Tag Archives: prophesy

Isaiah 7:14: Is it really about Jesus or someone else?

Matthew 1:22–23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy about Jesus’ birth: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). However, many Jewish and non-Jewish authors have challenged Mathew’s claim and Christians for taking Isaiah 7:14 out of context, and applying it to a virgin birth and to a Messiah. They also point out that since Isaiah 7:16 says, “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken”, this was not fulfilled by the Messiah. This short paper is a verse-by-verse study on Isaiah 7:1-16 to see if this chapter is indeed a prophecy of the Messiah or someone else.

Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin, the king of Aram and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it. (Isaiah 7:1, NASB, 1995)

Now it came about in the days of Ahaz. Ahaz was a wicked king of Judah, worshipping other gods and even sacrificing his son to Molech (2 Kings 16:1-4). The only good thing Ahaz seemed to do was to father Hezekiah, who became a good king of Judah.

Rezin, the king of Aram [Syria] and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it. The alliance between these two nations [Syria and Israel] and their unsuccessful attack on Jerusalem [of the Kingdom of Judah] is described in 2 Kings 16. [In about the 10th century BC, there was a great dispute in Israel, the nation chosen by God, about who was to become king (1 Kings 12:16-19). Two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, did not agree with the proposed king of Israel, Rehoboam. As a result,  the two tribes  decided to forsake their inheritance. They became the southern Kingdom of Judah. The northern 10 tribes remained one people group and kept the name of Israel.  The Kingdom of Israel in the north, contained the cities of Shechem and Samaria; and the Kingdom of Judah in the south, contained the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple]. 

But could not conquer it. How was Ahaz saved from this attack? Because he entered into an ungodly alliance with Tiglath-Pileserking of Assyria, and even gave Tiglath-Pileser silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD as a present to win his favor and protection (2 Kings 16:7-9).

When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind. (Isaiah 7:2, NASB, 1995)

When it was reported to the house of David. That is, the royal family; or the king and princes; the government of Judah. Ahaz was the descendant and successor of David.

“The Arameans [Syrians] have camped in Ephraim,” Ephraim is another title for the northern nation of Israel. King Ahaz heard again that Syria and Israel had joined together to make war against Judah.

His heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind. King Ahaz and his people reacted with fear instead of with trust in God. They were shaken and unstable in their hearts.

Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field (Isaiah 7:3, NASB, 1995)

Then the Lord said to Isaiah. With this threat looming against Judah [the House of David], the Lord sends Isaiah to give assurance to Ahaz.

Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub. Isaiah is told to go out to meet Ahaz, however, not by himself, but also specifically with his son Shear-jashub. Frequently, commentators overlook this command to bring the boy as if it were an unnecessary detail. There appears to be a purpose for taking his son as we will soon see. 1

At the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field. It was probably a subterranean duct which brought water into the city from the high ground outside the Damascus gate. Ahaz may have visited it in order to see that it was made available for his own use, but not for the enemy’s. These seemingly irrelevant details also make an important point. All this happened to real people at a real time and in real places. 

And say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be faint hearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. (Isaiah 7:4, NASB, 1995)

Seemingly, Ahaz needed to pay attention (take care) and stop his talking about the problem (be calm). He needed to trust God and take courage in the LORD (do not fear or be fainthearted). God looked at Israel and Syria and saw two stubs of smoking firebrands. To the LORD, they were all smoke and no fire. 2


Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 
(Isaiah 7:5-6, NASB, 1995)

Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah. Not that there were three parties in the confederacy against Judah, only two, the kingdoms of Syria [Aram] and Ephraim, or Israel; the king of the former [Syria] is not mentioned at all, and the latter [Israel] only as if he was the son of a private person, which is purposely done by way of contempt.

“Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it. The words imply an assault on the line of fortresses that defended Judah.

Set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it. Nothing more is known of this person. He might have been some captain, unrelated to the House of David, who had sought to aid of Rezin [King of Syria] and Pekah [King of Israel]. To set him up on the throne would mean that the entire house of David was endangered, and also the hope of a Messiah from David’s lineage.

Thus says the Lord God: “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass.  (Isaiah 7:7)

Setting up the Son of Tabeel meant that the entire house of David was endangered. Were Syria and Israel to succeed, the messianic promise of a future son of David who would have an eternal house, kingdom, and throne (2 Samuel 7:16) would be demolished. But such a thing will not come to fulfillment. 3

For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not ]last.” (Isaiah 7:8-9)

For the head [capital] of Aram [Syria] is Damascus and the head [ruler] of Damascus is Rezin. Syria and Ephraim have merely human heads – the one Rezin, the other Pekah (the son of Remaliah); but Judah, it is implied, has a Divine Head.

Now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people. Isaiah predicted that within 65 years, the northern kingdom of Israel would no longer be recognized as a people. It was completely fulfilled in 669 BC when Ashurbanipal enacted the final population transfers between Israel and Assyria (Ezr 4:2, 10). Thus in 669 BC, 65 years from the date of the events described in Isaiah’s prophecy, the northern kingdom was indeed “shattered to be a people” (verse 8) and the land was inhabited by Samaritans, a people of mixed ethnicity (Ezra 4:2).

If you will not believe, you surely shall not last. The prophet reads the thoughts that were working in the king Ahaz’s mind. He had no faith in these predictions terminating at a date which he was not likely to live to witness. If he did not put confidence in God, and his promises, he should not be protected from Syria and Ephraim [Israel].

Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” (Isaiah 7:10-11)

Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God”. The Lord Himself has just called upon Ahaz to ask for a sign.

Make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven. “Make it [the sign] deep as Sheol or high as heaven”, it appears that Ahaz was to ask for a miraculous or supernatural sign.

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” (Isaiah 7:12)

Ahaz, with false piety, refuses to test God. The disingenuous nature of his response is plain in that this is a king who had so little regard for the Lord that he practiced idolatry, even offering his own son as a child sacrifice to Molech (2Kg 16:3; 2Ch 28:3). While he might claim biblical justification (Deut 6:16) for his refusal to ask or test the Lord (verse 12), this seems ridiculous because the Lord Himself has just called upon him to do so.

Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? (Isaiah 7:13)

Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Isaiah speaks now but His address shifts away from Ahaz to the whole house of David. This is evident not only from the vocative “house of David” but also from the change of singular pronouns and verbs of command (Isaiah 7:4, 11) to plural. When addressing Ahaz alone, the singular was used. However, in Isaiah 7:13-14, Isaiah used the second-person plural. This is not an obvious change in the English Bible, but in verse 13, the imperative verb “listen” is plural. The reason for the shift is that God was clearly fed up with this wicked and sanctimonious king, so he addressed the royal house he represented.1

Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? The rulers of Judah were not satisfied with wearying people, but they would also fatigue and wear out the patience of God.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 9:14). 

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Isaiah declared that, nonetheless, the Lord would give the House of David a sign. Since the northern alliance was threatening to replace Ahaz with the son of Tabeel, the entire house of David was endangered, and the messianic promise of a future son of David was also threatened. This provides the need for a long-term sign of hope. What is that sign?

Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son.  The sign that the Lord promised the house of David is that of a pregnant almah who would bear a son. This indeed would meet the qualification of the “sign” that is “deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (Isaiah 7:10-11). The use of the article (frequently untranslated in modern English versions) with the word almah indicates that the Lord has a specific woman in mind. In its every use in the Hebrew Bible, the word almah either refers to a virgin or has a neutral sense. While the Hebrew word bethulah could refer to a virgin of any age, almah would refer to a virgin that has just arrived at puberty.1

Moreover, Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 1:22–23) was probably quoting from the Septuagint — a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek completed around the 2nd century BCE. The Septuagint translated הָעַלְמָה (ha’almah) as parthenos — meaning “virgin”. Since the Septuagint predates Christianity, there’s no reason to think that the translators intentionally changed the meaning. Rashi, one of the most influential Jewish commentators, stated that some Jews understood the verse as prophecy about a virgin birth:

“And some interpret that this is the sign, that she was a young girl and incapable of giving birth.” (The Jewish Bible with a Modern English Translation and Rashi’s Commentary, Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg). 4

Hence, it is not necessary to abandon the traditional interpretation of almah as a “virgin” except for an anti-supernatural or anti-messianic bias. 

She will call His name Immanuel. The virgin mother of the child will recognize His special nature. Therefore, she will give Him the title “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” The message to Judah was that God would be with them in a special way through this child. This was true of Jesus in fact, not only as a title: Immanuel speaks both of the deity of Jesus (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good (Isaiah 9:15). 

The Lord continues His description of the virgin-born Davidic Messiah, giving a clue to the situation into which He would be born. Many mistake the butter and honey He would eat as the food of royalty, ignoring the context in Isaiah 7 itself. Later in the chapter, Isaiah writes of the coming Assyrian oppression, when Assyria would shave the land (Isaiah 7:20). At that time, fields will not be cultivated and will become pastures for oxen and sheep (Isaiah 7:23-25). The effect of this will be an overabundance of dairy (or butter/curds) because of the pasturing of livestock and an excess of honey because bees will be able to pollinate the wild flowers. Therefore, because of “the abundant milk they give,” a man “will eat butter [curd], for every survivor in the land will eat butter and honey” (7:21-22). So, in this passage, butter and honey do not represent the food of royalty but rather the food of oppression. The point then of the description of the future virgin-born, Davidic king eating curd and honey is to accentuate that he would be born during a time of political oppression. In other words, the prophecy of Messiah concludes with a hint that He will be born and grow up (“learning to reject what is bad and choose what is good”) at a time when Judah is oppressed by a foreign power. It also shows that Jesus is not only fully God (He is Immanuel), but He is also fully Human (grow up). 

For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken (Isaiah 7:16).

While many have considered verse 16 to be a continuation of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:13-15, the grammar of the passage suggests otherwise. The opening phrase in Hebrew can reflect an adversative nuance, allowing for a disjunction between the child described in Isaiah 7:13-15 and the one described in Isaiah 7:16. This is also indicated in the shift from plural (verse 13-15) to singular (verse 16). There is a different child in view in this verse. So, who is the child?

In light of Isaiah being directed to bring his own son to the confrontation with the king at the conduit of the upper pool (Isaiah 7:3), it makes most sense to identify this lad as Shear-jashub. Otherwise, there would be no purpose for God directing Isaiah to bring the boy.  Thus, having promised the virgin birth of the Messiah (Isaiah 7:13-15), the prophet then points to the small boy that he has brought along and says, “But before this boy (using the article with a demonstrative force) knows to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken”. In this way, Shear-jashub functioned as a sign to the king. Appropriately, Isaiah could tell Judah in the very next chapter, “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:18).

Therefore, in Isaiah 7:10-11, Isaiah used the singular to address King Ahaz. Then, when addressing the house of David with the prophecy of Messiah (Isaiah 7:13), he shifted to the plural. But in Isaiah 7:16, he addressed King Ahaz, using the singular pronoun once again and giving him a near prophecy: before Shear-jashub would be able to discern good from evil, the northern confederacy attacking Judah would fail. Within two years, Tiglath-Pileser defeated both Israel and Syria, just as the prophet had predicted. Therefore verse 16 cannot and does not apply to the Messiah child, but Isaiah’s child, and this interpretation is in line with the context and the grammar of the chapter.

References

1. The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecies: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, eds. Michael Rydelnik & Edwin Blum, published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 2019, pp. 815-830.

2. David Guzik: Isaiah 7, https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-7/

3. Biblehub, commentaries: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/7-13.htm

4. Nick Meader: Is Isaiah 7:14 About Jesus or Someone Else? https://medium.com/interfaith-now/is-isaiah-7-14-about-jesus-or-someone-else-84f25d327e0f

See also: Isaiah 53:1-12: Israel or Messiah?

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Origins of ‘Preterism’ and ‘Futurism

Is it true that ‘Preterism’ and ‘Futurism’ were Jesuit interpretations of prophecy that were contrived during the counter-reformation? SDA’s and some others (even wickipedia articles) essentially promote that Jesuit scholarship rallied to the Roman cause by providing two plausible alternatives to the historical interpretation of the Protestants. Luis de Alcazar (1554–1630) of Seville, Spain, devised what became known as the “preterist” system of prophetic interpretation, pushing the antichrist as already come. In order to remove the Catholic Church from consideration as the antichrist power, Francisco Ribera (1537–1591) proposed that most of Revelation refers to the distant future just prior to the second coming, the “futurist” system.  

So, are the above statements true? No, that is a lie perpetrated by Seventh-day Adventists and others to stifle investigation through guilt by association. While Alcazar and Ribera championed and popularized those views from the 16th and 17th century, the idea of an antichrist that had already come, and also a future coming anti-Christ was not a new idea among the early church fathers before the reformation. John himself states simultaneously that the “antichrist is coming” and that “now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18; cf. 1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7). 

Preterism (moderate) sees most of the prophesises fulfilled in the first few centuries. Historicism teaches that much of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are to be fulfilled over long ages of church history. Futurism views much of the prophecies of Daniel, and Revelation to be yet future.

The early church fathers had differing views on end times. Here are a few samples of early Church views on anti-Christ:

Irenaeus (AD 189) believed in a single future antichrist who will sit in the temple of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 years.

“By means of the events which shall occur in the time of the Antichrist it is shown that he, being an apostate and a robber, is anxious to be adored as God, and that although a mere slave, he wishes to be proclaimed as king. For he, being endued with all the power of the devil, shall not come as a righteous king nor as a legitimate king in subjection to God, but as an impious, unjust, and lawless one . . . setting aside idols to persuade [men] that he himself is God, raising himself up as the only idol. . . . Moreover [Paul] has also pointed out this which I have shown in many ways: that the temple in Jerusalem was made by the direction of the true God. For the apostle himself, speaking in his own person, distinctly called it the temple of God [2 Thess. 2:4] . . . in which the enemy shall sit, endeavoring to show himself as Christ” (Against Heresies 5:25:1-2 [A.D. 189]).

“But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months and will sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire” (ibid., 5:30:4).

Hippolytus (AD 200) saw a future Jewish antichrist and a rebuilt temple before the second coming.

“We find it written regarding Antichrist . . . ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp, and he shall leap from Bashan’ [Deut. 33:22]. But that no one may err by supposing that this is said of the Savior, let him attend carefully to the matter. Dan, he says, is a lion’s whelp. And in naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring. For as Christ springs from the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist is to spring from the tribe of Dan” (The Antichrist 6 [A.D. 200]). 14).

“Above all, moreover, he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all these [Jews] he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals. . . . And after that he will build the temple in Jerusalem and will restore it again speedily and give it over to the Jews” (Discourse on the End of the World 23-25 [A.D. 217]).

Hippolytus separated Daniel’s 70th week from the 69 weeks, and placed the last 7 years before the end of the world (Treatise on Christ and Antichrist 43).

Tertullian (AD 210) believed in a present day “antichrist” and a future coming “antichrist”.

The man of sin, the son of perdition, who must first be revealed before the Lord comes, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; and who is to sit in the temple of God and boast himself as being God. . . . According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught us in both the ancient and the new prophecies, and by the apostle John, who says that ‘already many false prophets have gone out into the world,’ the forerunners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ is come in the flesh, and do not acknowledge Jesus, meaning in God the Creator” (Against Marcion 5:16 [A.D. 210]).

Ephraem of Nisibis (AD 306-373), a major theologian of the early Eastern (Byzantine) Church, writes:

All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” He describes the imminent rapture, followed by 3½ years of great tribulation under the rule of Antichrist, followed by the coming of Christ, the defeat of Antichrist, and the eternal state. His view includes a parenthesis between the fulfillment of Daniel’s sixty-nine weeks and his seventieth week in Daniel 9:24-27. (source: https://tms.edu/m/tmsj13e.pdf )

Brother Dolcino (AD 1307), a leader of the Apostolic Brethren in northern Italy writes:

The Antichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist” (source: https://tms.edu/m/tmsj13e.pdf )

Peter Jurieu (1637-1713) was a prominent theologian and apologist in the French Reformed Church. In his work, Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687), he taught that “Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgement at Armageddon.” (source: https://tms.edu/m/tmsj13e.pdf )

Augustine (AD 354) alluded to Nero as a type of antichrist.

“Some think that the Apostle Paul referred to the Roman empire, and that he was unwilling to use language more explicit, lest he should incur the calumnious charge of wishing ill to the empire which it was hoped would be eternal; so that in saying, ‘For the mystery of iniquity doth already work,‘ he alluded to Nero, whose deeds already seemed to be as the deeds of Antichrist” (The City of God on II Thessalonians 2:7, XX.19.3).

Commodian (AD 260), a Christian poet, writes of the Antichrist, when Nero will return from hell:

“Then, doubtless, the world shall be finished when he shall appear. He himself shall divide the globe into three ruling powers, when, moreover, Nero shall be raised up from hell, Elias shall first come to seal the beloved ones; at which things the region of Africa and the northern nation, the whole earth on all sides, for seven years shall tremble. But Elias shall occupy the half of the time, Nero shall occupy half. Then the whore Babylon, being reduced to ashes, its embers shall thence advance to Jerusalem; and the Latin conqueror shall then say, I am Christ, whom ye always pray to; and, indeed, the original ones who were deceived combine to praise him. He does many wonders, since his is the false prophet” (Instructions, XLI).

Irenaeus (AD 189), a church father comments on the number of the Beast, warned against “making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved” (Against Heresies, V.30.3).

He understood John’s vision to have occurred “almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign“, a tradition repeated by Eusebius (AD314) in his Ecclesiastical History (III.18.3) and by the church fathers (e.g., Clement of Alexandria, The Rich Man’s Salvation, XLII; Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse, X.11; Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, IX; Sulpicius Severus, Sacred History, II.31)—which is to say, sometime before AD 96, when the emperor was assassinated and just a few years before John himself died of old age, having been banished to the island of Patmos, where Revelation was written. Source: University of Chicago/paper

Jerome (4th Century), in his Commentary on the Book of Daniel, expressed this idea:

And so there are many of our viewpoint who think that Domitius Nero was the Antichrist because of his outstanding savagery and depravity. (Source: https://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_daniel_02_text.htm)

John Calvin did not write a commentary on Revelation, but in his Commentary on Daniel, he identifies the little horn of Daniel 7 as Roman Caesar’s:

“It is sufficiently clear, therefore, that this exhibition ought to be referred to the first advent of Christ. I have no doubt that the little horn relates to Julius Caesar and the other Caesars who succeeded him, namely, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and others” 

(Source: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/daniel/7.htm)

In Calvin’s Institutes, the little horn is Antiochus:

“In another passage, the Spirit, portraying him in the person of Antiochus, says that his reign would be with great swelling words of vanity” (Dan. 7:25). Source: (Calvin’s Institutes IV:7:25)

Calvin also accused the Pope of being the Antichrist not based on Daniel 7 or 8, but because of his “tyranny,” “destruction of the truth,” “corruption of the worship of God,” “breaking of His ordinances,” and the “dispersion of the order of His Church.”

Martin Luther, who had grave reservations about Revelation as a canonical book, subscribed to historicist ideas in his later years and found resources for an anti-Catholic message in the Bible. Martin Luther was probably unaware of the previous attacks on the papacy when, in 1517, he drafted his 95 Theses. However, for Martin Luther, the popes were not only the antichrist. For him, popes were the “spirit” of antichrist, while the “Turks” (Muslims) were the flesh. In reading Daniel 8, Luther also saw Antiochus Epiphanes as the forerunner of the great antichrist.

In the first few centuries of the Church, the Roman Caesars from Nero to Diocletian became “antichrists,” and Rome was “Babylon.” Some also saw a future literal anti-Christ, and rebuilt temple (all this before the arrival of Papacy).

Yet, centuries later, with the arrival of Muhammad, the idea of antichrist took on a distinctly Muslim flavor.

John of Damascus (6th century) wrote in his Against Heresies about the “deceptive error of the Ishmaelites, the forerunner of the antichrist.” 

As early as 634 A.D., in The Doctrine of Jacob, a Jewish merchant from Palestine who had converted to Christianity laments over the Arab invasions. He writes: “What can you tell me about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens? He replied, groaning deeply: “He is false, for the prophets do not come armed with a sword.” Truly they are the works of anarchy being committed today and I fear the first Christ to come, whom the Christians worship, was the one sent by God and we instead are preparing to receive the Antichrist.

Another eyewitness to the initial Arab attacks was Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In 634 A.D., Bethlehem had already fallen to the Arab invaders, so he was forced to give his Nativity sermon in Jerusalem. His most detailed description of the Muslim invasion came in his Epiphany sermon, in probably 636 A.D., a dire moment, as the Arab army had surrounded Jerusalem itself. He spoke of the “God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets.” Jerusalem fell in 637 A.D., and in due course they established Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, meant to forever cement the idea that Islam had supplanted Christianity and Judaism, even in the very heart of the Judeo-Christian world.

Peter the Venerable (12 the century), saw Muhammad as the precursor to the Antichrist (source: Wikipedia).

During the 13th century, works by scholars such as Peter PascualRiccoldo da Monte di Croce, and Ramon Llull, depicted Muhammad as an Antichrist while Islam was shown to be a Christian heresy (source: Wikipedia).

Kenneth Setton (an American historian) wrote that Muhammad was frequently calumniated and made a subject of legends taught by preachers as fact. For example, in order to show that Muhammad was the anti-Christ, it was asserted that Muhammad died not in the year 632 but in the year 666 – the number of the beast – in another variation on the theme the number “666” was also used to represent the period of time Muslims would hold sway of the land (source: Wikipedia).

Islam undoubtedly punctuated Martin Luther’s wholehearted belief that he was living amidst the Last Days, so Martin Luther wrote, “The pope is Antichrist, so the Turk (Muslims) is the very devil … both shall go down to hell”.

Luther was not the first to attribute antichrist characteristics to the papacy. Back in 991, Bishop Arnulf of Orleans, applies that title to papacy. 

Luther and others went on to identify the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church as the “Antichrist” and “Whore of Babylon” during the Protestant reformation. This was the central conflict of Luther and the reformers of the Protestant Reformation. Hence, Protestantism redirected and divided the views of the antichrist away from where it had been for the first centuries. After Luther, for many centuries until the middle of the 19th century, the dominant view in the church was the Historicist school of thought which was held by such people as John Knox, William Tyndale, Isaac Newton, and many others. Today, SDA’s champion the historicist view, continuing with much of the ideas held by the Protestant reformers.

Now, was John Calvin influenced by Jesuits for writing that the little horn of Daniel 7 refers to Caesars? Were the early church fathers influenced by Jesuits for holding a flavor of preterist and futurist ideas of antichrist? Far from it. As you can see, the SDAs and others who propagate that preterist and futurist ideas of antichrist (in opposition to Popes being the antichrist) were a Jesuit invention in the 16th century is utterly false. Preterist ideas were more common than futurist ideas, but they were nothing knew among several early church believers.

Preterism traces its roots back to the second century, and there have been many prominent preterists (partial or moderate) since long before the Jesuit order was born. Historicism, which also had a long history on the periphery, only gained prominence during the Reformation as Protestant leaders “discovered” the papacy on the pages of almost every evil power in Daniel and Revelation, as they believed they lived in the very last days of apostasy. Apparently contrived from an anti-Catholic mindset rather than a critical evaluation of the facts, and good exegesis, Historicism’s fortunes waned as anti-Catholic fervor died down. Its highly subjective (such arbitrarily picking of dates to pinpoint fulfillments) and controversial nature led many to question if it was not based more on wishful thinking rather than actual fact. Due to its nebulous interpretation method and the fact that John’s original readers could not have understood the book of Revelation in a historicist manner, the historicist view is not widely held today. As historicism came to be viewed as unreliable because of having so many differing variations on interpreting the same symbols, and following the very public humiliation of the October 22, 1844, Great Disappointment, there was widespread abandonment of historicist view among protestants. Futurism’s more literalist approach gained favor among Christian denominations there after. Futurism (with varying degrees) has arisen to prominence over the past two centuries, and Preterism (partial, moderate, etc.) has also been making inroads.

While we do not side with any particular camp, the bottom line is, regarding antichrists, there are many antichrist spirits that have gone out into the world (1 John 2:18), and so will there be many coming through out the church age.

Interestingly, the only place in the New Testament where the word “antichrist” appears is in the Johannine Epistles, not in Revelation. Nowhere in Revelation is the “beast” ever called “antichrist”. In his first epistle John emphatically states (1 John 2:18) that we may know this is the last hour because of the existence and activity of many antichrists. He says: “Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour” (2:18).

Note well that the entire period between the first and second comings of Jesus is called either the “last hour” as well as the “last days”. See Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pt. 1:20 (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). Thus the “last hour” in 1 John 2:18 is not a reference to the final days preceding Christ’s return but a reference to the entire church age in which we now live.

For John, “antichrist” is anyone “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (1 John 2:22), or anyone “who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). The term “antichrist” is a combination of anti (against or instead of) and christos (Messiah, Christ).

We would be agreeable to say that the spirit of antichrist has revealed itself in Antiochus Epiphanes, Julius Caesar, Nero Caesar, and the papacy— and many others like Islam. This is consistent with the beliefs of the Reformers such as Calvin, and Luther, and the early church fathers, who applied the antichrist figure to more than one individual unlike what SDA’s try to portray! Besides, we believe the beast and Babylon powers of Revelation goes beyond Caesars and Popes as outlined in our Revelation commentary. See:

1) Our verse-by-verse complete Daniel Commentary

2) Our verse-by-verse complete Revelation Commentary

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Truth about the Year-Day Principle

1) There are many instances in Bible prophecy where a day means a day and a year means a year. The Bible prophesied that Abraham’s children would be afflicted for 400 years (Gen 15:13) and that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years (Daniel 9:1-2). Jonah prophesied Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days (Jonah 3:4), which did not equate to 40 years. In Genesis 6:3 God prophesied there would be a period of 120 years before the flood, which did not equate to 43,200 years. Here, days are days and years are years. Then to apply a year-day principle is arbitrary.

2) Adventist and others primarily build the case for the year-day principle from Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:4. However, no year day prophetic principle is established in Numbers 14:34: 

In accordance with the number of days that you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall suffer the punishment for your guilt a year, that is, forty years, and you will know My opposition“. 

Numbers 14:34 deals with a divine sentence: just as you explored the land for 40 days and were unfaithful to me, now you will roam the desert for 40 years. There is no prophecy in this passage, or symbolic vision, or symbolic time period. Both data are literal spans of time.

3) The same is true in Ezekiel 4:4-5:

For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their wrongdoing, 390 days; so you shall bear the wrongdoing of the house of Israel. After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year”. 

Again, there is no symbolic vision involved here, no symbolic time period, no prophecy. The relationship between the 390 days of witnessing by Ezekiel and the 390 years of Israel’s sin is typological/literal, not symbolic. One literal period stands as the literal type of the other: a period of sin by Israel is a type of God’s forbearance. The prophet’s lying down for 40 days is a type of Judah’s 40 years of transgression.

Don Neufeld, a theologian, and an associate editor for the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary wrote in Adventist Review:

“Some have felt that Num. 14:34 and Eze. 4:6 establish the year-day principle as needing to be applied to all time prophecies. But a careful examination of these passages shows that the principle is applied only to specific cases and that there is no general statement in these passages suggesting that a universal principle is set forth. In fact, Seventh-day Adventists do not apply the principle consistently to all time prophecies. For example, the length of the millennium is stated in Revelation 20:3, 5, 7 as being ―a thousand years. This is accepted literally. If the year-day principle were applied, the length would be 360, 000 years. (Source: This Generation Shall Not Pass, in Adventist Review, April 5, Washington D.C,: Review and Herald Publication Association, also quoted in Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14: the Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment, Cassellbury, FL.: Euangelion Press, 1980, pp.85-87.)

Seventh-day Adventists do not apply the principle consistently! 

4) The “seventy weeks” of Daniel 9 cannot prove the year-day principle either, because the expression is actually “seventy ‘sevens“‘ (Dan. 9:24). We know that Daniel 9 is talking about “weeks of years,” not “weeks of days,” but this knowledge comes from the context.

5) The formula “a day for a year” was not used by the New Testament, nor by the early Christians. It was first suggested by a medieval Jewish scholar, and only later adopted by some Christian expositors. It reached its zenith of acceptability in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

6) There is no way any sensible Christian who desire to handle Scriptures carefully could apply a day-year principle to Daniel 8:14, because in Daniel 8:14, the Hebrew for evening and mornings is ‘ereb-boqer’. It is not the usual Hebrew word, yom for day. So, where exactly is the biblical key that, in prophecy, “one evening plus one morning” equals one year rule? Don’t we, as creationists, insist that the presence of the words “evening and morning” in Genesis 1 implies 24-hour days? Who gave SDAs the right to use evening to morning = 1 year rule when God has not even specified such a rule? If God wanted to say 2300 years, he would have said it so like He does elsewhere in Bible prophecy. 

See also:

1) Our verse-by-verse complete Daniel Commentary

2) Our verse-by-verse complete Revelation Commentary