Seven years ago, Al Gore was warning us that all of the polar ice caps would be completely gone by now. I was warning of a caliphate.
For the past 10 years, I’ve diligently sought to awaken the Church to the fact that the Hebrew prophets point to a Middle Eastern Antichrist who will emerge from the region of Turkey, Syria or Iraq. Some have examined the evidence and recognized the solid scriptural basis for this view. Others have questioned, debated, or even maligned this perspective. The truth, however, is that although some naysayers have tried to cast this view as a “lone ranger” perspective, in broad historical terms, I have been far from alone in espousing it. In fact, many great Christian expositors have recognized the biblical evidence for this view. Many even foresaw that a last-days caliphate would be established in the region of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. In light of the astounding re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate for the first time in over 80 years in Iraq and Syria, let us consider a few of the great Christian expositors and teachers who foresaw precisely what we are witnessing today.
The first was Hippolytus of Rome (170–235). Hippolytus was an important theologian of the early third century. In speaking of the Antichrist, he said this:
“That these things, then, are said of no one else but that tyrant, and shameless one, and adversary of God, we shall show in what follows. But Isaiah also speaks thus: ‘And it shall come to pass, that when the Lord has performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will punish (visit) the stout mind, the king of Assyria, and the greatness (height) of the glory of his eyes.’” (emphasis added)
The second theologian who foresaw the Antichrist as emerging from the region now controlled by ISIS was Victorinus of Pettau (240–304). Victorinus was an early Christian bishop and the author of the most ancient complete commentary on the book of Revelation in our possession. In this ancient commentary, Victorinus identified the Antichrist as “the Assyrian” mentioned in Micah 5:5 who would invade the land of Israel only to be destroyed by Jesus upon His return.
The next witness is Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (240 – 320). Lactantius was yet another early Church writer from the third century who wrote much on the end times. Amazingly, Lactantius specifically stated that the Antichrist would come from the Roman Province of Syria:
“A king shall arise out of Syria, born from an evil spirit, the overthrower and destroyer of the human race, who shall destroy that which is left by the former evil, together with himself. … But that king will not only be most disgraceful in himself, but he will also be a prophet of lies … and power will be given to him to do signs and wonders, by the sight of which he may entice men to adore him. … Then he will attempt to destroy the temple of God and persecute the righteous people.” (emphasis added)
Many are surprised to discover that Clarence Larkin (1850–1924), the great dispensational teacher, also foresaw these things. Larkin was an American Baptist pastor, Bible teacher and author whose works continue to sell to this day. In his book “Dispensational Truth,” Larkin wrote, “It is clear that the Antichrist is to come from Syria. … We are to understand therefore by the ‘King of the North’ the King of Syria, which also included Assyria. This fixes the locality from which the Antichrist shall come. …”
One of my favorite commentators is G.H. Lang (1874–1958). Lang was a magnificent British expositor whose commentary on the book on Daniel received the highest endorsement from the legendary biblical scholar F.F. Bruce. In Lang’s “The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel,” he said the following:
Therefore the Antichrist will be the king of Assyria with Babylon as his capital, which of old was in the dominion of Seleucus, who gained the eastern area of the empire of Alexander. Thus when the Antichrist arises, he will not come at Rome, or any where else in the west. Had this been understood, many vain and misleading speculations would have been avoided, such that of the pope, or the Papacy, or Napoleon, or others being he. And when he comes, his military efforts will be expended mainly upon Egypt and the south, the east, and Palestine.
Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952), an English evangelist and biblical scholar also well-known for his work “The Antichrist,” likewise identified the Antichrist as coming from the Middle Eastern region of the former Assyrian Empire:
“We have seen that the scriptures which help us to determine the direction from which he will arise, speak of him under the title of the ‘Little Horn.’ Now the first thing this title denotes is that he is a king, king of Assyria. … [After he] acquires the crown of Syria he will speedily enlarge his dominions.”
Now, to be clear, the various references to the Antichrist as “the Assyrian” are not ethnic denotations. Instead, it points to the region from which the Antichrist will likely emerge. In the same way that, for example, the prophet Joel speaks of the destruction of Philistia in the Day of the Lord (Joel 3:4), he was not speaking of the judgment of ethnic Philistines when Jesus returns, but of those enemies of His people, who occupy the region of ancient Philistia. So also do the biblical references point to Assyria as the region from which the Antichrist will emerge, but do not indicate that he will ethnically be an Assyrian. Today, the majority of the Assyrian people are Chaldean Christians. Most of those who had continued to live in the region of ancient Assyria have now been forced to flee the onslaught of ISIS.
All of these men of God foresaw the Antichrist and his empire as arising from the same region where we have now witnessed the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate. All of these men looked to the words of the Hebrew prophets and came to similar conclusions. They foresaw in quite a remarkable way what has now unfolded before all of us. As radical Muslims continue to murder, kidnap, rape, behead, crucify and slaughter their way across the Middle East, now it the time for the Church to wake up and diligently study the Scriptures to discern if all of these events indeed provide us with a genuine harbinger of the coming Antichrist and the soon coming return of Jesus.
“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.” (Luke 12:37)