – the difficult times that will encompass the earth, the plagues, the ecological disasters, the eventual return of Jesus. But even many Christians – those who read the Bible regularly – are not exactly sure what they believe about many of the specifics of the last-days. And if it can be said that ignorance of biblical eschatology is common, then consider how many people – particularly in the West – have any knowledge at all about what Islam teaches about the Last-days” (Will Islam Be Our Future?, chapter one).
Richardson is absolutely correct about the widespread ignorance. While he would not say that he is misusing this ignorance in order to promote false doctrine, that is exactly what we believe he is doing, whether wittingly or unwittingly.
It is the pastors of Bible-believing churches who are guilty in this matter, because they are the ones who have not properly educated the people. Even children in Sunday School should have a basic understanding of what the Bible says about the future. And God’s people should be educated about Islam because it is a major influence in the world today.
For such education, we suggest the following resources from www.wayoflife.org:
Understanding Bible Prophecy (an Advanced Bible Studies Series course)
The Future According to the Bible (a thorough study of Bible prophecy)
The Bible and Islam (available in print or as a free eBook)
2. The Muslim Antichrist position leans heavily on a study of current history and Muslim prophecy, instead of being developed directly from a right interpretation of the Bible prophecies themselves.
Joel Richardson says, “This book is first and foremost a study of Islamic eschatology” (Will Islam Be Our Future?, chapter one).
This is a major problem. Islamic eschatology is a hodgepodge of doctrine. Islamic has no one authoritative, clear doctrine of eschatology. There is a general belief in the coming of a Mahdi (God-guided one), but beyond that there are great differences in eschatology among the major branches of Islam.
In chapter four of Will Islam Be Our Future?, Richard lists the following 21 Islamic teachings about the Mahdi:
The Mahdi is Islam’s primary messiah figure.
He will be a descendant of Muhammad and will bear Muhammad’s name (Muhammad bin Abdullah).
He will be a very devout Muslim.
He will be an unparalleled spiritual, political and military world leader.
He will emerge after a period of great turmoil and suffering upon the earth.
He will establish justice and righteousness throughout the world and eradicate tyranny and oppression.
He will be the Caliph and Imam (vice-regent and leader) of Muslims worldwide.
He will lead a world revolution and establish a new world order.
He will lead military action against all those who oppose him.
He will invade many countries.
He will make a seven year peace treaty with a Jew of priestly lineage.
He will conquer Israel for Islam and lead the “faithful Muslims” in a final slaughter/battle against Jews.
He will establish the new Islamic world headquarters from Jerusalem.
He will rule for seven years (possibly as much as eight or nine).
He will cause Islam to be the only religion practiced on the earth.
He will appear riding a white horse (possibly symbolic).
He will discover some previously undiscovered biblical manuscripts that he will use to argue with the Jews and cause some Jews to convert to Islam.
He will also re-discover the Ark of the Covenant from the Sea of Galilee, which he will bring to Jerusalem.
He will have supernatural power from Allah over the wind and the rain and crops.
He will possess and distribute enormous amounts of wealth.
He will be loved by all the people of the earth.
This list appears to be a clear, authoritative Islamic doctrine of the end times, but it is a myth. There is no consensus within Islam about most of these points. And the original language upon which these points are established is often vague in the extreme.
In reality, there is very little that can be presented as a solid, established Islamic doctrine of eschatology.
While it might be interesting to study Islamic beliefs about the end times, to use such a hodgepodge to interpret Scripture in any way whatsoever is wrongheaded in the extreme.
Richardson says, “So in conclusion, we see that several of the most unique and distinguishing aspects of the biblical Antichrist’s person, mission and actions are matched to quite an amazing degree by the descriptions of the Mahdi as found in the Islamic traditions. And now, even further, we see that Muslim scholars actually apply Bible verses about the Antichrist to their awaited savior, the Mahdi. This must be seen as quite ironic, if not entirely prophetic” (Will Islam Be Our Future?, chapter five).
We could not disagree with this statement more fervently. The fact that some Muslims are looking for a “Mahdi” and the fact that some are even applying the Bible’s teaching about the Antichrist to the Mahdi amount to nothing of substance. It is most certainly not “prophetic.”
3. The prophecies in Daniel are clear on the fact that the Antichrist will arise from the ancient Roman Empire, and the efforts to interpret these prophecies in a manner different from traditional dispensationalism have been entirely unsuccessful.
First, the chronology of the image in Daniel 2 points to the Roman Empire. The four kingdoms of Daniel 2 follow one another chronologically. The image is one, and each subsequent aspect connects with the previous one. We are specifically told the identity of the first three kingdoms (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece), and they followed one another chronologically. The reasonable conclusion is that the fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire, since it conquered Greece.
Gold Head: Babylonian Empire (626 BC - 539 BC)
Silver Chest/Arms: Medo-Persian Empire (539 BC - 330 BC)
Bronze Belly and Thighs: Grecian Empire (330 BC - 63 BC)
Iron Legs: Roman Empire (conquered Greece in 63 BC)
The earliest Muslim empires were founded in the eighth and ninth centuries AD, a millennium after the fall of the Grecian kingdoms to Rome. As for the Ottoman Empire, it was founded by Osman I in the early 1300s AD, nearly 1,400 years after Grecian kingdoms fell.
It is important to understand that Daniel 2 pertains to Gentile kingdoms that had direct dealings with the nation Israel. Babylon conquered Israel and destroyed the first temple. Persia returned Israel to the land and allowed the building of the second temple. The Greeks persecuted Israel (e.g., Antiochus Epiphanes). Rome ruled Israel and destroyed the second temple. Some of the Muslim empires, including the Ottoman, ruled “Palestine” and had dealings with the Jewish people, but Israel as a nation in the land had ceased to exist before Islam arose.
Second, the Antichrist is depicted as rising out of a revived Roman Empire in Daniel 7:19-20. The fourth beast corresponds to the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2, and the Antichrist will arise after the 10 kings of an end-time Roman Empire. The 10 horns of Daniel 7 correspond to the 10 toes of Daniel 2, signifying 10 kings or rulers in the end times.
Third, in the prophecy of the 70 Weeks, Daniel identifies the Antichrist as the prince of the people that “shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Da. 9:26). This “people” was the Romans, who in AD 70 destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish temple under the leadership of Titus, who soon became the Roman emperor. This key prophecy tells us that the Antichrist will arise from Europe and the old Roman Empire and not from a Muslim kingdom. Though the Muslims captured Jerusalem in 637 from the Byzantines, they never destroyed a Jewish temple. It had ceased to exist more than 550 years earlier.
The Roman Empire fits the prophecy of Daniel perfectly. It is the kingdom that conquered Greece, was divided into two major portions (the two legs of Daniel 2), and it is the kingdom that continues until the time of the Antichrist. It has continued in the Holy Roman Empire and in modern Europe.
Joel Richardson, in Mideast Beast, gives the following reasons for rejecting Rome as the fourth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecies:
Richardson says the Roman Empire did not conquer all portions of the land holdings of the previous empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece). “Although the Roman Empire did conquer portions of the land holdings of the other empires, it clearly did not conquer all of them, not even a majority of them” (Richardson, p. 59).
Answer: This is a non-issue. The Bible doesn’t say the fourth empire would conquer every part of the territory of the former empires, only that it would conquer and replace those empires, which it did. In fact, the Roman Empire occupied much of the territory occupied by Babylon, Greece, and Medo-Persia, plus far more territory toward the west than they ever occupied.
Richardson claims that the Roman Empire was not a crushing empire as described in Daniel 2:40; 7:7, 23. He says, “Rather than being a crushing force, the Roman Empire was often a positive influence to its conquered peoples. ... The Islamic Caliphat absolutely crushed all of the Babylonian, MedoPersian, and Greek Empires” (Richardson, Mideast Beast, pp. 60, 76).
Answer: This depiction of Rome is skewed. Rome was somewhat benevolent to people who submitted to her, but she was incredibly brutal toward those who resisted. Consider Rome’s treatment of Israel during the first and second Roman-Jewish wars. Israel’s cities and towns were ruined. Her temple was destroyed. Her religion was outlawed. Millions of Jews were killed and sold into slavery. Her wealth was robbed and used to build the Coliseum in Rome. Her capital city was razed and an idolatrous Roman city built over its ruins. The very name of her capital city was changed to the name of a Roman emperor, and the name of her country was changed to Palestina Syria. Rome did this type of thing to many people, including the Greeks and the Brits and various German tribes. To say that Rome wasn’t “a crushing force” is nonsense.
Richardson says that the Roman Empire does not fit the two divisions signified by the legs. He writes, “There was the Eastern Empire with its capital in Constantinople and the Western Empire with its capital in Rome. Two legs you see. All right. But wait a minute! To begin with, the division occurs before you get to the iron! The two legs begin under the copper, unless this image was a freak. ... So you see, you cannot do anything with these two legs” (Geoffrey King, cited by Richardson, Mideast Beast, p. 71).
Answer: This error is caused by trying to press every detail of the statue. It is the same error that is made by those who try to press all details of parables. These things are given to emphasize one particular point. The significance of the two legs is simply that the fourth empire would have two major divisions, and that was certainly true of the Roman Empire.
Richardson says the Roman legions that destroyed Jerusalem were composed of a mixed multitude, including many men from the Middle East.
Answer: While this is true, it is meaningless, since the legions were Roman legions, led by Romans and controlled by Rome. The head of the legions, Titus, became an emperor soon thereafter and the artifacts taken from the temple, together with Jewish captives, were paraded through the streets of Rome in the Triumph of Vespasian and Titus as a sign of Rome’s power. The Arch of Titus was built in Rome to commemorate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem. It was Rome that minted the coins celebrating the defeat of Israel. The words Ivdaea Capta (“Judea has been conquered”) or Ivdaea Devicta (“Judea has been defeated”) were engraved around the rim. Israel was usually depicted as a weeping woman sitting by a palm tree with her hands tied. On some coins she is guarded by the Roman emperor clothed in his military gear and striking a victory pose. The coins continued to be issued by two other emperors (Vespasian’s sons) until AD 96. Another Roman coin depicted the execution of the Jewish revolt leader, Simon son of Giora, who was taken to Rome, publicly displayed, then executed. The coin features the Roman emperor Vespasian’s head on one side and a triumphal Roman procession on the other, with Vespasian standing in a four-horse chariot and Simon being led to his death. It was Rome that gave Roman names to Jerusalem and Judea.
It was the Roman Empire headquartered in Europe that destroyed Israel in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, not the Ottoman Empire or any other Islamic kingdom.
4. The Muslim Antichrist position is frequently based on the more obscure prophecies.
A proper interpretation of the Bible uses the clearest passages of Scripture to interpret the less clear, but false teachers typically reverse this methodology. They use the more obscure to “explain” the clear.
This is what Richardson does. He will use prophecies such as Revelation 17:10, which is difficult to interpret by any “scheme” and possibly will not be perfectly clear until its fulfillment (as is the case with many prophecies), to build his doctrine of the Ottoman Empire as Daniel’s fourth kingdom.
One preacher wrote to me as follow:
“I have one question, which is how would Revelation 17:10-11 be interpreted? ‘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. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.’ One of the things I gleaned from your book was about the Anti-christ being called ‘The Assyrian’ and Assyria was also a world empire based in Turkey, north of Israel. For myself, I understand the five are fallen world kingdoms as: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome (the world kingdom that is, at the time of John). Then Richardson proposes that the other that is not yet come is the Ottoman Empire. So the beast that is the eighth, he is of the seventh (Ottoman).”
“As for Revelation 17:10-11, that is somewhat obscure and not clear cut, in my estimation. There are lots of different views. Some things in prophecy cannot be interpreted with exactness until the time of the fulfillment. That particular one will be clear in the Tribulation. A very important principle of interpretation is that you base doctrine on the clear teaching of Scripture, not on the less clear. There are things ‘hard to be understood,’ Peter said (2 Pe. 3:16), and though we seek to understand everything in Scripture, we don’t use the ‘hard to be understood’ to overthrow the clearer, more easy to be understood Scriptures. A false teacher will always turn this principle on its head. I think that is exactly what Richardson has done with his Muslim empire thing.”
5. The Antichrist will find a solution to the age-old animosity between Israel and the Muslims, but the Bible does not say where the Muslims might fit into these things.
The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly where the Muslims might fit into the end times, and it is dangerous to try to fill in the Bible’s silence with human speculation. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
We do know that the Antichrist will operate in the wisdom and power of the devil (Revelation 13:2, 4), and since the world’s false religions are creations of the devil and since he operates in “the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), he will have no problem manipulating the religions and their adherents as he pleases when God gives him permission to do so.
We know that at the beginning of his reign, the Antichrist will be acclaimed as a great problem solver and a man who will bring peace to earth. We know that the Antichrist will make a seven-year peace covenant “with many” in Israel at the beginning of his reign (Daniel 9:27). He is depicted as coming on the scene on a white horse and an empty bow (Revelation 6). This signifies that the Antichrist will have the capability to make war but initially he will come as a man of peace. Five times in Daniel the Antichrist is called a liar and a flatterer (Da. 11:21, 23, 27, 32, 34). Daniel says by peace he will destroy many (Da. 8:25).
We know that the Antichrist will make it possible for the third Jewish temple to be built. We see the temple being measured in Revelation 11 at the beginning of the ministry of the two prophets who will preach in Jerusalem for three and a half years (Revelation 11:7). This is the first half of the Antichrist’s seven-year peace covenant. Daniel 9:27 says he will break the covenant at the mid-point of the seven years, and set up the abomination of desolation. Other prophecies fill in the details of this event. Christ taught that this marks the Antichrist’s desecration of the temple (Matthew 24:15). Paul taught that this is when the Antichrist will set himself up as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). At this point, the Antichrist will require that all people worship him on pain of death and will take control of the world economy toward that end (Revelation 13:15-17).
Though it is not possible that the Jews would accept a Muslim antichrist or a Muslim prophet, there could be a Muslim messiah of some sort who will be associated with the Antichrist in some way. Again, the Bible simply does not speak to this issue.
Who knows, Islam might effectively be destroyed before then or at that time. There could be a nuclear bombing of Mecca and Medina and an effectual beheading of the religion. I’m not saying that will happen. I’m saying that the Bible is silent on the matter of Islam and the end times.
The bottom line is that there are many details of end-time events that are not spelled out in Bible prophecy, and the wise will be content with the light that we have and not speculate beyond this, and they will not allow anyone’s extra-biblical speculation to become an authority in their lives.
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