From Mecca to Rome: Islam in Bible Prophecy

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From Mecca to Rome: Islam in Bible Prophecy

Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the position of The Compass Magazine.

On Sabbath, October 22, 2016, Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts and the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church continued his new sermon series on Islam’s role in Bible prophecy. Part 2 of the series was entitled “From Mecca to Rome.” You can read the synopsis of Part 1 here.

Tinder Box

Pastor Batchelor began the 2nd installment in his series on Islam and Bible prophecy by highlighting the volatile condition of the Middle East which seems to have risen to a fever pitch since the beginning of what was known as the “Arab Spring.” The Arab Spring began in 2011 in which people across North Africa and the Middle East began to rise up in protest against dictatorial regimes. There was a hope that democracy would finally take root in the region but the hope that was the Arab Spring “quickly descended into winter…” Pastor Batchelor related that the Arab Spring brought about a decrease in stability and an increase in violence and strife in the region, which resulted in wondering for the onlooking world as to what point these tensions will reach critical mass. At the same time, Batchelor remarked, the world is also facing an influx of Islamic terrorism.

In light of the recent uptick in Islamic terrorism, Batchelor was quick to comment that Christians should not be afraid of their muslim neighbors, though we are compelled to be honest and acknowledge and admit that a variety muslims from different backgrounds and circumstances have been radicalized into terrorists.

Sibling Rivalry

Next Batchelor began to rehash information from his previous sermon, citing statistics to show that the two largest religions in the world are Christianity and Islam and reminding the audience that not all muslims are Arabs, and that in fact the most populous muslim country in the world is not located in the Middle East but in the South Pacific islands of Indonesia.

Batchelor also shared that science has proven that Jews and Arabs are related as the Bible suggests, with 70% of Jewish men and more than 50% of Arab men sharing the same Y chromosome from a common male ancestor (presumably Abraham).

He then related the similarities and differences between the two progenitors of Islam (Ishmael) and Judaism/Christianity (Isaac) which he shared in his previous sermon. What he added in this sermon was that the battle between Islam and Christianity is prefigured in the battles between Isaac and Ishmael as well as Cain and Abel.

In both cases, two brothers claim to worship the same God but do so in different ways, with one being right and the other being wrong. Batchelor’s hypothesis is that this same juxtaposition will occur at the end of time sparking the final events. Batchelor mentioned that it appears that Christianity is losing this battle, at least in Europe for the time being. He stated that for hundreds of years Islam desired to conquer Europe (a bastion of Christianity) but failed to do it militarily, where now Islam is succeeding through immigration and biological growth.

Batchelor cited that, as of 2010, the European Union harbored about 13 million muslim immigrants but that their numbers have grown exponentially since then. The parishes in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the Church of England are deserted and empty while mosques are rising up in their places. He then stated that the shrinking state of Christendom in Europe and the inverse rise of Islam in the Christian homeland has given grave concern to the Catholic Church, which explains John Paul II and Francis I attempts in recent years to reconcile the Christian world into one unified conglomerate as a bulwark against the spread of Islam.

 

Who are the Arabs?

According to Batchelor’s research, the Arabs are Ishmael’s descendants, as well as the descendants of the other sons of Abraham, who subsequently intermarried amongst each other. According to Genesis 25:1-6, 18, all of Abraham’s children, excluding Isaac settled “in the east,” which Batchelor argues is the Arabian peninsula and became known as bedouins, the People of the East, Midianites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, etc.). He then showed that Israel (Isaac’s descendants) and the Arabs or People of the East (Ishmael’s descendants) had a rocky relationship which often involved war and conflict. One of these instances is recorded in Judges 7. Next he showed that many places in North Africa and in the Middle East are no longer inhabited by their indigenous populations but have been supplanted by the Arabs in countries such as Egypt, Syria, and the regions known as Persia and Babylon fulfilling God’s promise that Ishmael’s descendants would be numerous (Genesis 17:20).

 

Arabs and their Religion

Early Arabs, according to Batchelor, slipped deep into moon worship, which parallels Judaism’s slipping into paganism, fertility, and storm god worship, along with Christianity’s slippage into sun worship. As evidence, Batchelor quotes Philip Khuri Hitti’s “The Arabs: A Short History:”

Throughout the entire peninsula, the antiquated paganism of the Arabians, which for the bedouins centered chiefly on the worship of a moon god, as is likely to be the case with a pastoral people in hot climates who find the coolness of the night a friend and the sun their enemy, but they had finally reach a point in their religion where it failed any longer to meet the spiritual demands of the people.

According to Batchelor, while the Arabs slipped into moon worship, they still practiced religious rituals handed down to them from Abraham and Ishmael, including circumcision and abstaining from pork (though they did eventually begin to eat other unclean meats such as camel).

Elaborating on Arab practices of moon worship, Batchelor stated that the Arabs worshipped the moon god under the name “Allah” and prayed and pilgrimaged to Mecca in order to circumnavigate the temple in Mecca, known as the Kaaba, and kiss a black stone that supposedly fell from heaven. They also killed animals in sacrifice to the moon god, threw rocks at an invisible devil, and fasted for a period, once a year, with the period beginning and ending with a crescent moon. Giving alms to the poor was also expected. Of course most, if not all of these practices have their equivalent in Islamic ritual and practices today, pointing to primeval pagan roots for the religion of Islam.

Before the rise of Islam, Batchelor states that some of the Arabs had converted to Christianity and Judaism or were at least heavily influenced by the these two belief systems due to the Arabs involvement with trade in the region. Batchelor then claims, that after 538 AD when the Bishop of Rome became the political head of Christendom, idolatry became institutionalized in Christianity, of which many Arabs had no respect due to their reluctance to worship idols.

 

Muhammed

Around 570 AD Muhammed was born and the religion of Islam was started roughly 50 years later so that around the same time a new form of Christianity was taking root in Europe a new religion was also rising in Arabia. Batchelor then began to relate some of the personal history of Muhammed, the prophet of Islam. Muhammed, as earlier stated, was born around 570 AD, raised primarily by his uncle, and died around 632 AD in Medina. In later life he married his employer Khadijah and their marriage was happy and monogamous. However, after she died it is believe that Muhammed took several wives including one wife who was 9 years old at the time of their marriage. His prophetic career began with frequent trips in which he would seclude himself in caves. His early visions are said to have been more peaceful but later in life his visions became more filled with violent subjects. He was believed to be the last of the prophets of God.

Quoting Ramon Benet’s “Isalm Revealed” Batchelor stated:

As a young child Muhammed was nursed by a bedouin woman by the name of Hylimah, and in the third and fourth years as a child he had numerous fits that Hylimah thought he was demon possessed. Later at age 40 he started being visited by Gabriel in a cave where he started to receive his first revelations from God. Three years later Muhammed started preaching these revelations publicly proclaiming, God is one […] and that he is the only way acceptable to God that he was the prophet of God similar to other Bible prophets.”

Batchelor also quoted from “Islamic Invasion:”

Early muslim tradition records that when Muhammaed was about to receive a revelation from Allah, he would often fall down on the ground; his body would begin to jerk and his eyes would roll backward, [he] would perspire profusely, and they would cover him with a blanket during such episodes” (Islamic invasion pg. 71)

After Muhammed began to receive visions and started preaching, he gained a few followers but was persecuted by other tribes causing him to flee his home city of Mecca for Medina. There he built an army and subsequently went back to Mecca and took the city without much bloodshed.

Muhammed then found himself in a position to unify the Arab people through his new religion, including those that leaned towards Judaism and/or Christianity. He did this by claiming that Islam and his visions agreed with the original teachings of the Jews as well as the teachings of Jesus but that the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels could not be trusted implicitly because they had been corrupted and tampered with. The only Scriptures according to Muhammed that were without error and could be trusted were the recitations of the Quran. Thus he was able to unite most of the Arab people under his new religion.

The Quran

Most muslims agree that Muhammed was probably illiterate and his revelations were recorded after his death. The Quran quotes some of the teachings of Jesus and references many stories and characters from the Hebrew Bible. This shows that Muhammed was familiar with the teachings of Christianity and Judaism. However, Batchelor likens the Quran to the Book of Mormon, by relating that the Book of Mormon is basically a novel written by a pastor, who after his death, Joseph Smith (the prophet and founder of mormonism) acquired from the pastor’s widow and claimed that it was revealed to him directly by the Angel Moroni on golden plates. In other words, the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction replete with Biblical language because its author was a pastor by profession, but falsely pedaled as scripture by a charlatan. Batchelor likens Muhammed’s revelations to simply things he had heard about Christianity and Judaism jumbled into different recitations now recorded as the Quran.

Batchelor emphatically stated that the Quran and the Bible cannot be reconciled as coming from the same source and that even though there are good people who practice Islam and believe in the Quran it should not behoove Christians to compromise their beliefs and not call out Islam as a false religion, Muhammed as a false prophet, and the Quran as false scripture. He then laid out the following differences between the Quran and the Bible:

  1. The Bible says salvation is through Christ, while the Quran claims salvation is through obedience to Islam.
  2. The Quran denies Jesus’ death and resurrection, while the reality of the death and resurrection of Christ are foundational to Christianity.
  3. The Bible says that humanity is saved by grace, while the Quran claims that salvation will be granted to those whose good deeds outweighs their bad deeds in this life.
  4. The Bible promotes proselytizing through gentleness and respect, while the Quran promotes proselytizing through violence, war, and intimidation.

Are Allah and Jehovah the same God?

According to Batchelor, this is a loaded question. There are trappings and traits that are similar between the God depicted in the Quran and the God depicted in the Bible since both progenitors of these religions are descended from Abraham. However, Batchelor claims that ultimately the two pictures cannot be reconciled. Essentially Batchelor goes to 1 John 4:1-3 to make his case in that Muhammed’s and the Quran’s denial of Christ’s full humanity and divinity, and the Apostle John’s prediction that false prophets would come claiming this error proves that Muhammed is a false prophet.

Batchelor went on to say that, Muhammed may have said some good things, but that doesn’t make Islam the truth because every religion has some good things to say. In fact, Batchelor stated, we should expect the devil to mix truth and error. Nevertheless, though Islam is a false religion it doesn’t mean that God can’t save people who are muslims. God can save people no matter where they may find themselves.

As a side note, Batchelor then related that the name “Allah” simply means God and that Christians in the west should not get hung up not he term as it is the same term used by Christians in muslim countries in their worship services.

Teachings of Islam

Next Batchelor introduced the teachings of Islam, which means surrender. And that a muslim is anyone or anything that surrenders itself to God.

He then stated the 5 pillars of Islam…

  1. There is only one God and Muhammed is his prophet
  2. Formal prayers 5x a day
  3. 2.5% of one’s excess wealth to be given to the poor
  4. Fasting during the daylight hours of Ramadan
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime if financially and physically able

Next he listed Islam’s 6 articles of faith…

  1. There is only one God
  2. All the prophets are true
  3. All original Scriptures are true
  4. Belief in angels
  5. Belief in the day of judgment
  6. Belief in the hereafter and destiny

From Mecca To Rome

In the closing minutes of his sermon Batchelor finally began to expound on the title of his message by taking the congregation to Revelation 9 which covers the 5th and 6th trumpets. The events enclosed in this chapter are tied to the rise of Islam and its attacks on  Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The figure that unleashes Islam on the world is said to be a star [angel] that fell from heaven and unlocked the bottomless pit, out of which “locusts” arose. Batchelor tied the reference of locusts to Judges 7:12 which refers to the Arab people as numerous as locusts. Batchelor then expounded on Revelation 9:4 in which the text explicitly states that those who had the seal of God (those who kept the 10 Commandments) would not be harmed by the spread of Islam, which primarily targeted Christians that had fallen into idolatry (the veneration of statues and/or icons). Batchelor tied Revelation 9:10, in which the “locusts” were to punish humanity for 5 months, to the invasion of the muslim armies into asia minor and their attack on Constantinople, the capital of Christianity in the east. One hundred-fifty years later (the equivalent of 5 months in prophetic time) after the initial attack, Constantinople fell to the muslim Ottoman empire.

Batchelor then moved the congregation to Daniel 11:40. He explained that Daniel 11:40 throughout the rest of the chapter, deals specifically with “the time of the end.” He then explained that understanding the geographical notions of the “King of the North” and the “King of the South” is essential to understanding Daniel 11. Batchelor explained that from the nation of Israel was a land bridge between Europe and Asia to the north and east and Africa to the south and west. Directly west of Israel is the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic Ocean, while directly to the east was an impassible desert. Therefore whenever Israel itself was attacked or if an army was moving from one continent to another it inevitably would have to go through Israelite territory, either from the north or from the south. Batchelor then explained that on several occasions armies that were not targeting  Israel in any direct way would almost inevitably wind up fighting with and on several occastions conquering Israel (see the story of King Josiah as an example, 2 Kings 23:28-30 or the story of Nehemiah and his conflict with Sanballat). The Israelites would refer to these foreign invaders as either the King of the South if the invading army was coming up from Egypt or the King of the North if the invading army was coming from the East or North along the fertile crescent of the Euphrates/Tigris Rivers and then down the Jordan valley.

Critical Mass

Batchelor than stated that the world was reaching critical mass and it is prime time for another strong leader to solidify the religion of Islam and at the same time the Pope is now reaching out to Christians around the world because they are losing ground in the west, especially Europe.

Batchelor related that as of 5 years ago the majority of the world now lives in cities and that people acquire food mainly from markets; food which has to be transported into the cities. He then stated that much of this transportation is dependent on fuel and that the world is still dependent on Middle Eastern oil. If conflict were to break out between a unified Arab world and the west it could spark the final events due to the economic impact from the unavailability of oil and gasoline.

Batchelor than stated that no one is saved by an understanding of Daniel 11 or the King of the North or the King of the South but that what saves people is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He also stated that we can’t stop a prophecy from happening based on how we vote in this election or future elections. However, he encouraged Christians to do all they can to preserve the freedoms we now have in the west to practice our religion and share it with others as long as we can, knowing that the angels mentioned in Revelation are holding back the winds of strife, but that they will soon be released. He concluded by stating that we are living in extreme conditions and we need to stay close to the Lord.

Check The Compass Magazine Regularly over the next few weeks for more updates on this sermon series. Also you can view the video recording of Pastor Batchelor’s sermon here. The sermon begins at the 1 hour 44 minute mark. You can read the synopsis of Part 1 of this series here.

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About the author

Ingram London

Ingram London is a PhD student studying systematic theology at Andrews University.