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Everyone loves a hero. Everyone loves the rush of being caught up in the worship of someone who just seems to have it all – looks, money, talent, charm, intelligence, power, charisma – especially when that very special person swears that his entire purpose is to bring world peace and fulfill everyone’s deepest desires.
Who wouldn’t, I mean, WHO COULDN’T love such a person?
I remember feeling that heady rush of worship for David Cassidy when I was 8 years old and he was starring as “Keith” in the 1970’s sitcom “The Partridge Family”. I’m not sure if “Keith” ever specifically addressed the issue of world peace during any of the half-hour episodes, but I would nevertheless have followed him anywhere and done anything he asked of me. And I wasn’t alone in my worship of Keith. His female fans were (and still are) legion.
The Muslims have their own version of Keith Partridge in the figure of the Mahdi. The Mahdi is a political, military and spiritual leader who is prophesied to emerge in the end-times, rule over the entire world, and usher in an age of peace and plenty. He’s supposed to be charming, handsome, brave, generous, and kind.
And then there’s the Antichrist. In the New Testament, as well as in verses in Daniel, the Antichrist is described in terms similar to
Keith Partridge (just kidding!) the anticipated Muslim hero. However, for born-agains, the prophesied Antichrist is no hero. In fact, he’s going to be our worst nightmare.
So what does all this have to do with the here and now?
As with all prophecies, whether real of fake, the Mahdi prophecy comes with a long-standing series of signposts and timelines indicating what to expect and when to expect it. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of the prophecy, mainly because it contains elements that are highly contradictory, depending on which sect of adherents you ascribe to. Instead, I will present a brief overview of some features that are common to both the Mahdi and the Antichrist. I think you’ll agree, when you see these signposts and timelines, that something is definitely afoot in world events today, and we should remain alert.
The Mahdi is characterized as a leader who will first and foremost bring “peace” to the world. He’ll espouse a religion that all of the world’s people, regardless of their former beliefs, will accept and adhere to, and he’ll usher in an age of material wealth that extends to all people. His reign is expected to last around seven years.
Sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it?
Maybe too nice.
The Antichrist is also supposed to usher in seven years of world peace and plenty, but at the barrel of a gun. And those who don’t buy into his Keith Partridge act will be kissing their own heads good-bye.
To get a good idea of the Antichrist, think of him as being the polar opposite of Jesus. So, where Jesus was of humble birth, the Antichrist will arise from the ruling elite; where Jesus lived in subsistence-level poverty, the Antichrist will be stinking rich; where Jesus was not classically good-looking, the Antichrist will be handsome and sexy; where Jesus claimed his kingdom is “not of this world” (meaning, he’s Lord of the spiritual realm), the Antichrist will lay claim to the entire world and all the ‘stuff’ in it, including people; where Jesus predicates his teachings on truth (a.k.a. God), the Antichrist will promote lies; where Jesus invites us to worship God, leaving it up to us whether we accept his invitation, the Antichrist will force us to worship him as the supreme being; where Jesus defers to God in all things, the Antichrist will defer only to himself; and where Jesus leaves all decisions about spiritual and material life in our hands, respecting our God-given free will, the Antichrist will force us to do things, denying that we even have free will.
Seen in this context, is the Mahdi really just the Antichrist viewed through rose-colored glasses?
Absolutely. Yes. Without a doubt.
And here’s where the timeline gets particularly timely.
The Mahdi is supposed to appear soon after the Saudi King, Abdullah, dies (check), when Yemen is in political turmoil (check), and when brutally violent armies flying black flags overrun the Middle East (check, check, check).
According to Shiite hadiths (traditional prophecies), following “the death of a king named Abdullah in the Hijaz — a western region of present-day Saudi Arabia — no successor to the throne would be accepted, and disagreements would escalate and persist until the rise of Imam Mahdi…. Some believe that the rise of terrorist groups in the Levant, along with their black flags, is another sign of Mahdi’s resurrection…. Black flags can suggest the Islamic State, which is killing [tens of thousands] of innocent people in the region with brutality.”
The disturbing aspect to these prophecies is that while genuine Christians are dreading the coming of the Antichrist, Muslims are eagerly awaiting the Mahdi. In fact, they want to help him come to power.
One Muslim scholar, giddy as a school girl, recently stated: “Many [Muslim clerics] believe that the rise of Imam Mahdi is imminent. Even important figures in the seminary have expressed their hope for this event to happen and have called for our readiness to help him.”
If the Mahdi is the Antichrist, then we born-agains need to keep vigilant watch – not in eager anticipation to help him, like the Muslims, but in readiness to expose his lies and withstand his evil acts, even if he does come crooning “I Think I Love You.”