Like many Christians, I have a personal interest is Biblical prophecy. I have avoided publishing a lot of articles relating to end-times events, because that isn’t what this blog is about. It’s about Islam. Nevertheless, a few prophecy articles may slide in where they intersect with Islamic theology.
Given this interest, I recently read “Mideast Beast,” by Joel Richardson. Joel is one of the most informed Biblical teachers and bloggers that I know. He runs a site over at www.joelstrumpet.com, and I would encourage my readers to check it out.
The book Mideast Beast takes aim at a longstanding Christian view that the Antichrist kingdom would be born out of some type of revived Roman Empire. For 2000 years, the majority Christian opinion has been that Rome was the 4th kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2, the 4th beast of Daniel 7, and the Antichrist kingdom spoken of in Revelation. However, Joel systematically dismantles this theory with a clear and a thorough approach. Instead of the Antichrist kingdom arising from a revived Roman Empire, Joel shows how the Bible teaches that the kingdom will be a conglomeration of nations, all of which are currently under Islamic governance.
Joel relies on Biblical passages heavily, and more importantly, in context. He pulls Scripture from Obadiah, Zephaniah, Micah, and all the places in the Bible that we don’t go to first for our daily devotions. His takes the passages at face value, reading them for what they are and not trying to put some spin on them to justify his own position. He also quotes patristic fathers to show the historical backing for the ever-present minority view that the Antichrist kingdom would come out of nations currently under Islamic rule. This view is now gaining credibility within scholarly circles.
To understand why there has been so much confusion regarding the nature of the final Antichrist kingdom, we must examine a longstanding point of Biblical misinterpretation. There are always countless ways that the church steers off course throughout each age. One such error is replacement theology. Replacement theology teaches that the church has replaced Israel with reference to the promises made in the Old Testament. Thus, this errant position holds that those promises made to Israel and are no longer in force for Israel as a nation after the advent of Jesus. Yet such a view cannot hold water in light of passages such as 1 Samuel 12:22, Jeremiah 31:37, Jeremiah 33:25-26, Romans 11:1,5 and others. In other words, many Biblical students err by allegorizing passages relating to Israel, when in fact God still has a plan in place for his chosen people.
Yet while many people recognize the danger of replacement theology, they make an identical, but more subtle mistake. Similarly to Biblical passages that outlines Israel’s role in events of the last days, so too the Bible names specific nations who will be judged at that same time. For example, countries named include Egypt, Libya, and Sudan (Daniel 11:43), Moab (Isaiah 25:9-10), present-day Turkey (Ezekiel 38:2), and Iran (Ezekiel 38:5). The point is that just as we should not allegorize passages about Israel, replacing them as if they related to the church at large, so too we should not allegorize passages about specific nations named for judgment, and somehow think a particular area will not undergo the prophecy spelled out for it. If God says He will judge a specific nation in the last days, what that means is that He will judge that specific nation in the last days.
But perhaps what I like most about Mideast Beast, and Joel’s writing in general, is the conclusions he reaches after outlining these types of passages. The last chapter is titled “Loving Muslims.” Many people view God’s judgment as an excuse to write off these Islamic nations as a lost cause. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. It is because of God’s upcoming judgment against certain areas that we should be motivated to put even more effort into evangelizing and loving these people more than ever. Passages such as Jude 23 implore us to love those who are destined for disaster if not for God’s intervention through us. On an individual level, these are people who need to experience God’s mercy and grace, and we are God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). When I know that certain places are destined to undergo God’s wrath, it breaks my heart for all those mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and husbands and wives who have not yet heard about Jesus Christ and experienced the joy that comes with a relationship with Him. May God’s name be glorified everywhere! I hope that you, too, have a revived sense of our call to preach Christ in these spiritually dark places.
The bottom line is that I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in either Islam or prophecy in general.