Practicing any religion other than Islam has long been illegal in the desert kingdom, and that includes rules against foreigners bringing in any type of religious material that does not conform to the royal family’s strict Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam. Foreign nationals living in Saudi Arabia are often detained for purely religious reasons, sometimes resulting in deportation.
But applying capital punishment, which in Saudi Arabia often means death by beheading, to Bible smugglers would signal a new level of persecution even for the Saudis.
Several Christian missionaries said they were seeking to confirm a recent report by the Virginia-based Heart Cry Missionary Society that a new death penalty law has been adopted citing an “official statement” in Arabic on a Coptic Christian website called CoptsToday.
The law reportedly extends to the importing of all illegal drugs and “all publications that have a prejudice to any other religious beliefs other than Islam.”
No response from Saudi embassy
WND made three requests via phone and email to Saudi Arabia’s U.S. Embassy press officer in Washington asking for confirmation or denial of the report. A woman at the Saudi Embassy who identified herself only by her first name, Cecelia, said she made sure all three emails were received by press officer Nail al-Jubeir. He has not responded.
“Sometimes they don’t want to say anything (to the media),” Cecelia told WND.
Saudi sources at the United Nations also refused to confirm or deny the report.
According to the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report, cited on the U.S. State Department’s website, Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records in the world on religious liberty.
The Saudi regime, considered an important ally of the United States, which annually showers the Islamic country with billions of dollars worth of military aid, allows no churches to function as independent Christian entities on its soil. The kingdom also persecutes foreign workers living in the country who are not of the Islamic faith. Up to 1 million Christians, many of them from the Philippines, Ethiopia and Egypt, live in Saudi Arabia as guest workers.
The 2005 report cited the following facts with regard to possession of Bibles or other “illegal contraband” in the Saudi kingdom:
“Customs officials routinely open mail and shipments to search for contraband, including Sunni printed material deemed incompatible with the Salafi tradition of Islam, Shi’a religious materials, and non-Muslim materials, such as Bibles and religious videotapes. Such materials are subject to confiscation, although rules appear to be applied arbitrarily.
“Sunni Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels. Regardless of which Islamic tradition their families adhere to, all public school children receive religious instruction that conforms to the Salafi tradition of Islam. Non-Muslim students in private schools are not required to study Islam. Private religious schools are not permitted for non-Muslims or for Muslims adhering to non-Salafi traditions of Islam.”
Raids on churches
Raids on underground churches are a continuous threat in Saudi Arabia, and only some of the raids get leaked to the Western religious press.
As recently as September, Saudi officials detained 30 Christians for worshiping in an underground house church, reported BosNewsLife.
The same news agency reported that 53 Ethiopian Christians, mostly women, were detained in 2013 after attending a worship service in a private home.
And in August 2012, the Saudi kingdom deported 35 Ethiopian Christians after they had been jailed for nearly nine months for holding a private prayer vigil, BosNewsLife reported.
WND reported last year that Saudi Arabian Airlines refused to sell tickets to Jewish passengers because Jews are not allowed in the country.
World Watch List, published by Open Doors Ministry, ranks Saudi Arabia as the world’s sixth most repressive country for Christians in its 2014 report. The only countries listed as more hostile to Christianity are Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and North Korea. Syria and Iraq surpassed Saudi Arabia on the list this year because of the rise of the Islamic State, also called ISIS. Of the world’s 14 most repressive nations, 13 of them are Islamic regimes or have major territories controlled by Muslim rebels. North Korea is the lone exception with its communist dictatorship.
“The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden here, and conversion to another faith is punishable by death,” says the Open Doors in its description of Saudi Arabia. “Most Christians are ex-pats from Asia or Africa. Muslim-background believers run the risk of honor killing if their faith is discovered. Yet a small but growing number of Muslims are coming to Christ and sharing their faith on the internet and satellite TV.”
In 2012, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, the nation’s highest official of religious law, declared that all churches across the Middle East should be destroyed. The Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage asked Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah to clarify his controversial statement and he reportedly replied that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
He cited the prophet Muhammad, who said the Arabian Peninsula is to exist under only one religion.
President Obama met with Saudi King Abdullah on March 28 at the king’s desert camp 35 miles northeast of Riyadh. Following that meeting, Obama took heat from human rights activists for not bringing up the persecution of Christians and other minorities during his talks with the Saudi leader, despite a letter from members of Congress urging him to do so.
Todd Nettleton, director of public relations for Voice of the Martyrs, said that ministry, which ministers to persecuted Christians worldwide, had heard that a death penalty law had been proposed for Bible smuggling, but he was still trying to confirm whether it had been approved by the king.
“We did have some information come to us about 10 days ago that this was in the process,” Nettleton said. “We just have not been able to confirm if the proposed law has become the law of the land.”
Joel Richardson, author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and a documentary filmmaker who has recently spent a lot of time in the Middle East filming “End Times Eyewitness,” said it would not be surprising if such a decree were enacted in the Saudi Kingdom, which has a history of brutal treatment of religious dissidents.
“This is evidence of the fact that the Saudi government is afraid of the impact of Christianity,” Richardson said. “If Muslims were truly confident that their religion was true, they wouldn’t be afraid of people reading the Bible.”
Muhammad instructed Muslims to read Bible
Muhammad, to the surprise of many Christians, instructed his followers that, if they have doubts about the validity of his teachings, they should compare them to the teachings found in the Bible (see Surah 10:94-95; 16:43).
And many Muslims may be taking him up on that challenge, Richardson said.
His new documentary film, “End Times Eyewitness,” explores recent reports of revival in several Middle Eastern Muslim nations.
“For the past 10 years, we’ve seen one of the fastest-growing Christian movements in the world going on in the country of Iran, and in Egyptend_times_eyewitness we’re getting profound testimonies about revivals as we are in the north of Iraq,” he said.
The prophecy of Isaiah 19 speaks of revival breaking out in large parts of the Muslim world including Egypt and the larger Middle East. The fact that it is now occurring is significant, Richardson believes.
“You’ve got Chaldean Catholics, Orthodox Assyrians, and obviously those are the largest numbers of Christians. And, of course, in Egypt they have the Coptic Christians,” he said. “What we’re seeing in Egypt, however, is the Catholics and Orthodox and Evangelicals coming together to pray together. Under persecution, a lot of the Christians are coming together. The Coptic priests are coming together and praying for the greater body of believers.”
Besides being staunch enemies of Christianity in all its forms, Richardson said members of the Saudi royal family are among the most hypocritical Muslim leaders in the Middle East.
Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a wealthy jet-setter who owns a significant stake in Fox News among many other Western companies, came to the United States about five years ago with a message that more tolerance of Islam was needed in the U.S.
“He lectured us that we need to be more tolerant of Islam,” Richardson said. “We always get these lectures by Muslim leaders, yet here we are in the heart of Islam, in Mecca and Medina, and they’re making it illegal simply to bring a Bible into the country. Again, the hypocrisy of the Muslim world is on full display, and people need to know this.”
No quid pro quo on interfaith prayer
WND reported last month that the Washington National Cathedral hosted its first-ever Muslim-led prayer service, a gesture that many American Christians are still waiting to see reciprocated.
“They always welcome our overtures, but they never reciprocate,” Richardson said.
WND contacted the imam, Ebrahim Rasool, who led the Nov. 14 jummah service at the National Cathedral and asked him if he would work to reciprocate with a Christian-led prayer service in a mosque. Rasool did not respond to WND’s repeated phone calls and emails.
Richardson’s film also explores the historical and prophetic significance of Christian martyrdom. He sees the blood of the martyrs as the seed of the Christian church.
“And even if the Saudis make it illegal to bring in a Bible, the new technologies make it impossible to be stopped, and people will continue to smuggle Bibles,” he said. “And with addition by subtraction, i.e. martyrdom, it becomes multiplication. Through martyrdom, the church grows, and that’s how it’s always been, and we’re not afraid of losing our lives. The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.”
Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people than ISIS over the last two years, most of them for criminal offenses, in what’s known as “chop-chop square,” a public space in Riyadh. A minor theft charge can result in the amputation of one’s hand, according to Saudi Arabia’s strict adherence to Shariah law. A 2013 article in London’s Daily Express reported that a man was scheduled to have his spinal cord severed for paralyzing a friend when he was 14 years old.
“If they’re going to execute people now for smuggling Bibles, then there you have the fulfillment of Revelation 6:9,” Richardson said.
The Muslim Antichrist.
Since authors Joe VanKoevering, Phillip Goodman, Joel Richardson, and Walid Shoebat published their books proclaiming the Antichrist will be a Muslim of Middle Eastern birth there has been a bunch of prophecy commentators lining up to debunk their ideas.
The tone of those rebuttals has ranged from scholarly and thoughtful to unnecessarily hostile. At least one of those I read some time ago was shrill, and damaging to the body of Christ. Whilst reading it I was reminded of the words of an old Pastor I once new: “When you point a finger in accusation, there are always three pointing back at you!”
Never were those words truer than in the case of this person who, during his attack on Joel Richardson, turned a debate over issues that have little or nothing to do with the gospel of salvation, into something reminiscent of the Inquisition, accusing Joel of heresy. And in this shameful display of ego driven claims to interpretive superiority, he planted his root of bitterness.
So where does my old Pastor’s warning about pointing fingers come in? Well, let me quote Joel Richardson’s accuser:
“Daniel has specifically identified that Antichrist will not come from the eastern leg of the Roman Empire as has been erroneously interpreted and propagated by Richardson, Shoebat, and others. As stated above, the word of God itself provides us the proof through specific symbolism.
The basic reference is Daniel 7, reinforcing both Daniel 2 & 5, and the symbolic descriptions of the GENTILE kingdoms of his day, and those that would follow.
The LION which had the wings of an eagle that were torn off, and then which was stood up like a man was the Babylonian Empire.
The BEAR with three ribs in its mouth (representing the future Persian conquests of Lydia (western Turkey) Babylon and Egypt) was the Medo-Persian Empire.
The LEOPARD with four wings and four heads that was given authority to rule over all kingdoms that had come before it, was without question the Macedonian/Greek Empire of Alexander The Great, and the division of his empire into four lesser empires after his death (the horns and little horns play a critical roles (sic) in the overall interpretation of the history of gentile empires in the future years to our present day);
And finally the fourth beast was what we all know to be Rome – (and here it is not the two legs which are all important, but rather it is the ten toes of iron and clay).”(End quote)
If you haven’t read my article – ‘Daniel’s Seal Broken: The beasts Arise’, here’s a link:
You will see that those first three beasts can’t be Babylon, Medo-Persia, and the Macedonian/Greek Empires because Daniel 7:17 says they are kings that shall arise (future tense) out of the earth. Babylon had long since done its arising by the time the angel spoke those words, so the Babylonian Empire was not being referred to, and for that reason the next two were not the Medo-Persian and Macedonian/Greek Empires.
Further proof of this fact is provided by Daniel 8:26, where the angel links the two visions of chapter 7 and 8 together when he says, “the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true.” (The chapter 7 vision given to Daniel during the evening, and the chapter 8 vision during the morning. Medo-Persia and the Macedonian/Greek Empires are symbolized by a ram and a goat in chapter 8. Why would God use two completely different beasts to represent the same empires in visions that are linked together in the same book?
The answer to that question is he didn’t!
Some Bible translators have allowed their preconceived ideas to influence their translation of what the angel said in chapter 8:26. They have changed the words “evening and morning” to a plural “evenings and mornings” in order to limit his explanation to dealing with only verses 13 and 14. But what the angel is explaining to Daniel from verse 16 onward is clearly the meaning of the whole vision that Daniel tells us in verse 1 is the second given to him after that recorded in chapter seven.
Joel also uses the Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Macedonian/Greek interpretation to underpin his theories. He is just as wrong in his interpretation as the man accusing him of heresy. But Joel doesn’t have three fingers pointing back at him!
Another detractor used a commonly agreed upon interpretation of Revelation 17:10-11 in his far less brutal, but never-the-less, unnecessarily harsh rebuttal. I quote:
“The same problem occurs when you consider Revelation 17:10-11. In this passage the Apostle John is told that there are seven kings or empires to be considered in world history and that “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, it must remain for a little while. And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction.
At that point in history, the five fallen would have been Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The one existing would have been the Roman. The one to come would be the revival of the Roman, out of which the eighth and final empire, the worldwide kingdom of the Antichrist would arise.
If you insert the Ottoman Empire into this list, where does it fit? If it is the seventh, then its revival would be the eighth, and there is no place left for the final worldwide empire of the Antichrist. I suspect this is the reason that Richardson insists that the revival of the Ottoman Empire will be the final empire out of which the Antichrist will arise, and that it will not develop into a worldwide empire, as both Islamic and biblical prophesies specify. There just are not enough empires mentioned in Revelation 17 to include the Ottoman Empire, its resurrection, and its evolution into the final worldwide empire of the Antichrist.
Another problem with Richardson’s Ottoman Empire thesis is that he completely ignores the prophecy in Daniel 9:26 that says the Antichrist will arise out of the people who will destroy the Jewish Temple. It was the Romans who destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. and it is from the Romans that the Antichrist must come. To me, it is just incredible that Richardson would totally ignore this prophecy.” (End quote)
I too would find it incredible if Richardson’s Ottoman Empire thesis ignored Daniel 9:26. My understanding is that it doesn’t. What it does is claim the destruction of the Temple was done by a group of people of Middle Eastern origin.
But what is incredible is that both Richardson and the man rebutting his thesis ignore Revelation 1:19 “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” All those “things” are either present or future tense. Also, Revelation 4:1, which states clearly that what John is about to be shown are “things that must be hereafter.” That word “hereafter” is again future tense, which means everything he is shown (with the exception of chapter twelve’s depiction of Jesus Christ’s birth and ascension, that falls into the category of “things which are”) takes place some time future to John’s experience on the Isle of Patmos. And that depiction of Christ’s birth and ascension is given in context of describing the Tribulation: another future event. So Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece are definitely not represented in John’s vision.
Do I think Joel and company have got it completely wrong? No! I think they may be confusing clues that identify the beast of Rev 13:11-18 (The False Prophet) with those that identify the Antichrist.
So the moral to the story is, by all means debate and disagree. But don’t go haranguing your brother for something you may be equally wrong about. Never forget, we all see through a glass darkly!
Now, here’s my take on Revelation 17:
After the words of Revelation 4:1 were spoken John is being shown the future. The beast of Revelation 17 is a symbolic depiction of an empire and its kings that begins at the point in time when the sixth king is reigning.
The seven heads have dual meanings. They are the seven mountains (some translations say hills) on which the woman sits. The woman represents the apostate Church of Rome that has turned away from the one true God to a panthion of demigod-saints, and changed the human mother of Jesus Christ into a goddess queen of heaven. Her headquarters is with the city of Rome that sits on seven hills. Don’t be misled by them creating Vatican city to cast a shadow over this prophecy. Biblical prophecy uses original names for peoples and places.
The seven kings are those of the Holy Roman Empire. But not just any of those kings. They are only those linked by a bloodline to the Greek Seleucid dynasty that produced the little horn, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the prototype Antichrist. They also share a common first name. The eighth king with that first name, will have a full name that equates to the number 666.
“This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a man, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six”. [Revelation 13:18]
Onomastics (also known as onomatology) is the study of names and their origins. According to this science, the name Charles means man. In fact Charles and man are interchangeable. It can also refer to attributes of the man, like stout. Recall Daniel’s description of the horn in Dan 7:20. So Revelation 13:18 could be interpreted as saying: This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a Charles, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
An expanded meaning of the name Charles is free man. This could be what is referred to in Revelation 13:1 as “the name of blasphemy“. And in II Thessalonians 2:3 as “The man of lawlessness“. These kings declaring by their name to be under no higher authority than themselves.
That explanation fits well with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image of Daniel chapter two, that depicted a decline in ruling power, from Nebuchadnezzar’s absolute dictatorship, to subsequent empires in which the king’s power was subject to the law. Like Nebuchadnezzar, the Antichrist man will not be governed by the law of the empire he rules over.
Revelation 17:10 tells us five of the kings are fallen. Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was the one spoken of here as the fifth fallen king. His significance, apart from his name, is that he was the last king to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by a Pope. He also ruled over an empire that actually was worldwide (though not the whole earth). Subsequent emperors were not crowned by a Pope. Charles V reign from 1519 to 1556AD also coincided with the Protestant Reformation. A major blow to the Church of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire. And another reason why the prophecy begins with a reference to him.
The previous four kings were:
Charles IV (H.R.E) 1346/1349 – 1355AD. (Elected twice)
Charles III (The Fat) 881 – 888AD.
Charles II (The Bald) 875 – 877AD.
Charles I (Charlemagne) 800 – 814AD.
I believe it was the Reformation, which split the Roman Catholic Church and the empire/beast on which it rides that is the mortal wound to one of the beast’s seven heads. This split resulted in numerous wars. In 1534 the English Parliament passed The Act of Supremacy that separated England from the Catholic Church and Papal authority. It declared King Henry VIII to be the supreme head on earth of the Church of England. And that the English Crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity”. What we see in that Act is the king and his successors assuming the roll of high priest. A thing that God forbade kings to do.
That wound was (metaphorically speaking) to the head of Charles VI. (“one is”) He was the first from that bloodline to ascend the throne of the Holy Roman Empire whom the Church of Rome did not crown. He reigned during a time when the Reformation wound was killing the beast. His reign also coincided with the beginning of Britain’s rise as a world empire. These were the significant issues during his reign that caused the Revelation to focus on him as the king at the point in time when the vision begins.
Those who espouse the idea that it will be a literal mortal wound to the head of the Antichrist man, who will then be raised from the dead by the power of Satan, are not basing that on any scriptural evidence of Satan possessing the power to raise the dead. Nor can they reconcile that idea with Hebrews 9:27 “And it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment.”
Some say that Satan will possess and reanimate him like some sort of zombie. They haven’t paid close enough attention to Revelation 16:13 that says: “I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and the mouth of the beast, and the mouth of the false prophet”. Satan a.k.a the dragon is seen there to be a separate entity from the beast/Antichrist, so he can’t also possess him.
The fact that none of the Bible translations support a literal mortal wound, begs the question why that idea ever became popular. They use the words “as it were wounded to death” or “appeared to be fatally wounded” or “seemed to have had a fatal wound” etc. If the writer wanted us to understand him to mean the man is dead, why wouldn’t he simply say so?
Some insist that Zechariah 11:17 is confirmation of him being mortally wounded. That is clearly not the case. The passage says: “Woe to the idol shepherd who leaves the flock. A sword shall strike his arm, and his right eye. His arm shall be withered, and his right eye shall be utterly blinded.” There is absolutely no justification for claiming that passage to mean the idol shepherd is mortally wounded (killed).
Charles VII (“the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a short time.”) Reigned from 1742 to only 1745AD, and for most of that short reign he lived in exile, his territories having been invaded by the Austrians. He managed to win back Munich in October 1744AD, but died three months later. He was the last king with the name Charles to reign as emperor. The Holy Roman Empire finally succumbed to its wound in 1806AD as a result of the Napoleonic wars. We now watch as it is revived, and await the Emperor Charles VIII.
The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was not automatically passed from father to son. The emperor was elected to the throne by the various Prince Electors who were members of the Electoral College of The Holy Roman Empire. That at first having the function of electing the King of the Romans. Later, from the middle 16th century onwards, they directly elected the Holy Roman Emperor.
There were a few changes to the composition of that Electoral College during the centuries since its formation. It began with seven princes, increased to nine, then dropped to six. But in 1803 electorates were created for the Duke of Württemberg, the Margrave of Baden, the Ladgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and the Duke of Salzburg, bringing the total number of prince electors to ten. None of these ten electors had oportunity to cast votes because the Holy Roman Empire was abolished in 1806.
“And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive power as kings one hour with the beast.” [Revelation 17:12]
If the European Union decided to recreate the title of Emperor. Would they be able to recreate the traditional Electoral College necessary for his election? Do the necessary royal households exist within its boundaries? The answer to both those questions is yes.
Britain Queen Elizabeth II
Belgium King Philippe
Denmark Queen Margrethe II
Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II
Luxembourg Henri, Grand Duke
Monaco Prince Albert II
Netherlands King Willem-Alexander
Norway King Harald V
Spain King Juan Carlos I
Sweden King Carl XVI Gustaf
If you think the EU would never abandon democracy in favour of autocracy, I’m sure there were many who thought that same way back in the days when Rome was still a republic.
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