|A335 : by Tony Garland |
I took the time to listen to MacArthur’s original presentation on this topic at the Grace To You website.1.
Among other things, MacArthur appears to teach the following:
#1 - The end-times teaching (eschatology) of Islam is a specific fulfillment of Jesus predictions concerning false Christs as given in Mark 13:22 (and, by implication, Matthew 24:5,24).
- The end-times teaching (eschatology) of Islam is a specific fulfillment of Jesus predictions concerning false Christs as given in Mark 13:22 (and, by implication, Matthew 24:5,24).
- The figure of the Mahdi, as predicted by Islam, is the Biblical Antichrist
- The Jesus of Islam is the False Prophet of Christianity
- The Antichrist will have a geographic connection to Rome
- The seventh kingdom of Revelation 17 (fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7) may well be the Ottoman Empire}
Go over to [Mark 13:22] - you heard me read this - "false Christs, false prophets will arise, show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” . . . I want to just talk about that for a moment, in a way that perhaps will be interesting to you. There always are false prophets, always false teachers - we know that - always people who claim to be Jesus, claim to be Jesus Christ - some more notable than others. But as you get to the end of human history, and you get into the period of time called the tribulation, there is a specific fulfillment of this prophecy that I want you to understand, and it has to do with Islam.2
One is tempted to give MacArthur the benefit of the doubt: perhaps he is only teaching that the bogus predictions of Islam are an example of teachings about false Christs. But, he goes on to teach that he believes that the Islamic predictions will in fact come true in the person of an Islamic Antichrist, the Mahdi. This is unfortunate in that it implicitly elevates the writings of Muhammed as some sort of inspired prophecy—in their ability to accurately predict aspects of the coming Biblical Antichrist.
#2 - The figure of the Mahdi, as predicted by Islam, is the Biblical Antichrist
In Islamic eschatology, there are three great signs of the end of history; . . . and each of them is a man. . . . the first man that will come in the end of history is the Mahdi . . . sometimes heʼs called the Twelfth Imam. . . . Their writings say the Mahdi will come and make - at first - a peace agreement with the Jews and the West for seven years; the reign of Mahdi lasts seven years, in which he establishes Islam on the earth. Their holy writings say this: the Mahdi will come riding on a white horse - and it even says in their writings, “As it says in Revelation 6:1 and 2.” . . . the Mahdi will be a messianic figure. He will be a descendant of Mohammed. He will be an unparalleled, unequaled leader. He will come out of a crisis of turmoil. He will take control of the world. He will establish a new world order. He will destroy all who resist him. He will invade many nations. He will make a seven-year peace treaty with the Jews. He will conquer Israel and massacre the Jews. He will establish Islamic world headquarters at Jerusalem. He will rule for seven years, establish Islam as the only religion. He will come on a white horse with supernatural power. He will be loved by all people on earth. If that sounds familiar, that is a precise description of the biblical Antichrist – absolutely, step-by-step-by-step-by-step - the Bibleʼs Antichrist is their Mahdi. . . . the description of the Mahdi is exactly the description of the biblical Antichrist, the beast of Revelation 13; and you go into any kind of a study of that, and you will find that all the details match up perfectly.3
These are overly-strong claims, especially:
Somehow, Muhammed accurately predicted a figure which aligns perfectly with the Biblical revelation of the Antichrist! WOW!
- . . . that is a precise description of the biblical Antichrist - absolutely, step by step by step by step
- The description of the Mahdi is exactly the description of the biblical Antichrist . . . all the details match up perfectly
As we shall see, the correlation is not so clear as Dr. MacArthur claims:
#3 - The Jesus of Islam is the False Prophet of Christianity
- The Biblical Antichrist has a Roman origin (more on this)
- The Biblical Antichrist arises directly out of the 7th kingdom (7th head of the beast of Revelation 19) which MacArthur later suggests could be the Ottoman Empire
- The Biblical Antichrist dies and comes back to life (Rev. 11:7; 13:3)
- The Biblical Antichrist is worshipped directly (Rev. 13:8)
. . . thereʼs a second sign, a second person, and it is Jesus. . . . Heʼs a prophet, and he comes back, and he has one purpose when he comes back, and that is to assist and aid the Mahdi. [Among other things] he will kill the Islamic Antichrist; he will kill the Islamic Antichrist. Then he will die and be buried by Mohammed, but not until he has destroyed Christianity by revealing who he really is. Who is this? You compare what he does to the false prophet in the book of Revelation - chapter 13, 16, 19, 20 refer to the beastʼs coming out of the earth, the false prophet - who aids and abets the Antichrist. . . . as the Mahdi is the exact replica of the Antichrist, the Jesus prophet in Islam is the exact parallel to the false prophet, who aids and abets the Antichrist.4
An exact parallel to the False Prophet? Nowhere do we find the Bible recording the False Prophet as killing a specific high-profile individual (an Antichrist-like figure)—as does the Islamic Jesus. Nor does the Bible indicate the False Prophet is killed or buried—instead He is dispatched into the Lake of Fire while alive—at the Second Coming (Rev. 19:20).
#4 - The Antichrist will have a geographic connection to Rome
First of all, we need to understand where the Roman connection comes from? It comes from revelation given by Gabriel to Daniel concerning the destruction of the second Jewish (Herod’s) temple in combination with known historical facts:
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.5
The second temple, built after the return from Babylon—as predicted in the previous verse—was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. History identifies the people of the prince who is to come as Romans. Hence the Roman connection.
MacArthur is aware of this connection, and explains:
Now, somebody might say, “Well, you know, when you think about the future and whatʼs going to happen in the world, donʼt we have a revived Roman Empire? Doesnʼt that mean the West?” You remember that the image in Daniel 2 of the final world empire had two legs, and the Roman Empire had the west and the east? You know, of course, if you know history, that the western part of the Roman Empire basically dissolved, and the east survived for a thousand years or more, so that at the time of the New Testament, sixty percent of the Roman Empire was land that is now under Muslim control - at least 60 percent. The vast majority of the Roman Empire in New Testament times is today under Muslim control . . .6
Don't miss this important detail of his argument: sixty percent of the Roman Empire was land now under Muslim control. MacArthur's connection is geographic rather than ethnic. But Daniel doesn't say anything about the land. It identifies, the people of the prince who is to come. So the predicted relationship has nothing to do with geography and everything to do with ethnic descent. Quite simply: a Muslim people did not overthrow the city and the sanctuary in 70 A.D., as predicted by Gabriel's prophecy to Daniel.
#5 - The seventh kingdom of Revelation 17 (fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7) may well be the Ottoman Empire
In Revelation 17:9 to 11, it says there were six kingdoms and then a seventh and finally an eighth. What is the seventh? Well thereʼs been a discussion about that - it well could be the Ottoman Turk Empire, which lasted five hundred years, and didnʼt really fall till the modern era.7
But what else does the passage say about the seventh kingdom?
. . . Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time8
The seventh kingdom is short-lasting. The seventh kingdom is the head with ten horns out of which arises the Antichrist is contemporaneous with the ten horns—which are also kings.
The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.9
Again the emphasis is on a short-lived (for one hour) co-rule of the ten horns with the Antichrist, all of which arise contemporaneously out of the 7th head. But MacArthur would have us consider the Ottoman empire as the 7th head whereas the Antichrist (or Mahdi, per his presentation) has yet to appear.
- The Islamic Antichrist - The third figure in Islamic eschatology mentioned in his presentation — the Islamic Antichrist — is not such a good Biblical fit. MacArthur explains that this third individual predicted by Islamic eschatology, the Islamic Antichrist who claims to be Jesus, is killed by the Islamic Jesus. Who is the parallel figure in Biblical eschatology? If Islamic writings get this aspect so wrong (the timing, role reversal) why on earth should we put stock in other aspects of their predictions (the Antichrist [supposedly Mahdi] and False Prophet [supposedly Jesus])?
- Are Islamic writings truly predictive? - When describing how the writings of Islam appear to eerily foreshadow Biblical passages, Dr. MacArthur seems to imply that such writings have true predictive qualities. But Mohammed wrote in the 7th century A.D. (609-632) and had great familiarity with the Bible—so it only make sense that the writings of Islam would borrow from the Bible, especially in eschatology. The Islamic writings give this away, as MacArthur quoted: Their holy writings say this: the Mahdi will come riding on a white horse - and it even says in their writings, 'As it says in Revelation 6:1 and 2.' (emphasis mine). This is similar to the way in which ancient creation myths reflect aspects of the true creation account in Genesis. Rather than being amazed at how Islam "predicts" similar truths to the Bible, we ought instead to yawn and realize that many sources borrow from Biblical revelation and subvert it for their own purposes (e.g., the Book of Mormon).
- Monotheists unlikely to worship a man - Like Jews and Christians, Muslims are monotheistic. Rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, they are extremely unlikely to worship any man. Like committed Christians and Jews, I expect zealous Muslims will refuse to worship the beast and be among the numerous individuals killed by his ruthless reign.
- Sensational, sloppy teaching on prophecy - This sort of sensationalization of prophecy is exactly what we wouldn't expect from the likes of John MacArthur. It is sloppy exegesis—actually eisegesis—there is no other polite way to say it. It is sensational (reading current events into Biblical passages, like the reformers who frequently made the Pope the Antichrist).
One measure of good Biblical exposition is whether it remains relevant with the passage of time. Much of Dr. MacArthur’s teaching stands this test of time—but I’m pretty certain this presentation won’t. I suspect this presentation will be seen to be increasingly irrelevant as time progresses and the political realities on the ground continue to shift in ways none of us can predict and which are not specifically revealed within Scripture.
- Another example which will dissuade Christians from a desire to study Biblical prophecy - serious students of God’s Word will be put-off by the imprecision and exaggerated claims made within the presentation.