Where Islam Fits in Prophecy Today
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1990
From now on, until the Second Advent of Christ, the word "Islam" (or what some people call "Muhammadism") will be very much in the vocabulary of all important political and religious peoples in the world. Almost a fifth of the world's population Is presently Islamic in belief and it is the fastest growing religion in the world today. What is of utmost importance to prophetic interpreters is the fact that the vast majority of peoples surrounding Israel and the Holy Land are Muslims (adherents of Islam) and they will figure prominently in all prophetic events which are destined to occur in the end-time generation before Christ's Second Advent. In this Prophetic Report, it will be shown just how significant some of the basic aspirations of the Muslims really are and how they look on Jerusalem and the holy places in the Middle East. We also need to comprehend how most Christians and Jews revere many of the same holy places and what will finally develop among the three religious groups regarding their attitudes towards those holy places. There is hardly a subject more important to study and to understand in today's world.
There are three faiths that are profoundly interested in events that take place in what is called the "Holy Land" in the Middle East. This not only includes the Land of Canaan and the city of Jerusalem, but the term to many people of the region reaches out to embrace a much larger area. As I recently explained in a lecture which was sent to those on our mailing list who requested it, the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham was located between the river Euphrates and the river Nile in Egypt (or an eastern branch of the Nile called the Pelusiac arm that used to flow into the Mediterranean near the present day Suez canal). This promise by God to Abraham and his progeny is found in Genesis 15:18.
What is important to realize is the fact that there were no boundaries given in this promise to Abraham in the direction of the desert areas to the southeast of the Land of Canaan. It effectively meant that the whole of the Arabian peninsula (with all its oil wealth) was also the Abrahamic promise. The northern boundary of this promised land was at what the Bible calls "the entrance to Hamath" (Numbers 34:8) which "entrance" was anciently understood to mean where the Orontes River (opposite Antioch) flows into the Mediterranean Sea. It was upstream on the Orontes River where the city of Hamath was situated. Thus, the northern boundary was at an understood line drawn from the mouth of the Orontes to the area of the bulge of the Euphrates as it juts out toward the Mediterranean Sea about 350 miles north of Jerusalem.
The perimeters of this promised land to Abraham and his descendants encompass a vast amount of territory. It was not intended to be given only to the twelve tribes of Israel. Their part of this promised land was only the Land of Canaan and the lands east of Jordan north of the Arnon River and up to and including Mount Hermon. The lands to the south and east were to be given to other descendants of Abraham. These were notably the peoples who descended from Ishmael and his twelve sons and the descendants of the six sons of Keturah who were also from Abraham. See Genesis 25:1 where this is explained. And also to the southeast adjacent to Israel was the land of the Edomites, and to the east of Jordan on the highlands portion of the King's Highway was the land of the Moabites and Ammonites. All of these peoples were equally descendants of Abraham, though they were mixed with other races in their vicinities.
What is important for us to understand in regard to prophetic interpretation is the fact that almost all these lands outside the Land of Canaan and the Philistine/Phoenician territory on the Mediterranean coast are now in the hands of peoples who claim Islam as their faith. And, within these boundaries of the promised land to Abraham are the two holiest cities within Islam - Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The third holiest area to Muslims is Jerusalem.
Now look at Jerusalem itself. It is reckoned as a "holy city" by the three major faiths which look to Abraham as their spiritual and/or physical father. There is Judaism which reckons the area of the Dome of the Rock on Mount Moriah as the place where the altar of burnt offering stood in Solomon's temple and also in the temple that existed in Christ's time. Somewhere to the east of that spot and near the summit of the Mount of Olives is where the Red Heifer was killed and burnt to ashes and this spot (wherever it is) is of supreme importance to Jews if a new temple is to be built and to function properly.
With most Christians, the holiest spot that they revere is called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where (since the time of Constantine) it was thought that Christ Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected from the dead. Just to the south of that region (on the southwest hill of Jerusalem), it was also believed that this is where the Last Supper was held and where the Holy Spirit first came to Christians on Pentecost day. This is also considered a holy area.
With the Muslims, however, the holiest spot of all in Jerusalem is the El-Aqsa Mosque just to the south of the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock itself, by an extension of the holiness of El-Aqsa and associating Muhammad's supposed ascent into heaven from that spot, has now taken on almost an equal holiness as the Mosque. But it is important to realize that the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque (a place for Muslims to assemble and prostrate themselves toward Mecca at the regular times for prayer).
Jerusalem became the third holiest area for Muslims for several reasons (and in the earliest period of Islam, Muhammad instructed his followers to pray toward Jerusalem in their prayers). The chief reason, however, centers upon a highly debated section of the Koran (the Muslim holy book) which describes a night visionary journey of Muhammad from the Mosque at Mecca to what the Koran calls "the distant or the furthest mosque" (Sura XVII.1). This was later interpreted to mean the mosque in Jerusalem. Thus, this mosque was called El-Aqsa (Arabic: the furthest). Note that the Koran did not say the Dome of the Rock area (though some later interpreters felt it included it), but only to the furthest mosque - the El-Aqsa Mosque located just south of the Dome of the Rock. Recall, again, a fact of importance. The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque. It is a shrine built by Muslim authorities to protect and secure the site of Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac and the spot where Solomon had "the foundation stone" of his temple.
Of late there has been some doubt expressed in a few quarters concerning the actual site of Solomon's temple (and this includes the temple Herod built which was there in the time of Christ). Some have imagined that Solomon's temple was located about 100 yards north of the present Dome of the Rock. In the past I have even thought this new theory might be proper. However, a great deal of research by scholars has shown to me that this new theory is not as sound as it may appear. The Dome of the Rock covers the highest spot on Mount Moriah (where temples were ordinarily located) and it is clearly the place that almost all Jews have accepted as the temple site for the past 1800 years.
Indeed, one of the reasons the Jews now pray at their Western (or "Wailing") Wall was to avoid praying directly toward "the foundation stone" on Mount Moriah because the emperor Hadrian placed a temple of Zeus on that site plus a statue of himself. But had the true temple been located 100 yards north of this new temple of Zeus, the Jews could easily have prayed toward that northern spot because there was no temple of Zeus there. But they retreated in the 2nd century to praying at the Western Wall far to the south. They did not realize that they were beginning to pray directly toward the spot on the Mount of Olives where Christ was buried and resurrected from the dead. One day the Jewish authorities will realize this profound fact.
Whatever the case, it is now recognized by all people in the world that the three major faiths claiming Abraham as father are in a contest over who controls Jerusalem and the supposed holy places. It has been that way for over 1300 years. And at the end of the age (that we are fast approaching), the struggles will intensify. A main concern of Christian denominations (representing over a fifth of the world's population), the Islamic faithful in their various divisions (representing about another fifth of the world's population) and the Jews who now control in a political sense the city of Jerusalem, involves the question: Who will maintain authority over those holy sites? Prophetic events in the Middle East (which will reach out to influence all people in the world) will center precisely on these geographical sites and the religious significance that they possess.
The Bible shows that there will be a temple in Jerusalem just before the second advent of Christ Jesus (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15, etc.). The only trouble is, the site where this temple is to be built has the Muslim shrine of the Dome of the Rock occupying that holy region. How in the world can a new temple be constructed at that very site without Muslims and Jews in some way agreeing with one another to have it built? Christians themselves are not overly interested in the site for holy purposes, but even they are extremely concerned over it because Christ gave prophecies about events in this temple. For those events to be fulfilled there has to be a temple (not a Muslim shrine) on this spot at the highest point of Mount Moriah. Will the Islamic authorities agree to the building of such a structure? What would happen to that beautiful Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock? These are questions that must be answered if prophecy is to be understood. And, indeed, we may now have the answer on how this can be accomplished.
There is a teaching in the Book of Revelation that has puzzled almost all prophetic interpreters. It concerns a prophecy that at the end of the age - just before the Second Advent of Christ to this earth - there will be a temple at Jerusalem with the inner two compartments reserved for the ordained Aaronic priests while the outer court will be given over to the Gentiles. This outer court (known in ancient times as the Court of Israel, and into which only Israelites were permitted to enter) is described in this prophecy as being opened to the nations of the world. They can enter its precincts and presumably they can worship God within its perimeters without any threat of retribution. Notice the scripture.
"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying Rise, and measure the temple of God [Greek: the naos of God, the "inner temple" or the "holy place"], and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple [outside the naos] leave out and measure it not; FOR IT IS GIVEN unto the nations: and the holy city they shall tread under foot forty and two months."
Revelation 11:1—2 emphasis mine
While the prophecy states that this allowance will occur at a time when the city of Jerusalem is trodden down of the nations, there is nothing in the prophecy to suggest that the nations (that is, the Gentiles) are "treading down" the court of the temple in an hostile or belligerent way. Indeed, the apostle John records that God "gives it" to the various nations of the world (that they can have access to it without reservations) during this period of time just before the Second Advent. Only the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies are reckoned as being off limits to the Gentiles.
This is an extraordinary allowance that God gives to the nations of the world at this time. This is puzzling because in both the Old and New Testament scriptures it is made abundantly clear that only Israelites who are circumcised and practicing the religion of Moses were allowed into the court of the temple which existed in the time of Christ. When the apostle Paul was accused of letting his Ephesian colleague into the temple enclosure (reserved only for Israelites), all the city of Jerusalem was moved to anger and clamored for his death (Acts 21:27—31).
As a matter of fact, there were inscriptions at various intervals on the outer wall that surrounded the court region of the temple which forbade any Gentile to enter within. One of them was found in the last century. It said in perfectly clear Greek characters:
"No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and enclosure around the temple. Whoever is caught will render himself liable to the consequent penalty of death."
Yet the prophecy in the Book of Revelation presents a very different attitude of the people in charge of the end-time temple. In this temple, the Gentiles are given the allowance of entering into its outer court. The Book of Revelation says the outer court is "given over" to the nations. One might ask: Given over by whom? The only authority that this could possibly refer to is God himself. It is God who "gives it" to the nations as he gave things to the Gentiles in Romans 1:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:11—12. There is no outward punishment or retribution from God appointed for the various peoples of the nations who enter the court of the temple at this time.
This may well mean that certain New Testament teachings will be used to justify this allowance to the nations. Indeed, there may be a way to "legally" allow Gentiles into the inner court if people accept the New Testament revelation. One should look at the apostle Paul’s teaching that faith in Christ can make a person a child of Abraham and an heir according to the Old Testament promises without having to be an actual Israelite by race. Notice how Paul put it.
"For you [Gentiles] are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
"There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
And let us not forget that even in the Book of Revelation itself, after describing the 144,000 righteous Israelites, we then have appended to this statement the following verses.
"After this I behold, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
This scene places these people from among the nations of the world in the very temple of God (even inside the Holy Place, see verse 15). This shows that Gentiles can be within the dwelling place of God the Father and Christ Jesus.
From the New Testament point of view there is not legal problem with this scene being depicted by the apostle John. The apostle Paul had already indicated that the balustrade that separated the Gentiles from the Israelites in the temple was now broken down as far as God was concerned. His actual comment was a most important teaching on the destruction of that temple barrier that required the death penalty for gentiles if the crossed beyond it.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain [two] one new man, so making peace."
The ordinances of the Old Testament that God gave to separate the Gentiles from the Israelites in the temple area were now, to the apostle Paul, completely abolished and made of none effect. Even the balastrade of the temple that was a partition between Gentiles and Jews was now broken down in Christ. This is the plain and simple teaching of the New Testament.
While the teaching of Paul is clear, could these new laws be accepted in a literal sense, or are they to be spiritually interpreted? These teachings of Paul and those of John in the Book of Revelation are certainly presented within a spiritual context. And without doubt, it has to be admitted that there was hardly a Jew living at the time when Paul and John made these statements that would allow actual Gentiles (even though they were righteous) to enter the sacred enclosure. To most Jews, even letting "converted" Gentiles into the court of Israel in the temple would have been going too far.
While this was true for the past, a different approach will be in evidence as the end-time approaches. There are indications that even Jews may be willing to modify their former opinions and that these New Testament teachings might make it "legally" acceptable to allow all nations who express faith in Yahweh to have access into the court of Israel in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. This is because a great many Jews are soon going to accept Christian teachings and begin to mourn for the one who was pierced about two thousand years ago. Modern Jews will soon begin to pay close attention to the teaching. of the New Testament on this and other matters.
To understand this point, look at the end-time prophecy found in Zechariah 12 through 14. This is a prophecy which takes place not long before the Messiah (in the name of Yahweh) returns to earth and positions his feet on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 and see Acts 1:11—12). In my view we are already beginning to see the fulfillment of these three chapters in Zechariah.
In the generation before the Second Advent of Christ, God promises a great blessing to come to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. Not only will the people of Israel become strong and influential in the Middle East among all their neighbors, but Yahweh will go a step further and bring to the inhabitants a spirit of grace and supplications - they will experience a willingness to petition God for blessings (which he will grant). Notice the prophecy.
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born."
This verse was interpreted by the writers of the New Testament to refer to the piercing that was done to Christ Jesus at the time of his crucifixion (John 19:34,37; Revelation 1:7). In other words, great numbers of people among the Jews who live in Judah and in Jerusalem will become converted to believe in Christ Jesus. And not only will many Jews begin to mourn for the one they pierced, but the grace and supplications which God will afford will embrace all the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:10).
This clearly means that Jews, Arabs and other races dwelling in Jerusalem (even if they have been practicing Jews, Muslims or members of the various denominations of Christendom) will begin to mourn for the real Christ and to repent of their ways. This conversion will not be a return to the type of churchianity that began with Constantine who simply baptized a form of paganism into looking like the Christianity of the New Testament. In no way. Jews and Muslims who will be converted to Christ are not going to put up with such pagan ways and the depictions of idolatrous portraits of Christ and other saints of God which are actually nothing more than the icons, pictures or images of the top heathen gods and goddesses.
Note that the prophecy in Zechariah specifically states that when the people of Jerusalem begin to mourn for Christ (when he pours out his spirit of grace and supplications) then Yahweh says:
"It will come to pass in that day, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets [the false prophets and false teachers] and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land."
Let's face it, it is not the Jews and Muslims who have pictures, icons and images of false heathen gods which they have re-christened as "Jesus, Peter, John, Mary, etc., etc." In no way. Frankly, this prophecy refers primarily to our mainline Christian churches who have gone over almost wholesale into having pictures of Zeus, Serapis, the Great Mother (pure pagan deities) and calling them "Jesus" and "Mary." Such depictions are expressly forbidden by the second commandment and the apostle John warned Christians (in the last verse of his first epistle): "Keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).
The truth is, when the Christian laity finally discover that their authorities over the centuries have presented them with heathen gods and goddesses to worship in their churches (and even in Sunday School and Sabbath School books), they are going to revolt against the church hierarchies. Those church leaders and evangelists are going to be held in utter disdain and contempt. This is not Ernest L. Martin stating these things from his own mind. This is precisely what the prophet Zechariah prophesied within the very context we have been reading. It means that when God pours out his spirit of grace and supplications upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people will revolt against the present form of "Christian idolatry" and hold in contempt the church leaders who teach such nonsense and still claim to be official "members of the cloth." Notice Zechariah:
"And it shall come to pass, that when any [prophet] shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, you shall not live; for you speak lies in the name of the Lord [Yahweh]: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesies."
At that time the preachers and priests who claim to have their authority from Yahweh to teach their idolatrous practices and doctrines will be held in disdain — even by close relatives who would normally want to uphold their positions of authority. Indeed, so unpopular will preachers, priests and evangelists of the old-school Christianity become that most of them will resign their positions and get as far away from their former professions as they can get. Notice Zechariah.
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he has prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive [they will abandon their dark wool garments which distinguish them as "men of the cloth"]. But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am a husbandman [a farmer]; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth."
This is quite a prophecy! It means that there will be such a revolt against "organized" religious leaders that many of these leaders will begin to hide the fact that they ever were preachers, priests or evangelists. Some of them will even resort to lying to the people by telling them that they never have been religious leaders. They will manufacture any kind of falsehood they can (even saying they have always been farmers or ranchers) to keep the people from knowing that they once were religious authorities.
And though it is mainly Christian religious leaders who have over the centuries introduced pagan rituals, doctrines and iconography (pictures and images of pagan deities) into their churches, the text of Zechariah shows that the disdain for religious leaders will also involve all religious leaders in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. This means that Jewish and Muslim religious authorities will also be held in disdain and contempt by the common people when Yahweh pours out his spirit of grace and supplication.
The real teaching of the New Testament (and the whole Bible) will finally be given to the people of the world once again. The apostle Peter said that there will be a restitution of all things (a complete restoration of the truth) just before Christ comes back to earth (Acts 3:19—21). The truths of the Holy Scriptures, plus the authentic teachings from the historical records, will become so evident in the next few years that the traditional teachings which the religious leaders of the Christians, Jews and Muslims have taught over the centuries will be jettisoned in favor of the real truths of the Bible and history.
For example, I have explained in my book Secrets of Golgotha that the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ occurred on the Mount of Olives, not in the western area of Jerusalem that the traditional religious authorities state. Not only that, Christ was not crucified on an upright pole (with or without a crosspiece). His hands or wrists were nailed to a board plank and that plank was hoisted to the limb of a living tree and nailed to it. The crosses we see on churches (and even embossed on Bibles) are of pagan origin in their symbolic significance. A cross was not the type of executionary instrument on which our Savior was crucified. Actually, the Bible and history show that Christ Jesus was also pelted with small stones for the six hours he hanged on that tree and that he was blinded as a result of that stoning which contributed to his death.
People will find out that the traditional teachings that they have been subjected to by their religious authorities are in many cases not in accord with the Bible and/or history. Jews will discover that since the 2nd century they have been praying at their Western ("Wailing") Wall directly toward the spot where Christ was buried and resurrected from the dead. And Christians will find out that they have been praying toward the tomb of the priest/king John Hyrcanus who ruled from 135 to 104 B.C. and that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the supposed holiest place in Christendom) is a complete hoax.
The Muslims are also going to find out that many of their traditional beliefs are equally wrong. When God pours out his spirit of grace and supplications on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, they will discover that the supposed night journey of Muhammad to Jerusalem is nothing more than tradition and that the later beliefs concerning the El-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are only stories made up by men.
At that time, Muslims could acknowledge that the Dome of the Rock was built simply to "protect" the site of Solomon's temple and that it could be incorporated (with modification) into a similar temple which meets the Solomonic parameters. Muslims and Jews, with some Christians, could work in unison to find legal ways to do this.
One thing for certain. Zechariah shows that we are going to witness some extraordinary changes for the better in attitudes among the peoples of Jerusalem. Keep your eyes on Jerusalem. Some important and revolutionary things are prophesied to happen in that city.
Ernest L. Martin
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