Perspective by Jack Kelley
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)
There’s a lot of interest these days in the role of Islam in the End Times. And from what I’m reading, a lot of misunderstanding, too. Recent surveys are shedding some light on the subject.
It’s clear that followers of Islam are increasing in number faster than any other religious group in the world. Their current growth rate is said to be four times faster than that of Christians. According to a recent survey by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, those who practice Islam now make up nearly one-fourth of the world’s population at 1.57 billion members, second only to Christianity. This is revolutionary in nature and even though it’s happening right before our eyes, most Western Christians haven’t even noticed. And not only are Muslims the fastest growing religious group in the world, they also hold that distinction in the United States, Canada and Europe, with Europe perhaps being the model of where Canada and then the US are headed.
Comparing the current birth rates of native Europeans with Europe’s Muslim immigrant population leads us to one very clear and surprising conclusion: the Europe we have known is very quickly changing into what some already refer to as Eurabia, and will soon find itself under the power and control of Islam. Today there are more Muslims in Germany than there are in Lebanon. France’s Muslim population, while fewer in actual numbers than Germany’s, is a greater percentage of total French citizenry, and given the current rate at which church buildings are being converted there will soon be more mosques in England than functioning churches.
Following the rapture of the Church, Islam will be the most populous religious system on Earth by a wide margin. Whether you believe that Islam is a religion of peace or not, it’s pretty obvious that they’re not going to just go away after the rapture and abandon their long held dream of becoming the world’s dominant religion just at the point of realizing it.
What About Ezekiel 38?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Islam will no longer be a viable religious force after the Battle of Ezekiel 38 either. According to The Pew Forum report, the countries who will unite against Israel and be defeated there are a small percentage of the total Islamic population. For example, the four largest Islamic countries by population aren’t even involved. In fact, two thirds of all the world’s Moslems live in 10 countries and of those only Turkey (5) and Iran (6) are named by Ezekiel. Rough estimates indicate that as little as 15% of the Islamic world will be represented by the forces aligned against Israel, and remember it’s only their soldiers who die in battle, not their total populations. And given their dismal past performance in battles against Israel, it’s unlikely that the followers of Islam will desert their religion after Ezekiel 38 just because of one more defeat at the hands of the Jews.
And then there’s the fact that the end times leaders called the King of the North and the King of the South will both came from places that are decidedly Muslim today. Although they both emerged from the Greek Empire that doesn’t make them Western European. The first King of the North built his capital city, Seleucia, on the Tigris river in modern Iraq and the first King of the South lived in Egypt. Daniel 11:40 tells us the end times personifications of these two kings will still be contending for world dominance just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
Compare that to what will likely happen to the 2.2 billion strong “Christian” world in the Rapture and it’s not hard to see that Islam will be the strongest religious force on Earth as Daniel’s 70th Week begins. (After all, none of them will be raptured.) Islam would be the obvious choice for a man who wants to use a religious system to gain control of the world.
And remember, the anti-Christ won’t be confirming a covenant with Israel for the purpose of helping them. He’ll be doing it to help himself. By means of peace he’ll deceive many, Daniel warned (Daniel 8:25). And with the exception of the fleeing Jewish remnant, the world will be deceived, saying “Peace and safety” just as sudden destruction comes upon them (1 Thes. 5:3). But God will not be deceived. He’s already on the record, calling the seven year treaty a covenant with death (Isaiah 28:15). Doesn’t this covenant serve God’s purpose, you ask? Well of course everything that happens serves God’s purpose, but that doesn’t mean everything that happens is good for man. The Jews will think they’re getting a guarantee of peace but God will use the covenant to usher in Daniel’s 70th Week, a time when He’ll completely destroy the Gentile nations while purifying His covenant people (Jeremiah 30:4-11). It will be anything but peaceful.
In 2006 I first began writing on the similarities between Islamic prophecies of al Mahdi and Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. I noted how both or these end times figures are said to come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both come claiming a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and in both cases their reign is prophesied to end in a battle between good and evil that brings Earth’s final judgment. It almost sounds as if they’re the same person.
Back then almost all students of prophecy were still convinced that the anti-Christ had to be of Western European origin, aligned somehow with the Roman Catholic Church. But since then I’ve become aware of more and more people who are taking a second look at this traditional view, and are considering the possibility of a world leader coming from the Eastern leg of the Roman Empire, largely Islamic today.
Another Lesson From Daniel
Our first glimpse of Gentile Dominion, the period of Gentile rule over the Earth, came in the form of a large poly-metallic statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:31-45). When Daniel had his vision of Gentile Dominion (Daniel 7), it was represented by four great beasts. The first was a lion, symbolizing Babylon. The second was a bear, the Medo-Persians, and the third was a leopard, Greece. Then in Daniel 7:7 he said, “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.” This is a reference to Rome. In animal imagery, the horn stands for authority, and when used symbolically the number 10 denotes the completion of divine order. Comparing this with Daniel 2:44 we can see that this 4th beast would have complete authority over Earth and would never totally relinquish it until the Lord comes to take it by force.
The anti-Christ will make his first Biblical appearance in Rev. 6:2, disguised as the man on the white horse. According to Daniel 8:25 he’ll seem to be a great peacemaker, but his intent will be to conquer the world. His true identity won’t be revealed until Revelation 13:1-2 where it becomes clear that he’s been empowered by Satan. Here’s how John described him. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
Compare Rev. 13:1-2 to Daniel 7:7 and you’ll see that while the 10 horns show that he’ll have all the authority of the fourth gentile kingdom, his identifying characteristics will be more like the first three of Daniel’s beasts. Babylon, Persia, and Greece were all oriented toward the East. Only Rome had a western orientation (which made it different from the other three, as Daniel noted) Could this mean that the anti-Christ will also look first to the East (Isalm) to consolidate his power?
Time will tell. In his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel told us how the end times version of the 4th kingdom would be characterized by inner conflict. He said that where it had once been like two strong legs of iron (the Eastern and Western divisions of the Roman Empire) rebuilding it at the end it would be like trying make iron and baked clay adhere to each other. (Daniel 2:40-43) He could have been describing some of the social unrest we’ve witnessed in several European countries where their native populations have not always responded well to Muslim immigration.
My purpose in writing this is not in any way to confirm or endorse the views of some self-proclaimed experts on Islam who’ve burst on the scene recently with all sorts of new interpretations of Christian prophecy. It’s to remind us all to keep our eyes open. Things are happening fast and will continue to challenge our traditional perspective. Daniel was told that as the End of the Age approaches knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4). That means we’ll be given a clearer understanding of how events will unfold than those who came before us. This will happen through careful observation, actually seeing the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and comparing them to Scripture. But God knows the end from the beginning, so none of this is new to Him. Where we see change, He just sees a closer alignment of Earthly events with Heavenly truth. It’s time to keep an open Bible handy as we watch the headlines because we now have another reason to search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 05-21-11