CALGARY, Canada (Christian Examiner) – Islamic State terrorists are announcing they are part of the apocalyptic end times prophesied in the Koran and that Jesus will appear soon to defeat the armies of Rome thus beginning the countdown to the end of the world.
This prophetic interpretation was hinted at by the leader of the grisly beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians earlier this month as he pointed northward in the grisly video of the killings, saying, "We will conquer Rome, by Allah's permission."
ISIS believes it is setting up a showdown with the armies of Rome in northern Syria and then a final showdown with an anti-Messiah in Jerusalem.
Now ISIS has published more insights -- in the seventh edition of Dabiq, its English translation propaganda magazine -- about the end-times theology that is driving its vicious savagery and belief that Islam is a "religion of the sword, not pacifism," and ISIS' role in bringing about the end of the world.
Specifically, ISIS explains that it will continue to war against the enemies of Islam until 'Isa (Jesus) kills the Dajjal (the Antichrist) to establish 'Islam and its justice' over the whole world; and, it is luring fighters from around the world with this end-times vision.
Graeme Green explains "What ISIS Really Wants" in the upcoming March issue of Atlantic Monthly.
Green argues ISIS rejects peace as a matter of principle because "it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world."
"In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse," Green wrote. Their aim is to goad the United States and its allies into attacking them in order to bring on the apocalypse, he observed.
In contrast, he said, Christians tend to see the End Times coming as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, a sort of passive "watch and see."
David Liepert knows the thinking of both groups. Reared in a Christian home, "I have served God and loved Jesus my entire life, and I followed Jesus into Islam when I realized I became a worse man by worshipping Him and a better man by following him," he said in a recent editorial on Huffington Post.
Liepert is president of the Calgary Islamic Chamber Institute and has advised the Canadian Imams Council regarding Interfaith matters.
He also contends that moderate Muslims believe Jesus will usher in the end times, but that ISIS will be on the wrong side of the battle.
"However, surprising as it may seem, one way or another the end of ISIS is in sight, and it's all resting securely in the hands of Jesus, peace be upon him," Liepert predicted.
According to Muslim interpretations of the end times, Liepert said, Jesus' return will start an Islamic prophetic clock set to run seven years in the build-up to Armageddon:
-- The Euphrates River will uncover a mountain of gold;
-- The Arabian Peninsula will become filled with meadows and rivers;
-- Some Muslims will be "inexplicably transformed into apes and pigs because of their attempts to make lawful some rather significant major sins."
-- The coming of the Mahdi, "his uncovering of the Ark of the Covenant and his evangelism of a significant proportion of the world's Jews, who will wake up and realize that they shouldn't be ignoring and allowing Israel's oppressing Muslims and Christians in Palestine."
Then there will be an anti-Christ, the descent of Jesus and his defeat of the anti-Christ, the rising of the sun from the West, the appearance of the Beast of the Earth, the wind that will take the souls of the believers, the destruction of Medina and Mecca, and the fire that will come from the Yemen to gather the people in Sham before the coming of Judgment Day, he said.
"And with that seven-year clock running, if it all doesn't start happening soon, you can expect to see ISIS supporters starting to slip away," Liepert wrote.
"The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic," Green said. "Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam."
"The Islamic State awaits the army of 'Rome,' whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse," he added. "We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey, the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago."
However, Green said, some Islamic State sources suggest "Rome" might be a representative description of any infidel army and they feel "the Americans will do nicely."