My other posts about Bible prophecy have been written from a futurist perspective, that the Antichrist will make a treaty with Israel and will be around for the seven years of the Great Tribulation. I am different from many futurists in that I am post-tribulationist and a-millennialist. However, I have also realised there could be another possible interpretation of the roles of the Antichrist and the False Prophet during the Great Tribulation.
A minority of Bible prophecy writers, such as Joel Richardson in Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah and Mideast Beast and Perry Stone in Unleashing the Beast, believe the Antichrist will be a Muslim.
Muslim prophecies and traditions speak of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the Messiah, who disappeared in 878 and will one day return. According to a survey by the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project,
“In most countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, half or more Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi. This expectation is most widespread in Afghanistan (83%), Iraq (72%), Tunisia (67%) and Malaysia (62%). It is least common in Bangladesh (29%) and Indonesia (23%).
Outside of these regions, belief the return of the Mahdi is imminent is much less prevalent. Across Central Asia, no more than about four-in-ten Muslims surveyed in any country think they will live to see the Mahdi return; the exception is Turkey, where about two-thirds (68%) expect to witness his return. In Southern and Eastern Europe, only a quarter or less share this expectation.”
According to Muslim traditions, the Mahdi will appear and conquer Jerusalem, persecute Christians and Jews and will convert the world to Islam. Some prophecies even say he will rule for seven years.
This sounds familiar, like they are describing the Antichrist from a Muslim perspective and the Muslim Mahdi will really be the Biblical Antichrist. However, we should not place too much value on prophecies which come from the other side. A major problem with the Mahdi-Antichrist scenario is that it looks like the Antichrist will allow the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. It is impossible to believe the Mahdi will allow this. He is supposed to conquer Jerusalem for the Muslims and destroy the Jews.
Nevertheless, there still may be some truth to this scenario.
In Daniel 9: 26-27 the desecrator of the Temple is “the prince who is to come”. We assume this is the Antichrist, although elsewhere in Daniel the Antichrist is a king, not a prince (Daniel 11:29-45). Perhaps, the “prince who is to come” is not the Antichrist, but the False Prophet who is subordinate to the Antichrist, the king. The False Prophet will set up a religious-economic system based on the worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15-18). Perhaps, the False Prophet, not the Antichrist, will make the treaty with Israel which allows the Temple to be rebuilt. Revelation says about the False Prophet,
“And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” (Revelation 13:14-15)
This is usually understood to refer to the desecration of the Temple, the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27), and it looks like it will involve something more elaborate than a simple statue of the Antichrist. The False Prophet will clearly play a role in the desecration of the Temple so he could fulfil the role of the “prince who is to come” in Daniel 9. That does not necessarily mean the Antichrist will not be involved. It will be a joint effort. Thus, we should not assume the Antichrist will be identifiable by the treaty with Israel. It may be the False Prophet.
The Antichrist comes out of the bottomless pit at the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-12, 11:7). This does not take place at the beginning of the Tribulation, but at the fifth trumpet which was preceded by four trumpets and several seals, depending on how much Revelation overlaps. The Antichrist may not appear or be identifiable until well into the Tribulation, and he may be preceded by the False Prophet, perhaps similar to the way John the Baptist preceded Jesus.
The Antichrist may not be around for part of the Tribulation because he is already dead. Revelation appears to say the Antichrist will be killed and then come back to life (Revelation 13:3, 12). It also says there will be a seventh kingdom which will “continue a short time” between the Roman Empire and the Antichrist’s world empire (Revelation 17:10). This may refer to the coalition of Muslim nations led by Gog of Magog which Ezekiel prophesied would attack Israel and be destroyed by God. This coalition will only exist for “a short time”. At one point God says to Gog,
“Thus says the Lord God: “Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them.”” (Ezekiel 38:17)
God appears to be asking Gog if he is the Antichrist. Joel Richardson writes,
“The question must be asked then, if Gog and Magog are spoken of by Israel’s prophets prior to Ezekiel, where are all of those references? One would be very hard pressed to find any unless one does some serious stretching of the Scriptures. But if we take the position Gog is Antichrist, then it is very passages about Antichrist and his invading Army throughout the prophets.”
Gog may claim to be the Mahdi, leading a coalition of Muslim nations to destroy Israel. Gog will be a prince of Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:3, 39:1) which are in modern Turkey. While many Muslims believe the Mahdi will come from Saudi Arabia or the Khorasan region of Afghanistan and Iran, others believe he will come from Turkey. Perhaps Gog will come from one of the Magog countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan) and become a political leader in Turkey.
Gog will be killed and buried in Israel (Ezekiel 39:11-16). If he is the Antichrist, he will appear to be resurrected as Revelation says (Revelation 13:3). Then, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will desecrate the Temple and enforce world-wide worship of the Antichrist.
Daniel said the Antichrist will not worship “the God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37). This may mean that after he has apparently been resurrected, Gog will renounce Allah and Islam, “the god of his fathers”, and demand that he be worshipped.
Revelation 17 says about the seven heads of the Beast,
“There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast, that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” (Revelation 17:10-11)
The five kings represent five kings or kingdoms before John was writing around 96 AD, probably Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. The one, which is, is Rome. The seventh king, which has not yet come form John’s perspective and will only be around for a short time, could be Gog of Magog who leads a collation of Muslim nations against Israel and is defeated. After this, the False Prophet makes the treaty with Israel and the Temple is rebuilt. The eighth king, which is connected to the seventh, is Gog who appears to have killed, risen from the dead as the Antichrist.
This is a radical interpretation. I am unaware of anyone else who has suggested it. The traditional view of an Antichrist, who is around for seven years, could still be correct. By mentioning this other interpretation, I am basically “hedging my bets”
 “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity, Chapter 3: Articles of Faith”, http://www.pewforum.org/2012/08/09/the-worlds-muslims-unity-and-diversity-3-articles-of-faith/
 Unleashing the Beast, op cit, p 81-92, 136, Joel Richardson, Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah, Pleasant Word, Washington, 2006, p 40-71
 Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah, op cit., p 102
 “Awaited Mahdi”, http://www.awaitedmahdi.com/index.php, “Istanbul and the anticipated Hazrat Mahdi (as)”, http://harunyahya.com/en/Articles/13515/istanbul-and-the-anticipated-hazrat , “Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear in Turkey with the Turkish flag”, http://www.awaitedmahdi.com/flag.html