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Daniel and Revelation
This is a book about the end times. Eschatology, which is the study of the end times, is the study of what the Bible says about the events leading up to Christ's return, and the age to come. Part One of this book examines in detail the sequence of end-time events I think will begin to unfold soon. Part Two of this book is a commentary on Daniel. Part Three is a similar commentary on Revelation. In other words, this book covers the end-time sequence of events that will unfold, and then it's a complete chapter-by-chapter commentary on Daniel and Revelation in support of this view of eschatology.
This view of eschatology is different from many of the more traditional views. The antichrist, many say, will control a revived Roman Empire, which will control the world. Some claim that the Islamic nations in the middle-east will be destroyed in order to allow for a revived Roman empire to take center-stage. This book however, supports the view held by Joel Richardson, and others, that there will be a revived Islamic Caliphate instead of a revived Roman empire. Islam will be the world religion and used to persecute Christians and Jews around the world.
In many respects, this book is the fruit of what I learned from Joel Richardson about Bible prophecy. Before hearing Richardson, I had never considered the idea that the Islamic Caliphate could be an alternative to the Roman Empire. Before, there were parts of Revelation that I had ideas about, but I knew were a bit murky. With this new understanding, parts of Revelation became much clearer. This was especially true in Revelation 15, 18, and 19.
For example, the seven heads are seven kings. Five have fallen. One is, and one is yet to come. The beast is an eighth king and belongs to the seven. Try to make sense of this with Rome being the last kingdom, even if it's revived. But with the Islamic Caliphate in the picture, the riddle becomes clear. The five that have fallen are the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greek empires. The one at the time of John is the Roman Empire. And the one that would come is the Islamic Caliphate. All these are kingdoms that controlled Israel or Jerusalem at some point in Israel's history. This makes perfect sense to me. Suddenly I was looking at Bible prophecy in a whole new way.
I'm Joel Richardson's biggest fan. But in some respects, there are topics for which we have disagreement. And Richardson is the first to respect disagreement. Richardson's view is that the great tribulation is predominantly middle-eastern and that the coming antichrist is the Islamic Mahdi. Perhaps the biggest area of disagreement is whether or not the antichrist will rule globally. Richardson has a great point in that Bible prophecy is mostly middle-east centric because it's about Israel in the middle-east. The nations surrounding Israel mentioned in the Bible are today Islamic nations. And a very good case can be made for the antichrist coming from Assyria, or more specifically the region that today is Turkey and Syria.
By my count, critics have pointed to four valid problems with Richardson's view. This book presents a slightly altered view that I believe solves all of these rough edges with Richardson's view. The title of this book is The Two Beasts of Daniel and Revelation. The sub-title is The Two-Beast Islamic Antichrist Perspective. In other words, I think there are two antichrists involved in both Daniel and Revelation. As we will see, this solves three of the problems. The fourth is solved using a different non-traditional interpretation of Daniel 9. First, let's look at the four problems. Then let's take a brief look at the two-beast solution.
Problem One) Richardson believes the antichrist will rule over only middle-east countries. But then we come to those verses in Revelation 13:5-7, where it says the beast will rule over every nation, tribe, people, and language. Does not this prove a global rule of the antichrist? Richardson responds to this argument with a similar verse in Daniel 5:18-19, where all peoples, languages and nations fear before Belshazzar. However, every nation, tribe, people, and language is also used in Revelation for believers (Revelation 5:9, 7:9). And Daniel 7:14 says all peoples, languages, and nations will serve Christ in the everlasting kingdom.
Could it be that God has a purpose for allowing the Church to go through the great tribulation? Persecution and tribulation bring holiness. Each of the seven letters to the seven churches speak of a reward that Christ will bring to those who overcome sin. This includes reigning with Christ over the nations. Today, the Church is not ready for Christ to return. But just before Armageddon, in Revelation 19:7, the Bride finally makes herself ready. Revelation 12:11 says, "They overcame him because of the Lamb's blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn't love their life, even to death." Then, Revelation 21:7 concludes with the fact that he who overcomes sin will inherit all this and will be God's son. The theme of Revelation is all about overcoming sin so that we will be ready to reign with Christ in his kingdom. As the Church has become global, I believe the scope of the tribulation and the purpose behind Revelation has become global. The Bride of Christ includes people from every nation, tribe, people, and language of the globe. Thus, we must also conclude that the antichrist will rule over every nation, tribe, people, and language of the globe.
Problem Two) If the antichrist is the man of lawlessness in 1 Thessalonians 2, and if antichrist is a devout Muslim, then why would he enter the temple and proclaim himself to be God? For a man to proclaim himself to be God is one of the highest sins in Islam. Richardson responds to this by saying the antichrist will have already been proclaimed by Muslims to be the Mahdi before this happens. And by then, it will be too late for the Muslims to reverse their assertions. I consider this to be a bit problematic in Richardson's view. It just doesn't have the crisp cleanness of all his other arguments of Scripture. As we will see, the two-beast solution allows for one beast to be Muslim and the other to not be Muslim.
Problem Three) There is a controversy involving Daniel 11:36-45. Are there two kings or three? Verses 36-39 speak of a bold king who does as he wills, and who exalts himself above every god. Again, would a Muslim exalt himself above every god? Verses 40-45 speak of two kings, the king of the north and the king of the south. The king of the north is victorious over Egypt and other countries in the south. But news from the east and the north alarm him. Does this sound like the same proud king that exalts himself above every god? The king of the north attacks the king of the south and destroys him. But in verse 45, the king of the north comes to an end. Those in disagreement with Richardson’s views believe this battle between the king of the north and the king of the south represents Islam destroying itself in order to make room for the end-times antichrist, which would be the bold king who does as he wills.
Richardson believes there are only two kings in these verses. He points out that Antiochus Epiphanes, king of the north, is a type for the antichrist. So it doesn't seem to fit that the end-times king of the north would be destroyed before the real antichrist reigns. So Richardson equates the bold face king with the king of the north. Then, this bold face king of the north is destroyed at the end of the tribulation. I agree with Richardson that the king of the north is destroyed at the end of the tribulation, and not before the tribulation like his opponents assert. However, these verses do seem to read like there are three kings and not just two. As we will see, the two-beast solution allows for three kings in these verses and at the same time the king of the north is really an antichrist.
Problem Four) Daniel 9:26 says the "people of the prince who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." Since the Roman Empire destroyed the city and the sanctuary in 70 AD, some use this verse to argue for a revived Roman Empire. Richardson responds by using evidence from Josephus which says the actual people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary were under Roman command, but were not actually Romans. The Romans drafted local people to do their battles. Richardson has a point. But this argument seems to be a bit too legalistic for me. A more natural reading would be that the "prince" being referred to is the Roman ruler that commanded these soldiers, and not another "prince" that would come centuries later. The two-beast solution does not directly solve this specific problem. But a new interpretation of Daniel 9 is presented in this book which does a better job of showing why there will not be a revived Roman empire.
Richardson has many very good arguments that the antichrist will come from Turkey or Syria. This view supports a revived Islamic Caliphate instead of a revived Roman empire. But will the leader of a revived Islamic Caliphate be a global ruler? I think there are two possible ways to approach the issue. First, the antichrist might originate from Turkey or Syria and be recognized by the Muslims as their Mahdi. Then later, the antichrist could gain global power. This is what I had assumed for a quite a while after learning about Richardson's teachings. Then, I came to realize that there is another alternative. The second possibility is that there are two antichrists. One antichrist is more middle-east centric. He is the Islamic Mahdi and rules over Islam and the middle-east. The other antichrist rules the globe.
Revelation chapter 13 introduces us to two "beasts." The first beast comes up out of the sea. The second beast comes us out of the land. Nobody doubts that the beasts are a strong allusion to the four beasts of Daniel 7. But these two beasts in Revelation 13 are not two of the four beasts of Daniel 7. The four beasts of Daniel 7 are kingdoms. The two beasts of Revelation 13 are individual rulers that we will know as antichrists during the end-times week of the covenant.
Daniel 7:2-3 ESV Daniel declared, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. (3) And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
Revelation 13:1 ESV And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
Daniel 7:17 ESV 'These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth.
Revelation 13:11 ESV Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
The beast that comes out of the sea (Revelation 13:1) will be the global ruler of the coming one-world government. In Revelation the land and the sea are referenced together six times. The sea is spoken of 26 times. The sea seems to be much more global in nature, whereas the land seems more local. So the first beast could rule globally and the second beast could rule locally. The second beast comes out of the land (Revelation 13:11). I believe he will reign over the middle-east countries as one of the ten kings, who will give their power to the first beast (Revelation 17:13-14). Islam is a false religion that says Christ didn't die on the cross and is not the Son of God. The Mahdi will be the leader of this false religion. What better name for John to use than the false prophet?
1 John 4:1-3 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (2) By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (3) and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
The Mahdi (false prophet) will unite the Sunni and the Shia of Islam under an Islamic Caliphate. Revelation 13:11 (quoted above) tells us this beast has two horns like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon (Satan). I believe the two horns are the Sunni and the Shia of Islam. He will unite the Islamic world and thus be the Islamic Mahdi. From the world perspective, he will thus be a man of peace. He will bring peace to the middle-east, which is something that nobody has been able to do. So he will be perceived to be like Christ, which is like a lamb. But he will be speaking for the first beast, which is really speaking like a dragon for Satan.
In Revelation 13, both of these men are called "beasts." A beast is either a kingdom or a ruler of that kingdom. So both beasts are kings. Later on, in Revelation 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10, we learn that the beast from the land is also called the "false prophet." Traditionally, we have thought of the second beast as being like a side-kick for the first beast. We start to assume that the false prophet is a new Revelation and was not mentioned by the Old Testament prophets.
But what if the Old Testament really does talk about two antichrists? The word "antichrist" does not appear in either Revelation or Daniel. It only appears in 1 John and 2 John. The word "antichrist" means against Christ. 1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3 and 2 John 1:7 tell us that many antichrists have already come. Both the beasts of Revelation are antichrists. Both are rulers who are against Christ.
This book also takes the unusual view that the New Jerusalem will appear before the start of great tribulation instead of after the thousand-year reign. When the antichrist blasphemes Christ and those who live in heaven, he will be blaspheming against those living in the New Jerusalem in orbit around the earth. From the perspective of there being two antichrists, I'm sure both will blaspheme those who live in heaven. But Scripture seems to indicate the global ruler, the first beast, also called the man of lawlessness, will be the primary blasphemer.
This two-beast view solves several problems that have been raised against Richardson's Islamic Antichrist view. One of the biggest constructive criticisms that has been voiced against the view of the Islamic antichrist is with regard to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. Would a devout Muslim set himself up in the temple and proclaim himself to be God? For a man to claim to be God is considered one of Islam's biggest sins. But what if the Islamic Mahdi, as the false prophet, were to endorse the man of lawlessness? In Revelation 13:11-16, the false prophet sets up a statue of the first beast and causes the world to worship the statue. I believe this to be the abomination of desolation. In other words, the second beast sets up the abomination of desolation and causes the world to worship the first beast. To worship can simply mean to give one's allegiance and obedience. Worship doesn't necessarily mean the object of worship is considered to be God. So what if the Islamic Mahdi were to set up the statue of the world ruler, but later that world ruler enters the temple of God and proclaims himself to be God? It might be somewhat of an embarrassment for the Islamic Mahdi. But it's much more likely to happen than for the Islamic leader to proclaim himself to be God.
This book considers the possibility that the Old Testament talks about two antichrists. The one-world government would be divided into ten regions of the globe. These would be the ten horns of Daniel 7. One of those ten would probably be the North American Union (NAU). The NAFTA trade agreement would seem to be the predecessor of the NAU. Likewise, there would probably be a South American Union. And we already have a European Union. One of the ten might be something like a Turkish Islamic Union. This would represent a revival of the Islamic Caliphate. The Islamic Mahdi would rule over this middle-eastern and north African region. Thus, the Islamic Mahdi would be one of ten kings who give their power to the beast (Revelation 17:12-13). In Revelation there are ten kings plus the one-world ruler. This adds up to eleven kings. So in one sense, there will be eleven antichrists. But Old Testament Scripture focuses on the middle-east antichrist. Then Revelation focuses more on the one-world ruler who receives authority from all ten kings.
Another problem solved is the controversy involving Daniel 11:36-45. Are there two kings or three? Verses 36-39 speak of a bold king who does as he wills, and who exalts himself above every god. Verses 40-45 speak of two kings, the king of the north and the king of the south. The king of the north is victorious over Egypt and other countries against the king of the south. When we read what Paul wrote about the man of lawlessness in 1 Thessalonians 2, it seems obvious that Paul was referring to the bold king of Daniel 11:36-45. But Antiochus Epiphanes, the king of the north, really is a type for the antichrist who will reign over Israel in the Middle East. So he is a type for the second beast, which is the false prophet. The second beast is also Gog, from the land of Magog, spoken of in Ezekiel 38 and 39. He is also the Assyrian spoken of in Isaiah and Malachi.
A quick summary of events is as follows. The New Jerusalem appears in orbit around the earth, causing the world to tremble. During the first half of the seven years, the two witnesses prophesy. They will be spoke-persons for the New Jerusalem. They will preach holiness and allegiance to Jesus Christ as a requirement for reigning with Christ when the earthly kingdom is established. But this will only add to the world's fear. This probably promotes the formation of the one-world government out of fear of alien invasion. During this time, the Islamic Mahdi will speak against Jesus Christ and will unite the Islamic world. At the same time, other world regions will be uniting against the New Jerusalem.
In the midst of the seven years, the man of lawlessness will mount an attack against the New Jerusalem with the help of Satan. Michael will lead the war in heaven. Satan and his angels will be thrown down to the earth. But at the same time, Satan will trample some of the host (angels) of heaven. The two witnesses will be killed and lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem will most-likely disappear until the end of the seven years. The world will see this as a victory and will celebrate by exchanging gifts. The man of lawlessness will be treated as a hero and will be established as the ruler of the world. Michael is the restrainer who holds back the antichrist until the start of the seven years.
Part One of this book contains more arguments for this sequence of events.
1. Damascus is destroyed (Isaiah 17).
2. Using sanctions, the world forces Israel to get rid of her atomic weapons.
3. Israel is attacked by multiple Islamic nations (Isaiah 17:14, Ezekiel 38 (not 39), Revelation 6:12-17). The New Jerusalem appears in orbit around the earth to stop the attack on Israel.
4. The 144,000 are sealed, receiving spiritual bodies (Revelation 7:4-8).
5. The two witnesses begin to prophesy, 1260 days, for the New Jerusalem.
6. The Islamic Caliphate is formed but not without some battles between Islamic nations. Turkey in the north attacks Egypt in the south. A world government forms organized around ten regions of the world.
7. The trumpet-plagues are poured out. This is a wake-up call to overcome sin.
8. Michael leads a war in heaven forcing Satan and his demons down to the earth. The two witnesses are killed in the streets of Jerusalem. The world celebrates by exchanging gifts. They are raised to life after 3 and a half days.
9. The Islamic Mahdi sets up a statue on the temple mount in Jerusalem for all the world to worship, saying they must pledge allegiance to the world government against Christ and the New Jerusalem. Everyone is told they must take a mark on their hand or forehead to symbolize this allegiance.
10. The man of lawlessness is appointed leader of the world government as head of the United Nations. He reigns over the world for 42 months, persecuting Christians and Jews. People are forced into converting to Islam. Those who refuse are beheaded by the sword.
11. The New Jerusalem re-appears and those in Christ are resurrected. Everyone in Christ receives a spiritual body.
12. The bowls of wrath are poured out during a 45-day period.
13. Those in Christ are caught up in the rapture. We have the wedding banquet (celebration) in the New Jerusalem.
14. Christ returns to defeat the world ruler and the Islamic Mahdi at Armageddon (Ezekiel 39, Revelation 19). Christ sets up a world government.
15. During this thousand-year reign, those in Christ live in the New Jerusalem and rule over the nations living on the earth.