Chapter 13

Logical Problems with the Islamic Antichrist Theory

We know a great deal about the Antichrist and his actions from the Bible. In this section I will examine those characteristics and actions of the Antichrist that we can be relatively sure will occur. I will show how the Islamic Antichrist theory fails to explain these actions in a way that is logically consistent.

The Antichrist Claims to Be God

There are several places in Scripture that make it clear the Antichrist will claim to be God (i.e., 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 11:36). This seems very unlikely to occur with the Mahdi since in Islam the belief that a man can be God is considered blasphemy and is the primary reason Islam is opposed to Christianity.

No matter how many signs and wonders the Antichrist does, he would have a very difficult time convincing the Muslim world that a man, any man, is in fact Allah. At the very least, one could say there is no hint in Islamic tradition that the Mahdi is anything other than a man, not even a prophet. Therefore, if anything like this does occur, it would be inconsistent with the writings of the Quran and the hadiths.

The Antichrist Sits in the Jewish Temple

In the Bible it seems clear that the Antichrist will sit in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, (2 Thessalonians 2:4). It is not just that the Antichrist “allows” the Jewish temple to be rebuilt; he actually plans on using it for the declaration of his deity. This is so contrary to Islamic doctrine I am surprised the point is not raised more often. Nothing could be more offensive to a Muslim than a man sitting in the Jewish temple, claiming to be God. One of the main reasons the Jews don’t consider rebuilding the temple today is because such a move would spark a war with Islam. This action would be a tacit acceptance of the Jewish version of history and religion. Many Muslims, especially those in Israel, deny that the Jewish temple ever sat on the temple mount.

The Daily Sacrifice

Daniel 9:27 says that the Antichrist will allow the daily sacrifice, a Jewish ritual performed twice a day, to begin again. And even though he stops this sacrifice after three-and a-half years, the Islamic Antichrist proponents still need to explain why a man who is supposed to be intolerant of other religions, especially Judaism, allows Jewish people to sacrifice animals on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Islam denies the need for daily blood sacrifices to atone for sin, yet Jews believe that the daily sacrifice must start again if they are to truly obey the Mosaic covenant. The Muslims who currently control the temple mount won’t even allow Jewish people to pray on the temple mount, so can you imagine a man, who is supposed to be such a champion if Islam, allowing animal sacrifices to the Jewish God to start again?

Will the Jews Accept an Islamic Messiah?

The idea that the Jews will accept the Antichrist as their Messiah seems to be clear from several passages in the Bible:

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” (John 5:43)

In this passage Jesus is talking to the Jewish leadership and saying that though they rejected Him, they will accept “another.” This one “who comes in his own name” is widely considered to be a reference to the Antichrist.

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” (Matthew 24:23-25)

Here Jesus says that a person claiming to be the “Christ” (the Jewish Messiah) will “deceive many.”

The idea that a Muslim man who promotes Islam will be considered to be the Messiah by the Jews is preposterous. Jewish expectations are that the Messiah will be from the line of David (who was of the tribe of Judah). The Encyclopedia Judaica says: “The rabbis agree he is of Davidic lineage (based on Hos. 3: 5 and Jer. 30: 9).”1 The Jewish Encyclopedia adds that being from the Davidic line is “essential to the Messianic mission.” 2

Even if the Jews would be able to bend on the idea that the Messiah would be an ethnic Jew, they would certainly never bend on the concept that he must be a religious Jew. There is no imaginable scenario in which the Jews would accept as their Messiah a man who promoted Islam as the true religion.

While reading reviews of Walid Shoebat’s book God’s War on Terror, I came across an interesting story from someone who asked Walid Shoebat about this issue when he visited their church.

“He [Shoebat] also taught in our Sunday school class and I asked the question, ‘Why would the Jews accept a Muslim as their Messiah?’ His response, ‘That’s a stupid question!’”

The point is that despite the Islamic Antichrist proponents telling us that the Antichrist will be a champion of Islam, most of what we know about the Antichrist from the Bible suggests that he is uniquely focused on Jewish rituals and customs. He makes Jerusalem his capital city and chooses the Jewish temple of all places to reveal himself. All of this seems logically inconsistent with the Islamic Antichrist idea.

What About Christians?

Sometimes it is overlooked that the deception of the Antichrist is primarily intended to deceive those who claim to be Christians, not the unsaved world. Considering that Islam is so feared and hated by the Western world, it seems unlikely that the Antichrist would choose a religion that has become such a “boogeyman” to win the hearts and minds of these people. I will not say that such a scenario is impossible, as I do in the case of the Jews, but I will say that of all the religious systems the Antichrist could choose to win over Christians, Islam is probably the worst.

The Wars of the Antichrist

One of the logical problems with the idea that the Antichrist will be Islamic is that Daniel 11:40-45 describes the Antichrist systematically destroying the Muslim world. In this chapter, I will discuss these wars and attempt to show that the military actions the Bible attributes to the Antichrist are not consistent with a man who is supposed to be a champion of the Islamic world.

One of the clearest doctrines of the Antichrist is that he is a man of war. He seems to come on the scene by conquering a number of countries that surround Israel (Daniel 11: 40-45). One of the things that most impresses the people who worship the Antichrist in Revelation 13 is his ability to defeat his enemies in war:

“They worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4b)

In Daniel 11:38–39 we’re told that the Antichrist’s war-making capability is empowered by his worship of a “god of fortresses,” which I believe is a reference to Satan. Revelation 13:2 and 4 state directly that it is the “dragon” (a clear reference to Satan) who gives the Antichrist his power to subdue the nations with war. Regardless of who, exactly, this is, it is evident the Antichrist uses the “god of fortresses” to help with his supernatural military victories.

The Lord also tells us in Matthew 24 that, just preceding the abomination of desolation event, which occurs at the midpoint of the seventieth week, there will be “wars and rumors of wars.” In addition, the first seal (Revelation 6:1–2) describes the Antichrist going out “conquering and to conquer.”

The last few verses of Daniel 11 names the very kings the Antichrist will defeat:

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)

The “king of the South” is a reference to Israel’s historic enemy Egypt and has been used to refer to Egypt throughout the first part of this chapter. This point is not contested by many; in fact, the word “Egypt” even appears explicitly twice, a few verses later, in a passage that speaks of the subjection of Egypt to the Antichrist:

“He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.” (Daniel 11:42–43)

It is interesting to see that Egypt attacks the Antichrist first (verse 40). The Islamic Antichrist theorist must come up with a plausible reason why Egypt, a thoroughly Islamic nation, attacks the Antichrist if the Antichrist is supposed to be a Muslim.

Conservative expositors and scholars debate the identity of the “king of the North,” who is the second conquest of the Antichrist (verse 40). During the Cold War, it was proposed that the king of the North was Russia. However, that view seems to have been based more on the geopolitics of the day rather than any clue from the text itself. These days, it is generally accepted that the king of the North represents the same thing it has throughout the earlier portion of the chapter, which includes parts of modern-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, and a few others. For more on this, I recommend the excellent paper by Dr. J. Paul Tanner, “Daniel’s ‘King of the North’: Do We Owe Russia an Apology?” Dr. Tanner concludes his paper this way:

“To be hermeneutically consistent, the ‘“king of the North’ ought to be interpreted in light of the meaning the phrase has had throughout the chapter…I would like to submit that the ‘King of the North’ is a confederation of northern Arab nations that will attack the Antichrist and his forces in this military conflict centered in the Middle East.”3

So, to sum up the first part of this passage, the Antichrist is attacked by Egypt and a northern coalition of Arab states. But, even though he is attacked first, the Antichrist completely crushes these historic enemies of Israel, subdues them, and takes their resources.

Why isn’t the fact that the Antichrist will destroy and subdue the enemies of Israel talked about more in modern prophecy teaching? The answer is that it doesn’t fit with most of the modern views of the Antichrist. Why would the Antichrist, who they think is either a man of peace or a Muslim, destroy the Muslim world? It doesn’t fit with many of the mainstream views, so almost no one dwells on this passage.

In my book False Christ I continue following the Antichrist’s wars in Daniel 11:40-45 to show that literally every nation he attacks is Muslim.4 However, I will limit the discussion in this book to just the wars he fights against the king of the North and the king of the South so that I can spend adequate time answering the objections that Richardson would raise to the points I have already discussed.

The King of the North Debate

It should be noted that even though Joel Richardson agrees that the king of the North in verse 40 is not Russia, but is in fact a coalition of Arab forces, he claims that the correct way to interpret this passage is not that the Antichrist defeats this coalition but rather that the Antichrist is the king of the North.

Since we will be spending quite a lot of time discussing this passage, I will quote it again for your reference:

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)

Because the grammar is not quite clear as to whom “him” is referring, a division has arisen on how to interpret this verse. Two main theories have been developed; they are sometimes called the “three king theory” and the “two king theory.”

On the one hand, the three king theory sees three subjects in verse 40: the Antichrist, the king of the North, and the king of the South. Using brackets to explain the pronoun referents, the three king theory would read as follows:

“And at the end time the King of the South will collide with him [the Antichrist], and the King of the North will storm against him [the Antichrist]…and he [the Antichrist] will enter countries, overflow them, and pass through”

So, in this reading, the king of the South attacks the Antichrist, then the king of the North attacks him as well, but the Antichrist defeats them both.

The two king theory, the one that Richardson subscribes to, has only two subjects in view. This is because it sees the king of the North as the Antichrist, so the verse would read like this:

“And at the end time the king of the South will collide with him [the king of the North/ the Antichrist], and the king of the North [the Antichrist] will storm against him [the king of the South]…and he [the king of the North/ the Antichrist] will enter countries, overflow them, and pass through.”5

In this reading, the king of the South (Egypt) attacks the king of the North (Antichrist), but the king of the North/Antichrist attacks the king of the South as well, and the Antichrist will be victorious.

One way to explain the difference is that in the three king view, the one that I, and most conservatives, believe, after the introduction of the Antichrist in verse 36, all the pronouns “him” or “his” are referring to the Antichrist, whereas the two king view (Richardson’s view) has the pronouns going back and forth.

J. Paul Tanner has demonstrated that the Hebrew grammar is not much help for either view and both readings are technically possible.6 So we will have to rely on other factors if we hope to fully understand this most critical verse. Tanner defends the three king theory in his paper “Daniel’s ‘King of the North’: Do We Owe Russia an Apology?I would direct anyone interested to read that paper, as he also interacts with the leading arguments against his theory.

The usage of “him” here to refer to different kings, back and forth without clarification (as in the two king view), is unprecedented in this chapter and would constitute an entirely new way to express who is fighting whom. Tanner sums it up this way:

“In Dan. 11:40, the pronouns on the prepositions marking the recipient of the verbal action (עִמּ וֹ֙ and עָלָָ֜יו ) are quite out of keeping with the way the hostilities between the two kings were previously described in the chapter. What I mean to say is that elsewhere in the chapter, whenever an assault by one of the kings against the other was mentioned, the one who was the object is specified by his full title (not merely by a pronoun)…In light of this characteristic writing style of the author, the ‘him’ is more likely the same referent in this verse, namely, ‘the king’ of the preceding paragraph, i.e., the Antichrist. This favors the three-king theory.”7

Tanner also notes that when referencing this king in verse 36, it simply calls him “the king,” not using either “of the North” or “of the South.” This is a particularly important point, considering that it would mark the only time in this chapter when this occurs (save verse 27, when it is referencing both kings).

I suggest that the three king theory is the most natural reading of the text, and that is why it is the majority view. Basically, after the Antichrist is introduced by the angel in verse 36, it quickly becomes obvious that the angel is again describing the same guy who has dominated Daniel’s attention through the entire book, the Antichrist. So, when it becomes clear that the same guy, the main subject of three separate visions of Daniel, is again in view, it is only natural that from then on, the word “him” refers back to that dominating character. You can see the same basic pattern of pronouns in any of the other visions concerning the Antichrist in the book of Daniel.

Joel Richardson argues that in the three king view, the king of the North and the king of the South have become allies, a point he strongly disagrees with.

“The kings of the North and South, who are enemies throughout the historical portion of the prophecy, are suddenly cast as allies together against the Antichrist.”8

I have two things to say about this point. The first is this is not a necessary conclusion of the three king theory at all. Richardson quotes Tim Lahaye, who theorizes that since the king of the North attacks the Antichrist and the king of the South attacks him, this is a coordinated attack of allies against their common enemy (the Antichrist). This view is simply assumed by Lahaye, but the text certainly does not say they are coordinated joint attacks against the Antichrist or that these two kings are allies in any way. In addition, we are not given the chronology of these attacks. How far apart is the attack of the king of the North from the attack of the king of the South? We are not told. It could be years between these attacks. It could simply be that the Antichrist is attempting to gain control over the entire region, and that these are isolated attempts of these countries at protecting themselves from the Antichrist.

The second point is that even if these countries make an alliance here against the Antichrist, it is not damaging to the three king theory at all. In fact, contrary to what Richardson says, such a thing has precedence in the historical portion of Daniel 11. For example, an alliance was formed in verse 6 between the king of the North and the king of the South. There is no biblical reason that these kings would not find it advantageous to form an end-times alliance in light of a mutual enemy of the magnitude of the Antichrist.

Another criticism of the three king view that Richardson makes is the following:

“The three king view turns Antiochus into both a type of the Antichrist (throughout all of Daniel chapter 8 as well as Daniel 11:21-35) and a type of the Antichrist’s greatest enemy [He says this because the Antichrist will defeat the King of the North which Antiochus was obviously a part of when that title referred to the Seleucid Empire].”9

Richardson first assumes that Antiochus is in view after verse 36, which almost every conservative scholar would disagree with. Antiochus cannot be said to have fulfilled anything past verse 36.

By verse 36 a transition has been made that now describes someone wholly different and unconnected with Antiochus.

This particular genre of a “type,” as seen with Antiochus IV and the Antichrist, where there is a complete divergence from the first individual, can also be seen in Ezekiel 28, where the first part of the chapter seems to be talking of an earthly king, the king of Tyre. Then there is a point where the actions of both the king of Tyre and Satan seem to overlap for a moment, and by the time we get to verse 12 of Ezekiel 28, it becomes clear that Satan is the only individual in view and the king of Tyre has absolutely nothing to do with what follows.

If Richardson’s statement that the three king view turns Antiochus into “a type of the Antichrist’s greatest enemy” is referring to the fact that the Antichrist fights Muslim countries, then it would be completely without merit. Such a claim only makes sense if you have already presumed, beyond any doubt, that the Antichrist is a Muslim, in which case the Antichrist destroying the Muslim world would be counterproductive. However, if the Antichrist is not a Muslim, then we simply accept the traditional view that the events in Daniel 11:40 describe the Antichrist’s actions which include a destruction of the many Muslim nations. Only the people who have already determined to see the Antichrist as a Muslim are forced to explain away this passage.

Richardson believes that his two king view fits the theory that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, but even if we assumed his two king view, he still has to deal with the fact that the Antichrist conquers Egypt, a decidedly Muslim country, as well as chasing after, and clearly intending to destroy all the Muslim communities surrounding Israel (Moab, Edom and Ammon, verse 41, as well as Libya and Ethiopia, verse 43). The two king view still has the Antichrist defeating these Muslim nations regardless of what is done with the king of the North. In Richardson’s book, it was not explained why the Antichrist would be so hostile to these Muslim nations and it seems that either the two or three king view of Daniel 11:40 is incompatible with the idea of an Islamic Antichrist.