Many believe, as I do, that there will be a global religion half-way through the last seven years of life as we know it, the time of God’s wrath on earth known as the Tribulation. But while many prophecy teachers taught that the world religion would be Roman Catholicism, the rise of Islam has caused many of them to change their minds and now believe Islam will be the world religion.
But both views ignore two important facts: the religion the Antichrist uses to rise to power (Rev. 17) is not the same as when he demands that the whole world worship him (Rev. 13), and the former is represented by a harlot, which is a very strange representation for Islam but which fits well with Roman Catholicism. And the latter is not any existing religion at all (Dan. 11:37) but direct worship of the Antichrist himself as God. Yet another fact to consider is that scripture never mentions a particular religion in the prophecies of who will come against Israel, but only particular nations. Surely the fact that these nations are Islamic explains their motives, but this does not make Islam the coming global religion.
As for the identity of the Antichrist (or Beast, or “the first beast”, etc.), many likewise have switched from saying he will be Roman or Jewish or Catholic (or even space alien) to being the Muslim al-Mahdi. We can speculate all we want but the decisive identifier given in scripture is that he will renew a seven-year covenant between Israel and “many” (Dan. 9:27), and half-way through that time he will violate it and declare himself God in the yet-to-be-built Jewish temple (Dan. 12:11).
Clearly the rise of Islam has contributed to global upheaval, which in itself is a prophetic sign (Dan. 12:1, Jer. 30:7, Mt 24:6-8). But the time of the end is not as simple as some would like to make it. There are other passages besides Daniel’s “70 Weeks” prophecy and the book of Revelation (Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, etc.) and these seem to tell us that the Islamic nations that come to destroy Israel once and for all will be decimated on the mountains of Israel before the Antichrist is even revealed.
Yet Jesus said we must “recognize the signs of the times” (Mt. 16:3), so where is the line drawn between this and “newspaper eschatology”? As I hope to have shown already, we need to think logically and base everything on all pertinent scriptures. The fact that there is an Israel at all (and in unbelief-- Ezekiel 37, Dan. 9:24 [the purpose of the Trib. is not only to judge the world but also to finish the punishment of Israel, requiring that they still be in rebellion at the time]) is the biggest sign of the time because it essentially started the prophetic clock again. But Islam as a religion is never mentioned at all and did not exist till 600 years after Christ. We need to remember that there is a connection between the Roman destruction of the previous Jewish temple (Herod’s) and the “prince that shall come”. It is the nations surrounding Israel that were involved then, not the religion called Islam.
In addition to the political/religious signs, there are many other indicators of the lateness of human history: the expected simultaneous reversals of the magnetic poles of both the earth and the sun, the possible near-passage or impact of significant asteroids or comets, and even the possibility of a close encounter with the gravitational pull of a mysterious “Planet X” that has to be seen with an infrared telescope-- which, curiously, is being hurriedly built at the South Pole of all places (article, another article). The scenarios these cosmic events could cause bear an uncanny resemblance to many of the judgments of Revelation.
These are certainly “interesting times”, but we need to stay anchored in scripture and sound reasoning, because another characteristic of this time is deception (Mt. 24:5, 2 Thes. 2:3-11). Don’t be like the people described in 2 Peter 3:3-13, but eagerly look for Jesus (Mt. 24:33, 2 Tim. 4:8).