ISIS and the Bible’s Prophetic Viewpoint
Ever since the terrorist attack on Brussels on March 23, 2016 SDA writers have been trying to clarify the Islamic movement’s role in Bible prophecy. Although this is not a new thing the Brussels attack is stimulating writers to address this problem and show us clearly how Bible prophecy views Islam and its role in God’s prophetic outline. This task, while certainly a worthy task, is doomed to failure because God does not address Islam in Bible prophecy. Islam, along with such notables as Nazi Germany, World War II Japan, Genghis Khan, and the great dynasties of China and India have not been addressed specifically in Bible prophecy. While these nations, and movements, have certainly played their part in earthly history God has seen fit to not incorporate them into the Bibles prophetic outline.
Many attempts have been made by prophecy students to see current political figures and movements in the Bible but God has been very clear as to what He wants us to focus upon and how he wants us to focus. This short article will address what God has chosen to tell us about the future, how he wants us to study what is coming, and what He wants us to see in His prophetic outline and what He does not want us to see. The clearest and simplest outline of prophetic history is in Daniel 2. In the great image God has chosen to focus us upon the head of gold – Babylon, the chest of silver – Medo-Persia, the waist and thighs of brass – Greece, the legs of iron – Pagan Rome, the feet of iron and clay – Papal Rome, and the great rock that strikes the image in the feet – the kingdom of God. In this list of prophetic nations, and movements, there is no mention of Islam.
Now it is clear that historically Islam has been a very strong and influential movement but as far as Daniel 2 is concerned it was not a Bible focus. In Daniel 7 we have the prophetic beasts consisting of the Lion of Babylon, the Bear of Medo-Persia, the Leopard of Greece, the Dragon of Pagan Rome, and the Little Horn of Papal Rome, and again no mention of Islam. No human being is authorized to insert Islam into this prophetic picture.
In Daniel 8 we are again granted another view into the future through the sanctuary symbols with the Ram of Medo-Persia, the He Goat of Greece, and the Little Horn kingdom of Pagan and Papal Rome. Yet again there is no mention of Islam in prophetic history.
In Daniel 11 we have another opportunity to see the future from God’s point of view. In Daniel 11 we have the King of the North fighting against the King of the South. This prophecy is an enlargement of Daniel 2, 7, and 8 or it is an opportunity to insert Islam as the king of the South because of their antagonism to the RCC King of the North. There are many ideas of who and what the King of the South is but again we have to decide whether we can safely add a significant player to the first three visions of Daniel.
To clarify the concept of the King of the South, and to see if God has given us another significant player in Bible Prophecy people then make a logical appeal to Revelation to give us clarification about whether or not Islam is the King of the South. People then turn to the Sea Beast and the Land Beasts of Revelation 13. The Sea Beast is identified as the Roman Catholic Church and the Land Beast is the United States of America under the influence of Spiritualism and Apostate Protestantism. In this prophetic outline the United States ends up serving the Roman Catholic Church and drawing all attention to Rome. The next level of search goes to Revelation 17-18 and again the Bibles focus is on the unity of the world with the Harlot and her daughters which again is the Roman Catholic Church that illicitly joins with the kings/rulers of the world in an alliance against God and His people. These symbols do not help us with identifying Islam as a major prophetic player in the Bibles view of prophecy.
In desperation, Bible teachers then decide to look to the three woes of Revelation 9. They desire to make the Locust like creatures of Revelation 9 to be Islam. The question is how do they come to this conclusion. Sadly, they turn to Protestant Bible commentaries to get their information, rather than to the Bible. The pressure to come up with Islam as a prophetic interpretation is due to the need to explain all negative aggressive powers as prophetic symbols in the Bible. But God is under no pressure at all. He has His purposes in what He chooses to share and He has shared His thinking consistently in the Bible. The prophetic focus on God’s Bible outline has been consistent in identifying Papal Rome as the last great aggressive anti-God power. God has chosen not to identify Islam as that power.
But let us return to Revelation 8 and 9 to discuss the trumpets briefly and Biblically. In the 7 Trumpets God is again addressing His perceptions of the gospel. Most people would see the 7 last Churches as a gospel oriented story attached to the 7 Candlesticks of the heavenly sanctuary. They would also vaguely see the 7 Seals as gospel messages especially if they could see that the 7 Seals are attached to the Table of Shewbread, one of the three pieces of sanctuary furniture in the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Most people would think that the 7 Trumpets of Revelation 8-11 would be attached to the Altar of Incense in the Heavenly Sanctuary. These three pieces of heavenly sanctuary furniture are attached to three separate and reinforcing streams of thought in the Churches, the Seals, and the Trumpets. Each one of these symbolic groupings is teaching the gospel of the Revelation of Jesus to the world. But since most people are fairly comfortable with the 7 Churches and the 7 Seals let us focus briefly on the 7 Trumpets of Revelation 8-11.
In Revelation 8:1-6 God asks us to focus upon the Altar of Incense which is where God’s Priest is to pray for the deliverance of His people. This is a focus on the prayer ministry and intercessory activities of our Great High Priest – Jesus, in His Heavenly Sanctuary. This prayer/intercessory ministry of Jesus is gospel oriented just as the 7 Churches/Candlesticks, and the 7 Seals of the Table of Shewbread were gospel oriented, and followed the same time outlines of the Churches and Seals. After we are focused on the Altar of Incense then God tells of His judgments, after the people have rejected His trumpet call ministry. In the first trumpet we see Hail and Fire which comes as a judgment on Israel for their rejection of the gospel Trumpet call ministry of Jesus and the Disciples. When His call is rejected then Rome falls on the Jewish nation and destroys Jerusalem and the Temple and the Jews are scattered all over the earth. In the second trumpet call God calls to Pagan Rome to heed the messages of the early Christian Church. Instead of repenting at this trumpet call they turn on the church and persecute it. This great mountain of the kingdom of Rome falls and many people die for rejecting the call of Jesus. In the third Trumpet call a great bitter star falls among the people. This is the coming of Constantine the bitter star leader of the state of Rome and soon to be leader of the Christian church. He removes persecution but introduces something more dangerous and bitter, the acceptance of the world. This creates safety on one side but incorporation of error on the other side. This lasts from 313 AD – 538 AD when the Roman Catholic Church is fully developed as an antagonist to the God’s church. The Fourth trumpet is the rejection of the gospel trumpet call of repentance and reformation from the early church in the wilderness to the false Church of Rome. Each time God sends His gospel call there is a rejection and then a judgment upon the rebellious peoples of that time period.
Now that we have briefly covered the first four trumpets let us focus on the last three. As we look at these trumpets let us remember that God has clearly outlined His prophetic description in Daniel 2, 7, 8, and Revelation 13, 17-18. We have an unclear point in Daniel 11 regarding the King of the South, and we have a possible clarifying point in Revelation 9. So let’s dive into the text. In the fifth Trumpet we have another gospel call in the early phases of the Protestant Reformation with the teaching of Wycliffe and his friends. This gospel Trumpet call is rebuffed through the ministry of the Dominican monks. The Dominican Monks were raised up to stop the inroads of the Reformation and as a result the Inquisition was initiated. In Bible terms there was another great star that fell from heaven. A star in Bible language is a religious leader, like Paul or Constantine. (See Revelation 1:20 where a star is an angel and Galatians 4:14 where Paul is referred to as an “angel”) In this case it was St. Dominic. The teachings of Dominic, and the corresponding development of the inquisition, were teachings from the bottomless pit, the place where Satan dwells. These teachings brought about a smoke of darkness like the smoke of the persecutions endured by Israel when they were captive to Egypt, which the Bible refers to as a smoke of a great furnace of suffering (Deuteronomy 4:20; Isaiah 48:10). The Bible then introduces the Locusts for the first time as a symbolic creature. Locusts in history are voracious insects sent as a judgment for rebellion such as in one of the plagues of Egypt. In the fifth Trumpet the Locusts look like horses (a church –Zechariah 10:3) with crowns of gold – royalty; they had the faces of men, hair like a woman – a church (II Corinthians 11:2; Jeremiah 6:2), teeth of a lion (spoke error like Babylon in Revelation 13:2,6). Each Locust had a breastplate of iron. Historically we have seen people understand “breastplate” as a military item but in Bible prophecy “breastplate” can also be a sanctuary item for intercessory ministry (Exodus 28:4,30; Ephesians 6:14; I Thessalonians 5:8). The fact that the breastplate is of iron brings us back to the false intercessory ministry of the iron kingdom – Rome. When seen in this light then the locusts can be false priests with a false intercessory ministry very much like the Dominican Monks. Further identifying marks of the locust is that they had the tails of a scorpion. Recognizing that these Locusts are symbolic figures then we can refer to other symbolic descriptions in the Bible. In Ezekiel 2: 1-6 we find that Ezekiel is warned by God not to be afraid of the scorpions of his time – false followers of God. The sting in their tails would that of the false prophet Isaiah 9:15. And one last quality to describe these false religious people with a false intercessory ministry is that Ellen White describes the Dominican Monks as part of the Mendicant Monks that consumed England like locusts. Great Controversy pg82. So in summary the Locusts of the 5th Trumpet were those false ministers, offering a false gospel, and a false doctrine, and a false intercessory ministry in response to the trumpet call of the gospel of the early Reformation.
To follow up with this thought of the Dominican Monks the 6th Trumpet takes the Locusts to a new level. In the 6th Trumpet the locusts were in response to the four angels released from the Euphrates River or that river of thought from Babylon – a false gospel. This time the Locusts have breastplates of fire, their intercessory offering are more intense than that of the Locusts of the 5th Trumpet. Out of their lion mouths came the doctrine of fire, smoke, and brimstone – a false set of doctrines to turn people away from the gospel of Jesus interceding for them in the Holy Place in heaven. In the 6th Trumpet their tails had taken on the false doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the serpents of the time of Christ. And when all was said and done their gospel did not produce repentance acceptable to God. In this writers understanding the Locusts of the 6th Trumpet were the Jesuit Monks who came in response to the Trumpet call of Luther in the second phase of the Reformation. If the Locusts of the fifth and sixth Trumpets are Roman Catholic orders then the harmony of the Prophetic outline is maintained. The Beast of Rome is the focus of the Prophetic Outline, not Islam.
The final Trumpet started in 1844. The gospel call is to be given by the Remnant Church and is to go to the whole world preaching the everlasting gospel in connection with Jesus’ Most Holy Place ministry initiated in 1844, Revelation 11:19 when Jesus went into the Most Holy Place to start the last call before Probation closes.
In God’s Prophetic Outline He intends to keep the focus on the Beast as the great Anti-Christ system and not expand the focus to incorporate Islam or ISIS. There is no question that ISIS is not displaying the intercessory ministry of God to the world. But ISIS is not the focus of Bible prophecy, that role is allocated to one agency only, the Roman Catholic Church.
I hope that you have found this study helpful. For more in depth analysis please see my studies on Daniel and Revelation at www.the1844way.com.