By Nathan Jones
Q) Will the Antichrist not originate from the Roman Empire, but rather instead the Ottoman Empire, and will he be a Muslim?
To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.
A very faddish thing has developed recently in Bible prophecy. It is the idea that the empire that will be revived in the end times will not be the Roman Empire but the Ottoman Empire, and that the Antichrist will come out of that Ottoman Empire and he will be the one who will rule over it. In fact, not only do some say it's going to be the Ottoman Empire and the Antichrist is going to be a Muslim, but they argued that it's hyperbole when the Bible says that the Antichrist is going to rule over all the nations of the earth. Instead, the theory goes that he's really just going to rule over the Middle East.
I think, though, that the Scriptures are very clear that the Antichrist's empire is from a revived Roman Empire. When we look at Daniel in his writings, he talks very specifically about how the Antichrist would come from the people who overran Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple. That happened in 70 AD. It wasn't the Muslims that overcame Jerusalem. They didn't even exist at that time, as Islam was founded by Muhammad 600 years later. And so, to say that could possibly apply even metaphorically to Muhammad or to Islam would be just reading something into the text that's not there.
I also think about Daniel 7, where it talks about how a little horn emerges out of ten horns right there with them. That indicates to me that whole context is about the Roman Empire that will reemerge. And so, this ruler comes out of the Roman Empire. He is said to be of the same people who overcame Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, which was Titus and his Roman warriors who destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. If words mean anything, it is a Roman Empire.
Furthermore, I think that the idea that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, that really kind of runs amiss in terms of what Islam teaches when you think about it. For example, Islam believes in the Islamic creed, "there's one God named Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." They will not tolerate any other claims to deity. In 2 Thessalonians 2 it's talking about the Antichrist and it says that he is going to go into the Temple, exalt himself above every god or object of worship, take his seat in the Temple and display himself as being God. Well, for a Muslim to do that, especially in view of the Islam creed which says that "there's one god named Allah," and in view of the very clear Islamic teaching that Allah can have no partners, it becomes an impossibility.
Further, just consider how it stretches credulity to say that this individual according to Daniel 9:27 will sign a pact guaranteeing protection for Israel. Why would a Muslim sign a pact guaranteeing protection to Israel? I mean, if there's any group of people who want to see the destruction of Israel, it is Muslims. So, how would that work?
Not only that, but I believe that this invasion of Muslim countries into Israel will probably take place before the Rapture, or after the Rapture but before the Tribulation, or at least the very beginning of the Tribulation, somewhere in there. If the Muslim nations are largely destroyed by judgment, as seems to be indicated in Ezekiel 38 and 39, how will an Antichrist emerge from the ashes of what used to be a very strong group of people but now are almost gone?
Anyway you look at it, there're just all kinds of variables that do not fit this idea that the Antichrist could be a Muslim.
Daniel even says that he will have no regard for the gods of his father, but he will claim that he is above all gods. How can a Muslim say that? No, a Muslim couldn't possibly say that. In fact, one of the things that Muslims get mad about in terms of Christians today is claiming that Jesus is the Son of God. They say that's absolute blasphemy because that means that God has partners.
For those same people who would say the one-world religion will be Islam, I've done a lot of thinking about the coming one-world religion. Now, just think about it. The Rapture takes place before the Tribulation, that's what I believe. So, the Christians are removed. If in fact this invasion into Israel by Russia and the Muslim nations takes place before the Tribulation or maybe at the very beginning of the Tribulation, then Muslims are largely taken out of the picture, too. To me that opens up the door for the easy emergence of both the Antichrist and the great power as well as a one-world religion. And so to me it just fits chronologically very, very well.
Concerning the argument that this is going to be a local empire and not a world-wide empire and that that's hyperbole when Revelation says that, if a prophecy as you read it in the past came true literally and if you look at all the prophecies that deal for example with the First Coming of Christ and see how absolutely literal they were fulfilled, then the indication is that all the other prophecies that deal with the Second Coming and events associated with it will be fulfilled just as literally. So, there's no room for spiritualizing in my opinion. Very often in the Old Testament you've got things referring to both the First and Second Coming within the same basic passage. As the first part was literally fulfilled, so the second part will be literally fulfilled.
The proper policy is to read the Bible first. Let the Bible speak for itself and then as Jesus said in Matthew 16, to be accurate observers of the times.
Daniel 9:26 tells of the origins of the Antichrist, "The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." In other words, the Antichrist will arise from the people group that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. That occurred in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
Some like Sid Roth, Joel Richardson, and Walid Shoebat teach the current fad "Beast from the East" view, that the Antichrist will be a Muslim and the Mahdi, the Islamic messiah. The whole theory of a Muslim Antichrist is based on the incorrect historical account of what groups of people made up the Roman legions who destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, a full 530 years before Islam came into existence.
As Sean Osborne of Eschatology Today reveals from history, the Roman army that destroyed the Temple is 70 AD were those of the Legio X Fretensis, Legio V Macedonica and Legio XV Apollinaris, under the command of Roman General Titus Vespasianus. The soldiers of Legio X were Italians from the region of the Straits of Messina; Legio XV from the mixed Illyrian-Celtic people of the region of Pannonia along the Danube River, and Legio V were of the Thraco-Illyrian people in the region of the lower Danube formerly known as Moesia. In sum, the "people of the prince" were Europeans and Roman citizens.
The Jews of the First Century would have recognized the destroyers of the Temple to be orchestrated from Rome and so recognize "the people" then as Romans. It's possible that the Romans could have been lumped into the larger unbelieving Gentile world, but the text is pretty specific about the people group — Romans, not Syrians.
For the Antichrist to originate from the Middle East and Islam is religiously problematic. If Russia-Iran-Turkey is wiped out in the Ezekiel 38-39 attack God miraculously delivers Israel from, and Israel's surrounding nations seem to be non-players in most of the Tribulation, how could Islam dominate the Middle East and the Antichrist be Muslim? It would seem such defeats would dishearten any Muslim. Also, if the Antichrist is supposedly not into women and could be gay (Dan. 11:37), the Muslims would want him dead, right? Also, the Antichrist glorifies himself. Even the Mahdi couldn't do that, for worship alone is for Allah.
I'd have to conclude on these and other verses that Islam is just another system that will be wiped out before the Antichrist instills his system and makes a grab for the Middle East riches that Israel will also be claiming, hence a peace treaty and the taking over of all former Roman Empire lands.
Those who fight tooth and nail over origins, though, tend to hold to a Post-Tribulation Rapture view, and are deeply concerned that they have to be able to recognize who the Antichrist will be so as not to be deceived. I, on the other hand, believe the Church will not be around to worry about the Antichrist or even past a study interest care where he originates from due to the Rapture occurring before the Antichrist ever comes on the scene.