It’s one of the most controversial topics in Christianity. But biblical teacher Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and the host of the new teaching series “The Battle for Jerusalem,” says he knows where the Antichrist is going to come from. And a familiar face in the headlines is, at the very least, a “foreshadow” of the Antichrist.

Turkey.

“The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is consolidating his power, his absolute, autocratic power, his dictatorship over this nation,” says Richardson in a new episode of his online television show “The Underground.”

“What’s unfolding in Turkey right now is incredible.”

Richardson has been a longtime critic of the Turkish strongman, whose autocratic tendencies have only grown since Erdogan crushed an attempted coup. There are even some reports the failed coup was a false flag operation because of how Erdogan has benefited from the aftermath.

Richardson argues Erdogan is taking on a quasi-divine status in the eyes of his supporters. He cited a recent article entitled “As Davutoglu exits, Erdoganists demand ‘obedience to the leader.'” He read a quote from the mayor of Ankara who told a pro-government newspaper: “The concept of a leader and absolute obedience to this leader exists in our faith, in our state tradition. The leader can make mistakes … yet still the decision he makes … must be obeyed.”

“What is being said here?” Richardson asked rhetorically. “Within Islamic theology, when a caliph comes into power, a khilāfa, the caliph is sort of the pope, president and general of the Islamic world. He’s essentially the religious, military and political leader, all wrapped into one head, into one office. And when a caliph comes into office, as we just saw with ISIS, all of the Muslims are obligated to make the pledge. It’s called the bay’ah. It’s the pledge of allegiance to the caliph. And so we’ve seen from different Islamist groups all over the Islamic world, all the way from northern Africa all the way over to Pakistan, making the pledge, these various jihadists making the bay’ah pledge. They pledge their life, complete obedience to the caliph. And so long as he obeys and implements Shariah, the Islamic law, all Muslims are, according to that law, obligated to follow him and serve him.”

Richardson maintains just as extremist groups around the world pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic caliphate set up by ISIS, so Erdogan is paving the way for Muslims to pledge allegiance to him as the leader of the Islamic world. And as Richardson explains, Errdogan has a long Turkish tradition to draw upon in this effort.

“That’s the theological basis for subservience to the caliph in Islam but even moreso in Turkey, because Turkey eventually assumed the headship of the caliphate, the Islamic government,” Richardson said. “The Ottoman Empire was really the Ottoman Caliphate. The sultans, they became the new caliphs. So sultan and caliph, they are essentially one and the same. Sultan is basically a Turkish caliph, the head of the Ottoman Empire.

“So here you have a mayor saying absolute obedience to Erdogan is mandatory, not just for those who support him, but all Turks and all Muslims.”

Richardson concedes Erdogan himself may not be the Antichrist or the Gog of the Bible, who is prophesied in Ezekiel 38 to lead a great war against Israel. But he takes a strong stand in specifically identifying Turkey as the region from which the Antichrist will arise.

REMARKABLE SECRETS about what is to come revealed at last. “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem,” the explosive new teaching from New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson. Available now at the WND Superstore.

“If you are to listen to a lot of the various Bible prophecy teachers out there, they’ll say, ‘Joel, we don’t really need to be paying attention to Turkey, the real locust of Satanic power, the real place we need to be paying attention to, the real place that Ezekiel was talking about, that’s Russia,'” Richardson says of the position of many evangelicals. “And you’ve had some guys come out and say pretty much that Putin is Gog. They’ve all but inferred it.”

Richardson accused many prophecy scholars and Bible teachers of simply parroting what people said before them, rather than looking to the text of the Bible itself. He argued there were two methods of trying to identify what contemporary groups or regions prophecy is referring to.

“The first one is the bloodline, lineage, migration method. I call it the ‘historical wild goose chase,'” he said. “You’ve got the various names that Ezekiel lists…you’re essentially trying to trace the DNA, the bloodlines down through history, I mean a couple of thousand years. And then we become limited to the various limited resources that we have, the ancient historians, and this sort of thing. And there becomes all sorts of debatable material. And we lose parts of history because we don’t have a comprehensive history of the world. We can try to piece it together; we can look at various ancient sources. But it becomes kind of hopeless. At best what we have is guesswork.

“The other problem with this is that when we look at the various peoples in Ezekiel’s prophecy and we trace them down, we end up with pretty much the whole world. Because eventually the peoples in Ezekiel’s prophecy came to be dispersed over almost the whole world. I would argue this whole wild goose chase method is a bad method. We’re not trying to chase DNA and bloodline.”

Instead, Richardson supports what he calls the “standard evangelical approach to interpreting Scripture, which is the historical, grammatical method.”

“We are studying and working through the actual grammar, the language of the text as well as the historical context,” he said. “What this translates to is answering the question of how Ezekiel and his immediate audience understood the names.”

Richardson argued Ezekiel was familiar with the table of nations in Genesis, which has most of the names Ezekiel lists in his own prophecies. Richardson claimed there are “dozens and dozens of examples which point to Turkey as the head, as the leader of the coming Ezekiel invasion.”

In his documentary film “End Times Eyewitness,” Richardson closely investigated the religious fervor and geopolitical developments taking place in the Middle East, especially the rise of ultra-nationalism in Turkey. Richardson says the actions of the Turkish leadership are worrisome even if viewed from a purely secular perspective.

“I’m not saying that Erdogan is Gog. But I’m saying we need to be paying attention to Turkey because it’s out of Turkey, this culture, this society, this geography, this region, that I believe we will see the emergence of the Antichrist. I’m not saying Erdogan is the Antichrist. But if he’s not, and anyone could, he is certainly emerging as a clear foreshadow of the Antichrist. Even if you don’t believe in Bible prophecy, we need to be paying attention to what is happening in Turkey because the geopolitical ramifications are dramatic.”

REMARKABLE SECRETS about what is to come revealed at last. “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem,” the explosive new teaching from New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson. Available now at the WND Superstore.

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