The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: P-Q

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Papal and Muslim "legs"

"There are two great antichristian religious systems of deceit revealed in the book of Revelation. The 'great western antichrist' of Roman Catholicism (Rev 17; 18) and the 'great eastern antichrist' of Islam (Rev 9). This has been the majority position of historic Protestant interpretation (Historicism) for centuries (though later writers often see this with more clarity). Dr Lee gives us evidence of this in 'Calvin and Islam', citing Calvin as follows,

"In our own day, indeed [1550], very many people begin to waver -- when they consider the long continued dispersion of the Church. As if this had not been regulated by the purpose of God!... The pretext of the Romanists which they make in extenuation of the tyranny of their idol [the Papacy] -- is that it was not possible for Christ to forsake His bride. But here, the weak have an assurance on which to rest -- when they learn that the disfigurement which they see in the Church, has long since been foretold. The impudence of the Romanists, on the other hand, is clearly exposed. Because Paul declares that when the World has been brought under the rule of Christ -- a defection will take place....

"The minds of ancients were so bewitched -- that they believed that Nero would be Antichrist! However, Paul is not speaking of one individual -- but of a kingdom that was to be seized by Satan, for the purpose of setting up a seat of abomination in the midst of God's Temple. This we see accomplished in Popery.

"The defection has indeed spread more widely! For, since Mohammed was an apostate, he turned his followers, the Turks, from Christ.... The sect of Mohammed was like a raging overflow, which in its violence tore away about half of the Church. It remained for [the Papal] Antichrist to infect with his poison the part which was left."

Yet, in the words 'the Lord Jesus shall slay' in 2Th 2:8 -- Calvin insists Paul "predicted the destruction of the reign of Antichrist... He will be annihilated by the Word of the Lord... Paul does not think that Christ will accomplish this in a single moment... Christ will scatter the darkness in which Antichrist will reign, by the rays which He will emit before His coming -- just as the sun, before becoming visible to us, chases away the darkness of the night with its bright light.

"It does seem that the fourth iron kingdom was in fact both the pre-Papal and the pre-Islamic undivided Pagan Roman Empire, as well as the later Western-Roman Papal and the contemporaneous Eastern-Roman Islamic Empire into which it then subdivided. Indeed, both 'Mahomet' and 'the Pope' -- as we have already seen -- Calvin called 'the two horns of Antichrist.' Thus they correspond to the two legs of the later Roman Empire Islam and the Papacy.

In fact, when the classic historicist position is studied, the fulfillment in the case of Islam and Rev 9 is seen to be so striking and well attested that "'even advocates of other approaches who are adamant in their rejection of the historicist system of interpretation have admitted the convincing nature of this particular identification' (Steve Gregg, commenting on Rev 9:1-6 in 'Revelation: Four Views' 176)."

Since the Papacy (Roman Catholicism) and the powers of Islam are both blaspheming and agitating against Israel today, it surely does seem that we are still in the "two legs" interpretative section of the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of future empires, and very, very close to the image's feet becoming shattered by Christ's return.

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