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"Those who Can Not Remember the Prophetic Past are Condemned to Repeat It"

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"Defeat of the Turks at the Gates of Vienna"

Joel Richardson believes the Bible teaches “that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran’s Muslim Mahdi.” [1] As I mentioned in a previous article, there’s nothing new about making Islam the end-time bad guy when it comes to prophetic speculation. It has a long history, something Mr. Richardson seems not to be aware of or, if he does know about it, he’s not telling his readers. Francis X. Gumerlock makes this historical observation about Islam and end-time conjecture:

In A.D. 637, the Moslems captured Jerusalem, and soon afterward built a mosque on the Temple Mount. One chronicler said that Sophronius [560–638], the Patriarch of Jerusalem at the time, believed that this act of building a mosque on the Temple Mount was the fulfillment of the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11 and Matthew 24:15. [2]

Islam has been an end-time player since its appearance on the historical scene. Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) believed “the papacy was the antichrist alluded to in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, and the Turk [3] [Muslims] was the small horn that replaced three horns of the beast in the seventh chapter.” [4] He also identified the Turk as Gog, as Richardson does, [5] and the papacy as Magog. Luther had a great deal to say about the Turks. He published his On War Against the Turks in 1529. Everything we are seeing happening with Islam today, Luther saw in his day:

It is in On War Against the Turk that we get perhaps the fullest summary of Luther’s basic notions of the religion of Muhammad and of Muslim customs as he saw them in the Ottoman Turkish enemy. Luther argued that the Turk was a threat to the Christian in three estates: the spiritual, the temporal, and in the estate of marriage or the home. He described the Muslim religion as a patchwork taken from Jewish, Christian, and heathen sources in which “Father, Son, Holy Ghost, baptism, the sacrament, gospel, faith, and all Christian doctrine and life are gone, and instead of Christ only Mohammed with his doctrine of works and especially the sword is left.” Secondly, Luther saw the Qur’an as the basis of a creed that compelled the use of the sword through which temporal government with its maintenance of peace, protection of the good, and punishment of the wicked was destroyed. “With lies he kills souls and with murder he kills bodies.” Thirdly, Luther lifted up the practice among the Turks of having many wives as a destruction of the estate of marriage and the home. In sum, the Turk is a “destroyer, enemy and blasphemer of our Lord Jesus Christ, a man who instead of the gospel and faith sets up his shameful Mohammed and all kinds of lies, ruins all temporal government and home life or marriage, and his warfare, which is nothing but murder and bloodshed, is a tool of the devil himself.” [6]

His second treatise, Army Sermon against the Turks, was written at the time of the unsuccessful siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1529. Luther wrote the following in 1532:

I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist. But if anyone wants to add the turk, then the pope is the spirit of the Antichrist, and the turk is the flesh of Antichrist. They help each other in their murderous work. The latter slaughters bodily and by the sword, the former spiritually and by doctrine. [7]

Like today’s prophetic speculators, Luther believed that the end was near, and the presence of the papacy and the Muslims was positive proof of that claim. “At no other time in his life was he so certain of the imminence of the end, and in the months from late 1529 to the early part of 1530 he worked feverishly to understand and incorporate the event of the Turk into the total scheme of history.” [8] In a letter to a friend written shortly before his death, Luther wrote, “I believe that we are the last trumpet which prepares for and precedes the advent of Christ.” [9]

Luther was not alone in this conviction. [10] While the end did not come before 1600 like he and others thought, Islam still played a major role in prophetic speculation. In his sermons on Deuteronomy, John Calvin (1509–1564) contended that the pope and Mahomet (Mohammad) are “the two horns of Antichrist.” [11]

A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase of the Old and New Testaments, edited by Symon Patrick, was a very popular commentary series published in the early eighteenth century, with a corrected edition appearing in 1822. William Lowth’s comments on Ezekiel 38:15 are representative of the time:

Thou and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, &c.] The character here given of this people, may properly be applied to the Turks, the chief strength of whose armies consists in their cavalry, and the great numbers of them which they bring into the field, as the writers of the Turkish history observe: compare Rev. ix. 16. which place several interpreters expound of the Turks. [12]

John Gill (1697–1771) and Thomas Scott (1747–1821) followed a similar interpretive methodology. Gill mentions the Islamic Turks several times in his commentary on Ezekiel 38 by identifying them with “Gog.” [13] Scott finds “that the Turks, Tartars, or Scythians, from the northern parts of Asia, perhaps uniting with the inhabitants of some more southern regions, will make war upon the Jews, and be cut off in the manner here predicted.” Scott does not offer a timetable for when this might be accomplished. [14]

Thomas Newton’s Dissertations on the Prophecies, first published in 1755, identifies the fallen star of Revelation 9:1 with Mohammed and the locusts with Arabians:

At the sounding of the fifth trumpet, (ver. 1–3, [of Rev. 9]) a star fallen from heaven, meaning the wicked imposter of Mohammed, “opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, and the sun and the air were darkened” by it; that is, false religion was set up, which filled the world with darkness and error; and swarms of Saracen or Arabian locusts overspread the earth. A false prophet is very fitly typified by a blazing star or meteor.—The Arabians likewise are properly compared to locusts, not only because numerous armies frequently are so, but also because swarms of locusts often arise from Arabia: and also because in the plagues of Egypt, to which constant allusion is made in these trumpets, “the locusts (Exod. x. 13) are brought by an eastwind,” that is from Arabia, which lay eastward of Egypt; and also because in the book of Judges, (vii. 12,) the people of Arabia are compared to locusts or grasshoppers for multitude,” for in the original the word for both is the same. [15]

Newton saw much of Islamic history predicted in the ninth chapter of Revelation. He writes that “the last of their conquests were Candia or the ancient Crete in 1669, and Cameniec in 1672.” [16] Of course, he’s interpreting the Bible after the fact, as Richardson is doing. Did people reading Revelation 9 in the first few centuries after it was written see the rise of Islam? Did they see anything like what the futurists claim is about to happen? The preterist interpretation is based on the time texts of Revelation 1:1, 1:3, and 22:10. The events were “near” for those who first picked up Revelation to read it. All other interpretive systems are guesswork.

James Glasgow, who served as the Irish General Assembly’s Professor of Oriental Languages, writes in his 1872 commentary on Revelation, “I accord with such interpreters as have identified this meteor [in Rev. 9:1] with Mohammed, and the system called by him and his followers Islam.” [17] Glasgow, similar to Luther, argued that the two beast-like powers in Revelation are the Roman Catholic Church and Mohammedanism. Glasgow placed the fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation 9:19 with “when the Ottomans in A.D. 1453 took Constantinople, and established in Europe that dominion which ever since has been called Turkey in Europe....” [18] Glasgow’s understanding of Islam is remarkably up to date:

Now the history of the rise and progress of Mohammedanism is a history of the rise and progress of a religious system, and a vast political power inseparably united,—of a religion propagated by the sword, mustering armies compared to swarms of locusts [Rev. 9:3], and making their devastating, plundering, and subjugating assaults on ‘the land,’—the nominally Christian by now corrupted region of palestine, Egypt, Syria, etc. . . . The secret of their bravery lies in Mohammed’s teaching, and can be found in the Qur’an. He had taught them, that if they fell in Battle against kafirs, or infidels, they would be shaheds, or martyrs, and sure of Paradise (Behisht), with its sensual attractions; and that those who would slay infidels were to be called ghazi or heroes, and to enjoy the special favor of God. The natural result was an ardour that carried them over the battle-field, wishing to be slain and to enjoy the dazzling prospects of Paradise. [19]

Adam Clarke’s comments on Revelation 9 are similar. The description of the “locusts” of verse 7 “appears to be taken from Joel ii.4. The whole of this symbolical description of an overwhelming military force agrees very well with the troops of Mohammed. The Arabs are the most expert horsemen in the world: they live so much on horseback that the horse and his rider seem to make but one animal.” [20]

As the above comments show, Richardson’s thesis is not new. Like his prophetic predecessors, he is reading the prophetic sections of the Bible through newspaper headlines. He’s not alone. For example, in The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel, Mark Hitchcock exemplifies a “newspaper exegesis” methodology when he claims that “Ezekiel is God’s war correspondent for today’s newspapers. We have gone through his inspired prophecy in Ezekiel 38–39 with our Bibles in one hand and today’s newspaper in the other.” [21]

It’s interesting to see the shift from Russia to Islam in the writings of Hal Lindsey. In his 1970 prophetic bestseller, The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey presented an end-time prophetic vision where a “Northern Confederacy” attempts but fails to invade Israel in the days just before the return of Jesus. Lindsey opens the chapter titled “Russia is a Gog” with a quotation from General Moshe Dayan (1915–1981). Dayan was an Israeli military and political leader who commanded Israeli forces in the Arab-Israeli War of 1956, directed Israel’s victory in a six-day war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967, and served as Israel’s Foreign Minister from 1977 to 1979. Dayan, as quoted by Lindsey, stated in 1968 that “The next war will not be with the Arabs, but with the Russians.” [22]

Lindsey chose this assessment by Dayan because, at the time, the former Soviet Union was a nuclear superpower hell-bent on global domination. Based on world conditions in 1970, “modern communist Russia—a country founded on atheism,” [23] seemed to fit the prophecies recorded in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Lindsey then asked, “How could Ezekiel 2600 years ago have forecast so accurately the rise of Russia to its current military might and its direct and obvious designs upon the Middle East, not to mention the fact that it is now an implacable enemy of the new state of Israel?” [24] A better question would be, Was Ezekiel looking 2600 years into the future and seeing Russia, or did he have something else in view, possibly a failed battle attempt that was not too far removed from his own day? [25]

Lindsey finally got around to discussing Islam’s place in the prophetic puzzle in his book The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, but only in terms of Russia’s role. Lindsey believed that the takeover of Iran by an Islamic regime would mean that it “is a sitting duck for a communist takeover.” [26] Once again, Lindsey attempted to interpret the Bible through the lens of current events, as this following analysis demonstrates:

The Russian invasion of Afghanistan has telegraphed the Soviet intention to take over the Middle East. Russian troops are already present in South Yemen and Ethiopia, and the fall of the Shah in nearby Iran has opened the door for a Soviet conquest of the strategic Persian Gulf area. The rest of the Middle East—including Saudi Arabia, which sits on one-quarter of the world’s known oil reserves—appears to be an easy target for a Soviet takeover.

This area has now fit precisely into the pattern predicted for it. All that remains is for the Russians to make their predicted move. [27]

In Planet Earth—2000 A.D., the sequel to Late Great Planet Earth, Lindsey outlines a different end-time scenario with different players. He writes, “The collapse of the Soviet state was absolutely necessary to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.” [28] Why didn’t he say this in 1970? Although written in 1994, Planet Earth 2000 is already out of date. Lindsey wrote that Boris Yeltsin “seems to be yielding to a new foreign policy that places a priority on strong relations with the Islamic world, especially Iran, and the central Asia republics.” [29]

Joel Richardson’s book is another example of “newspaper exegesis” that falls into the trap of prophetic inevitability. The non-Muslim world is wringing its hands over the advance of Islam. It’s time that we develop a strategy to stop it. It’s a dead-end religion. Like Communism, it survives only because it has the Christian West to feed on. Let’s stop empowering Islam by claiming that it’s an inevitable force for evil in the world energized by Satan himself. It can be stopped if we have the will to do it. Islam feeds on weakness and capitulation.

  1. Get ready for an Islamic Antichrist, warns new book,” World Net Daily (August 3, 2009[]
  2. Francis X. Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour:  Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2000), 45.[]
  3. Not to be confused with the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player or the character from The Godfather.[]
  4. Mark U. Edwards, Jr., Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics, 1531–46 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983), 97.[]
  5. “I personally reject the idea that Gog is anyone other than the Antichrist. . . . [T]he Antichrist and the Gog of Revelation are essentially the same.” (Joel Richardson, The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast [Los Angeles: WND Books, 2009], 83, 84).[]
  6. Sarah Henrich and James L. Boyce, “Martin Luther—Translations of Two Prefaces on Islam: Preface to the Libellus de ritu et moribus Turcorum (1530), and Preface to Bibliander’s Edition of the Qur’an (1543), Word & World 16:2 (Spring 1996), 254.[]
  7. Quoted in Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says: A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 33. In his Table Talk, Luther wrote under the section “Of Antichrist” (ccccxxix): “Antichrist is the pope and the Turk together; a beast full of life must have a body and a soul; the spirit or soul of the antichrist, is the pope, his flesh or body the Turk.” (The Table Talk of Martin Luther, trans. and edited by William Hazlitt [London: G. Bohn, 1857], 193).[]
  8. John H. Headley, Luther’s View of Church History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1963), 245.[]
  9. Quoted in Headley, Luther’s View of Church History, 265.[]
  10. Katharine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain: 1530–1645 (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1979), 17–19.[]
  11. "Sermon 108," The Sermons of M. John Calvin upon the Fifth Booke of Moses called Deuteronomie, trans. Arthur Golding (London, 1583), 666.[]
  12. William Lowth, “A Commentary Upon the Prophet Ezekiel,” A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, ed. Symon Patrick, 6 vols. rev. ed. (London: J. F. Dove, 1822), 4:67.[]
  13. John Gill, Exposition of the Old Testament, 9 vols. rep. ed. (Paris, AR: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., [1810] 1989), 6:197–200.[]
  14. Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, 3 vols. (New York: Collins and Hannay, 1832), 2:773.[]
  15. Thomas Newton, Dissertations on The Prophecies, Which Have Remarkably Been fulfilled, and at This Time are Fulfilling in the World (London: J. F. Dove, 1755), 481–482.[]
  16. Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, 490.[]
  17. James Glasgow, The Apocalypse Translated and Expounded (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1872), 251.[]
  18. Glasgow, The Apocalypse, 270.[]
  19. Glasgow, The Apocalypse, 254, 257.[]
  20. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, 3 vols. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, [1810] n.d.), 3:1002.[]
  21. Mark Hitchcock, The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2002), 93.[]
  22. Quoted Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 59.[]
  23. Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 65.[]
  24. Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 65.[]
  25. Gary DeMar, Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction and Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future.[]
  26. Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon (King of Prussia, PA: Westgate Press Inc., 1980), 63.[]
  27. Lindsey, The 1980’s, 69.[]
  28. Hal Lindsey, Planet Earth—2000 A.D.: Will Mankind Survive? (Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front, Ltd., 1994), 196.[]
  29. Lindsey, Planet Earth, 201.[]

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