Since authors Joe VanKoevering, Phillip Goodman, Joel Richardson, and Walid Shoebat published their books proclaiming the Antichrist will be a Muslim of Middle Eastern birth there has been a bunch of prophecy commentators lining up to debunk their ideas.
The tone of those rebuttals has ranged from scholarly and thoughtful to unnecessarily hostile. At least one of those I read some time ago was shrill, and damaging to the body of Christ. Whilst reading it I was reminded of the words of an old pastor I once new: “When you point a finger in accusation, there are always three pointing back at you!”
Never were those words truer than in the case of this person who, during his attack on Joel Richardson, turned a debate over issues that have little or nothing to do with the gospel of salvation into something reminiscent of the inquisition; accusing Joel of heresy. And in this shameful display of ego-driven claims to interpretive superiority, he planted his root of bitterness.
So where does my old pastor’s warning about pointing fingers come in? Well, let me quote Joel Richardson’s accuser:
“Daniel has specifically identified that Antichrist will not come from the eastern leg of the Roman Empire as has been erroneously interpreted and propagated by Richardson, Shoebat, and others. As stated above, the Word of God itself provides us the proof through specific symbolism.
The basic reference is Daniel 7, reinforcing both Daniel 2 and 5, and the symbolic descriptions of the GENTILE kingdoms of his day, and those that would follow.
The LION, which had the wings of an eagle that were torn off, and then which was stood up like a man was the Babylonian Empire.
The BEAR with three ribs in its mouth (representing the future Persian conquests of Lydia (western Turkey) Babylon and Egypt) was the Medo-Persian Empire.
The LEOPARD with four wings and four heads that was given authority to rule over all kingdoms that had come before it, was without question the Macedonian/Greek Empire of Alexander The Great, and the division of his empire into four lesser empires after his death (the horns and little horns play a critical roles (sic) in the overall interpretation of the history of gentile empires in the future years to our present day);
And finally the fourth beast was what we all know to be Rome – (and here it is not the two legs which are all important, but rather it is the ten toes of iron and clay).”
(End of quote.)
You will see that those first three beasts can’t be Babylon, Medo-Persia, and the Macedonian/Greek Empires because Daniel 7:17 says they are kings that shall arise (future tense) out of the earth. Babylon had long since done its arising by the time the angel spoke those words, so the Babylonian Empire was not being referred to, and for that reason the next two were not the Medo-Persian and Macedonian/Greek Empires.
Further proof of this fact is provided by Daniel 8:26, where the angel links the two visions of chapter 7 and 8 together when he says, “the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true.” Medo-Persia and the Macedonian/Greek Empires are symbolized by a ram and a goat in chapter 8. Why would God use two completely different beasts to represent the same empires in visions that are linked together in the same book?
The answer to that question is he didn’t!
Joel also uses the Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Macedonian/Greek interpretation to underpin his theories. He is just as wrong in his interpretation as the man accusing him of heresy. But Joel doesn’t have three fingers pointing back at him!
Another detractor used a commonly agreed upon interpretation of Revelation 17:10-11 in his far less brutal, but never-the-less, unnecessarily harsh rebuttal. I quote:
“The same problem occurs when you consider Revelation 17:10-11. In this passage the apostle John is told that there are seven kings or empires to be considered in world history and that “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, it must remain for a little while. And the beast, which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.
At that point in history, the five fallen would have been Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The one existing would have been the Roman. The one to come would be the revival of the Roman, out of which the eighth and final empire, the worldwide kingdom of the Antichrist would arise.
If you insert the Ottoman Empire into this list, where does it fit? If it is, the seventh, then its revival would be the eighth, and there is no place left for the final worldwide empire of the Antichrist. I suspect this is the reason that Richardson insists that the revival of the Ottoman Empire will be the final empire out of which the Antichrist will arise, and that it will not develop into a worldwide empire, as both Islamic and biblical prophesies specify. There just are not enough empires mentioned in Revelation 17 to include the Ottoman Empire, its resurrection, and its evolution into the final worldwide empire of the Antichrist.
Another problem with Richardson’s Ottoman Empire thesis is that he completely ignores the prophecy in Daniel 9:26 that says the Antichrist will arise out of the people who will destroy the Jewish Temple. It was the Romans who destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. and it is from the Romans that the Antichrist must come. To me, it is just incredible that Richardson would totally ignore this prophecy.” (End of quote.)
I too would find it incredible if Richardson’s Ottoman Empire thesis ignored Daniel 9:26. My understanding is that it doesn’t. What it does is claim the destruction of the Temple was done by a group of people of Middle Eastern origin.
But what is incredible is that both Richardson and the man rebutting his thesis ignore Revelation 1:19, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”
All those “things” are either present or future tense. Also, Revelation 4:1, which states clearly that what John is about to be shown are “things that must be hereafter.” That word “hereafter” is again future tense, which means everything he is shown (with the exception of chapter twelve’s depiction of Jesus Christ’s birth and ascension, that falls into the category of “things which are”) takes place some time future to John’s experience on the Isle of Patmos. And that depiction of Christ’s birth and ascension is given in context of describing the Tribulation: Another future event. So Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece are definitely not represented in John’s vision.
Do I think Joel and company have got it completely wrong? No! I think they may be confusing clues that identify the beast of Revelation 13:11-18 (The False Prophet.) with those that identify the Antichrist.
So the moral to the story is, by all means debate and disagree. But don’t go haranguing your brother for something you may be equally wrong about. Never forget, we all see through a glass, darkly!
Now, here’s my take on Revelation 17:
After the words of Revelation 4:1 were spoken John is being shown the future. The beast of Revelation 17 is a symbolic depiction of an empire and its kings that begins at the point in time when the sixth king is reigning.
The seven heads have dual meanings. They are the seven mountains (some translations say, hills) on which the the woman sits. The woman represents the apostate Church of Rome that has turned away from the one true God to a panthion of demigod-saints, and changed the human mother of Jesus Christ into a goddess queen of heaven. Her headquarters is with the city of Rome that sits on seven hills. Don’t be misled by them creating Vatican city to cast a shadow over this prophecy. Biblical prophecy uses original names for peoples and places.
The seven kings are those of the Holy Roman Empire. But not just any of those kings. They are only those linked by a bloodline to the Greek Seleucid dynasty that produced the little horn, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the prototype Antichrist. They also share a common first name. The eighth king with that first name, will have a full name that equates to the number 666.
“This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a man, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Revelation 13:18).
Onomastics (also known as onomatology) is the study of names and their origins. According to this science, the name Charles means man. In fact Charles and man are interchangeable. It can also refer to attributes of the man, like stout. Recall Daniel’s description of the horn in Dan 7:20. So Revelation 13:18 could be interpreted as saying: This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a Charles, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
An expanded meaning of the name Charles is free man. This could be what is referred to in Revelation 13:1 as “the name of blasphemy.” And in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as, “The man of lawlessness.” These kings declaring by their name to be under no higher authority than themselves.
That explanation fits well with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image of Daniel chapter two, that depicted a decline in ruling power, from Nebuchadnezzar’s absolute dictatorship, to subsequent empires in which the king’s power was subject to the law. Like Nebuchadnezzar, the Antichrist man will not be governed by the law of the empire he rules over.
Revelation 17:10 tells us five of the kings are fallen. Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was the one spoken of here as the fifth fallen king. His significance, apart from his name, is that he was the last king to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by a Pope. He also ruled over an empire that actually was worldwide (though not the whole earth). Subsequent emperors were not crowned by a Pope. Charles V reign from 1519 to 1556AD also coincided with the Protestant Reformation. A major blow to the Church of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire. And another reason why the prophecy begins with a reference to him.
The previous four kings were:
Charles IV (H.R.E) 1346/1349 – 1355AD. (Elected twice.)
Charles III (The Fat) 881 – 888AD.
Charles II (The Bald) 875 – 877AD.
Charles I (Charlemagne) 800 – 814AD.
I believe it was the Reformation, which split the Roman Catholic Church and the empire/beast on which it rides that is the mortal wound to one of the beast’s seven heads. This split resulted in numerous wars. In 1534 the English Parliament passed The Act of Supremacy that separated England from the Catholic Church and Papal authority. It declared King Henry VIII to be the supreme head on earth of the Church of England. And that the English Crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.” What we see in that Act is the king and his successors assuming the roll of high priest. A thing that God forbade kings to do.
That wound was (metaphorically speaking) to the head of Charles VI. (‘one is”) He was the first from that bloodline to ascend the throne of the Holy Roman Empire whom the Church of Rome did not crown. He reigned during a time when the Reformation wound was killing the beast. His reign also coincided with the beginning of Britain’s rise as a world empire. These were the significant issues during his reign that caused the Revelation to focus on him as the king at the point in time when the vision begins.
Those who espouse the idea that it will be a literal mortal wound to the head of the Antichrist man, who will then be raised from the dead by the power of Satan, are not basing that on any scriptural evidence of Satan possessing the power to raise the dead. Nor can they reconcile that idea with Hebrews 9:27: “And it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment.”
Some say that Satan will possess and reanimate him like some sort of zombie. They haven’t paid close enough attention to Revelation 16:13 that says: “I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and the mouth of the beast, and the mouth of the false prophet.” Satan a.k.a the dragon is seen there to be a separate entity from the beast/Antichrist, so he can’t also possess him.
The fact that none of the Bible translations support a literal mortal wound, begs the question why that idea ever became popular. They use the words “as it were wounded to death” or “appeared to be fatally wounded” or “seemed to have had a fatal wound,” etc. If the writer wanted us to understand him to mean the man is dead, why wouldn’t he simply say so?
Some insist that Zechariah 11:17 is confirmation of him being mortally wounded. That is clearly not the case. The passage says: “Woe to the idol shepherd who leaves the flock. A sword shall strike his arm, and his right eye. His arm shall be withered, and his right eye shall be utterly blinded.” There is absolutely no justification for claiming that passage to mean the idol shepherd is mortally wounded (killed).
Charles VII (“The other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a short time.”) Reigned from 1742 to only 1745AD, and for most of that short reign he lived in exile, his territories having been invaded by the Austrians. He managed to win back Munich in October 1744AD, but died three months later. He was the last king with the name Charles to reign as emperor. The Holy Roman Empire finally succumbed to its wound in 1806AD as a result of the Napoleonic wars. We now watch as it is revived, and await the Emperor Charles VIII.
The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was not automatically passed from father to son. The emperor was elected to the throne by the various Prince Electors who were members of the Electoral College of The Holy Roman Empire. That at first having the function of electing the King of the Romans. Later, from the middle 16th century onwards, they directly elected the Holy Roman Emperor.
There were a few changes to the composition of that Electoral College during the centuries since its formation. It began with seven princes, increased to nine, then dropped to six. But in 1803 electorates were created for the Duke of Württemberg, the Margrave of Baden, the Ladgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and the Duke of Salzburg, bringing the total number of prince electors to ten. None of these ten electors had oportunity to cast votes because the Holy Roman Empire was abolished in 1806.
“And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (Revelation 17:12).
If the European Union decided to recreate the title of Emperor. Would they be able to recreate the traditional Electoral College necessary for his election? Do the necessary royal households exist within its boundaries? The answer to both those questions is yes.
Britain Queen Elizabeth II
Belgium King Philippe
Denmark Queen Margrethe II
Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II
Luxembourg Henri, Grand Duke
Monaco Prince Albert II
Netherlands King Willem-Alexander
Norway King Harald V
Spain King Juan Carlos I
Sweden King Carl XVI Gustaf
If you think the EU would never abandon democracy in favor of autocracy, I’m sure there were many who thought that same way back in the days when Rome was still a Republic.