The ‘Perfect Human Being’: How Can An Islamic Antichrist Present Himself As God And Receive Worship, Yet Remain A Servant Of ‘Allah’?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
With great anticipation, the Islamic world awaits a “savior.” They call him “The Mahdi.” They believe that he will unite the Muslim world together against all who refuse to submit to Islam, creating peace and lasting security by leading all nations into a new era of global Islamic “justice.” This year, at the annual United Nations General Assembly and in front of millions of people around the world, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that we would soon witness a new “global management” ruled by the “perfect human being” Imam Al-Mahdi along with his deputy, the prophet “Jesus Christ.”
The world of Biblical eschatology has undergone a major shift over the past few years. Many discerning Christians now recognize immediately this “Islamic messiah” as a prime candidate for the Biblical Antichrist. But despite all that has happened and continues to happen in the Muslim world as of late, there are still many others who continue to resist any notion that Islam is the religious ideology of the Beast in Daniel and Revelation and that the Biblical Antichrist could be a Muslim or be associated with Islam in any way. In their way of thinking, the argument always begins with the premiss that the Antichrist will be someone who will literally announce to the world that “I am God” and will then demand to be worshipped as God. Since no Muslim would ever dare claim to be God (under accusation of blasphemy and penalty of death) and since no Muslim would ever dare to worship a mere man who made such a claim (under accusation of blasphemy and penalty of death), Islam must, they believe, either be all but destroyed before a non-Islamic Antichrist comes to power or undergo a significant theological metamorphosis, making it virtually unrecognizable to the Islam that we have today. But there is something very significant that many are missing, and it involves the premisses upon which their conclusion is derived.
When someone assumes even one or two false premisses as true, the wrong conclusion will more often than not be the end result. And the belief that the Antichrist must say “I am God” is one example in particular. In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the Apostle Paul writes that the man of lawlessness “shows” or “proclaims” himself to be God. The Greek word is “apodeiknymi” and it means “to declare” or “exhibit” or “show” or “demonstrate”. The implication of “apodeiknymi”, therefore, is not that he says “I am God” in any sort of a veracious verbal declaration, but rather that he displays himself as God through behaviour or action. But how?
There Can Be Only One …
According to Sunni and Shi’a Islam, the Mahdi (or 12th Imam) is believed to be “the infallible intercessor between Allah and faithful Muslims” . The Iranian President even described the Mahdi today as ”The Ultimate Savior” of the world . The significance of this claim cannot be overstated. According to Scripture, there is only One who is the intercessor between man and God:
Romans 8:34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.“
And there is only One who is worthy to be called the Savior:
Isaiah 43:11, 46:9b, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior… I am God, and there is none like me.”
According to Biblical Scripture, anyone who would proclaim himself to be the “intercessor” between man and God or the “savior” of the world would be attributing to himself a title or position that is exclusive to God alone, therefore presenting himself as God. To the Islamic way of thinking, however, this is not the case at all. Their religious jurisprudence is based upon Islamic texts, not upon the Hebrew/Greek Scriptures. Since ”savior” is not one of the 99 names of Allah in the Qur’an, calling someone the “savior” or claiming to be the “savior” is therefore not an attribution or declaration of divinity in the Muslim mind. They will not view any such proclamation as making oneself equal to the Almighty.
One of the claims often pushed by Muslim apologists against the Christian belief in the Deity of Christ is that Jesus never said “I am God” anywhere in Scripture. And they are right. Jesus never said to the Sanhedrin, “I am God.” However, He showed Himself as God by accepting worship (Matt. 28:9). He demonstrated it by forgiving sins (Mark 2:5-7). He proclaimed it before Jewish religious leaders when He declared that “before Abraham was, I AM” and called God His father (John 8:54-58). And the Sanhedrin understood immediately the theological significance of His words and sought to kill Him because He was “making Himself equal with God” (cf. John 5:18). He attributed a Divine title or function to Himself that can only be attributable to the Almighty or His office. If someone was present who did not know the Hebrew Scriptures as the Jews did, would they have understood the theological significance of what Jesus did or what He said? Of course not. Likewise, when Antichrist proclaims himself to be God, he will do so in such a way that Jews and Christians will recognize it immediately, but those who believe the lie will not. The elect will not be deceived (cf. Matthew 24:24). Proclaiming to be God does not therefore necessitate the words “I am God” in order to make the claim. In fact, while accepting the position or claiming to be the “savior” on one hand, he would deny the accusation that he is claiming to be God on the other. But in the eyes of the God of Israel, this is precisely what he would be doing.
Does The Prophet Daniel Tell Us That Antichrist Will Exalt Himself Above Every God, Including Allah?
One other argument against an Islamic Antichrist that is often raised involves Daniel 11:36-37:
Daniel 11:36-37, “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.”
The argument asserts that the Antichrist could not be Muslim since Daniel tells us that he will “magnify himself above every god.” And since “every” must also include Allah, the Antichrist therefore cannot be a Muslim. To address this concern, we should first be made aware that even though most translations incorporate the word “every” in verse 38, it is not included in the original Hebrew, though it is inferred. For instance, the NCV renders Daniel 11:36 to say that Antichrist “will brag about himself and praise himself and think he is even better than a god.” Wycliffe’s translation says that “the king shall do by his will, and he shall be raised [up], and magnified against each god, and against God of gods he shall speak great things.” Moreover, the thrust of Daniel 11:36-37 will not be fully understood unless it is read in full light of the verses that follow it:
Daniel 11:38-39, “But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge [and] increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.”
Context is key. Daniel clearly shows us in vs 36-37 that Antichrist will speak blasphemies against the God of gods, will pay absolutely no homage to the God of his fathers, and infers that he will ”exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god.” However, Daniel then makes one exception. In vs 38-39 he introduces us to the one god that Antichrist does not elevate himself above, stating, “But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces … a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour … a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge [and] increase with glory.” This is the god that Antichrist will not exalt himself over, one that would be familiar to him, but not one that would be familiar to his fathers, Abraham and Ishmael. Obviously, Antichrist cannot honour his god and increase him with glory if he believes that he is god [Allah] or that he is above him. That would be nonsensical.
Daniel 11:36-39 is not only a perfect description of how Islam operates as a religion, but is also a perfect description of what Islam is. An Islamic Antichrist will exalt himself over every faith and belief system that exists or has existed outside of his estate (H3653 ken — base, estate, office), outside of the religious ideology that the “seat of the beast” forces upon everyone under its control. Antichrist (and by direct implication the one whom he represents, Satan) will position himself against everything called god or considered God or divine outside of his base/estate/office. He will exalt himself over Ayyavazhi. Over Buddhism. He will exalt himself over the gods of Hinduism and each and every single one of its sects or denominations. He will exalt himself over Manichaeism. Over Mithraism. Over Zoroastrianism. Over Confucianism. Over every Shinto sect and school of thought. Over every indigenous religion that exists or has existed in the Americas, in Eurasia, in Africa, in Oceania or elsewhere. He will even exalt himself over the One True God of gods — the God of his fathers — over Adonai, over Mashiach, over Ruach ha Qodesh. He exalts himself over them all by attributing to himself a Divine Title or Function held only by YHWH, and by definition therefore declaring himself to be the God of gods.
The Islamic world accepting the Mahdi as their “savior” or the “intercessor” between Muslims and God will make this man to be “Christ” (the word “anti” doesn’t just mean against, it also means in place of) and is blatant idolatry and blasphemy in the eyes of God, effectively calling YHWH and His Messiah a liar. This is all a part of the deception that is Islam. Consider for a moment Islamic behaviour and teachings in light of Biblical revelation. On one hand, Islam convinces Muslims that they must not worship idols, yet on the other hand it commands them to kill anyone who says or does anything negative to the Qur’an, and to be willing to die for it. It commands them to kill anyone who says anything negative about Mohammed, and to be willing to die for their prophet. It causes them to bow down facing Mecca five times a day where the Black Stone (Kaaba) sits, even teaching them that touching the Kaaba absolves them of sin(!). They will gladly offer their lives for every one of these, each of which is blatant idolatry in the eyes of YHWH because it is worship of the Qur’an, of their “prophet”, of the Black Stone, of their “savior.” It is worshipping the image of the Beast.
More Than Just A Man?
Some believe that Antichrist may not be an actual man at all, but rather something entirely different. In Revelation 13, the Beast is a kingdom or empire or system, yet is often described as a “him” or “he” anthropomorphically in many translations:
Revelation 13:4-6, “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who [is] like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.” (NKJV)
However, from a textual standpoint, this need not be the case at all according to the Greek. The translators of the ESV understood this and rendered the verses accordingly:
Revelation 13:4-6, “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’ And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” (ESV)
Many who now view Biblical eschatology from the perspective of an Islamic End-Time paradigm are of the opinion that the “him” who receives the mortal “head wound” is not a person, but rather was likely the power and might of the Islamic Empire that ceased with the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. Today, however, we are beginning to witness a reawakening of Islamism in the Muslim world, particularly with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and even the Islamist AKP Party in Turkey and the startling speed by which Islamism has so far been able to subdue all opposition, essentially imitating the sort of power and influence that one would expect during the induction of a “Neo-Ottoman” Islamic Empire. We are beginning to witness a “healing” as it were of the Islamic Caliphate that received its mortal “head wound.”
As a system, Islam is itself fully and completely Antichrist to the core (1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). In the article “2 Thessalonians 2:4 — A Rebuilt Jewish Temple, or Something Else?” I felt it was important to note that:
There is also one final point that needs to be considered as well with respect to the “man of sin”. We should not discount the possibility that the “man of sin” may not be pointing to one single person as it were, though the general consensus is precisely that, but could instead be pointing to one single entity or system. The Ekklesia of God is comprised of a great multitude of believing Jews and Gentiles created as “one new man” in Christ who are marked by God (Eph. 2:15, Rev. 14:1) and described by John in Revelation 7 as the “multitude of the lamb”, ie, Jesus Christ. Conversely, the “man of sin” (2 Thess 2:3) could therefore be its direct antithesis comprised of those who have the Mark of the Beast and described by John in Revelation 13 as the “multitude of a man”, ie, the “prophet Mohammed”. If this is the case, then we may be even closer to the cusp of prophetic fulfillment than many of us realize.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that the “man of sin” or “lawlessness” — whom we often refer to as Antichrist — “takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” It is important to note, however, that the Greek word for “in” is the word “eis” (G1519), but it does not only mean “in.” It is also translated dozens of times as “against” in Scripture. For example:
Matthew 10:21, “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.”
Matthew 18:21, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’”
Mark 14:55, “Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.”
In the context of 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the Apostle Paul made a reference to the “temple of God.” The natural assumption on the part of the translators would have therefore been to interpret “eis” to mean in. But in light of the full canvas of Scripture we now understand that the New Testament writers, including the Apostle Paul, no longer defined the temple of God in terms of one that was made of stone, but rather as one made of people — the Ekklesia of God (the Church):
1 Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
1 Peter 2:5, “And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.” (NLT)
Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner[stone], in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
In this light, the Holy Spirit could very well have been referring to the “man of sin” or “lawlessness” as the Ummah of Islam which stands against the temple of God, essentially displaying itself as God by usurping the Divine title/office/way of Salvation in claiming that salvation is only found in “Allah and His Messenger” and not in YHWH and His Messiah. And, sure enough, the Ummah of Islam stands against the temple of God and does this very thing today, blaspheming the God of our Salvation and boastfully declaring that “Jews and the Christians are enemies of the [Islamic] believers” who are “cursed” because “adhering to Islam is the only path to enter heaven, and escape hellfire” . If Antichrist is [or is also] a system and not a man per se, then we may indeed be even closer to the cusp of prophetic fulfillment than many of us realize.
What Does It All Mean?
Islam is directly influenced, controlled and is even being given its authority by Satan himself. I think most of us would agree. Lately, however, Islam has been strengthening considerably in its authoritative influence, and may even strengthen militarily if/when Iran reaches nuclear capability. But it is more than just a violent religion that hates everything outside of its own ideology. It is Satan’s platform upon which he is attempting to exalt himself and become like the God of Heaven. It is a means to an end.
As the Prophet Isaiah tells us, Satan has explicitly declared his intention to rise above the stars of God and to become like Him:
Isaiah 14:12-14, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation … I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
It is no coincidence that this also happens to be the exact description of Antichrist as given to us by the Prophet Daniel. Isaiah exposes Satan’s own corrupted ambitions, to magnify himself above everything that is called god, above everything that is associated with the God of gods, to be like God Himself. And the Ummah of Islam is how he intends to accomplish this. The “stars of God” may even be referring to the people of God, His Ekklesia:
Deuteronomy 1:8-11, “‘See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers–to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–to give to them and their descendants after them.’ … ’The LORD your God has multiplied you, and here you [are] today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. ’May the LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you”
The name of Satan in Isaiah 14:12 (Lucifer) is “heylel,” which means “light-bearer”. The Arabic equivalent of Satan’s name is “hilal,” which means “crescent moon.” Also consider the “Takbir” of Islam, the victory cry of “Allahu Akbar.” What are they saying? It doesn’t mean “God is great” as it is often translated in the West. It actually means “Allah is greater.” If it is Satan’s intention to be like the Most High and to exalt his throne above the stars of God and sit upon the mount of his own congregation, it only stands to reason that Satan will seek to accomplish these things and perform these blasphemies through the religious system to which he has given power and authority — Islam. After all, those who marvel and follow the Beast “worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast” (Rev 13:4), and Satan knows that when they are worshipping “Allah” and the image of the Beast, they are worshipping him. Satan is therefore working to exalt and magnify himself as the Prophet Isaiah described through the religious ideology of Islam that diametrically opposes everything that the Judeo-Christian faith represents and stands for. But although the enemy will try to destroy what God has created, he cannot and will not prevail against the Ekklesia of God. All he can do is create his own corrupted version of God’s elect, to wage war against God’s elect, in an effort to replace God’s elect with one that is created in his own image:
* Yahweh has the Ekklesia (The congregation of God).
* Satan has the Ummah (The congregation of Allah).
* Yahweh’s Ekklesia is “as a bride adorned for her husband” and filled with “the glory of God”.
* Satan’s Ummah is a harlot “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls” filled with abominations.
* Yahweh has given the Ekklesia His Word, the Bible.
* Satan has given the Ummah its corruption, the Qur’an.
* Yahweh’s Ekklesia is the multitude of the Lamb, whom they follow.
* Satan’s Ummah is the multitude of a man, the “prophet” Muhammed, whom they follow.
* Yahweh’s Ekklesia comes out of Great Tribulation.
* Satan’s Ummah is responsible for it.
* Yahweh’s Ekklesia receives the seal of God upon their foreheads and are redeemed.
* Satan’s Ummah receives the Mark of the Beast upon their foreheads and are condemned.
* Yahweh’s Ekklesia will be lead to springs of living waters.
* Satan’s Ummah will drink of the wine of the wrath of God.
To borrow the analogy from the concluding remarks made in the Revelation 13 commentary, the stage has been set. In the “theatre” of Biblical eschatology, it is ready for the final act. All “props” are in position. The “characters” are in full costume. And the world is watching in attendance. Very soon we will witness the final act begin, and through Islam Satan will make his final stand against the Prince of princes.