Nearly 1.5 billion Muslims eagerly anticipate the return of the Mahdi—the believed to be future Islamic “savior”.
While Christians await the return of Jesus Christ to rule over the nations and establish the Kingdom of God on earth, Muslims await the appearance of the Mahdi to establish the caliphate—(Islamic empire) that will rule the nations. The coming of the Mahdi is an established doctrine for both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims (though there is a small number of Sunnis who reject his future appearance).
As we study end-time prophecy it is important to appreciate what God tells us will actually take place in the Middle East. The Mahdi is a false savior—a great deception, a hope that will disappoint; yet the Bible does speak about a charismatic Islamic leader who will inspire millions…could scripture reference such a man? This may be the case.
There is a strong end-time leader, whom Daniel the prophet calls “the king of the South” (successor to the ancient Greek rulers of Egypt), who will rise up and provoke a Middle East war. This Islamic figure will attack or “push” at a dictator the Bible refers to as “the king of the North” (successor to the ancient Greek rulers of Syria). We believe this dictator from the “North” is a European leader who will then advance into the Middle East with lightning speed, overthrowing many nations (Daniel 11:40-44), attacking this King of the south (possible Mahdi).
This is what the scripture tells us:
And at the time of the end shall the king of the south (Islamic leader) push at him: and the king of the north (European tyrant) shall come against him (Islamic leader) like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he (European dictator) shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
He (European Dictator) shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
This King of the South may possibly be looked upon by many in the Islamic world, as a type of Mahdi or Savior—a Caliph who promises to establish the Islamic Empire! History tells us that various Islamic saviors have stirred up the Muslim world in the past.
Over the span of nearly 1400 years of Islamic history, uprising (intifadas) have been led by self-proclaimed mahdis. One movement of particular note took place in the later 1800s. In 1881, Muhammad Ahmad in Sudan proclaimed himself the Mahdi and launched a jihad against the country’s rulers—Egyptian forces commanded by British officers. Convinced of his own appointment as Mahdi by a series of dreams and visions, Muhammad Ahmad led his followers to conquer Khartoum and defeat the Turkish and Egyptian forces under the command of a British general, Charles “Chinese” Gordon. Muhammad Ahmad’s caliphate lasted until the Sudan was retaken in 1898 by British forces.
A movie was made abut this self-proclaimed Mahdi. Khartoum is a 1966 film starring Charlton Heston as British General Gordon, Laurence Oliver plays the Mahdi. It is based upon the defense of the Sudanese city of Kartoum, which was attacked by the Mahdi army—it is worth viewing. It will give you a sense of the reverence given to Muslim leaders.
As recently as 1979, a Mahdist movement attempted to overthrow the Saudi ruling family. Juhayman al-‘Utaybi and several hundred of his followers seized the Great Mosque in Mecca and occupied it for nearly two weeks, until they were forced out by Saudi security forces. The surviving attackers were executed. The militants called for severing of relations with the West; overthrowing the Saudi royal family and redistributing its wealth to the poor; and expelling all foreigners from Arabia.
It is believed that the Mahdi will reappear with Jesus Christ at his side, killing Jews and all the infidels while establishing the flag of Islam in all four corners of the earth. The description of the Mahdi that emerges from these various Islamic sources (Shi’a & Sunni) can be summarized as follows:
• Islamic tradition pictures the Mahdi as joining the army of Muslim warriors carrying black flags. The Mahdi will lead this army to Israel and re-conquer it for Islam. — Islam waves two flags. One is white and one is black. Written across both flags in Arabic are the words, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger.”
• He will be a descendant of Muhammad and will bear Muhammad’s name (Muhammad bin Abdullah).
• Have a distinct forehead (receding hairline) and prominent nose
• Arise in Arabia and be urged by popular acclamation in Mecca to lead the Muslims
• He will make a seven-year peace treaty with a Jew of priestly lineage (Levite).
• He will conquer Israel for Islam and lead the “faithful Muslims” in a final slaughter/battle against Jews.
• The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will kill as many Jews as possible, until only a small number of Jews are left hiding behind rocks and trees.
• The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will use the practice of beheading for executions.
• Be extremely generous and altruistic to those who embrace Islam.
• He will establish the new Islamic world headquarters from Jerusalem.
• He will rule for seven years (possibly as much as eight or nine).
• He will cause Islam to be the only religion practiced on the earth.
• He will appear riding a white horse (possibly symbolic).
• He will discover some previously undiscovered biblical manuscripts that he will use to argue with the Jews and cause some Jews to convert to Islam.
• Jesus Christ (called ‘Isa in Arabic). According to Islamic tradition Jesus will be in the midst of wars fought by al-Mahdi. Jesus will descend dressed in yellow robes—his head anointed. He will say prayer behind al-Mahdi then join him in his war against the Dajjal (antichrist). He will worship Allah, and teach unbelievers about Muhammad. This is obviously a counterfeit Jesus—the real Jesus Christ will abolish manmade religions such as Islam. All nations, including Arab nations, will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem to worship the real Jesus Christ as King of Kings (Zechariah 14:16-19). Those nations who do not worship Christ will experience national drought.
Shiite version of the Mahdi
Shiites, whose clerics rule Iran with an iron fist traditionally believe that the “12th Imam” (Mahdi), born in 868 A.D., was placed by God into hiding (known as occultation) until the day of judgment. According to the traditions the twelfth of these Imams, a boy of five years old, disappeared under mysterious and disputed circumstances in the year 874 –this mysterious figure encouraged his followers with prophecies regarding his eventual reappearance.
The Doctrine of Occultation is simply the belief that God hid Muhammad al-Mahdi away from the eyes of men in order to preserve his life. God has miraculously kept him alive since the day he was hidden in 874 AD — eventually God will reveal al-Mahdi to the world and he will return to instruct all men… The Shi’ites began to teach that the Twelfth Imam would return at a time when the Muslims were oppressed as never before, and suffering worse than ever. Many believe he will appear very soon.
The Imam, in the company of Jesus (re-imagined, as in Sunni Islam, as a Muslim prophet), would finally end the horrific persecution of the true believers, taking up arms against their enemies and conquering and Islamizing the world. Shi’ite tradition requires that the earth be “filled with tyranny and violence” before the Twelfth Imam can return.
You can see how it will require the return of Jesus Christ to chastise the nations of the world to bring about world peace. Islamic nations will come to see there is no Islamic savior. Jesus Christ is the only true savior. Zechariah 14 tells us more details of where Christ will defeat the armies of this world—that will include millions of Islamic soldiers. “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem… Then the L ord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle” (verses 1-3).
The Prophet Joel indicates the specific location within Jerusalem. Notice: “I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:2).
So it is in Jerusalem that the battle of the great day of God Almighty is fought. The steep valley that is today called Kidron, between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, will be the battle location. Christ will descend with a spirit army and tread the winepress of His wrath (Revelation 19). Revelation 14:20 reveals the blood from the fighting will run several feet deep. This great battle will usher in the Kingdom of God. Only then, after a terrible war, will the nations of the world begin to yield to the leadership of Jesus Christ! All false religion, including Islam will be eradicated from the earth.
History has a way of repeating itself, or as Mark Twain astutely observed—History rhymes. Hamas’s war with Israel has ancient roots, roots that go back well over 3,000 years. Understand that the ongoing hostility is happening in the context of old wounds and unrelenting hatreds. There are prophecies found in the books of the prophets that tell us the descendants of Edom, the Philistines, and Amalek make trouble for Israel right up to the Last Days. I believe many of the Palestinians in Israel today are the latter day descendants of Edom, Amalek and the Philistines. These people often intermarried with one another and with the Ishmaelites (much of the Arab world is descended from Abraham’s son Ishmael).
Blood Feud and Prophecy
The Bible traces the roots of this vicious blood feud between Israel and the Palestinians to the days of the Patriarchs. Two great sibling rivalries of the past impact us to this day—one between Abraham’s sons Ishmael and Isaac (see Genesis 16–17; 21) and the other between Isaac’s sons Esau and Jacob (see Genesis 25; 27–28). Ishmael was the father of many of the Arabs while from Isaac, through Jacob, came the Israelite tribes.
Isaac remember, had twin sons, Jacob and Esau, by his wife Rebekah. Amazingly, before they were born, “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22). God pronounced: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (verse 23). Both brothers were to become powerful nations—nations are often, simply families that have grown large.
Jacob and Esau were very different from each other in their personality and interests. And as is sometimes the case, each parent had a “favorite”. Esau was “a skillful hunter, a man of the field.”—Jacob was a mild man, a man who chose to stay near home “dwelling in tents”. Tensions escalated when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew (verse 33), showing he viewed the birthright as a small thing. In the process of time Jacob deceived his father into giving him the birthright blessing (chapter 27). Esau believed the blessing was stolen from him– “Esau hated Jacob” (verse 41).
This hatred and jealousy of Esau continued through the centuries and still exists as you read this. The descendants of Esau (often called Edom, Genesis 25:30) intermarried with Ishmael’s descendants (consisting of many of the Arab people today). Of special note is Esau’s grandson Amalek (Genesis 36:12) being the father of the Amalekites, who became Israel’s great enemy. A prophecy about Amalek foretold endless war between Israel and Amalek “from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). Certain Rabbis and scholars believe that many of today’s Palestinians are largely the descendants of the Amalekites (Amalek, being a grandson of Esau: Genesis 36:12).
Remember it was Edom (Esau) who refused to allow Israel free passage to the Holy Land (Numbers 20:14-21); Saul had to deal with Edomite and Amalekite aggression (1 Samuel 14:47; chapter 15), David conquers them (2 Samuel 8:14), so did Jehoshophat (2 Chronicles 20), and Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17). Malachi reveals the hostility was very much present in his day (Malachi 1:2-5).
Once ancient Israel and Judah both had gone into captivity (punished for their egregious sins), Edomites quickly moved in to take possession of the Holy Land. This is Edom’s ambition in the end time—to seize control of the Holy Land. We believe that the Edomites are scattered and located in Jordan, Gaza, Israel, Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. They are a violent people who cause trouble wherever they are. Isn’t it interesting that the end-time prophecy recorded in Psalm 83 speaks of the “tents of Edom”—this would include the Palestinian “refugee” population scattered throughout the Middle East. Also, Amalek—the grandson of Esau is mixed in among the Middle East nations as well. Psalm 83:12 declares that the Arab/Edomite union wants to destroy Israel in order to take over the Promised Land—notice the prophecy clearly mentions Edom and Amalek (Psalm 83:6-8).
History books and encyclopedias have lost track of the Edomites. The Jewish Historian Josephus tells us that when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the second Jewish temple in AD 70, they also fought against the Idumeans (Edomites). About 40,000 remaining Idumeans/Edomites survived the war and were freed by Caesar to go wherever they desired enabling them to keep residence in the area of the Holy Land.
End time prophecy tells us that because the descendants of Edom were continually attacking Israel (motivated by jealousy and hatred), they themselves will suffer violence and humiliation. The first judgment of Edom occurs when “the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near.” (Obadiah 1:15) This same verse also declares: “As you [Edomites] have done– it shall be done to you”. This will be a reminder that God will deal with Esau (Edom & Amalek) because of the ongoing violence committed against Jacob’s descendants—especially the Jews. The Edomites and their Psalm 83 cabal will seek to destroy Israel militarily, but they will not succeed.
Ezekiel 35:10-11 tells us that the Edomites are envious of Israel and the Jews. We are told God will deal with Edom of the end-time—they will be severely punished for their hatred: Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two lands will be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the LORD was there, therefore as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.…
The coming execution of God’s vengeance against the Palestinians (many who are Edomite), is recorded in Obadiah 1:18– The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken.
And the Philistines?
Anciently the Philistines occupied the southern coast of Canaan, controlling five major cities, including Gaza, Askelon and Ashdod. It is from the Philistines that the term Palestine is derived. Geographically this would essentially describe the Palestinian territory known as the Gaza Strip. They will be punished for their ongoing hostility against Israel. We believe many of the “Palestinians in Gaza, including Hamas, are modern day descendants of the Philistines. Notice Ezekiel 25:15-17: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, Behold, I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, even cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes; and they will know that I am the LORD when I lay My vengeance on them. These prophecies were often anciently fulfilled, but end-time fulfillments are yet ahead of us.
Christ will deal with all the nations—punishment will be applied. Only He can sort out the endless conflicts that plague the Middle East. Peace treaties with the Edomites, Philistines and Amalek will not calm the hatred that drives these people! The solution is the military intervention of Christ himself!–
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 11:15.
President Sisi of Egypt with John Kerry of the U.S.
In a recent article written by Robert Kaplan of Stratfor Intelligence service (stratfor.com), Mr. Kaplan expresses truths about the reality of the Middle East. The article can be read in full at:
I have underlined certain comments that I thought were particularly telling. Democracy is not the answer to the barbarity and bloodshed in the Middle East! Christ alone will bring peace to the region—when He returns to this earth.
Always remember: First of all, God has the ability to exercise total power and total control over nations and individuals. “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the balance; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing…. It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless” (Isaiah 40:15, 22–23).
The prophet Daniel described how Nebuchadnezzar, king of one of the most remarkable empires of all time, became insane and was driven out of office “in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). God determines who will govern in the various nations, placing in office, sometimes, the basest of men.
The Hard Hand of the Middle East
By Robert D. Kaplan
Reality can be harsh. In order for the United States to weaken and eventually defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it could use help from both the Iranian regime and that of President Bashar al Assad in Syria. In the Middle East, it takes illiberal forces to defeat an even more illiberal force. The mullahs’ Iran and al Assad’s Syria sadly represent the material at hand, with which the United States must somehow work or tolerate, however surreptitiously, however much it will deny it at the same time. Ah, you might say, What about the moderate, liberal opposition in Syria? Answer: Such forces are more viable on paper than on the battlefield.
The truth is understood but cannot always be admitted, either by officials or by journalists — the truth being that order is preferable to disorder, meaning dictatorship is preferable to chaos, even if dictatorship itself has often been the root cause of such chaos.
The Islamic State is the fruit of chaos. It arose in a vacuum of authority. That vacuum was created by both the weakening of an absolutist (albeit secular-trending) regime in Syria and the inability of a stable, power-sharing system to take hold in Iraq following America’s dismantling of Saddam Hussein’s own repressive rule. And the worse the chaos, the more extreme will be the reaction. Thus, from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that together have killed many hundreds of thousands of people and have featured a plethora of armed groups, the Islamic State has emerged in all its horrifying barbarity.
This harsh moral and political reality extends beyond Syria and Iraq to the larger Levant and the Middle East. Egypt is now, once again, governed by an illiberal, Pharaonic regime, worse arguably than that of the deposed military dictator Hosni Mubarak. It has killed many demonstrators in the streets. It features a budding personality cult around its president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Yet it is a friend of Western and Israeli interests, whereas the democratically-elected government it illegally deposed, that of the Muslim Brotherhood, was demonstrably not a friend of the West or Israel. That’s right, Western interests can sometimes — often, actually — be better served by autocracies than by democracies: that’s if the autocracy in question happens to be more liberal and secular in its values than the democracy in question. It is the regime’s philosophical values that are crucial — more so than the manner of how it came to power.
As the situation now stands, if there is going to be a less violent relationship between Israel and Gaza it is more likely to occur through the auspices of the al-Sisi regime in Cairo than through the Obama administration in Washington. It might not even be an exaggeration to say that the Israeli government, for the moment at least, trusts al-Sisi more than it trusts U.S. President Barack Obama. Though Obama might like to think of himself as a realist, the fact is that a President Richard Nixon or a President George H. W. Bush — and their secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and James Baker III — would have openly acknowledged their friendship with the current Egyptian regime, while Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, cannot quite bring themselves to do it.
Oman is a great friend of the United States. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has quietly provided temporary basing support and logistics for American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been among the United States’ most avid diplomatic allies in the region. He rules in a liberal fashion. But he is an absolute dictator.
Morocco, like Oman, has always been among America’s most dependable friends in the Middle East. King Mohamed VI has been moving in the direction of a constitutional monarchy. But Morocco remains stable and dependable precisely because power ultimately rests with the monarch; thorough democracy could undo the country.
But isn’t it autocracy, too, that has led to such chaos? Yes, but that does not necessarily mean that democracy is viable in the current circumstances. To say that there is no other choice but democracy is to assume there is an immediate solution to every problem, whereas there may not be.
The Israelis know all of this. Therefore, nothing of what I say is shocking or even surprising to them. Indeed, over the decades they have embraced Arab autocrats through back channels. The Israelis have actually feared popular upheavals in the Arab world, aware that Arab autocrats are more likely to be less anti-Western and less anti-Israel than the man in the street. The fight for sheer physical survival is clarifying and dissipates illusions.
As the United States becomes weaker other nations will seek to fill the leadership vacuum we leave behind. Dangerous miscalculations and aggressive behavior by our enemies will increase—the world will become even more unstable– more CRAZY.
Absent American leadership— aggressive nations such as Russia, China, Iran and ISIS in the Middle East, will seek to press their agendas. President, Obama’s foreign policy is viewed, at best, as being shallow and naïve—That is how our allies Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine view this administration.
Mr Obama’s bold talk and timid response to a variety of international crisis has encouraged–Saudi Arabia, for instance of, “speaking openly of building nuclear weapons. South Korea and Japan nurse similar ideas.
Our enemies look at how the President has responded to the conflicts that have occurred in Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel versus Hamas, Ukraine, skirmishes in the South China sea—and they see an administration that that favors withdrawal, isolationism and shallow oratory over decisive action.
The Economist Magazine, which is usually supportive of the president, wrote this:
First, he has broken the cardinal rule of superpower deterrence: you must keep your word. In Syria he drew a red line — he would punish Bashar Assad if he used chemical weapons. The Syrian dictator did, and Mr. Obama did nothing. In response to Russia’s aggression, he threatened fierce sanctions, only to unveil underwhelming ones. … the cumulative message is weakness.”
In Iraq, the al Qaeda off-shoot ISIS is 45 miles away from Baghdad–
ISIS is now threatening the country of Lebanon.
President Obama told us weeks ago that he is studying the ISIS situation. We have heard little since, and that is typical of Washington these days. The president studies, discusses, analyzes … then initiates a token gesture. Again, this shows America’s weakness.
The Saudi Royal family is said to be enraged at the President’s gullible approach to the Middle East.
Iran brought in weapons, deployed Hezbollah, and is now bringing in Afghans to fight in Syria—America continues to do very little. The Shiite forces of Iran/Syria are winning the war against the Sunni rebels primarily because America has chosen to remain passive—this is the conclusion of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey (all Sunni nations).
U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan have mostly evaporated; the President has refused to give Ukraine the weapons it has been pleading for. And Israel believes every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since President Obama took office, has only strengthened Iran and Muslim radical terrorist groups.
American confidence and decisiveness is clearly broken.
God warned ancient Israel, “I will break the pride of your power” (Leviticus 26:19). He was warning ancient Israel and future generations of the consequences of national sin, of turning away from God. He also said, “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies” (Deuteronomy 28:25). The cold truth is God is not blessing our nation when it comes to international conflicts. Our sins are too great! And God is angry. Compounding our problems is the fact that the President has not kept his word with American allies—and they are angry at the President.
The lesson here is that God expects people and nations to keep their pledges and commitments. Washington has failed repeatedly to honor its word, and its implied obligations with its friends [allies]—our allies are disgusted.
Take note of Numbers 30:2: “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word (this applies for international agreements as well). He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
When the United States doesn’t stand by its allies —tyrants notice.
Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a speech to the European Parliament recently. Its content was clear and alarming. Juncker wants to see a more integrated European Union—a union that is more centralized and less tolerant of individual national sovereignty. His vision for the EU includes:
• Integration (unifying) of capital markets
• The euro currency as the unifying force across Europe
• 300bn euros extra spending and a commitment to the ‘social market’
• Tax harmonization (especially on corporate tax rates)
• Energy centralization of the energy supply
• A financial transaction tax
• No new member states for 5 years
• Freedom of movement
A more “integrated” Europe is more vulnerable to the control of a future dictator…
We watch Europe closely because the Bible tells us that in the future a European –centered “beast” power is the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, one of the four great gentile empires of Daniels’ vision (Daniel 7)—it will be the final manifestation of the empire that fights Christ as His return (Revelation 17:12-14).
This European-centered “beast” power, as the Bible defines it, is the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, one of the four great gentile empires of Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7) that have largely dominated civilization through the centuries—and will again rise just before Christ’s return.
Revelation 17 gives us more details about this coming superpower: “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [a prophetic reference to a short time] as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb [Jesus], and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings . . .” (verses 12-14).