The deaths of Christians reveal the Antichrist Empire — Islam

Revelation 12:17 (NASB) So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Daniel 7:25 (NASB) ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

Journalist James Foley about to be beheaded by Islamist, REUTERS Media

Journalist James Foley about to be beheaded by Islamist, REUTERS Media

Scripture is clear. Revelation 12 prophesies that beginning with the birth of the Only Begotten One, a great war will ensue against those who follow the “commandments of God” (true Judaism, perhaps the remnant of Romans 9:27 NASB) and also those who “hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:17 NASB. This Scripture is of great importance. It tells us that the one characteristic that will identify the hand of satan is to identify the party on the “other side of the line.” Identify the empire that wages war against Jews and Christians and you will identify the antichrist empire.  It is not Rome in any fashion whether the political European Union or the religious Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church has historically martyred those it considered to be heretics. It did so to eliminate those it considered a threat to its view of Scriptures. Rome labeled Jews as “Christ-killers” based upon the church fathers’ interpretation of Matthew 27:25. This resulted in the persecution and death of many Jews over the years of Christianity, particularly during the Inquisitions of the Middle Ages. Martin Luther, the father of the protestant reformation, took the same approach to Anabaptists. Luther stated:

[Anabaptists] are in no case to be tolerated. … These are thieves and murderers of whom Christ spoke in John 7, persons who invade another man’s parish and who usurp another man’s office. … They must neither be tolerated nor listened to, even though they seek to teach the pure Gospel, yes, even if they are angelic and simon-pure Gabriels from heaven. … “If he refuses [to keep his mouth shut] … consign the scamp into the hands of his proper master. … Luther, then, advocated that Anabaptists be hung for heresy, the only proper punishment for a treasonous wretch. There was no other option for the radicals for they were a threat not only to society; but to Christianity in general.1

Rome has not done to Christianity (or to Judaism) what Islam has. Rome will not be the manifestation of antichrist in the end-of-days, in fact, the Roman Catholic Church is the world’s most public advocate for Christ (although the method of worshiping God is quite different from that of many of the Protestant viewpoint).  Rome is “different” but so is Islam. Islam is like the opposite side of the “different” characteristic of Daniel 7:19, Daniel 7:23-24. Interpreters must determine which side is the dark side. In my view, there is not even a question of which is the dark side.

Here is an example of the dark side of Islam as recently reported by Christianity Today:

This time, the approximately 28 men targeted by the Libya affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as Daesh) were Ethiopian Christians. In February, the killing of 21 mostly Egyptian Christians drew widespread horror and fears of future massacres, but also led to Egypt’s largest Bible outreach. … The New York Times reports more details on the video, as doesCNN. Regarding how Mosul Christians were told to convert to Islam or pay a protection tax, the speaker in the video says, “The Christians never cooperated.” Read more.

As we all know, I could give many more examples of the violence that ISIS has waged against Christians for no other reason than they are Christians. The same could be stated for Jews. Islam throughout the world is intent on annihilating Israel from the face of the earth. Psalm 83 prophesies of the endless war of the sons of Ishmael and Esau against the sons of Jacob:

Psalm 83:2-7 (NASB) For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, And those who hate You have exalted themselves. 3 They make shrewd plans against Your people, And conspire together against Your treasured ones. 4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, That the name of Israel be remembered no more.” 5 For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant: 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; …

It is so simple it is difficult. Find the empire that wages war against Jews and Christians and you will find the antichrist empire. Rome is a religious empire and so it satisfies the “different” characteristic of Daniel 7; but it does not satisfy the waging war characteristic of Revelation 12. Islam does. It is a religious kingdom, it is different. It has also waged war against Jews and Christians since its inception in the 7th century and continues to do so in the modern-day.

ISIS is more than it appears to be. It is an identifier of the antichrist, and Islam is simply the cloak under which satan covers. It has done that for the last 1400 years. In the process, Christianity has been all but decimated from the land that Jesus once walked.

Jesus come quickly. May you come sooner than later.

Blessings.

Jack

Footnotes to post:
  1. See Islam the Cloak of Antichrist and references there, page 47 []

Atonement: Muslim vs Christian Understanding

lamb.kevinGod-saves or do-it-my-way? God-salvation or self-salvation, which will it be? Perhaps we might say “grace” or “pay-your-own-way?” How is there even a choice? Christ or Muhammad? Son of God or son of Quraysh?

The Bible teaches that sin is universal (Isaiah 53:6). All sin, and everyone falls short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23). Mankind’s sinfulness acts as a separator between man and God (Isaiah 59:2), a barrier that removes humanity from God, and renders relationship with holy God, impossible.  Hence, humanity is “out-of-relationship” with God, and in need of being reconciled.  Atonement is the doctrine whereby God and mankind are made “at-one-ment,” that is, God and mankind are reconciled, and the nature of this new reconciled relationship is eternal and without end.

Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness, humanity cannot make amends for acts of sinfulness, nor can humanity’s righteous acts “offset” unrighteous acts.  Isaiah 64:6 puts it this way: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments.”  Man’s best efforts at righteousness are likened to filthy rags.  How then can humanity ever make amends for unrighteous acts if our righteous acts are likened to filthy rags?  Likewise, how then can “filthy rags” offset unrighteous acts?  Quite the opposite occurs.  Mankind is dismally separated from God and can do nothing to make things right.  It is as if humankind has an incurable illness; an illness that will keep him eternally separated from a holy God.

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“DIG” – The mystery of the biblical red heifer and the building of the Third Temple (via Hollywood!)

red.heiferI have never written a blog-post about a TV series or a movie; and, that is not my intent now. But what if a TV mini-series (not a documentary) has a plot that uses the Bible and the Mishna (the collection of Rabbinical oral saying of Judaism) to write its story-line? Six months ago, I started writing a post on the red heifer of Numbers 19. I never finished it. The mini-series gave me the push I needed. Who would imagine that the building of the 3rd Temple on the Temple Mount could hinge on ashes of a female red cow, a biological anomaly, mixed with the spring waters of the Siloam Spring and sprinkled in a precise way by a retually pure modern-day Levitical priest (there are none today)? Be blessed.

USA Network mini-series, “DIG,” premiered on March 5, 2015, and champions an end-of-days conspiracy pitting Jewish and Christian apocalyptics, surprisingly working together to reach the same end-goal — the coming of Messiah. Of course for Jews, the coming of Messiah will be for the first time, and for Christians, the coming of Jesus Christ will be for the second time.1 The two apocalyptics are headed in a parallel yet divergent end-game, each a partner with the other, to hasten the coming of Messiah. The prophetic fulfillment for both paradigms will require the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. As most are aware, the Temple Mount is under the control of a Jordanian charitable trust (called “waqf”), and its Arab trustees maintain and control the Mount and the two religious structures, thereon, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque. Israel is responsible for security on the Temple Mount. Jews may visit the Mount but they cannot pray upon it. Arabs, through the Jodanian charitable trust’s ownership of the Mount, claim sovereignity over the Temple Mount. Therefore, any attempt to rebuild the Temple in the modern-day will require Israel to claim sovereignty over the Temple Mount, an act most certainly leading to the destruction of both the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, and a near-guarantee of the beginning of World War III.2 Palestinian Arabs have long eschewed any Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, and in fact, have claimed East Jerusalem to be their future capital of the future Palestinian State (where the Temple Mount is located).  DIG is Hollywood’s version of Arab and Jew claims to the holiest and most contested ground in the world, the Temple Mount, and how apocalyptics could play into a precarious balance of Arab and Jewish claims over the same piece of ground.

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Footnotes to post:
  1. Christianity considers the historical, Jesus of Nazareth, to have fulfilled the suffering servant Messiah prophecy of Isaiah 53; and, Jesus’ death on a cross is the atoning death that offers salvation and forgiveness to humanity. []
  2. The Jews gained access to the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six Days War but by agreement with the Arabs agreed to limit Jewish prayer access to the lower Western Wall, the only remaining remnant of Herod’s temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Jews had responsibility for security on the Temple Mount but could not access the upper section. []

Palm Sunday – Why Wave the Palms?

We handed them out as people left church that Palm Sunday– the branches, that is; long, narrow, palm branches. Its been several years now since that Sunday but my memory of it seems just as fresh today as it did that Sunday.

Kurds Flee Islamic State into Turkey

Kurds Flee Islamic State into Turkey

I had just finished preaching from John 12:12-19 NASB, a text familiar to most Christians. The text paints the picture of an expectant and exuberant crowd, most of them waving Palm Branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem seated upon a donkey; a glorious celebration, no doubt.  As my congregants left church that Sunday morning, I remember saying,  “Wave your branches high,” as if the higher they were held the more “real” Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was.  But my cry was to little avail.  As I reflect now, my congregants were more interested in waving good-by to one another than in waving palm branches. In hindsight, the palms seemed like an after-thought, almost like a party-favor for attending church that day.  But that was then, and now is now. Have you observed the plight of Christians as “dhimmis,” in the modern-day. Whether Copts in Egypt or Christians in Iran, Iraq, Syria or every place that ISIS has entered the fray? Palm branches were taken out of the the hands of Christians in the 7th century so many years ago. It is my prayer that a little history will make this Palm Sunday one you will never forget.

Before we look at dhimmis and what palm branches were taken out of the hands of Christians by Islam, let’s see what the Scripture has to say about when they were waved:

  • The people of Israel used palm branches to rejoice before the Lord in the Feast of Booths, to celebrate God’s deliverance and bounty in times of hardship. Leviticus 23:40
  • Solomon decorated the Temple with palm branches carved in conspicuous places all over the Temple. They were symbols of rejoicing in the presence of Yahweh. 1 Kings 6:32
  • Palm branches were used as ornaments to decorate the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel, presumably for the same reason as that of Solomon’s first Temple.  Ezekiel 40:16, 40:26, 41:18
  • Palm branches were waved by Jesus’s followers when He entered Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.
    • John 12:13 (NASB) took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.”
  • Palm branches were in the hands of the great multitude rejoicing in heaven before the throne of the Lord.
    • Revelation 7:9 (NASB) After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
  • Easton’s Bible Dictionary has this to say about palm branches:
    • The whole land of Palestine was called by the Greeks and Romans, “Phoenicia,” i.e., “the land of palms.” Tadmor in the desert was called by the Greeks and Romans, “Palmyra,” i.e., “the city of palms.” The finest specimens of this tree grew at Jericho (De 34:3) and Engedi and along the banks of the Jordan. Branches of the palm tree were carried at the feast of Tabernacles (Le 23:40).

Palm branches were symbols of joy to the people of the Lord, they were used to celebrate the acts of God on behalf of His people. For this reason, they frequently adorned His house or were used as symbols of His victorious actions. It is for this reason that the people waved palms as Jesus entered Jerusalem while they proclaimed Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.”

But what does this have to do with Islam and Bible prophecy? History. Its all about history.

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It is beginning – Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen overnight, 3/26/15

People gather at the site of an air strike at a residential area near Sanaa AirportAnother step has just been taken in the eschatological journey towards fulfillment of Revelation 17 and 18. According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia bombed Yemen last night:

(Reuters) – Warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck Shi’ite Muslim rebels fighting to oust Yemen’s president on Thursday, a gamble by the world’s top oil exporter to check Iranian influence in its backyard without direct military backing from Washington. Riyadh’s rival Iran denounced the assault on the Houthi militia group, which it backs, and made clear the kingdom’s deployment of a Sunni coalition against Shi’ite enemies would complicate efforts to end a conflict likely to inflame the sectarian animosities fuelling wars around the Middle East. …

Yemen’s crisis now risks spiraling into a major war with Iran backing the Houthis, and Sunni Muslim monarchies in the Gulf supporting Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his fellow Sunni loyalists in Yemen’s south.  Read more.

iranian.alliance.12.17.2014.croppedDo you ever forget who is on whose side? Here is a refresher for you:

  1. Saudi Arabia, i.e., the Royal family, is Sunni  Muslim, and supposedly an ally of America;
  2. Yemen has just been overrun by Iranian backed rebels, Al-Houthis, a sect of Shiism not existing outside of Yemen, and principally located in north Yemen. Regardless, Iran backs them and has assisted them in their ouster of Yemen’s President Hadi, a United States ally.
  3. Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the Yemen based branch of Al Qaeda, enemies of Saudi Arabia as well as Iran. AQAP is Sunni Salafi. AQAP and the Houthis are also enemies so any attack by Saudi Arabia on the Houthis is a help to AQAP.
  4. Islamic State (ISIS) are enemies with everyone, including Iran, the Houthis, and AQAP. ISIS is Sunni Salafi-jihadist but it is not an ally of AQAP. ISIS was at one time an al-Qaeda branch but broke away from Al Qaeda because its brand of Islam was not violent enough. This past week, Reuters reported that ISIS attacked interests in both Yemen and Tunisia making its reach more and more global.  This was the first attack by ISIS in Yemen and was of great surprise to many.

With four different groups at war with one another all within the confines of Yemen, no wonder the country is near collapse. This is particularly relevant with the overnight bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia. We now have two ancient enemies entering the same fray, Iran and Saudi Arabia, major players in end-times prophecy interpretations. In my book, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, I interpret Revelation 17 and 18 as being fulfilled by Iran attacking Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, the “mystical Babylon the Great,” and the birthplace of Islam, is destroyed in “one hour” (Revelation 18:17-19) after the formation of a ten-member coalition (Revelation 17:12) led by the prophesied Muhammad al-Mahdi of Shia Islam. If this interpretation is correct, the conflict in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran will escalate. With each escalation it will bring more nations, countries and groups into the conflict, until the United States and Israel, Russia and Turkey, join opposing sides of the conflict to fulfill Ezekiel 38 and 39. Of course, Iran is with Russia and Turkey (Ezekiel 38:5-6) and America is with …. (perhaps, Daniel 12:7?).

Related posts:.

Jesus come quickly.

Blessings.

Jack

Will the Temple Need be Rebuilt before the Coming of Our Lord?

Underneath the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NASB) 3  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.

How does the “man of lawlessness” “take his seat” in a temple that no longer stands?1  “Obviously, it must be rebuilt,” you say?  Gonna be awhile, then.  The “coming of our Lord Jesus” will not occur until the “man of lawlessness” is revealed and the “apostasy comes first.” As most of you know, I interpret the “man of lawlessness” to be the spirit of antichrist that was made manifest through Islam’s messenger, Muhammad. The apostasy, of course, is the falling away of believers in the end-times for various reasons. One need only do a head-count on most Sunday mornings  to see that the day of apostasy is fast upon us. So what about the man-of-lawlessness “taking his seat” in the holy place?

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Footnotes to post:
  1. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. []

Daniel 11:45 and the Islamic State

map_of_iraq(Reuters) – By Ahmed Rasheed, BAGHDAD, Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:36am EDT

Iraqi security forces and militias fought their way into Saddam Hussein’s home city of Tikrit on Wednesday, advancing from the north and south in their biggest counter-offensive so far against Islamic State militants. The provincial governor said the army and militia fighters captured part of the northern district of Qadisiya, while in the south of the Tigris river city a security officer said another force made a rapid push toward the center. … More than 20,000 troops and Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militias known as Hashid Shaabi, supported by local Sunni Muslim tribes, launched the offensive for Tikrit 10 days ago, advancing from the east and along the Tigris river.

The Islamic State is a Sunni-Salafi Islamist organization which declared itself the “caliphate” of Islam on June 29, 2014. (Read more). The Islamic State overran Tikrit in June, 2014, in one of the deadliest battles of the ISIS surge into north Iraq. Tikrit is the birthplace of the late Saddam Hussein who likened himself to ancient King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:1) of Babylon, who besieged and destroyed Jerusalem in three separate sieges, 605, 597, 586 BC. Many of the senior members of Saddam’s Iraqi government were from Saddam’s own Tikriti tribe, the Al-Bu Nasir, and were members of his Iraqi Republican Guard, headquartered in Tikrit during Saddam’s presidency.

Iraqi forces (Sunni and Shia) are now launching a counter-attack to retake Tikrit from ISIS. The primary force in the counter-attack appears to be Iranian-backed, Hashid-Shaabi (literally, “Popular Mobilization“), comprised of local Shia militias from various areas in Iraq. Iranian Quds Force commander General Qasem Soleimani was seen in Iraq directing Shia militias in their fight against ISIS militants. ISIS is reported to be straining to hold on to areas it claimed easily in 2014, including Mosul, where loudspeakers warned residents fleeing Mosul they would be considered apostates if they fled. Perhaps evidence of ISIS loosing its grip on 2014 territories gained is the destruction  of ancient archaelogicalarcheological sites in areas previously taken. Reports include destruction of artifacts from the ancient city of Dur-Sharrukin near Mosul as well as the famed Nergal Gate entry to the ancient city of Nineveh and bulldozing the site of Nimrud (Genesis 10:8-10).

There are some interesting parallels between what is happening in the Middle East right now and Bible prophecy. A key passage is Daniel 11 which provides in part:

Daniel 11:43-45 (NASB) “But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels. … But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. 45 “He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

The nations from the East and North are significant in Bible prophecy. Biblically, Babylon (modern-day Iraq) is referred to as the nation “from the North” (Ezekiel 1:4, 9:1, 26:7). Persia (modern-day Iran) is referred to as the nation “from the East” (Isaiah 41:2, 46:11). Daniel 11:45 states that these two nations will “disturb him,”and this is exactly what is occuring right now. This “disturbance” will cause the antichrist-type of Daniel 11 to erupt in wrath and destroy and annihilate many.

If Daniel 11:44-45 is in the process of being fulfilled by ISIS, several events must still take place before the Islamic State “will come to its end.” First, the antichrist-type must “enter the Beautiful land.  (Daniel 11:41). The Beautiful land is Israel, but notice, he only “enters” the Beautiful land. The Beautiful land does not appear to fall to him as does Egypt (Daniel 11:42). Second, Egypt must fall and its “precious things” will be taken over by the antichrist-type. Daniel 11:42-43. Third, the antichrist-type must make Jerusalem his capital (Daniel 11:45); or, at least he will declare it to be so since Daniel 11:43 states he only “enters” the Beautiful land. Lastly, many countries will fall to his hand. Daniel 11:42, 11:44.

If we looked at other hints in the passage to determine its application, we have at least these:

1. He seeks to be “acknowledged” by others (Daniel 11:39) in the same way that the Islamic State seeks to be acknowledged by Muslims the world over as the caliphate and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its legitimate caliph;

2. The Islamic State is already ransacking the ancient treasures of Iraq just as it is prophesied to do of Egypt. If we interpret this as a characteristic of the Islamic State for it to occur in Iraq implies it will also apply in Egypt — in due time. Daniel 11:43.

3. Boko Haram has just proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State, revoking its allegiance to al Qaeda. This is significant since Boko Haram’s influence extends to the western border of Egypt, i.e., Niger, and by proclaiming allegiance to ISIS, ISIS now extends its reach into North Africa. Given that the Daniel 11 prophecy extends itself to the fall of Egypt, Boko Haram’s African force should not be dismissed as meaningless since it now nearly surrounds Egypt. This is the case particularly when one considers that the Islamic State includes militant forces in the Sinai Peninsula which have continued to attack Egyptian forces after the fall of Muhammad Morsi. The impact of Boko Haram’s allegiance to ISUS is described by NBC news analyst as follows:

The transaction is important because Boko Haram controls an area where “ISIS has very little, if any, control,” Laith Alkhouri, director of Middle East and North African research and analysis at Flashpoint, told NBC News when the offer was made last weekend. “This gives ISIS the extra credibility and the additional territory to further its growth around the world.”

4. The final hint contained in the prophecy is the last sentence of the last verse — “… and no one will help him.” This statement is particularly relevant when one considers that the success of ISIS will depend on whether or not other Muslims join them in their jihad (either by personal efforts or financial efforts). According to James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, financial donations to ISIS have fallen dramatically. Clapper states:

Donations to Islamic State jihadists have dramatically declined in the wake of brutal executions by the group that have shocked public opinion in the Middle East, the chief of US intelligence said Monday. “I think there is change afoot in the Mideast,” said James Clapper, director of national intelligence, referring to perceptions of the IS group in the region.

What this statement by Clapper implies is that in spite of the fact that ISIS has been so successful, its success is beginning to show cracks. These cracks could become more significant to the point that ISIS will ultimately lose its support around the world. This is what Daniel 11:45 prophesies.

As we seek to interpret Bible prophecy, our interpretations cannot be dogmatic; but that does not mean we cannot find the identifiers and hints in prophetic passages and make informed conclusions. If ISIS is in Daniel 11, then there is much to unfold in Bible prophecy, including the revealing of the Antichrist, the last false prophet. Daniel 11:45 states the antichrist-type prophesied therein will “come to his end.” When he does, another will fill his place; for there is only one “last false prophet,” and that one will be the Antichrist. Perhaps this will be Muhammad al-Mahdi, the one “who was, and is not, and is about to come up from the abyss and go to destruction.” (Revelation 17:8).

Jesus come quickly.

Blessings.

Jack