I'm still highly skeptical that the Islamic Anitchrist model will be how things play out. But I also remain firmly confident that the Mahdi prophecy was made for the purpose of being a potential seed for the Antichrist. The Abomination of Desolation itself shouldn't be expected in such false prophecies though, these are merely potential plans to set the stage for it, the Abomination is when the mislead ends and the real agenda is revealed.
Chris White in his criticism of the Islamic Antichrist theory, has among other things criticized the desire of Christians to misrepresent Islamic Eschatology so that Isa (Muslim Jesus) is subordinate to The Mahdi. And all that is very good.
Here is the thing, is our traditional assumption that the Second Beast is subordinate to the First Beast possibly wrong?
For starters if either is being possessed or indwelt by Satan it would be the Second Beast, that's the one speaking with The Dragon's voice.
The First Beast is defined as the object of worship. But that could be consistent with being a mere figure head, a flesh and blood Idol for the people to focus on while someone else holds the real power. In George Orwell's 1984 the possibly exists that Big Brother isn't even real, or who he's based on is long dead. He's now merely a poster, a Face of the Party designed to be an object of both adoration and fear.
The First Beast is a political system, his Empire, not just the individual. So the whole "Who is able to make war with him" I feel is explained in chapter 17 where it seems clear the 10 Horns are the source of his military power. The individual of the Eight King may not be a military figure at all. The other major reason for seeing The Antichrist as a conqueror is Daniel 11:36-45 which I've discussed elsewhere.
The First Beast remains a central object of discussion after the Second Beast is introduced, that helps make it seem like he's more important. But perhaps what we're told after the Second Beast is introduced is meant to help us better understand what was said before.
At the beginning we're told The Dragon gave his Power and Authority and his Seat/Throne to the First Beast. But in Verse 12 it's the Second Beast who "exerciseth all the Power of the First Beast". It's the Second who speaks with The Dragon's voice. He's the architect of the Mark system.
In the first part of my False Prophet study I discussed the possibility that many Prophecies outside Revelation we assume are about The Antichrist could really be The False Prophet. Including that the Title Son of Perdition might belong to the False Prophet. I saw at least one website long ago argue that the Second Beast not the First is the one we should apply the title Antichrist too.
I argued in the third part of my False Prophet study that that term Antichrist could in fact require both Beasts put together. John defines the Antichrist heresy as denying the Deity of Christ. So the ultimate expression of that could be two individuals, one claiming to be God and not Jesus, and the other claiming to be Jesus and not God. And that is an even more Ironic deception if even the False Jesus is in fact closer to having godlike powers then the false god.
At the beginning of the Book of Kings people like to see Adonijah as a type of The Antichrist, a usurper to the Throne of David. But Adonijah was a pawn, a puppet, Joab (the type of Satan) and Abithar the Priest (False Prophet) are the real players of that Game of Thrones, opposed by Nathan and Zadok, and also Bathsheba.
Let's discus the mystery of The Image of The Beast. Today we're obsessed with seeing this through a SciFi lens, wanting to see it as a Robot/Android, or a Hologram, or an Artificial Intelligence program on the Internet. I myself have been guilty of that in the past, preferring the A.I. theory. But I noticed reading Revelation 13 today it never describes the Image being made, just the Second beast giving Life to it.
Let's use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and go back to the first use of the term Image. Genesis tells us Adam was made in the Image of God. So there is a Scriptural precedent for describing a body of flesh as an Image.
And many including Chris White have conjectured independent of considering that, that The False Prophet will be responsible for The Beast's resurrection/mortal wound healing, or at least be publicly given the credit for it.
What if the Image of The Beast in Revelation 13 is the same thing as the Eight King in Revelation 17? One of the first 7 Kings, probably one of the first 5, in some way "resurrected".
It's been confusing to me in the past about whether when the Man of Sin stands himself in the Temple and deifies himself as II Thessalonians 2 describes, or when the Image of Revelation 13 is set up is the more precise Abomination event. But what if those are not separate things at all?
In the past I'd suggested the resurrection of the Antichrist is like an early form of the second resurrection. Lately I've been rethinking the nature of the second resurrection (not in a way that conflicts with being Premillenal and Futurist).
What if the Eight King's resurrection is more like the original concept of a Zombie (before George A Romaro)? A dead body that has been reanimated, but merely to be the pawn of the Witch-doctor who reanimated it.