Islamic Eschatology

Dr. John Hoole – November 29 & December 6, 2015




Osama bin Laden on May 14, 1998.


“We call on the Muslim nation … to prepare for the Jihad imposed by Allah and terrorize the enemy by preparing the force necessary.  This should include a nuclear force.”


Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on September 27, 2002.


“Let the entire world hear me.  Our hostility to the Great Satan [America] is absolute. … I conclude my speech with the slogan that will continue to reverberate on all occasions so that nobody will think that we have weakened.  Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan.  Death to America.”


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (former president of Iran) on October 26, 2005.


God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.”


Eschatology is not a word that typically comes up in public policy forums.  You never hear our leaders alluding to the eschatology held by radical Islam today.  But, whether it is discussed in policy discussion among Western governmental leaders, it is spoken often by those who would like to destroy all Christians and Jews on the earth.


Since it seems that Western leaders are not considering Islamic Eschatology in forming policies about the Middle East,  thought I would speak to the issue today.


2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV


11 Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.


We need to be aware of Apocalyptic Islam for both Sunni Islamic State and Shia Iran.


The Islamic State, a Sunni Islamist group, has been very successful in advertising for new recruits, and has consistently included uses of End of Days language in its propaganda.


Osama bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he spoke of it happening long after he was dead.  Bin Laden and Zawahiri were from elite Sunni families and looked down on those speculating in this manner.  Will McCants, of the Brookings Institute, writing in his book, “The ISIS Apocalypse,“The Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere.  They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi – a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world.”


McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based` on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive.  “Al Qaeda wrote to these, leaders, saying ‘Cut it out!’”


ISIS started becoming a concern in the Middle East near the beginning of 2014.  Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi actually took over the group a couple of years earlier.  But they exploded onto the scene when they took the large city of Mosul in June 2014.  Even then, all Western leaders underestimated their capabilities.


The New York Times published in March 2015 what were supposed to be confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East.  General Nagata admitted that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal.  He said: “We have not defeated the idea.  We do not even understand the idea.”


ISIS follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matters to its strategy and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior.  Leaders in the West need to know what the implications of this is.


In the Shia side of Islam, Iran is the most vociferous (outspoken) in their beliefs, including their eschatology.  Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, the leaders of Iran have been very open about their eschatology.  The West seems, however, to be very reluctant of considering this Shia belief system in our dealings with Iran.


The western leaders are taking the path of hoping the nuclear agreement with Iran will cause a gradual evolution in the behavior of the Iranian regime.  But if you listen to the spokespersons of both ISIS and Iran, they have become more brazen in their public discussions of their End Times beliefs.


For the first time in history we have two nation states - Iran and ISIS – who are being driven by Islamic ideology.  And if my analysis is correct, there is little chance the leaders of Iran or ISIS will change course.  Though the strategy of the Iranian Shias and the Islamic State Sunnis are different, the ultimate goal is the same – an Islamic Caliphate.


Before proceeding, I need to point out what you already know – that Jews and Christians also have End Times theologies.  But neither the Jews or Christians hold that we are supposed to commit genocide of all who are not Christian or Jew.  Rather, we believe from the prophets Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and others that the Messiah will come at the End of Days, conquer His enemies, and establish a global kingdom whose capital is Jerusalem.  It is not our job to conquer and judge our Lord’s enemies – that is His job.


Most Jews and Christians differ, of course, on the identity of the Messiah and whether His arrival on Earth to establish His global Kingdom will be His first or second visit to earth.  Still, neither Jewish nor Christian eschatology requires us to commit genocide.  But the Iranian and ISIS versions of Islamic eschatology are genocidal in their very nature.


The former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was more vocal and boisterous in his claims of Islamic eschatology, but the current president, Hassan Rouhani, is cut from the same cloth.  But neither of them are considered the supreme leader of that Islamic State.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not to be confused with his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, is the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the presidents that do his bidding, are convinced that the End of Days has come.  They believe the messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam,” or the “Mahdi,” will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom know as the caliphate.


What’s more, they believe the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan”), and the United States, which they call the “Great Satan.”


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranians in July 2010 that he personally met with the Twelfth Imam.  And he has claimed to be the personal representative of the Mahdi on earth, and said all Muslims must obey him.  He has also urged presidents Ahmadinejad and Rouhani to develop nuclear warheads so they can help the coming Mahdi destroy his enemies more quickly when he arrives.


Much of the media has focused on Iran’s threats to wipe Israel “off the map.”  But journalists have generally ignored the fact that the Iranian regime is equally determined to destroy the USA.  Iran’s leaders actually believe that the destruction of the U.S. is foreordained.  They see U.S. economic weakness today as a sign that the end of America is near.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the gravity of the situation.  He told the Atlantic magazine in March 2009, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs.”  Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”  Unfortunately, Netanyahu has not seen leaders in the west take decisive measures to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, and he is getting anxious.


The Twelfth Imam was a real, flesh-and-blood person who, like the eleven leaders who went before him, was an Arab male, a direct descendant of the founder of Islam, and was thought to have been divinely chosen to be the spiritual guide and ultimate human authority of the Muslim people.  His actual name was Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali, born in 868.


At a very young age, Ali vanished from society.  Some say he was four years old, maybe as old as six.  Some believe he fell into a well in Samarra but his body was never recovered.  Others believe the Mahdi’s mother placed him in the well to prevent evil rulers from capturing him.  Today, they believe Ali subsequently became supernaturally invisible.  That is the reason he is often referred to as the “Hidden Imam.”  And it is believed that in the End of Days, Allah will reveal him once more.


When the Mahdi does return, according to their eschatology, Jesus will return with him to serve as his deputy.  Jesus will not be King of kings and Lord of lords as the Bible teaches, and He will force non-Muslims to choose between following the Mahdi or death.


At the core, American leaders and most other Western leaders are refusing to deal with Islamic theology and eschatology.  They hesitate to label the threat as it is.


Radical Islam encompasses a wide range of groups – Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Al Qaeda.  All of these are serious threats, but I believe apocalyptic Islam is now the biggest threat.  This is true of both ISIS and Iran.


Hyper-messianic ideologies are shared by both side of the Shia-Sunni jihadist coin.  While Shia and Sunni are mortal enemies, their fundamental threat is the same.  Shia apocalypticism and Sunni apocalypticism are similar.  Both believe the coming of their messiah (the Mahdi) is soon.  They both believe they need to change their historical behavior to accelerate his coming.  But the strategy is different.


ISIS’s strategy is to commit genocide today, because the goal is to build the caliphate, to force the hand of the messiah to come.  The Shia in Iran are not trying to build the caliphate today.  They are building the infrastructure to build nuclear weapons.  Why?  Because while ISIS wants to commit genocide today, Iran wants to commit genocide tomorrow.  The point is: don’t launch until you are ready.  Rather than kill thousands in one day, Iran wants to eventually kill millions.


Today, I want to address one specific thought as it relates to Islam and Christianity.  There are a number of Christian pastors who are attempting to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians.  They are teaching that the name Allah is simply another name for God, and that Muslims and Christians and Jews all worship the same God, and that we just choose to call Him by different names.


In an age of pluralism, it is not really a surprise to see an attempt to merge Christianity and Islam.  But I will say, IT IS ABSOLUTELY INCONGUOUS to attempt to make both paths as equally valid paths to the same God.


It is impossible to reconcile the two belief systems and make them compatible.  At the heart of this movement and perhaps the most dangerous issue is that these Christian leaders suggest that because we use similar terms, such as “God” and “Jesus,” there is room for a shared belief.


I would like to say at this time that the words we use do matter.  But, if we do not define our word, it is possible the same term may represents different meanings.  If the two faiths use the same words, but have different meanings for them, that difference should be understood up front.  It is very possible that similar terms have very different meanings.  It is my desire today to show the huge difference between Christianity and Islam.


If Christ is who He claims to be, and is the only way to reconciliation with God, then we can expect that plenty of counterfeits and deceptive substitutes will come along to derail us.  Of course, Jesus warned about exactly that:  many deceivers, phonies and false Christs would come.


For 2,000 years now Christianity has faced all sorts of attacks and all sorts of attempts to subvert it from within or without.  The challenges are never ending, and new ploys are continuously being utilized to render null and void our Christian faith.


One of the newer and more insidious attempts is what is known as Chrislam.  As the name implies, this is a deliberate blending or mingling of Christianity and Islam.  While some Christians may think this is a good idea, it is in fact bad news.  This lesson is an attempt to show the significant differences between Christianity and Islam.


Islam’s Qur’an does not portray the divinity of Jesus Christ, nor do they accept Him as the only begotten Son of God – God in human flesh, nor state that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected from the grave.  Islam denies the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV


6   I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

7   which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8   But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.


At a time when Christians in the Middle East are being tortured, beheaded, and crucified rather than denying Jesus, Christians in America and Europe, and probably other places, and I should probably be saying so-called Christians, are renouncing the Great Commission and removing the cross, literally, to make peace with Islam.


How would you feel if you attended a church where the pastor opened what you believe to be his Bible, and then started to read passages comp0letely unfamiliar to you?  Then in the midst of the reading you hear him say Allah instead of God and you realize he is reading not from his Bible, but from the Quran.


Dozens of Christian churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, to First United Lutheran in San Francisco, St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send “a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam, with a time given to read the Quran during worship.


Many churches have denied the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to salvation and to heaven.  They have denied the inerrancy of Scripture.  They have denied the inspiration of Scripture.  So it really does not shock me that some churches would unite with pagans.


I don’t know about you, but if I went to a church that did that, I would have gotten up in the middle of the service and left.  I would also have serious doubts about returning to a church teaching equality of all religions.


Last month, in Sweden, the Bishop of Stockholm “proposed a church in her diocese remove all signs of the cross and put down markings showing the direction to Mecca for the benefit of Muslim worshipers.  According to, the Bishop later took to her official blog to explain that removing Christians symbols from the church and preparing the building for Muslim prayer does not make a priest any less a defender of the faith.  The bishop is paving the way for the Islamization of Sweden.  But this is not an isolated case.


In Germany, a priest in a Lutheran church has offered his parish church up to becoming migrant housing, but will be stripping out most of the fittings to ensure their comfort, including all symbols of Christianity.  Obviously, this church had already removed real Christianity from its soul as noted on the church web site.  “Refugees welcome … we are all citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”


So, Muslims chanting Allahu Akbar and militantly denying that Jesus is the Son of God belong to the same spiritual family as Christians proclaiming Jesus is Lord.  This, in my mind, makes a mockery of the Cross.


Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  There is only ONE way to the Father.  It is Jesus, not Mohammad.


We read in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NKJV):


14     Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15     And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16     And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."


And Jesus also warned us later in the Sermon on the Mount.


Matthew 7:15-16 NKJV


15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?


According to Religious News Service, one of Germany’s largest Protestant churches has come under fire from other Christians for their efforts in trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.  It must be time to throw out the Great Commission.


The Lutheran Church in the Rhineland says that the passage in the Gospel of Matthew known as the Great Commission, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” does not mean Christians must try to convert others to their faith.


Don’t they realize that the only reason there is Christianity in Germany – or any other part of the world, is because someone brought the message, sometimes costing them their very life?  Don’t they realize that if Christianity is not a missionary faith, it is no faith at all.  Just as Jesus came to earth “seek and save the lost,” so He sends us to seek and save the lost.  As David Livingston once said, “God had only one Son and He made Him a missionary.”


A position paper published by another European church, entitled, “Pilgrim Fellowship and Witness in Dialogue with Muslims,” states, “A strategic mission to Islam, or meeting Muslims to convert them, threatens social peace and contradicts the spirit and mandate of Jesus Christ.”


For me, this makes a mockery of the blood Jesus shed on the cross.  It also makes a mockery of the blood that our brothers and sisters have shed in the Muslim world as they lay down their lives to reach them with the good news.


I was disappointed by Pope Francis, who said this past Monday in Africa, “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters.”


The rise of Islam around the world is not something that took God off guard.  I would argue this, that God, in fact, predicted this very thing that we are seeing.  This is not something that should cause us to fear.


Muslims are people that need the gospel.  Christ, and Christ alone, has made provision for all people to have eternal life.


Oswald Smith famously said that the church that does not evangelize will fossilize.  That reality is that the churches I have mentioned already gave up the great commission years ago, becoming nothing more than fossils of the faith.


May God raise up a powerful witnessing church in Europe before it is too late and around the world.  While this is happening in Europe, more Muslims inside Islamic countries are turning to Christ than in the last 15 centuries.


1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV


1   Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,


The apostle Paul knew that certain dangers would mark the latter days.  In this verse we have:


                        •  The danger of apostasy – “some will depart.”


                        •  The danger of deception – “deceiving spirits.”


                        •  The danger of false teaching – “doctrines of demons.”


We are living in a very unique period of time where there is a coalition of nations that is hostile towards the nation of Israel.  There have been these forces of evil against Israel since God chose them as His.


The Prophet Ezekiel also spoke of the end times, telling us that the nations around Israel – nations today that, except for one, are predominantly Muslim, would once again come, en masse, against Israel.  You can read the nine people groups in Ezekiel 38.  Ezekiel saw the very thing that we see in the Middle East today.


When Jesus came the first time, in His first coming, we know from the Scripture the world was set up for His arrival.  We know about Pax Romana – the Roman Peace.  The Romans also had constructed road across their kingdom, making it possible for a quick spread of the Gospel.


Galatians 4:4 tell us that the timing and conditions were perfect for the arrival of Christ.  “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”  And today, we are seeing the alignment of nations today just as the prophets spoke.  And it appears that Islam plays a very strategic roll in the end times drama.