Toward the end of the book of Revelation, as Satan is bound for a thousand years, and the great judgment is prepared, we read the following:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4)
The foregoing verse has precipitated a great deal of speculation about the method used in being beheaded for one’s faith. It has been stated, for example, that the antichrist will behead millions if they don’t receive the mark of the beast. Some have even concluded that the great despot will streamline this operation by having guillotines built in large numbers.
It is true that many Tribulation saints will be beheaded for their faith, and for their refusal to take the mark. But what do we really know about beheading? There is a current phenomenon that gives us a great deal of insight into this matter.
To begin with, Arab countries practice capital punishment by beheading. In Saudi Arabia, this practice is sanctioned to the point that some beheadings are public affairs. This is quite understandable as a demonstration of state power. After, all, the “Sword of Islam,” is the image emblazoned on the Saudi Arabian flag.
In 2004, when this brief article was first written, Iraqi terrorists publicly beheaded two hostages – a U.S. Marine and a Pakistani cab driver. But why employ beheading as a public statement of their dedication to a cause?
Most Americans remember the beheading of reporter Daniel Pearl. Earlier, we were all shocked by the public torture and execution of 26-year-old Nick Berg, a young entrepreneur who is said to have been trying to set up a communications business in Iraq. He was kidnapped and held for ransom. Finally, in a show of force and a radical Islamic tirade, his terrorist captors video-taped his crude beheading … with a sword.
This ghastly display was broadcast to the entire world on Arab video copies and the internet. At the time, most news analysts agreed that the event was designed to please an Islamic audience.
Then came the beheading of 49-year-old Paul Johnson, a Lockheed Martin employee from New Jersey. He, too, was abducted and held for ransom. His captors said that if all the Islamic captives in Iraq were not freed, he would be publicly executed. In the same manner as Berg, he was later beheaded, in the most gruesome way that one can imagine.
Next, in mid-June, came the murder of Kim Sun-il, a 33-year-old businessman from Korea. He was an expert Arabic translator, who had hoped to become part of the commercial infrastructure in the new Iraq.
Al-Jazeera television showed him on his knees, begging for his life before his captors. But like the others, he was beheaded in a ghoulish and barbaric show, as his murderers shouted verses from the Quran.
Who are the beheaders? They are the Arabic “people of the sword.” They need no guillotines to accomplish their macabre deeds. In fact, according to many cultural sources, there is an Arab tradition that there is honor in the sword. For many centuries, Arabs have boasted about their bravery in the imagery of the sword.
Today, with the rise of ISIS, we have seen many more beheadings, the most infamous being those of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. A number of Christians there, have also been publicly beheaded.
As we approach the Tribulation period, Middle East warring factions will no doubt increase their bravado, each group vying for supremacy in ghoulishness. After all, the main weapon of the terrorist is fear, itself.
Bible prophecy shows us a number of horrifying events, most of them centered in the Middle East. During the Tribulation period, Arab factions will certainly be a large factor in the action. And there is not the slightest reason to doubt that they will lose their current zest for public beheading.
When the antichrist is finally unveiled, he will be accepted by the entire world as the answer to all problems. Islamic zealots will no doubt believe that he is their Imam Mahdi – the spiritual leader of their prophetic dreams. They will be only too happy to take off the heads of any who refuse to acknowledge him as promised one.
Who are the beheaders, and how will beheading be practiced during the Tribulation? We have our answer on today’s television news. Just two days ago – on September 25th, 2014, in Moore, Oklahoma – a recent convert to Islam beheaded a coworker!