With Europe on the verge of economic collapse, what about all those popular predictions that the European Union would become the world's political powerhouse, giving rise to the endtimes prophecies of a world dictator known to Bible students as the Antichrist?
Joel Richardson, author of a best-selling book on Bible prophecy, says atheists will have a field day mocking Christians for the incorrect interpretations about the last days.
"Nearly twenty years ago, I intently watched as a very popular Christian television prophecy teacher declared, 'the present formation of the European Union is literally the fulfillment of Bible prophecy right before our eyes!'" he writes in a commentary today in WND. "According to this teacher, the creation of the European Union represented a biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire. Because the last-days empire of the Antichrist as described in the Books of Daniel and Revelation is portrayed as a 10-nation alliance, this teacher confidently declared that when the number of EU member states reached ten, this would signal the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And soon, the number of EU member states reached the magic number 10 just as this teacher had predicted. Then the number reached eleven, and then twelve. Soon there were twenty. Today there are 27 member states. The teacher's very confident predictions failed."
Richardson said the formation of the EU in 1993 spurred even more prophecy teachers to set their sights on Europe.
"But the present harsh realities in Europe may soon cause all of this Euro-centric, restored Roman Empire prognosticating to come crashing down," writes Richardson.
He also expects many Christians to become disillusioned as the EU fights for its very survival, rather than for the global dominance that was predicted.
The author of "The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About the True Nature of the Beast" wants everyone to know that if the EU falls, it is not an indictment of the truth of the Bible.
"Despite its popularity, the Euro-centric end-time perspective has never represented anything akin to Christian orthodoxy or dogma," he writes. "Throughout the history of the church, many great Christian leaders have looked not to Europe, but to the Middle East for the emergence of an end-time empire. In fact, going back to the first few centuries of the church, the consistent testimony of the early believers is that the Antichrist, his empire and his religion would arise from out of the Middle East, and not Europe. As such, rather than tacking in the wind yet again, what many teachers and students of Bible prophecy are awakening to is the reality that the biblical prophecies about the last days are thoroughly Jerusalem, Israel and Middle-Eastern-centric. What many Westerners, and perhaps Americans most of all, often fail to recognize is the fact that the Bible is a thoroughly Eastern book. Always has been. As shocking as this may be to some, the Bible was not written primarily for Americans."
When "The Islamic Antichrist" was released last fall, it immediately zoomed to the top of the religious charts at Amazon and the No. 1 spot among all books at Scribd – an online e-booker retailer. Yet Richardson, a student of Islam and the Middle east, found few churches in America welcoming him as a guest speaker. He was not invited to address many prophecy conferences. He found himself as a "political incorrect" outsider in most evangelical circles.
His book makes the case that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran's Muslim Mahdi.
"The Bible abounds with proofs that the Antichrist's empire will consist only of nations that are, today, Islamic," says Richardson. "Despite the numerous prevailing arguments for the emergence of a revived European Roman empire as the Antichrist's power base, the specific nations the Bible identifies as comprising his empire are today all Muslim."
Richardson believes the key error of many previous prophecy scholars involves the misinterpretation of a prediction by Daniel to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel describes the rise and fall of empires of the future, leading to the end times. Western Christians have viewed one of those empires as Rome, when, claims Richardson, Rome never actually conquered Babylon and was thus disqualified as a possibility.
It had to be another empire that rose and fell and rose again that would lead to rule of this "man of sin," described in the Bible. That empire, he says, is the Islamic Empire, which did conquer Babylon and, in fact, rules over it even today.
Many evangelical Christians believe the Bible predicts a charismatic ruler, the Antichrist, will arise in the last days, before the return of Jesus. The Quran also predicts that a man, called the Mahdi, will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. Richardson makes the case these two men are, in fact, one in the same.
"Today, many scholars, students and teachers alike are acknowledging the consistent testimony of the prophets as pointing us to the Middle East," he writes today. "As any realtor will tell you, it's all about location, location, location. Likewise, as any astute Bible student should know, the first issue that must be established when attempting to properly interpret the Bible is context, context, context. And simply stated, the context of virtually all biblical prophecy is Israel and the Middle East. Jesus will not be returning to Paris, London or Independence, Missouri, but rather Jerusalem. Literally every last one of the final battles as depicted by all of the biblical prophets take place in Israel and the surrounding vicinity. When the prophets specify which nations surround Israel to attack her, the wording used in Hebrew is goyim caybib, which translated means 'the surrounding nations.' These are Israel’s neighbors; they are not references to Belgium or Luxembourg or Rome."
Richardson is the co-author with Walid Shoebat of "God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible" and co-editor of "Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out."
"The Islamic Antichrist" is published by WND Books and is available autographed in the WND Superstore.