The Powerful Delusion
This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley (updated version of an article first posted in 2006)
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thes. 2:9-12)
It’s no secret that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is preoccupied with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah figure, al Mahdi. This continues to raise concern that a nuclear-armed Iran would create the kind of global chaos he believes will be necessary to set the stage for the Mahdi’s return. Recent events seem to confirm this. For example, after years of promising that their nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful, Iran just announced their intention to test a 1 kiloton nuclear warhead this year. Iran’s Supreme Leader is thought to favor announcing Iran’s nuclear capability as an accomplished fact as soon as possible.
Iran has also made repeated threats to close the Straights of Hormuz, blocking over 35% of the world’s ship borne oil supply, and they’ve warned the US not to send it’s recently departed aircraft carrier back into the Persian Gulf. The US has responded by reversing the carrier’s departure course and ordering an additional carrier into the vicinity, which entered the Persian Gulf this week. In addition to the thousands of troops the US recently stationed in Israel and Jordan in case of trouble in Syria, 15,000 more have now been stationed in Kuwait in case of trouble in Iran. It’s widely assumed that some kind of military showdown between the US and Iran is imminent.
Al Mahdi, which means the guided one, is said to have gone into “occlusion” (disappeared) in the year 941 AD, at the age of five. Shiite Moslems believe he will reappear at the end of the Age. They say his reappearance will be preceded by chaos, war and bloodshed. When he comes he’ll establish a world wide Islamic caliphate, and following a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness that lasts 7 years, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.
This is obviously similar to Christian eschatology of the anti-Christ. Indeed, the Hidden Imam, as he’s also called, is expected to return in the company of Jesus. Iran’s “Twelver” sect of Islam believes the Mahdi is Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant, of the Prophet Mohammad. Both the Ayatollah Khamanei and Pres. Ahmadinejad claim to have communicated with him.
As he has has publicly explained, Ahmadinejad believes he’s been called to “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance.” To some, this means creating the chaos necessary to bring al Mahdi back.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
The Prophet Daniel spoke of a seven-year rule by one who brings about Earth’s final judgment over 1000 years before Mohammed fashioned the religion we know as Islam. And as is the case with Shiite beliefs, Daniel’s ruler will rise to power on the heels of a great battle between the forces of good and evil as well. How else would he be able to use the promise of peace to deceive the world? (Daniel 8:25)
According to Revelation 13, this ruler and his false prophet will force the world into a common religion, killing all who resist. Shiites agree. They insist the religion will be Islam, and that in the process all the Jews and Romans (Christians) who don’t convert will be put to death.
Good News And Bad News
Please understand, I’m not trying to give these Islamic beliefs about al Mahdi any legitimacy. I’m only trying to show how similar they are to Biblical prophecies of the anti-Christ. In fact the only discernible difference lies in one fact. Whereas Daniel and other Biblical figures who prophesied of this coming ruler viewed him as the ultimate expression of evil, eventually indwelt by Satan himself, Shiites see him as a force for good, ushering in a glorious age of worldwide Islamic rule. The two perceptions couldn’t be more opposite.
I think this difference is the sprouting seed of the powerful delusion Paul spoke of in 2 Thes. 2:11. During the Great Tribulation the world will experience a total reversal of perception from that of its Judeo-Christian past. Consider these two passages from the Revelation as confirmation.
Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”(Rev. 13:4) The dragon is Satan and the beast is the anti-Christ.
Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Rev 16:10-11)
As they clearly show, the End Times world will worship Satan and curse God.
Amazingly, this reversal of perception is also the basis of a New Age heresy called the Luciferian Doctrine. Simply put it holds that Lucifer, the angel of light (in Latin, Lucifer means light bearer) is desperately trying to bring mankind through the final, spiritual phase of human evolution, into the Utopian world man longs for. But Lucifer is being thwarted in his efforts by the evil Adonay (from the Hebrew Adonai, which means Lord) who wants to destroy man. As you can see, it’s also the opposite of the truth, just like Paul warned (2 Thes. 2:9-12), and just like prophecies of al Mahdi appear to be.
By whatever name, this doctrine will permeate the One World religion of Daniel’s 70th Week. Because of the dramatic manifestations of supernatural signs and wonders during that time, the last vestiges of the godless secular humanism will finally die. Satan, who during our age has been content with giving anyone but God credit for the Creation of Earth and Man, will begin demanding credit for himself. And having refused to love the truth, man, who needs to believe in someone greater than himself, will be fair game for this lie.
The Luciferian Doctrine explains the difference between the Shiite view and Bible Prophecy and could be the powerful delusion Paul spoke of. The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible, after all, and besides man there’s only one other created being who aspires to be God.
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)
The man who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything, the saying goes, so after the church disappears and the famine of God’s word prophesied by Amos takes hold, there will be a real longing for something to believe in on Earth. The Luciferian Doctrine will fit the bill nicely, especially when its two leading proponents, the anti-Christ and the False Prophet, will seem to have such supernatural power.
Mahmoud The Zealot
The introduction of religious zeal, counterfeit though it may be, into world events is the most dramatic proof since 1948 of the nearness of the end. In the final days of Communism, when some folks thought Gorbachev was the anti-Christ, they overlooked the absence of this critical component. Coming from the perspective of the Modern Rationalism of the 50′s, when God wasn’t thought to be real anymore, the godless Soviet enemy seemed sufficient to fulfill end times prophecy. And yet, the Bible speaks of powerful spiritual contention at the end of the age. After all the final battle is fought and won in the spiritual realm. It just takes place on Earth. It’s clear that events at the end of the age will include powerful, opposing, spiritual forces.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a religious zealot of the first magnitude. By his statements, it’s clear that he believes his Mahdi is coming soon, and that he has been chosen to have his country ready to receive him. An old Islamic saying goes, “When the students are ready, the teacher will come.” And he himself has declared, “We don’t shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world.” A man with that kind of zeal, given the kind of power he has, will not hesitate to plunge the world into chaos to hasten the day of his lord.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way (2 Thes 2:7). But remember this, my friends. Before the powerful delusion can truly take hold, the truth has to disappear. The repository for truth in this age is the church, so when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.