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Prophecy Fads and Misconceptions

The Muslim Beast

One modern prophecy fad is to believe that the coming Beast will be the Muslim Mahdi (or Twelfth Imam). But can this be supported from scripture?

First of all, we need to distinguish between the Beast and the Antichrist. There are two beasts mentioned in Revelation: the First Beast and the Second Beast or False Prophet. The first is stricly political and will be the one possessed by Satan at the midpoint of the Tribulation, desecrating the temple and declaring himself God. The second has to do with religion and would thus be the only one to qualify as an antichrist. This is the one who will demand that everyone worship the First Beast, and who will order the Mark to be enforced (see next section).

So the only possible connection of Islamic prophecy to the end times would be to the False Prophet. But since no Muslim would pretend to be Allah, their Mahdi would not demand that the world worship anyone on earth. But will either of the Beasts be Muslim, even if not the Mahdi? After all, the method of execution for many will be beheading (Rev. 20:4). However, this one fact is hardly enough to identify the False Prophet as a Muslim. This is during the second half of the Tribulation, after the False Prophet has demanded that the whole world worship the First Beast, who has declared himself God. Thus the beheadings of Rev. 20:4 can have nothing to do with Islam. It may well be that beheading is simply the preferred Satanic method of execution.

Does scripture support someone of Muslim heritage who simply apostasizes? That is, can we trace the lineage of either of the Beasts arising from either Islam or a nation that practices it? In the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel, we’re told that there is a coming prince. It was to be the people of this prince that would destroy the temple, which happened in 70 AD. The Roman army often included people of many ethnicities, but the lineage of those people does not necessarily apply to the prince himself. So who was the prince? The Roman general Titus. He was neither Arab nor Muslim, since Islam was not invented until the 600s AD. While one might point to the Ottoman Empire as having ruled the general area out of which the Beasts might come, the Roman Empire was always ruled by Europeans. The type or shadow of the Beast, Antiochus Epiphanes, was a Roman of Greek lineage. As for the False Prophet, nothing at all is said about his lineage or people.

But what did Jesus mean when he said in John 5:43, I have come with the authority of my Father and you won’t accept me, but if someone comes by their own authority you’ll accept them? Many believe this means the Antichrist will be a Jew. Now since many Jews will reject the Beast when he desecrates the temple, it could only apply to those who remain. However, Rev. 13:1 says the First Beast arises out of the sea, which symbolizes the non-Jewish nations. Rev. 13:11 says that the Second Beast arises out of the land, which symbolizes the people of Israel. Yet it’s the First Beast who enforces the 7-year treaty.

There is a book by Phillip Goodman called The Assyrian Connection that proposes a Syrian (Micah 5:5) as the Antichrist. He argues that the Antichrist will arise out of the eastern leg of the old Roman Empire, an area presently dominated by Islam. But none of the passages to which he appeals clearly point to either the coming Antichrist or the then non-existent religion of Islam. Not even Antiochus Epiphanes, who first fulfilled the prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation, was Assyrian. Even so, the phrase the Assyrian could be an expression meaning the Assyrian people, just as we might say that the American is going to rise up against tyranny. More details and theories can be found at this article. (Disclaimer: Walid Shoebat was never really a terrorist or an expert on Bible prophecy.)

Perhaps the strongest argument against a Muslim Antichrist is that the present Islamic nations will be wiped out either early in the Tribulation or just before it starts; see the chapter on prophesies still to come. In fact, all religions will be outlawed when the Beast declares himself God, including the ancient Babylonian religion. The Antichrist will not be an atheist, but neither will he be identified with any former religion. Islam certainly is serving a Satanic purpose and supplies the motivation for the Psalm 83 coalition against Israel, but it will not be a significant entity in the Tribulation, nor will the Antichrist or either of the Beasts be Islamic.

The Mark of the Beast

Revelation 13:17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Revelation 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand…

What is the Mark? The beast’s name or number. It is not our personal ID. Even if the world went back to using beads for currency, this mark would still be required to do business. So technology doesn’t matter, it’s whether this Mark represents your willing citizenship in the Beast’s kingdom.

How is the Mark given? Etched on the forehead or right hand. Why these two locations? The most likely reason is that it refers to the Beast’s withered right arm and blind right eye (Zech. 11:17).

When is it given? After the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15). How do we know when the seventh trumpet has been sounded? Following is a list of the judgments of the trumpets in order, by chapter and verse in Revelation. We will not see the Mark of the Beast until after all of those things have happened. So since not even the first trumpet has sounded, we aren’t even close to seeing the Mark of the Beast.

  1. 8:6-7 (1) Hail, fire, 1/3 earth burned
  2. 8:8-9 (2) Blazing mountain, 1/3 sea destroyed
  3. 8:10-11 (3) Burning star Wormwood, 1/3 rivers embittered
  4. 8:12-13 (4) Heavenly bodies’ light reduced by 1/3
  5. 9:1-12 (5) First woe on earth: Locusts from the Abyss torment enemies of God for five months
  6. 9:13-21 (6) Second woe on earth: Four Messengers, 200 million soldiers, 1/3 population killed
  7. 11:1-14 temple measurements and two witnesses
  8. 11:15-14:20 (7) Third woe on earth: the two Beasts

Some people think that any and all references to beasts in the Bible can be applied to this context, such that pretty much anyone and anything can be called the Mark of the Beast. By this method, even Israel or Jesus would qualify. The foolishness of this idea is obvious; it’s only being mentioned because there are actually people who think this is how the Bible should be interpreted.

The Two Witnesses

Rev. 11:1-12 describes them as individual human beings with miraculous powers, who wear sackcloth and prophesy for 3-1/2 years. This is the same description found in Zech. 4:3, Zech. 11, and Zech. 14. They are killed by the Beast during the 6th trumpet judgment, left in the center of Jerusalem for 3-1/2 days, raised back to life by God, and then taken up to heaven while their enemies watch.

Anyone and anything that doesn’t match all these criteria is not either of the Two Witnesses. So they aren’t Israel and the Body of Christ, nor any random political leaders, nor the Old and New Testaments, nor any other off-the-wall candidate.

Blood Moons, Tetrads, and Shemitah Years

A blood moon is simply a lunar eclipse where conditions are such that the moon appears reddish in color. A tetrad is when four such eclipses occur in a row. A Shemitah year is so named for the command to Israel to let their fields remain unplowed every seventh year so the land could rest. This is strictly for Israel, not anyone else, and none of the curses for failure to observe these years apply to any other nation.

None of these concepts are part of Bible prophecy. Phrases such as the moon will turn to blood and the sun to darkness are indeed found in scripture, but each context shows that they aren’t routine astronomical events, and they happen at the same time as the darkening or falling of the stars. One way all of these things could happen at once is during a volcanic eruption where the sky is blocked out, and another would be divine intervention. But the normal astronomical events cannot all happen at the same time.

Theories such as those promoted by Mark Biltz or Rabbi Jonathan Cahn leave out any tetrads that didn’t occur on a significant date in history, and not all of the ones that did were before the events they allegedly pointed to. This is cherry-picking the data and fudging the dates. They also lead us to wonder why the biggest events, such as the Holocaust, were not foretold by any such signs.

Scripture does say that the heavenly bodies serve as signs and to count off years, but this hardly means that every alignment of stars or every tetrad is a prophetic sign. So there is no reason to think that the latest astronomical alignments or phenomena are foretelling world events. One must be careful when connecting dots.

Mystery Babylon

There are plenty of theories as to the identity of Mystery Babylon. But let’s look at the Biblical description and see what it actually says.

  1. She sits on many waters (Rev. 17:1) but is in the desert (Rev. 17:3a)
  2. She rides the red beast with 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev. 17:3b)
  3. She wears royal robes and carries a chalice holding the filth of her promiscuity (Rev. 17:4)
  4. She has written on her forehead a secret name, Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and everything disgusting (Rev. 17:5; the Greek says a secret name, not that the name is Mystery Babylon)
  5. She is drunk with the blood of the holy people and martyrs or witnesses of Jesus (Rev. 17:6a)

After John sees this vision, the angel explains what it symbolizes. And since the angel does this, there is no reason or justification for taking the answers as symbols.

  1. The beast preceded the time of John, was not in power in his time, and will arise again from the Abyss (Rev. 17:8a), and is also the 8th king (Rev. 17:11)
  2. The heads represent mountains which are kings; 5 have fallen, one was currently in power, and one will come later (Rev. 17:9-10)
  3. The ten horns represent ten kings who have not yet come (Rev. 17:12a) and will hate and destroy the woman (Rev. 17:16)
  4. The many waters the woman sits upon represent many nations of people (Rev. 17:5)
  5. The woman represents that great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth (Rev. 17:18), who has gained wealth by trafficking in all sorts of goods as well as human beings (Rev. 18:11-13)

The angel does not give the meaning of the desert. It may simply mean the place where John saw the vision, but it could also refer to the site of the ancient city of Babylon in the plains of Shinar (Gen. 10:10), which is in Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, about 30 miles south of Baghdad (see Bible Atlas). It may also be related to a vision in Zechariah 5:5-11, where a personification of evil is carried to Shinar to be set in place. The city was built by Nimrod, who rebelled against God and established his own religion, which came to be the source of the worship of Horus and Semiramis, and their various names including Baal and the Queen of Heaven. So Babylon is both a literal city and the root of all false religion.

Who or what is the Beast/8th king? It could not be Rome, since Rome was in power in John’s day. Yet it had to exist before John, and so it’s not any kingdom, state, or power that hasn’t existed in ancient times. And since it has carried the woman, it must be as old as she is.

Who are the seven kings? Five of them preceded the time of John, one was in power in his time, and one was yet to come. Ten legitimate Roman emperors preceded the time of John, and the eleventh in his time was Domitian. Further, it seems unlikely that the angel would be talking about a line of kings from a single kingdom. So the seven kings represent kings and their kingdoms. Now we look for five empires before Rome, and the most likely were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. But who or what will be the final empire? All the kings have had something to do with the Beast, so what do they all have in common? They are all powers that ruled the known world. The Beast will be the final world empire, with roots that go back to ancient times. There is nothing in the text to identify it as the city on seven hills.

Who are the ten kings? They will be from kingdoms that have not existed in the past, and they will be all of one kingdom, since the word for kingdom in Rev. 17:12 is singular. They will share their power with the eighth king for a short time, likely half the Tribulation.

Of what significance are the many waters? They represent the population of the world and are under the authority of the woman, not the beast. What has the beast carried since ancient times, and will throw off and destroy? The most likely answer is ancient Babylonian religion. We know that the Beast will do away with the worship of any god or king but himself at the midpoint of the Tribulation, so that’s when religious Babylon is destroyed.

What is that great city that has (in the first century) sovereignty over the kings of the earth, that will still be in power during the Tribulation? It cannot be a country, but it has to be doing diplomacy around the world just like a country; that is, it’s a city-state. It must also be guilty of shedding the blood of the holy people. So we can eliminate any modern city without ancient roots, such as New York or London. The only city-state that could qualify would be either the literal city of Babylon, or another city that has been the headquarters of a revived ancient Babylonian religion. Many believe the Bible predicts a one-world religion, but this is not the case; the only world religion will be to worship the Beast.

Has this city ever moved in the past, so we could justify saying that it’s not the name of the city but its characteristics that identify it as an entity that existed in the first century and will exist again? We have a clue in Rev. 2:13, in the letter to the Congregation in Pergamos, described as the city where Satan has his throne. This is where the priests of the Babylonian religion moved after their city was destroyed. Quoting Harry Ironside in Babylonian Religion:

When Christ came into this world the mystery of iniquity was everywhere holding sway, save where the truth of God as revealed in the Old Testament was known. Thus, when the early Christians set out upon the great task of carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth, they found themselves everywhere confronted by this system, in one form or another; for though Babylon as a city had long been but a mystery, her mysteries had not died with her.

When the city and temples were destroyed, the high-priest fled with a company of initiates and their sacred vessels and images to Pergamos, where the Symbol of the serpent was set up as the emblem of the hidden wisdom. From there, they afterwards crossed the sea and immigrated to Italy, where they settled on the Etruscan plain. There the ancient cult was propagated under the name of the Etruscan Mysteries and eventually Rome became the headquarters of Babylonianism.

The chief priests wore mitres shaped like the head of a fish, in honor of Dagon, the fish-god, the Lord of life-another form of the Tammuz mystery, as developed among Israel’s old enemies, the Philistines. The chief priest when established in Rome took the title Pontifex Maximus, and this was imprinted in on his mitre. When Julius Caesar (who was an initiate like all young Romans of good family) had become the head of the States, he was elected Pontifex Maximus, and this title was held henceforth by all the Roman emperors down to Constantine the Great, who was at one and the same time, head of the church, and high priest to the heathen. The title was afterwards conferred upon the bishops of Rome, and is borne by the pope today, who is thus declared to be, not the successor of the fisherman-apostle Peter, but the direct successor of the high priest of the Babylonian mysteries, and the servant of the fish-god Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous predecessors, the fisherman’s ring.

So the city may change names and locations, but its character as the headquarters of the ancient mystery religion remains the same. Remember that this is the woman and not the beast. The woman is the Babylonian religion headquartered in a city-state that has existed in one place or another over the centuries; the beast is the world government; the seven heads are a line of world emperors; the ten crowns are new kings of one world kingdom who hand their power to the beast. Keep in mind also that every kingdom has a king; every empire has an emperor. So though the Beast is a kingdom, it’s headed by a man, whose names include the son of perdition and the man of lawlessness.

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