Simon Pease reviews ‘MidEast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Anti-Christ’ by Joel Richardson (2012).
Joel Richardson’s thought-provoking MidEast Beast challenges the widely-held belief that the final empire of biblical prophecy is a European-revived Roman Empire. Instead, he makes the case for a resurrected Islamic Ottoman empire, a view which is increasingly being taken seriously by students of prophecy.
MidEast Beast is one book in a series by the author looking at biblical prophecy from a Middle East perspective and follows on directly from Islamic Anti-Christ, which studies the close parallels between Islam’s eagerly-awaited messianic leader and the biblical Anti-Christ. His later work dealing with Jesus and Israel, When a Jew Rules the World, has already been reviewed by Prophecy Today.
Taking Prophecy Literally
The book opens with recommendations on interpreting biblical prophecy, such as starting with easier, literal prophecies, rather than diving straight into Revelation and highly symbolic material. Richardson takes biblical prophetic references to places such as Egypt and Persia (Iran) literally, rather than spiritualising them to refer in general to the enemies of God.
Applying this principle, the author demonstrates from several of the prophets how God will bring vengeance on Israel’s enemies in the Middle East on the ‘Day of the Lord’, highlighting specific nations, all of which are Islamic. He challenges the view that the Anti-Christ will rule over the entire world, exploring the biblical use of hyperbole and drawing attention to passages which describe the Anti-Christ kingdom at war with opposing nations.
Referring to Daniel’s vision of a fourth kingdom crushing the others which preceded it, Richardson presents an argument for this kingdom being the Islamic Ottoman Empire, rather than the Roman Empire (as is often assumed). He uses maps to illustrate strikingly how the Islamic caliphate, unlike Rome, conquered all the areas previously occupied by the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek empires.
He argues that the related ‘legs of iron’ in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream represent the Sunni and Shiite parts of the Ottoman Empire. He also presents historical evidence that the “people of the prince who is to come” (Dan 9:26), prophesied by Daniel and who destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, were legions recruited by Rome from the local populations of regions which today are mostly in Syria and are all Islamic.
Richardson also investigates the seven-headed beast of Revelation, pointing out that the argument for Rome being both the sixth beast which ‘is’ and the seventh which replaces it, is contradictory. Islam overtook Rome in the Middle East, conquering its capital Constantinople (now Istanbul), with the Ottoman Empire receiving a “fatal head wound” nearly 100 years ago. The author makes a compelling argument for its future reappearance as the eighth beast, which is intriguing in the light of recent developments in Turkey.
Direct, Analytical, Logical
Although Richardson writes primarily for the biblically-literate believer with an interest in ‘end times’ prophecy, his compelling argument for the veracity of Scripture has caused me to recommend MidEast Beast to believer and non-believer alike.
His style is direct, analytical and logical, whilst being highly readable and devoid of theological jargon. Not surprisingly, his views have generated much debate, so he engages in a spirited defence of his position against his critics, including citing the opinions of prominent believers from earlier generations who also understood biblical prophecy as referring to Islam.
As a result of the author’s meticulous research, some readers may find MidEast Beast overly long at nearly 270 pages, but this is probably necessitated by the controversy he has generated.
This book is more than just theological argument – it is a call to action, challenging Christians to recognise that Islam will continue to grow powerfully. Richardson argues passionately that this knowledge should impact believers’ attitudes towards the evangelisation of Muslims, our preparation for increasing persecution and our commitment to stand with the Jewish people.
I thoroughly recommend MidEast Beast, not only because it challenges us to consider carefully what the Bible actually teaches (rather than simply accepting recycled opinions at face value), but also because of the implications if his interpretation of Scripture proves to be correct.
Mid-East Beast (published by Joel Richardson) is available from Amazon in hardcover, Kindle and audio
Copyright 2017, Simon Pease, Prophecy Today UK-All rights reserved