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?
I suggest that in order to properly interpret 2 Thessalonians 2, we must first identify the primary message of the passage. Is the primary message the re-building of the temple (as the precursor for Christ’s return) or a warning of the coming blasphemy?
To answer the question, lets look at what happened when the prophet Isaiah had a vision and found himself in the throne room of God (Interestingly, Muhammad’s night-journey is surprisingly close to Isaiah’s. As we will see, Muhammad is not “ruined” by entering God’s throne room as Isaiah was; rather, Muhammad made several to-and-fro trips at his leisure while he negotiated the number of times a Muslim was to pray on a daily basis.)
Isaiah 6:1-7 (NASB) In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” …. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! …; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
The point of Isaiah’s vision is that sinful man cannot even approach holy God, much less be in His presence. God is holy and man’s righteousness is like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) when contrasted with the righteousness of holy God. Exodus 19:21, 33:20. The sinful condition of man must first be remedied, atoned for, and only God can do this. Isaiah 6:7. Islam, unlike Christianity, considers God’s atoning work through Jesus’ death on a cross as a sacrilege, as “shirk,” an unforgiveable sin in Islam. In Islam, sin is the responsibility of the sinner; self-salvation is the only way in Islam, and where the “scales” tip to the unrighteousness of man, only man can make up the shortage (while in Hell). And even if the scales tip to the good of man, it is only the mercy of Allah that grants entry into the heavenly paradise of 72 virgins; but that point is for another post, not this one.
How might we interpret 2 Thessalonians 2 in light of Isaiah 6? Suppose to illustrate the point, we replaced the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6 with the spirit of antichrist found in 2 Thessalonians 2? How might Isaiah 6 read? I propose that the embodiment of antichrist would tell the heavenly council that he could do it better; that Jesus was in his seat and that God needed to clear room that the rightful god might be lifted up in the place of the Only Begotten One. As ungodly as that suggestion is, this is precisely what is occurring in 2 Thessalonians 2. The “man of lawlessness” will oppose God and exalt himself above God and His Son; for to deny the Son is to deny the Father. 1 John 2:22, 1 John 5:10 NASB. When he takes his “seat” in the “temple,” he is not literally “taking his seat” in God’s seat. Rather, he is supplanting God and His Son in precisely the way that Islam has done for the last 1,400 years.
In Islam, Allah and God are the same God. Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, is considered the “seal” of the prophets, the last of the prophets. Qur’an 33:40. In Islam, the Qur’an is eternal and Jews and Christians have corrupted the perfect, and eternal Word. As the corrective word, the Qur’an, revealed through Muhammad, is the last word and Muhammad is the last prophet. Although Islam considers Jesus to be a prophet (Wow!), Muhammad is after Jesus so His revelation rewrites the words of Christ and the New Testament (even though 85% of the Qur’an is taken from Scripture). Jesus is certainly not the Son of God in Islam. If Jesus is not the Son of God, He is not “the way, the truth, and the life by which no one comes to the Father except through Him” (my paraphrase of John 14:6). Of course, this means that Muhammad doesn’t come to the Father at all, whether he calls His name Allah or Yahweh. In fact, Islamic end-times prophecies hold that Jesus will one day descend from heaven and after defeating the Muslim antichrist, Dijaal, Jesus will walk behind the end-times Messiah-type, Muhammad al-Mahdi. Jesus will declare Islam to be the true religion, and will require all crosses to be removed from churches, all pigs to be killed, and all Christians to convert to Islam as the true religion or be killed.2
You may be thinking that this view can’t be correct because 2 Thessalonians 2 refers to the “man of lawlessness,” and this must be talking about the Antichrist, a single, last-false prophet. My response is how do you explain the following:
2 Thessalonians 2:5-7 (NASB) Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? … 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (My emphasis).
The Apostle is stating that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work” even in Paul’s day. That simply means that the spirit of antichrist which manifests itself as lawlessness, evil, darkness, and contra-Christ was already present in the 1st century. The spirit of antichrist was described similarly by John: 1 John 2:18 (NASB) “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” The spirit of antichrist was embodied in Muhammad. As you will see below, he blasphemed both Father and Son.
A brief history of the Dome of the Rock and the night-journey goes this way. Muslims believe Muhammad was transported by the angel Gabriel on a magical winged stead, “Buraq,” from Arabia to the Temple Mount Quran 17, verse 1 (A. J. Arberry translation) describes this “night journey”,
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, Glory be to Him, who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque to the Further Mosque [Temple Mount, Jerusalem] the precincts of which We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing.
Gabriel then took Muhammad through seven heavens, ascending a spiritual ladder through each, and bypassing Jesus and John the Baptist (who shared the first level in tandem) for a heavenly rendezvous with God (Allah). Along his ascension to rendezvous with Allah, Muhammad passed many of the great prophets, including Moses and Abraham. Upon his arrival at heaven’s gate, only Muhammad was worthy to ascend to the divine presence with Allah. The hadith of al-Bukhari describes what happened next:
Muhammad … was led to a mysterious spot in heaven where he heard the creaking of the pens, and there God enjoined fifty prayers on Muslims. When Muhammad was returning to earth, he passed by Moses, who asked him about the number of prayers imposed on the Muslim community. When Moses heard it was fifty a day, he asked Muhammad to go back and ask God for reduction, “for your followers will not be able to bear it.” Muhammad did as he was told, and God reduced the number by half, and Moses once again informed him it was still too much. Muhammad went back and forth between God and Moses until God granted him five daily prayers, which Muslims could tolerate.3
When Muhammad met with Allah, Allah initially told Muhammad that Muslims were to pray 50x a day. Muhammad left and descended the ladder but Abraham (some accounts say Moses) entreated Muhammad to return and beseech Allah to reduce the number of prayers from 50x because this was too burdensome for Muslims. Muhammad did this, and Allah agreed to reduce the number of prayers from 50 to 45. This continued until Muhammad convinced Allah to reduce the prayers to 5x a day. The Dome of the Rock is Islam’s shrine memorializing Muhammad’s night journey. It was constructed in 690 AD by Caliph Abd al-Malik.
The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine. It serves no religious purpose, including the voicing of prayers, singing, or worship meetings. It is a round dome edifice that stands over the Foundation Stone, the specific stone upon which the Ark of the Covenant once rested in the Holy of Holies, and serves no other purpose but to stand over the Stone. This is significant to the informed reader: the presence of God rendered a site holy; and none were to approach the presence of God unless they were first cleansed. Exodus 3:5. If anyone violated the rituals of sacrifice, including mixing incense improperly, he was slain by the Spirit of God. Exodus 30:9, Leviticus 10:1. To further blaspheme the Only Begotten Son, the Dome of the Rock is engraved with Arabic script declaring Jesus not to be the Son of God:
In the name of Allah, the Merciful the Compassionate. There is no god but Allah. He is One. He has no associate. Unto Him belongeth sovereignty and unto Him belongeth praise. … The blessing of Allah be on him and peace be on him, and may Allah have mercy. O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was … from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three”—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only one God. Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son … Oh, Allah, bless Your Messenger and Your servant Jesus son of Mary. Peace be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he shall be raised alive! Such was Jesus, son of Mary, (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt. It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. Lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. (Emphasis mine)
The script on the Dome of the Rock is more about who Jesus Christ is not than it is about who Muhammad is. The Dome is a blasphemy to Christ because it declares Christ not to be the Son of God, but only a “son of Mary.” This is precisely the identifier for the spirit of antichrist, and the one who denies the Son denies the Father. 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22-23, 1 John 4:20 NASB.
The Temple need not be rebuilt for the blasphemy of 2 Thessalonians 2 to occur. It already is occurring. Islam has been blaspheming the Father and His only Begotten for 1,400 years.
Jesus come quickly.
- It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. [↩]
- Timothy R. Furnish, Holiest Wars, Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden. Praeger Publishers, 2005. See also, www.mahdiwatch.org [↩]
- Abu-Rabi, Ibrahim M. “Salat.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0701 [↩]