A Restorationist Christian View
By Eric Stetson — December 2023
I have been a Christian for many years, before which I was a member of the Baha’i Faith from 1998 to 2002. Before and after becoming a Baha’i, I had a strong interest in prophetic interpretations of religious history and events of the “End Times.” That interest waned several years after I became a Christian, as I became much more interested in theology and the importance of restoring original teachings of the faith of Jesus Christ which I believed had become corrupted, leading to my growing interest in restorationist universalism, pre-Roman church fathers, the Pentecostal Latter Rain movement, the Latter-day Saint tradition, and related themes and ideas. In late 2022, I felt called by the Holy Spirit to refresh my memory about some of the prophetic issues I encountered when I was in the process of leaving the Baha’i Faith, and to examine the issues in more depth and write this article, which I published on this page a year later. I believe the reader will find that the material presented here is significant and that the timing of this exposition is appropriate.
Bible prophecy, and religious prophecy in general, is a subject that I approach with a considerable degree of both skepticism and open-mindedness. My reasons for skepticism are twofold: that prophecies are often expressed in highly symbolic language that can be interpreted in many different ways, and that prophetic interpretations have been used to justify all kinds of religious teachings and expectations which have proved to be false. The history of religion is littered with false prophecies, as well as incorrect interpretations of the ones that might have some validity.
As for my open-mindedness about prophecy, it is in part because despite the ubiquity of prophetic fallibility and misinterpretation, there are some genuine examples in the Bible and elsewhere of prophecies that have been fulfilled, even in ways that seem highly improbable to have been mere coincidence.
Another reason why I’m open to prophecy is, ironically, because of the fact that some of the most meaningful prophecies are so open to interpretation — they are repositories of repeating archetypes in the human story, and thus can be reinterpreted over and over again and applied to many specific situations. For example, Biblical prophecies about what has come to be known as “the Antichrist” are the type of thing that can always be relevant, because as long as the fallen state of our world persists, there will always be various religious or political leaders with characteristics that could be seen as a prophetic fulfillment of the concept of spiritually counterfeit yet potent and alluring leadership. The same can be said of prophecies of “the Messiah,” or messianic figures in general: There will always be heroic leaders who do things to “save” peoples, societies, and religions, and in some ways these might be perceived as Christ figures.
The intersection of the prophetic archetypes of “Messiah” and “Antichrist” is an area that I think is particularly interesting. Could a historical entity simultaneously be a Christ figure, in some legitimate sense, while also being an example of an Antichrist? Biblical history tells us the answer is yes. The most noteworthy example of this phenomenon is Cyrus the Great of Persia, a pagan emperor who for political reasons paid homage to the gods of the nations he ruled — including the Babylonians who had previously conquered Israel — but who was anointed by God as a savior of the Hebrews by allowing them to return to the Holy Land and rebuild their Temple after the Babylonian Captivity. The Bible teaches that God often uses imperfect, even fundamentally flawed people, religions, and governments to bring about His holy purposes.
I think these introductory comments will help to frame what follows, because we’re about to delve into one of the least understood and most significant aspects of Biblical prophecy about religious history and the End Times. The principles I have articulated — that prophecies may have multiple meanings or interpretations and are often misinterpreted; that sometimes they are shockingly and improbably specific in their fulfillment; and that the characters or subjects of prophecy can be morally gray, being in one sense a “good guy” while in another sense a “bad guy” — are key to understanding the story I’m about to tell you.
Daniel’s Prophecy of the Year 1844
One of the most important prophetic books in the Bible is the Book of Daniel, because it makes several specific predictions about major religious events. Among the events prophesied by Daniel was the coming of the Jewish Messiah, whom Christians believe to have been Jesus Christ.
Daniel’s prophecies are especially significant because they are time-specific. In the case of Jesus, for example, he specified the year when he would appear:
Seventy “sevens” [or “weeks”] are decreed for your people and your holy city … From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [or Messiah], the ruler, comes, there will be seven “sevens,” and sixty-two “sevens.” It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two “sevens,” the Anointed One will be put to death [but not for himself] and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. … He [i.e. the Messiah] will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven.” In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering …”
A widely held principle for interpreting time-specific Bible prophecies is that one day equals one year. This “day-year principle” is based on several verses of scripture establishing the symbolic equivalence of a day for a year.
In the case of Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, the beginning date is generally regarded as 457 BCE, when emperor Artaxerxes I of Persia issued a decree to allow the Jews to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, as Daniel indicated to be the starting condition. The historical end point is 69 x 7 + one-half prophetic “weeks,” meaning about 486 years later, which is the year 30 CE. This is when Jesus is believed to have been crucified, which Christians believe put an end to the need for Temple sacrifices and offerings. One-half week, i.e. three and a half years, remain to be fulfilled in the prophecy, which is generally believed to refer to events in the End Times, “the end that is decreed.”
Although some of the details are complicated and have been interpreted in different ways, the prophecy lines up well with known historical facts: a Messiah arising among the Jews for just a few years and being put to death 486 years after the Persian decree to rebuild Jerusalem, followed by the coming of a ruler to destroy the holy city, which in fact happened only a few decades after Christ, in 70 CE, by the Roman emperor. The Seventy Weeks prophecy is therefore regarded by most Christians as one of the most accurate prophecies in the Bible.
In light of Daniel’s accuracy in predicting the time of the advent and martyrdom of Jesus Christ — perhaps the most important prophecy ever given — we should pay special attention to other time-specific prophecies in the Book of Daniel. There is one in particular that many people have, in fact, taken very seriously: a prophecy that seemingly foretells a major spiritual event to occur in the year 1844 CE. Daniel predicts that Gentile rulers will continue to interfere with or trample on Israel and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem for a specific length of time, which may be interpreted to begin at the same time as the previous prophecy about the coming of Christ:
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled — the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion [or abomination] that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated [or cleansed].” … “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”
Because the year 1844 was the most reasonable interpretation of the endpoint of the prophecy — and also because the Gospel of Jesus Christ had finally been preached throughout the whole world, which was one of the signs mentioned by Jesus as a prerequisite for “the end” of the age or End Times — large numbers of Christians, beginning in the 1830s, believed that Christ would return in 1844. William Miller, a Baptist preacher from upstate New York, began teaching this idea publicly in 1831, and soon it grew into a widespread and passionate movement that enlisted many ministers and evangelists and swept the United States and Great Britain. Many of the Millerites sold all their possessions in anticipation of the second coming of Christ and the end of the world, but when the year 1844 came and went without such momentous events, they were sorely disappointed — an event that came to be known as the “Great Disappointment.”
No messianic figure or any person did anything to reestablish the Jewish Temple in Israel in 1844, so we know the prophecy can’t be taken literally. And unless Christ returned in some secret or metaphorical way, the Millerites were wrong in their interpretation. However, that doesn’t mean they were wrong about the general idea of 1844 as a prophetically significant year. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which grew out of the Millerite movement, has reinterpreted it as the time when God would begin to raise up a people to prepare for Christ’s second advent. There are, in fact, several strange coincidences concerning that year in religious history — which might not be coincidences at all. For example:
- In 1844, the Islamic Ottoman Empire, which ruled the land of Israel, issued an “Edict of Toleration” increasing religious freedom for Jews and Christians. Soon after that, the population of Jews began rapidly increasing in the Holy Land, leading ultimately to the restoration of the state of Israel about a century later.
- In 1453, which was 391 years before 1844, the same Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, thus destroying one-third of Christendom. It just so happens that in symbolic language in the Book of Revelation, there was to be a “day and month and year” — representing 1 + 30 + 360 = 391 years according to the prophetic day-year principle and the 360-day Jewish calendar year — during which God will unleash great armies to “kill a third of mankind.” Although the details aren’t to be taken literally, the numerical correspondence pointing to the year 1844 as the beginning of the end of Ottoman tyranny seems uncanny.
- In 1844, Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established what he called the “Council of the Kingdom” of God, after having initiated its members into the “fulness of the priesthood” in a temple — the ritual authority of the ancient Hebrew priesthood, which he believed was restored to the earth in a new form a few months earlier. The Council of the Kingdom was intended to assist Jesus Christ in governing the earth when he returns. Also in 1844, Smith gave authority to an institution called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to ensure prophetic successorship in the LDS Church, which turned out to be a smart move because he was assassinated later that year. All of these things, and especially the restoration of priestly authority in temples, could be seen by Latter-day Saints as a fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of the reconsecration of the sanctuary in 1844.
But that’s not all. It turns out that 1844 was also a very important year in Islamic prophecy, and that somebody claimed to be the Islamic messiah and the return of Christ in that year — somebody who became one of the founders of a new world religion with millions of adherents. That religion, the Baha’i Faith, is the only religion known to be based on extant messianic claims associated with the year 1844, but it did not actually do anything to fulfill Daniel’s 2,300 Years prophecy because its founders never took any actions regarding the Jewish Temple, priesthood, or anything related to it. Baha’is interpret various 1844 prophecies and events as a metaphorical version of the Millerite claim that Jesus Christ would return to destroy the existing world and inaugurate the Kingdom of God in that year of remarkable prophetic synchronicities.
1,260 Years Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation
Considering the world-changing significance of Islam, it would be surprising if Biblical prophecy didn’t include it. An Islamic Messiah would also be highly significant as a false Christ arising from one of the greatest counterfeits of Christianity. Islam accepts Jesus as a major prophet and the Jewish Messiah, but denies his crucifixion, thus negating his atoning sacrifice. The Baha’i Faith affirms the crucifixion but denies the resurrection of Jesus, rendering it merely metaphorical, thus negating his eternal victory. Both of these religions, although containing much truth, are therefore corruptions of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ; they are examples of the religious archetype of “the counterfeit,” which is typically close to the authentic truth of God while deviating from it in small but deeply significant ways.
For these reasons, it seems likely that both the Islamic religion itself and its messianic fulfillment would figure prominently in the End Times, and would be prophesied in the Bible in ways that can be clearly determined. Sure enough, that has proved to be the case — although I’m not sure if anyone has ever pieced together the story as comprehensively until now.
The story of Islam’s prophetic significance begins with an astounding fact: The Bible repeatedly gives prophecies about a period of 1,260 years culminating in the End Times, and it just so happens that the year 1844 CE is the year 1260 AH, i.e. 1260 in the Islamic calendar. That is a synchronicity that seems extremely unlikely to be a mere coincidence.
In the Latter-day Saint tradition, there is an unusual degree of openness, compared to the attitude of most Christians, to the idea that Islam has had a divine purpose. The LDS Church officially teaches that Muhammad received “a portion of God’s light” which was given “to enlighten whole nations.” This may be true while at the same time Muhammad and his religion were in some ways very flawed.
I believe the same can be said of the corrupted versions of Christianity which attained political power in Europe, such as the Catholic Church. Both Catholicism and Islam brought the light of knowledge of the One God to many pagan nations and peoples — and these two witnesses to the truth of the God of Israel also brought tremendous death and destruction by the sword. Their time of dominance was largely overlapping: Imperial Catholicism can be said to have begun with the reconquest of the Roman Empire by Justinian, a political and religious tyrant who officially condemned legitimate Christian teachings such as the preexistence of souls and postmortem salvation, in the mid 500s, soon followed by the emergence of Islam and the rise of the Caliphate in the early 600s. The power of both of these entities began to wane in the 1800s, with the fall of the Holy Roman Empire (1806) and end of the Papal States (1870), and the final defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the last remaining Caliphate being abolished in the early 1900s. Roughly speaking, the 1,260-year period of the Islamic calendar through 1844 CE is a match for this era of religious history.
In the Book of Revelation, we find a prophecy full of symbolism that seems to match up well with the mixture of good and evil coming from the two geopolitically powerful religious offshoots of Judaism during that period:
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
The reference to the olive trees and the lampstands comes from the Old Testament book of Zechariah, which uses this imagery to prophesy of “two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.” In the passage in Revelation, it is explained that these Two Witnesses are given power by God to destroy their enemies, bring plagues upon the earth, and shut up heaven — all of which may symbolize religious tyranny — for a period of 1,260 prophetic days or 42 months (which equals 1,260 days), which would mean 1,260 years according to the day-year principle. During that period, God’s Temple and holy city are given to the Gentiles, which may be interpreted literally, since Gentile empires ruled the land of Israel throughout that time, as well as figuratively, in the sense that God’s empowered religious agents were Gentiles (Christians and Muslims). These things only began to change when the Jews began returning to the Holy Land in the 1800s, culminating in the establishment of the modern Jewish state — developments which coincided with the fall of the Gentile imperial religious powers represented by the Two Witnesses.
Additional language in the same prophecy in Revelation suggests that a more literal interpretation of the Two Witnesses might also come to pass, perhaps with two individual prophets (a Christian and a Muslim?) who will arise in the End Times and face martyrdom. But whether or not this secondary interpretation is true, the primary symbolic reading I have suggested makes sense: a roughly 1,260-year period of Christian and Muslim theocracies leading up to 1844 CE (1260 AH), which marks the end of the Time of the Gentiles and the beginning of the End Times. As Jesus said, “They [i.e. the Jews] will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. … When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The Book of Daniel and Revelation both provide confirmation of this historical interpretation. Daniel prophesies of a “beast” with “ten horns,” which is explained to be a great kingdom that will tyrannize the earth and “oppress [God’s] holy people and try to change the set times and the laws” — all of which were done by the Christians and the Muslims. “The holy people will be delivered into [the beast’s] hands for a time, times and half a time [or a year, two years, and half a year].” In the prophetic day-year reckoning, a “time” means a year; and three-and-a-half years in the 360-day Jewish calendar equals 1,260 days, which is again a reference to 1,260 years. After that period, says Daniel, the oppressive kingdom’s “power will be taken away and completely destroyed,” and “the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” In other words, the year 1260 AH (1844 CE) marks the transition from the time of the Gentile empires that oppressed Israel to the time when the Messiah will return to earth and reign from Israel.
In Revelation, we find more clues as to the specific identity of the Beast with Ten Horns, confirming the interpretation of the 1,260 Years prophecies as referring to the dispensation of Islam and the Gentile religious tyrannies during this era, ending in 1844 CE. Consider the rich symbolism in this passage:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days … for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. … Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring — those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.
Here we have an allegory about the Spirit of Truth or Wisdom, personified as the Heavenly Mother — crowned symbolically with the twelve apostles or the twelve tribes of Israel — giving birth to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was quickly taken up from earth to heaven after his brief earthly ministry. Satan, represented by the dragon or serpent, was manifested in the earth as a beast with ten horns (like in Daniel) wearing crowns, symbolizing kingdoms. For 1,260 years, Wisdom had to abide in the wilderness — i.e. pure spiritual truth was known only on the margins of society, while corrupt religious empires reigned. The beast waged war against the Christians, and flung one-third of them down, perhaps symbolizing the historical defeat of Eastern Christianity by the armies of Islam.
Putting all these things together, we see that the 1,260 Years prophecies refer to an era when God raised up Gentiles with great power, to spread knowledge of the One God throughout the earth, while those same Gentile powers were also infected with the spirit of Satan — Islam conquering Christians, the Catholic Church launching crusades and torturing and killing heretics in the Inquisition, and so forth. It was an age of apostasy from the true Gospel, ruled by corrupted versions of religion that worshipped the God of Israel and taught that Jesus was the Messiah, yet who persecuted the Jews and trampled upon their homeland and suppressed the highest spiritual knowledge taught by Jesus Christ. Symbolically, and to some degree literally, that all began to come to an end in the Islamic year 1260, or 1844 of the Christian Era.
Why Christ Couldn’t Return in 1844 CE (1260 AH)
Despite its significance, 1844 is not the year when Christ was going to return; some more time must pass after that before the second advent. We know this because Jesus unequivocally stated and emphasized that no one can know when he will return:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. … Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. … So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Using the day-year principle, Jesus was saying that people cannot know in advance the year of his second coming.
There is also a clue from scripture that the second coming of Christ will occur sometime after 1844. In the Book of Daniel we read this prophecy:
“… There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book — will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. … But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others … One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” … and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time [or a year, two years, and half a year]. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.”
Several important points stand out in this passage:
- The prophecy mentions the 1,260-year period (“a time, times and half a time”), as mentioned elsewhere in the book, indicating that 1260 AH (1844 CE) is a significant endpoint in some sense.
- However, it gives a more specific starting point and two additional endpoints beyond the 1,260 years.
- The starting point it gives would seemingly be a year when the “abomination that causes desolation” occurs in the context of the 1,260-year period mentioned. The Abomination of Desolation, as it is generally known among students of Bible prophecy, is a profaning of the Jewish Temple by Gentiles and their armies or false religions. One of the most noteworthy times this happened historically was in 168 BCE, when the Greek emperor Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig in the Temple and extinguished its ever-burning lamp. In the context of the 1,260-year Islamic dispensation, it would be the erection of the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine built directly on top of the ruins of the Temple in the location of the Holy of Holies, which is believed to have been begun in 688 CE.
- 1,260 years after the Islamic Abomination of Desolation in 688 CE amazingly happens to be 1948, the year when the restored state of Israel was established.
- The 1,290 and 1,335 prophetic days (i.e. years) after 688 CE also happen to coincide with some very interesting years: 1,290 years later, in 1978, the state of Israel signed the Camp David Accords, establishing a framework for peace in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the right of Israel to exist. 1,335 years after the same starting date is 2023. If my reasoning is valid, this year is supposed to be significant to the End Times in some way — an important year in prophecy that people should wait for as a milestone before the end of the age.
- Approximately 1,290 years passed from the first time when the daily sacrifice in the Temple was abolished (597 BCE, when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon) to the time when the Dome of the Rock was completed (691/2 CE), meaning that the prophecy of the 1,290 years can be interpreted in two different ways, both of which make sense, depending on how you read Daniel 12:11.
- Daniel is told to seal up some of what the angels have told him, and that these things will not be known until the End Times. Even then, only the wise will understand. This may indicate that there is much more to come, even after the 1,335 years that Daniel is allowed to mention, before the resurrection and day of judgment he foretells.
In regard to the 1,335 Years prophecy which points to the year 2023, some recent events may indicate how it could be in the process of being fulfilled. In 2022, several extremely rare red heifers were discovered in Texas and shipped to Israel. At the end of 2023, they are expected to be examined by Jewish religious experts to determine if they are ritually pure, and if that turns out to be the case, it would set in motion essential priestly rituals to enable the Third Temple of Judaism to be consecrated. Meanwhile, the ultra-right-wing government of Israel elected in 2022 has been considering shifting control of the holy sites in Palestinian East Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount, to Israel, from its current status of being administered by the Islamic government of Jordan. The king of Jordan warned that such a move could trigger war in the Middle East. The escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which erupted into the Gaza War in October 2023, threatens to expand and consume the entire Holy Land, and may become a regional or even world war. The Israeli government might decide to reoccupy Gaza, and might also take steps to annex or expand its control of the West Bank (the historical regions of Judea and Samaria), in an attempt to secure the Jewish state from further acts of Palestinian terrorism. This would likely lead to a great war against Israel — a war that there is no guarantee that Israel would win.
Such events could bring to pass the final Abomination of Desolation prophesied by Jesus Christ to come in the End Times, shortly before his return:
So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel — let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. … For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. …
At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. … So if anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the wilderness,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. …
Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
Jesus says that his second coming will happen after an instance of the Abomination of Desolation which shall be the worst calamity ever for the people of Israel. He warns that his reappearance will be clearly visible and obvious to everyone, rather than a secret appearance or a messianic claimant whom one has to evaluate or search for to discover. And he says that these final events of the End Times will take place during just one generation.
Preterists believe that all of these prophecies were fulfilled metaphorically in the year 70 CE with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. But since Christ didn’t return in any obvious way within one generation of that year, the Preterist interpretation can’t be the whole story — there must be another instance of the Abomination of Desolation that has yet to happen. This means the Time of the Gentiles had to end, so that Israel could be restored — which didn’t happen until the 20th century — and then Israel has to be defeated again by the Gentiles (the final “Abomination”), which might take the form of an Arab/Muslim victory over the 21st-century Jewish state or a forcibly imposed peace plan by the international community which brings to an end or severely curtails Jewish rule of the Holy Land. Only then can the second coming of Christ occur and all the prophecies be fulfilled as described.
The bottom line is that there seem to be ample reasons to be skeptical of any claims that Christ was supposed to return in 1844, and good reasons to believe that 1844 marks the beginning of the End Times period (or, if you prefer, the Latter Days) during which Gentile religious powers were overthrown, the Jews returned to Israel and reestablished their nation, and various momentous events have been taking place there and elsewhere, culminating at some unknown point in the future with the actual return of Christ. “Blessed,” it seems, are those who “wait” until at least the year 2023 to begin looking for that to happen, rather than being deceived by false messiahs beforehand.
The Islamic Messiah’s Kingdom on Mount Carmel
Despite the Biblical prophecies pointing to a later date than 1844 for the return of the Messiah, a movement arose from Islam claiming that Christ returned in that year. This new religious movement, called the Baha’i Faith, used the same arguments as the Millerites regarding Daniel’s 2,300 Years prophecy, but they believed that their founders — the first of whom made a messianic claim in 1844 CE (1260 AH) — were spiritual manifestations of the return of Christ in new human bodies.
In the Shi’ite Islamic sect predominant in Persia (Iran), there were prophecies that the last of twelve divinely guided successors of the prophet Muhammad, called Imams, would return to earth 1,000 years after he disappeared. His disappearance happened to occur in the year 260 AH, so the Twelfth Imam was expected to make a spiritual reappearance in 1260 AH (there’s that year again!). The return of the Twelfth Imam was called by titles such as Qa’im (“He who shall arise”) and Mahdi (“Divine Guide” or “Guided One”).
In both Sunni (mainstream) and Shi’ite Islam, the Mahdi was supposed to be a forerunner to the return of Christ, so when the Bab claimed to be the Mahdi, his followers expected another messianic figure to appear soon. One of the Bab’s most prominent followers, a man from an aristocratic Persian family named Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri, claimed to be the promised Messiah in the 1860s, using the title Baha’u’llah (“Glory of God”). His followers, called Baha’is, believe that the Bab and Baha’u’llah were “Twin Manifestations of God,” both of whom are the spiritual return of Christ. The Bab is also believed by Baha’is to be the return of Elijah, while Baha’u’llah is regarded as the return of the Imam Husayn (one of the most revered Shi’ite Muslim leaders) in addition to Jesus. The theory on which all of this is based is that prophets can return in new bodies, like how Jesus said Elijah returned as John the Baptist, and that the same principle applies to the return of Jesus Christ.
Baha’u’llah was imprisoned and exiled to the Ottoman Empire, and eventually sent to the notorious prison at Akka (Acre), in what today is Israel. Near the end of his life he was released to house arrest in a mansion outside the city and was allowed to visit nearby locations, such as Mount Carmel and the Cave of Elijah where centuries earlier the Carmelite monastery had been established on the mountain. He died in 1892.
During his more than 30-year ministry, Baha’u’llah wrote several books and thousands of epistles, called “tablets,” in which he expounded upon his messianic claims, promoted new religious laws, and commented on spiritual issues. Some of his positive teachings include abrogating the Islamic law of jihad (holy war), promoting religious tolerance and respect for science, and elevating the status of women. Baha’is believe that as the Manifestation of God in human form, he was infallible and that all his writings were divine revelation.
In the “Most Holy Tablet” (also called the Tablet to the Christians), most likely written in the 1870s, Baha’u’llah announced in very bold language that he is the Return of Christ and that the Kingdom of God has come to earth, emphasizing his claim to be the manifestation not only of the Son of God but of the Heavenly Father:
Say, O followers of the Son! [Jesus.] Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness. … We, verily, have come for your sakes, and have borne the misfortunes of the world for your salvation. … Say: We, in truth, have opened unto you the gates of the Kingdom. … He, verily, hath again come down from heaven, even as He came down from it the first time. … Say, Lo! The Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled! … Blessed is the man who turneth towards Him, and woe betide such as deny or doubt Him.
Announce thou unto the priests: Lo! He Who is the Ruler is come. Step out from behind the veil in the name of thy Lord, He Who layeth low the necks of all men. Proclaim then unto all mankind the glad-tidings of this mighty, this glorious Revelation. Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth. He speaketh not as prompted by His own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. …
Blessed is the man that hath set his face towards God, the Lord of the Day of Reckoning. … Tell Me then: Do the sons recognize the Father, and acknowledge Him, or do they deny Him, even as the people aforetime denied Him (Jesus)? …
I never passed a tree but Mine heart addressed it saying: “O would that thou wert cut down in My name, and My body crucified upon thee.” … Blessed is he who hath laid down his life in My path and hath borne manifold hardships for the sake of My Name. Blessed the man who, assured of My Word, hath arisen from among the dead to celebrate My praise.
In the “Tablet of Carmel,” written in 1891, Baha’u’llah designated Mount Carmel as the new holy mountain, replacing Mount Zion in Jerusalem as the situs of the City of God:
All glory be to this Day … a Day so blest that past ages and centuries can never hope to rival it, a Day in which the countenance of the Ancient of Days hath turned towards His holy seat. Thereupon the voices of all created things, and beyond them those of the Concourse on High, were heard calling aloud: “Haste thee, O Carmel, for lo, the light of the countenance of God, the Ruler of the Kingdom of Names and Fashioner of the heavens, hath been lifted upon thee.”
Seized with transports of joy, and raising high her voice, she thus exclaimed: “May my life be a sacrifice to Thee, inasmuch as Thou hast fixed Thy gaze upon me, hast bestowed upon me Thy bounty, and hast directed towards me Thy steps. Separation from Thee, O Thou Source of everlasting life, hath well nigh consumed me, and my remoteness from Thy presence hath burned away my soul. All praise be to Thee for having enabled me to hearken to Thy call, for having honoured me with Thy footsteps, and for having quickened my soul through the vitalizing fragrance of Thy Day and the shrilling voice of Thy Pen …”
No sooner had her voice reached that most exalted Spot than We made reply: “Render thanks unto thy Lord, O Carmel. … Rejoice, for God hath in this Day established upon thee His throne, hath made thee the dawning-place of His signs and the dayspring of the evidences of His Revelation. … Seize thou the Chalice of Immortality in the name of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, and give thanks unto Him, inasmuch as He, in token of His mercy unto thee, hath turned thy sorrow into gladness, and transmuted thy grief into blissful joy. He, verily, loveth the spot which hath been made the seat of His throne, which His footsteps have trodden … Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven …”
In ancient times, Mount Carmel was sacred to various pagan religions, such as that of the Canaanites, who worshipped Baal there; and later the Greeks, who regarded it as “the most holy of all mountains” and had a temple of Zeus (the father of the gods) there; and the Romans, who had an altar and an oracle there. Baha’u’llah continued in that tradition, by shifting the focal point of worship of our Heavenly Father away from Jerusalem, as established in the Bible, to a different location — similar to what Muhammad did when he moved the qibla (point toward which Muslims pray) from Jerusalem to Mecca.
This mystical interpretation of the Temple was favored by one of Baha’u’llah’s sons, Muhammad Ali, who criticized Baha’u’llah’s eldest son and successor, Abdu’l-Baha, for emphasizing the importance of building sacred religious edifices on Mount Carmel. Under the leadership of Abdu’l-Baha, the human remains of the Bab were transported to the mountain and interred in a shrine; and under the leadership of Abdu’l-Baha’s grandson and successor, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, additional shrines and sacred buildings were constructed to form what Baha’is call the “Arc of the Covenant,” and terraced gardens were developed going up the slope of Carmel to the summit. The mountain has become the headquarters of the religion and major pilgrimage site for Baha’is from around the world. Baha’is believe it to be the New Zion, the mountain of God in the Millennial Era of God’s Kingdom.
Both of these interpretations of the Temple are examples of a false Zion: Baha’u’llah’s body died and is buried in a tomb, but Jesus was resurrected and his tomb is empty. Baha’u’llah’s “Covenant” and “Kingdom” on Mount Carmel quickly became broken, whereas the Kingdom of Jesus Christ when he returns shall remain perfect. In passing, I note with interest that Joseph Smith prophesied that Christ could return no sooner than the year 1890. Less than two years later, Baha’u’llah passed away and his physical temple decayed like all other human bodies (except that of Jesus), and the successorship he established immediately began to fall apart, as if to confirm that he had been a false Christ.
Shoghi Effendi Rabbani was given his first and last name by Abdu’l-Baha to try to fulfill a verse in the Bible which Baha’is believe refers to the “new World Order” of Baha’u’llah and his successors — a “wondrous System,” the Baha’i founder wrote, “the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” Says the Book of Isaiah, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Shoghi means “zeal” or “yearning.” Rabbani means “of the Lord.” (Effendi is an honorific title.)
But things didn’t go according to plan, because the actions of Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi brought Baha’u’llah’s kingdom or world order, as envisioned in the Baha’i scriptures, to an untimely and inglorious end. Abdu’l-Baha excommunicated his brother Muhammad Ali, whom Baha’u’llah had designated to become the second successor, and replaced him with Shoghi Effendi. When Shoghi took the reins, he got into arguments with his relatives and eventually excommunicated all of them, including everyone who was eligible to be appointed the next “Guardian” or head of the faith. And he had no children of his own to whom he could pass on this prophetic office.
This created a serious problem, because the Guardianship of the Baha’i Faith — a hereditary lineal successorship from Baha’u’llah — was supposed to ensure that the religion would be guided by God for many generations to come. Baha’is believe that the individual successors of their Messiah, such as Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and future Guardians if there had been any, were infallible interpreters of the scriptures and revealers of God’s will in the Millennium of God’s Kingdom. As Baha’u’llah had taught that God would not manifest Himself again on earth for 1,000 years, his successors were supposed to play a limited, though vitally important, prophetic or revelatory role as the unquestionable channels of divine guidance — a doctrine Baha’is call the “Covenant.” So important was the Guardianship in Baha’i doctrine that it was the reason why Baha’is believed we are living in the Day of God, or the Millennium. As Shoghi Effendi wrote:
Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardians. The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e., the Guardians’), guided directly by the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh, as the Master [Abdu’l-Baha] states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by “this is the day which will not be followed by the night” [a prophecy by Baha’u’llah].
Nevertheless, Baha’is believe that their elected leadership today — without the prophetic channel of the Guardianship — is infallible and should work to establish a one-world theocratic government under the auspices of the Baha’i religion. This would essentially be a Kingdom of God without a king: neither Messiah himself reigning on earth, nor a prophetic successor or representative, but an imperfect religious institution exercising all the powers of a literal Millennial Kingdom. In his book The World Order of Baha’u’llah, Shoghi Effendi wrote that in the future, the Baha’i Faith should be regarded “not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power … the world’s future super-state” or world commonwealth — a world government of tremendous, all-encompassing power:
This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. …
A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation [i.e. the Baha’i Faith] — such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving.
Let the reader decide whether such a utopian (or perhaps dystopian) vision is appropriate for any religion to pursue — especially one whose own succession of prophetic leadership has been cut off, seemingly struck down by God.
The False Zion of Carmel in Modern Prophecy
One of the more intriguing elements of the Book of Ben Kathryn is its symbolic warnings against false Kingdoms of God such as the Baha’i Faith. In fact, the Baha’i claims of divine revelation/manifestation and a new Zion on Mount Carmel are specifically mentioned and repudiated. Although the word “Baha’i” is not used, this is clearly what it’s referring to, based on the contextual allusions.
First, the book warns about making another holy mountain a replacement for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and denies that God has been speaking through the prophets of high places such as Mount Carmel:
[F]or it is not enough that Hazor is corrupt, and corrupteth; she thinketh all should be Gerizim … and she longeth for Jerusalem, that she may make all as Gerizim, that bastard of Shechem, to whom she hath made betrothal. …
Ah vain revelers! Your places of forgathering are not holy places … He [i.e. the LORD] doth not babble, and burblers do not speak his words. … Carmel is wicked as unto Hazor. … I have not spoken from the mounts, nor appeared to any there in dreams. Behold the revelry on the mounts; how their faces open in sighs of ecstasy as if from a fine wine, and yet their prophets do not pour out my wine. They are not drunk on my ways, saith the LORD. They delight in their feelings; their imagination hath made them dumb to reason.
To grasp the meaning of the passage, we must understand the following: Hazor was the greatest city of the Canaanites, and is used here to represent religious corruption of the Gentiles. Gerizim is a mountain in Samaria (today’s northern West Bank), which in Biblical times was the focal point of worship of the Samaritans, competing for that honor with Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. It is used here to represent false high places set up to lead people of God astray from the true Zion. Shechem was the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel after the split of the United Monarchy of Israel and Judah. After the northern kingdom fell, it remained the chief city of the Samaritans.
Note the wedding allusion, similar to how in the “Tablet of Carmel,” Baha’u’llah conversed with the mountain as his lover attaining a mystical union, and the reference to drinking an ecstasy-inducing wine, reminiscent of the language about Carmel’s ecstatic joy in the presence of the Baha’i prophet and the chalice she is offered.
So, my translation of Ben Kathryn’s passage above is as follows: Corrupt Gentiles have been trying to create a false Zion on a holy mountain to compete with Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; in their longing for the glory of Jerusalem they wed themselves to a counterfeit. This is vanity, not a holy place. Mount Carmel has become like an ancient Canaanite center of false religion. Those who spout copious streams of emotionally intoxicating, supposedly divine verses from such high places (e.g. Baha’u’llah) are false prophets.
A second passage from the Book of Ben Kathryn mentions Carmel, comparing it to the idolatry of pagan empires and kingdoms such as Rome, Babylon and the Philistines, which are not of God and shall fall:
I walked not with the idolatry of Rome, and fashioned not my kingdom after the ways of the high places of Carmel, after the place of Dagon and the straddling floor of his feet. But I brought down Dagon of Askelon, and his poised legs could not withstand. So shall all those be brought low and upset who keep a foot on their floor of their past to justify it and a foot on the way of the LORD JHWH as he marcheth forth to accomplish his ways. There shall be such a spreading that thou shalt be spread and fall.
Dagon was a chief god of the Philistines, Syrians, and Mesopotamians (including in Babylon) in Biblical times. He was regarded as the “father of gods” and bestower of kingship. Askelon (or Ashkelon) was an ancient city of the Canaanites and Philistines. It is notable that the Greek god Zeus, who was worshipped on Mount Carmel, was another pagan father-god, and that in Baha’u’llah’s “Most Holy Tablet” he emphasized his station as God the Father, most likely an idolatrous claim. Furthermore, in the “Tablet of Carmel” Baha’u’llah made repeated references to his footsteps upon the mountain, which seems to be echoed in Ben Kathryn’s imagery of the feet of Dagon upon Carmel.
So my translation of the above passage is as follows: The Kingdom of God is not like Imperial Rome, nor like the kingdoms of false gods who have stood upon Mount Carmel claiming to reign as Heavenly Father (e.g. Dagon, Zeus, and Baha’u’llah). God will bring down such claims, along with all who mix pagan traditions with the God of Israel; for the two ways shall be divided, and none who seek to combine them shall remain standing.
Another passage in the Book of Ben Kathryn links Carmel with Rome, which may have both religious and political interpretations:
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying: My prophet, speak thou unto Israel this word, also this word to lay up against that day, a word to bring down the high places of Rome and Carmel, and a word to shake the powers of the nations; to lay in store, a day to build the shield of Jacob…
My translation is as follows: God wants the people of Israel to be protected from imperialistic religions of the Gentiles, such as emanate from Rome (symbolizing false versions of Christianity) and Mount Carmel (the Baha’i Faith, or in a broader sense Islamic-inspired theocracies), whose powers shall ultimately be diminished along with the power of corrupt Gentile nations.
We should ask, why would anyone claiming to bring prophetic warnings to modern-day Israel and the world in general feel it necessary to repeatedly mention Mount Carmel and link it to Rome? The Baha’i Faith is neither large nor powerful by the standards of major world religions, and it has almost no adherents in Israel outside of its headquarters there. There would be no reason to emphasize Carmel and describe it as Ben Kathryn did unless he has seen what I have about the Baha’i Faith.
To begin to understand its hidden significance for the End Times, consider this prophetic vision in the Book of Revelation: “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.” This woman, who is described as a prostitute, “is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” — which in the time when the prophecy was written was Rome. But look what it says will happen to Rome: “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” We discovered earlier that the Beast with Ten Horns is Imperial Islam. Historically, in fact, much of the Roman Empire was conquered and despoiled by the Islamic Caliphate.
The era of these geopolitical religious powers ended. But what is supposed to happen next? According to the Book of Revelation, there will be a future world government of the Antichrist in the End Times — the rise of another beast that will revive the idea of a global theocracy, or centralized absolute power claiming the mandate of heaven. This idea, illustrated by the woman riding the beast in the vision, known as the Whore of Babylon, keeps coming back over and over again in the human story. It is a great archetype. As it says in Revelation, she is symbolically “Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.” And she always kills true spirituality: “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.”
Rome and Carmel are prophetically linked because one is a type and shadow of the other. The Baha’i Faith is clear about its mission to create a global theocracy, just another manifestation of the same spirit of the Imperial Roman Papacy and the Islamic Caliphates of history. But didn’t Baha’u’llah teach world peace rather than the sword? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the alluring danger of the Baha’i vision seriously. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing: a sanitized, modernized, universalized, and somewhat Christianized version of theocratic Islam, minus the jihad.
Signs of Antichrist in the Baha’i Faith
Other than the general observation that a one-world order with a one-world religion of a man believed to be the return of Christ is what most Christians expect from the Antichrist, is there any specific evidence linking that prophetic archetype with the Baha’i Faith? As a matter of fact, there is. And much of the evidence can be derived directly from the Baha’i scriptures — the writings of Baha’u’llah and his successors that are considered by Baha’is to be infallible.
In Revelation 11:14, after the ministry of the Two Witnesses which we identified as Imperial Christianity and Islam, it says that a “third woe is coming soon.” This is the last of three woes described in the Book of Revelation before the second coming of Christ. Abdu’l-Baha interpreted the verse as part of an extended discourse on the prophecies in Revelation, saying that “This third woe is the day of the manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh, the Day of God” — a curious way to describe the dispensation of one’s own religion.
Abdu’l-Baha’s interpretation is problematic for the Baha’i Faith because the Third Woe is when the appearance of the Antichrist is described: “Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.” The first beast was the Beast with Ten Horns, i.e. Imperial Islam, which “was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them.”
Imperial Islam was mortally wounded when the Caliphate was destroyed in the 1920s, but its spirit was not completely killed — the Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb is prophesied to revive it, or actually to create something similar to it in its image: “Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.”
Two horns like a lamb speaking like a dragon sounds like two false Christs. This Twin Manifestation of deception, also called the False Prophet, revives the spirit of an Islamic world order in a new form, before finally being defeated by the true Return of Christ. It seems likely that this beast could be the twofold Islamic Messiah, i.e. the Bab and Baha’u’llah, both of whom are regarded by Baha’is as the return of Christ, and whose Baha’i Faith aspires to resurrect an Islamic-style global theocracy in a new guise.
That may seem logical, though speculative. Is there any more specific evidence pointing to this interpretation? Indeed there is. I’ll start with what I think is the weakest piece of evidence, but one that is nevertheless interesting: How many major religions in the world today have a law that some people should receive a mark upon their forehead as a judicial penalty for economic reasons? Only one that I know of: the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah wrote in his Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), the book of Baha’i religious laws, that a thief should be marked on the forehead: “on the third offence, place ye a mark upon his brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted in the cities of God and His countries. Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God,” he adds ominously.
The Book of Revelation envisions that the Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb “forced all people … to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark” — a more extreme and universal application of the same basic principle, that a theocratic government would have power to place an identifying mark on people’s bodies as part of the economic system. One has to wonder why Baha’u’llah, who was very familiar with the Bible, would include anything even remotely resembling this policy of the Antichrist in the Baha’i law code, for it does nothing but raise disturbing questions.
But let’s say the Mark of the Beast thing is just a strange coincidence. Is there any stronger evidence for linking the Baha’i Faith with the Antichrist? Yes, the evidence gets more disturbing. The Book of Revelation says that the Number of the Beast — specifically associated with the Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb — is either 666 or 616. Most people are familiar with the idea that 666 represents the Antichrist, but the number 616 is actually the number that was used in the earliest known manuscripts, and is generally accepted by Bible scholars as a legitimate alternative.
The number 616 is special in the Baha’i Faith, representing the revelation of God culminating in the supreme revelation of Baha’u’llah. In fact, in his “Most Holy Book,” 616 is called the “Sign of the Sovereign,” and Baha’u’llah identifies himself personally as “the Six.” In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the number six represents man, or incompletion, compared to the number seven which represents God, completion and perfection. Revelation 13:18 says that the Number of the Beast is “the number of a man,” which can also be translated as “the number of man (i.e. humanity).” Blatant allusions to Antichrist have been embedded in the Baha’i Faith’s own self-symbolism, which I don’t think could possibly be a coincidence.
Still not convinced? There’s more, and I think this one is the clincher. Shoghi Effendi, who is regarded by Baha’is as an infallible interpreter of the scriptures, wrote in his epic history of the Baha’i Faith that “To Him [i.e. Baha’u’llah] Jesus Christ had referred as the ‘Prince of this world.’” There are three verses in the Bible in which this phrase appears. In none of them is the “prince of this world” described in positive terms, and in all of them it seems to refer to Satan or an evil power. Consider this most obvious example, from Jesus’s final speech to his disciples, encouraging them to continue believing in him after he allows himself to be crucified:
You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me [or has nothing in me], but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
The “prince of this world” mentioned here is either a reference to the spirit of Satan or to the Roman worldly power inspired by it, which will come and cause Christ to be condemned to die on the cross. In another verse, Jesus says ironically that “the prince of this world now stands condemned,” because of unjustly condemning the true spiritual Prince, the Messiah, to death.
The contrast between the true and the false prince — i.e. “Messiah the Prince” as mentioned by Daniel, as compared to the princes or rulers of this world who are mentioned in various places in scripture — is an important theme, and we should take care to differentiate between them. Shoghi Effendi failed to do this in his misinterpretation of Jesus’s words — or perhaps a very correct interpretation indeed — which inadvertently identified Baha’u’llah as a manifestation of the false “prince of this world” whom Jesus said “has no hold over me” and is “condemned.”
Finally, let us consider the issue of names. In his “Most Holy Tablet,” Baha’u’llah asked Christians not to turn aside from his claim to be the return of Christ because he has a different name. Baha’is look to this passage in the Book of Revelation, in which Jesus Christ is speaking in a vision to John, as evidence that Christ will return with a new name: “I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”
Baha’is say that Christ’s new name is Baha’u’llah, but it could be other things instead. For example, it could be Michael (as Daniel says about the End Times, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise”). Or it could be any of the titles mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah (“And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”). Or it could be Yahweh (Jesus more fully identifying himself with God). Or, in an ironic twist, it could be that when Jesus literally returns, he will be called the Glory of God (the same name that Baha’u’llah misappropriated for himself). Or there could be other possibilities, even something we wouldn’t expect.
Until Jesus Christ unmistakably comes back and reveals his new name, we should continue to trust in the name of Jesus. For as Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Or in the poetic words of Paul:
Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“The Greatest Name” is an important Baha’i symbol which is displayed prominently in the private homes of Baha’is as well as Baha’i community buildings, in photographs of groups of Baha’is, and at all Baha’i worship meetings. It is the phrase Ya Baha’u’l-Abha (“O Glory of the Most Glorious!” in Arabic) written in a standardized, ornate calligraphic style, and it refers to Baha’u’llah, who claimed that his title is the Greatest Name of God. Many English-speaking Baha’is automatically see the word “EVIL” when they look at the Greatest Name symbol. For some, this is a source of distress because the symbol is ubiquitous and highly revered among Baha’is. For me personally, even after I learned how to read and write Arabic when I was a Baha’i, I was never able to stop seeing EVIL when I looked at the Greatest Name, no matter how hard I tried to unsee it.
Here is a story somebody posted online which illustrates the problem — or perhaps the fortunate clue God gave us, depending on your perspective: “When I was a Bahai, I had a delivery person come inside my home. He saw the greatest name above my door. He looked at me with fear in his eyes and asked why I had Evil written above my door. I explained to him about the meaning of the greatest name. He said ‘Glory of the most glorious’ sounds like Lucifer. I couldn’t say anything else. He ran out so fast!” As one commenter observed, it is a “supreme cultural irony where in the cradle of its manufacture, Anglo-America, people read Evil whenever they see this Baha’i symbol. Can’t say the Good Lord doesn’t have a deep sense of humor.”
What I have presented in this article has not been pleasant to think about, and I take no pleasure in identifying any religion with any negative prophetic archetypes — especially a religion such as the Baha’i Faith which I used to belong to and for which I still have some sympathies. But the evidence is what it is, and should not be ignored.
Could it be that Baha’u’llah was a manifestation of God and Satan at the same time? Quite possibly — after all, he taught some things that were very good, and other things that were very bad, as did his successors. In fact, I think this is true of many great prophets or recipients of divine revelation. Wherever the Holy Spirit is powerfully working, the Adversary will try to hijack and inject terrible imperfections or “satanic verses.” In every religion, we have to sift the wheat from the chaff, take the good and leave the rest behind.
But as Jesus warned, “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Baha’u’llah’s kingdom didn’t stand and won’t stand, for reasons that should be clear to anyone who has read even the brief analysis in this article. My carefully considered opinion, after many years of studying about the Baha’i Faith, Islam, and Christianity, is that Baha’u’llah was basically like a Sufi master and progressive Islamic reformer who had powerful mystical visions, made excessively grandiose claims, and got drunk on his own Kool Aid. There is considerable truth in the religion he created, but much falsehood as well, and the falsehood it contains could bring significant danger, as Biblical prophecy foretells.
I left the Baha’i Faith and decided to become a Christian in large part because of what I discovered in Bible prophecy and the Baha’i teachings. Frankly, I was horrified by the extent of the evidence that Baha’i is deeply linked to the Biblical concept of the Antichrist, and I came to believe that it makes more sense to await a more literal, supernatural return of Christ rather than placing my trust in the dubious claims of somebody like Baha’u’llah — no matter how appealing I find many of the Baha’i sacred writings, teachings and ideals. In Jesus Christ, we have something more pure: a Messiah who I believe stands above all the other sons and daughters of God as the truest and most perfect Manifestation of Divinity in human form.
I am convinced by the evidence that we are living in the End Times, or the Latter Days, when the authentic return of Christ approaches and draws near. Based on the evidence I have assembled, I believe it is very likely that both Islam and the Baha’i Faith will play significant roles in the events yet to unfold leading up to the return of our Lord, but there is much that remains unknown, about which we can only speculate.
Here is a summary of major prophetic events that have already been fulfilled, or in the case of the last one, may be on our doorstep:
- Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy: First coming of Christ and crucifixion in 30 CE.
- Daniel’s 2,300 Years prophecy and the 1,260 Years prophecies in Daniel and Revelation: Dispensation of Imperial Islam, roughly corresponding with dispensation of Imperial Christianity, lasting about 1,260 years and symbolically wrapping up the Time of the Gentiles in 1844 CE (1260 AH).
- Revelation’s prophecy of the Beast with Two Horns Like a Lamb, i.e. the “False Prophet”: The Baha’i Faith — self-identified by Baha’i leaders with the “third woe,” the number 616, and the epithet “prince of this world” — with its twin manifestations of the Islamic Messiah (the Bab and Baha’u’llah), beginning in 1844 CE (1260 AH).
- Daniel’s time-specific Abomination of Desolation prophecies: 1,290 years elapse from first abolition of Temple sacrifice (Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem) to Islamic Abomination of Desolation (erection of Dome of the Rock); 1,260 years elapse from then to the establishment of the modern state of Israel; 1,335 years from the same starting point to the year 2023, possibly inaugurating a series of events in the Holy Land that could lead to the final Abomination of Desolation before the return of Christ.
Here are my speculations about what could happen in the future to bring Bible prophecy into greater fulfillment:
- The controversies and conflicts in Israel and the Palestinian territories will increasingly spiral out of control, leading to a major war in which various Gentile nations will get involved. The Gaza War that began in 2023 could be the trigger for this process to quickly unfold, or it might only be a prelude to a much larger war in the future.
- In either case, Israel will be invaded and Jerusalem occupied by Gentile armies, which is the final Abomination of Desolation foretold by Jesus, inaugurating the final Time of the Gentiles which will last only one generation until the second coming of Christ, as he also foretold. I think the most likely scenario is that the international community will force Israel to accept a resolution to the conflict that brings to an end or severely curtails the power of the Jewish state in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. For example, Jerusalem could be taken away from Israeli control and placed under a UN peacekeeping force. Another possibility is that a one-state solution will be forced upon Israel, and because of the Palestinian majority in the combined land of Israel and Palestine, the Jewish state will cease to exist, by democratic means.
- After the devastating war in the Middle East, the Baha’i Faith will play a significant role in establishing peace, and may influence world powers to create a world government, likely sold to the nations as a measure to prevent nuclear apocalypse or terrorism. This may be especially likely if the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is overthrown by its own people in the coming years — perhaps in a revolution led by liberal young people — and the Baha’i Faith is legalized in its homeland, causing that religion to grow rapidly in numbers, prestige, and political influence in the Middle East.
- The globalist new world order will become increasingly powerful and authoritarian, using advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and a fully digital cashless monetary system to track and control people, all in the name of peace and stability.
- Jesus Christ will return to restore human moral free agency, defeating Satan’s plan for an all-encompassing one-world order without individual freedom.
Even if all the foregoing is true, my interpretations don’t invalidate other interpretations which may also be true. Like I said at the beginning, true prophecies often have multiple meanings and applications. Also, if some of what I have predicted turns out to be incorrect, that doesn’t invalidate the big picture.
I think it’s fair to say that this article has provided a much-needed perspective on neglected aspects of religious history in the context of End-Times prophecy. I hope readers will consider it soberly and with the gravity it deserves. To be honest, I don’t know how any fair-minded student of scripture, after learning the information presented here, couldn’t conclude that Islam and its messianic fulfillment, the Baha’i Faith, are a significant part of the story of Bible prophecy. The evidence is overwhelming, and the full implications of these things should be further discussed and explored.
↑ 2. Dan. 9:24-27. Alternative translations shown in brackets.
↑ 4. Genesis 29:27, Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:5-6
↑ 5. See Ezra 7. See also https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1988/04/establishing-the-date-457-b.c
↑ 6. Dan. 9:27
↑ 7. Dan. 8:13-14,17. Alternative translations shown in brackets.
↑ 8. It is 1844 instead of 1843 because there is no year zero.
↑ 9. Dan. 8:3-4,20
↑ 10. Matt. 24:14
↑ 14. Rev. 9:14-15
↑ 17. First Presidency statement, February 15, 1978. Quoted in https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/liahona/2002/06/a-latter-day-saint-perspective-on-muhammad?lang=eng
↑ 18. Among Justinian’s tyrannical acts was the Anathemas against Origen, who had been the greatest theologian of the church fathers based in Alexandria, Egypt, in the third century, thus banning some of his ideas from imperial Christian orthodoxy. See https://silouanthompson.net/2019/09/anathemas-against-origen/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen
↑ 19. Rev. 11:1-6
↑ 20. Zech. 4:11-14
↑ 21. See Rev. 11:7-12
↑ 22. Luke 21:24,28
↑ 23. Dan. 7:23-27
↑ 24. Rev. 12:1-6,14,17
↑ 25. See Proverbs 8 in which God’s female consort is described as the spirit of Wisdom.
↑ 26. Matt. 24:36-39,42,44
↑ 27. Dan. 12:1-12
↑ 30. See 2 Kings 24:8-15. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_captivity#First_campaign_(597_BCE)
↑ 33. Matt. 24:15-16,21,23-24,26-27,34
↑ 36. See this article for in-depth discussion: http://roparna.se/en/the-bahai-faith-and-the-advent-movement/
↑ 39. See Matt. 11:13-14
↑ 40. The Most Holy Tablet, paragraphs 2,5-7,9-10,14,17,20,23. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/tb/1.html#2
↑ 41. Tablet of Carmel, paragraphs 1-4. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/tb/1.html
↑ 44. These different interpretations of the “Tablet of the Temple” (sometimes called “Surah of the Temple” and part of a longer work called the “Book of the Temple”) are discussed in my book, A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith: The Progressive Tradition of Baha’u’llah’s Forgotten Family, pp. 240-242 (available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-History-Bahai-Faith-Progressive/dp/0692331352)
↑ 45. Doctrine and Covenants 130:14-17. Available online at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130?lang=eng
↑ 46. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, section LXX. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/gwb/070.html
↑ 47. Isa. 9:7, emphasis added
↑ 48. These historical schisms and issues are examined at length in my book, A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith. See also https://www.abdulbahasfamily.org for the viewpoints of some of the excommunicated relatives of Shoghi Effendi.
↑ 49. From a letter quoted in Lights of Guidance, section 1047. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/hornby_lights_guidance_2.html&chapter=2
↑ 50. The World Order of Baha’u’llah: “The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,” paragraph 104. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/writings/shoghieffendi/wob/40.html
↑ 51. The World Order of Baha’u’llah, section on “Local and National Houses of Justice”: https://bahai-library.com/writings/shoghieffendi/wob/3.html
↑ 52. The World Order of Baha’u’llah, section on “World Unity the Goal”: https://bahai-library.com/writings/shoghieffendi/wob/56.html
↑ 53. Book of Ben Kathryn 18:1,13-14. Available online at https://gatheredin.one/wp-content/texts/The%20Book%20of%20Ben%20Kathryn.html
↑ 57. Book of Ben Kathryn 23:19
↑ 60. Book of Ben Kathryn 46:1
↑ 61. Rev. 17:3
↑ 62. Rev. 17:18
↑ 63. Rev. 17:16
↑ 64. Rev. 17:5-6
↑ 65. Some Answered Questions, chapter 11, paragraph 34: https://bahai-library.com/abdul-baha_some_answered_questions#par11-34
↑ 66. Rev. 13:11-12
↑ 67. Rev. 13:7
↑ 68. Rev. 13:14
↑ 69. See Rev. 19:20
↑ 70. Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 45: https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/aqdas/aqdas.html#K45
↑ 71. Rev. 13:16-17
↑ 72. Rev. 13:18
↑ 74. Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 157 (https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/aqdas/aqdas.html#K157), and note 172 (https://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/aqdas/notes.html#n172)
↑ 75. God Passes By, p. 95. Available online at https://bahai-library.com/writings/shoghieffendi/gpb/91-95.html
↑ 76. See John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:7-11
↑ 77. John 14:28-31 [alternative translation in brackets]
↑ 78. John 16:11
↑ 79. See Dan. 9:25-26 KJV which shows this contrast.
↑ 80. Rev. 3:12
↑ 81. Dan. 12:1
↑ 82. Isa. 9:6 NKJV
↑ 83. Acts 4:12
↑ 84. Phil. 2:5-11
↑ 87. Mark 3:24