Saturday, May 26, 2012
For many will come in My name.
Before Christ came, there were no false Christ. No one else had appeared on the scene claiming to be the Messiah. After His ministry, others began to proclaim that they were the Messiah. But when Jerusalem was destroyed it was the final proof Jesus was the Messiah.
It was only natural in those days, after Christ’ death and while Israel was still under the bondage of the Roman government there would appear false prophets (Messiah’s) who would attempt to deceive the people into following them in the hope of their finding release from the Roman Yoke.
There were many in Jesus’ day that claimed to be the Messiah. In fact, during this period there were many false Christs 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 fulfill the role of the Jewish 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 he would 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.
Josephus also mentions one false prophet who urged the people to get up on the Temple and await signs of deliverance. He said, ‘A false prophet made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up on the temple, and there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God... “(Josephus, p. 453)
Menahem Ben Judah was one of several Jewish Messiah claimants around the time of the Jewish War and is mentioned by Josephus. Athronges proclaimed himself a messiah, Athronges led the rebellion against Archelaus and the Roman. How prone are men to deception.