On page 162 of God’s War on Terror, Walid Shoebat makes the claim that the beheading of Christians mentioned in Revelation 20:4 must mean that the Antichrist system will be Islamic since beheadings are “the very heritage of Islam.” I would not deny that beheadings are an important part of Islamic doctrine or that this practice is terrible and frightening, but I would dispute the claim that Revelation 20:4 is necessarily a clue to the Islamic nature of the Antichrist’s system. Let’s begin by looking at the verse in question.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)
I believe the reason the Antichrist beheads people at this point is related to when these beheadings take place. The context of this passage in Revelation 20 makes clear that the people being beheaded are those who are on the earth after the rapture. These are the people that were not saved prior to the first resurrection and thus were alive during the Day of the Lord judgments that follow the rapture. This is significant because after the Day of the Lord judgments begin, which are intended to torment the wicked people on Earth, it seems to be difficult for people to die in the normal way. )
“In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” (Revelation 9:6)
I will admit the following is speculation, but it seems reasonable to understand Revelation 9:6 as God supernaturally preventing men from dying as a way to escape the judgments He has prepared for them during the Day of the Lord. If this is true, then we could easily assume that this moratorium on death will be equally distributed to all those alive at the time the Day of the Lord begins, including those people who would later become Christians after the rapture. If this premise is correct, then it would seem that beheadings were chosen as a way of execution during this time for a very practical reason, that is, it would be one of the only sure ways to kill a person during the Day of the Lord.
It is notable that the word translated “beheaded” in Revelation 20:4 is the only occurrence of that word. In other places where the Antichrist’s wrath on Christians is mentioned, a much more general word for killing is used. It is, therefore, quite possible that the Antichrist only resorts to beheadings after the Day of the Lord begins and beheading becomes the most efficient way to ensure the death of Christians. Therefore, it is not at all necessary to see the beheadings taking place in Revelation 20:4 and equate it with Islam.