Sunday, January 16, 2011

Signs of the times before the end.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, asking, what will be the sign of His coming, and of the end of the age?’ (Matthew 24:3) Jesus answered with a list of signs (see verses 5-26)

The first sign Jesus gave was false prophets and those proclaiming to be the Messiah. Why would anyone still look for the coming of the Messiah? Because they did not believe the Messiah come in the first place. We may not realize that the Jews for the most part did not expect the Messiah to be God in the flesh. They expected him to be human or more like David than God incarnate. They expected the Messiah to be more like a military leader that would help overthrow the Rome yoke and restore the nation of Israel back to her former place in the world.

In fact the Jews believed if they did not get rid of Jesus Rome would take away their nation. John 11:46-48 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the (Romans will come and take away both our place and nation)."

There were many in Jesus’ day that clammed to be the Messiah. In fact during this period there were many false Christ like no other time in the history of Israel. It was probably due to the prophesies of the Old Testament. Books such as Daniel established a timeline for the coming of the Messiah. The people of that day knew it was about time for Messiah to make His appearing. And there were many who tried to fill the role of the Messiah.

Not long after Christ's ascension, the Samaritan Dositheus appeared and declared himself the Messiah predicted by Moses. The book of Acts lists a number of these impostors. Gamaliel who was a Pharisee mentions “Theudas who claimed to be somebody” Theudas persuaded a great multitude to follow him to the river Jordan which he claimed would divide the river Jordan to divide. (Act 5:36) The Roman procurator, Fadus, with a troop of horse, pursued them; slew the importer, and many others; and dispersed the faction. Josephus, the noted Jewish historian, also mentions Theudas.

At the time of Felix the governor (who is mentioned in the book of (Acts 23:24), said the country of the Jews was filled with impostors who Felix had put to death EVERY DAY—a statement which indicates that there were "many" of such in those days!

After Theudas another false messiah, rose up named Judas of Galilee, who drew away some people after him (Acts 5:37). There also was an Egyptian impostor, who lead thirty thousand men into the wilderness to be murdered. Thirty thousand followed him, under the persuasion that from mount Olivet they should see the walls of Jerusalem fall to the ground at his command, for their easy capture of the Roman garrison there; and their taking possession of Jerusalem. They were attacked by the Roman governor; four hundred were slain; and the rest dispersed. The Egyptian importer escaped for his life. (Acts 21:38)

Of the false messiahs, Simon is probably the best known: Acts 8:9-11 Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God.’ And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. According to Irenaeus, Simon claimed to be the Son of God and creator of angels. Jerome says that he claimed to be the Word of God, the Almighty. I am the Comforter, I am all there is of God." (Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, 92).

Josephus, the historian, verifies the fact that near the time of Jerusalem's fall, many false Messiahs appeared, claiming to be the Christ. He says these became more numerous before the sieges of Titus. Such figures played a leading role in the Jewish revolt in late A.D. 66 that led to the Jewish War.

Many false Messiah appeared, engaging to break the Roman yoke, if they would follow him into the wilderness; but the deceiver and his followers soon fell a sacrifice to the vigilance of Felix the governor.. Christ had said to the Jews, ‘I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not. If another should come in his own name, him will ye receive.' How prone are men to deception

All this occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries..