Eschatology in the Bible 3: False Prophets

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I have in the previous records just pointed out some problems with the dispensationism, or the theology of the Lord’s coming is just around the corner and will retrieve the saved, and the unsaved will be left behind for a while in a thousand years, and then establish the millennial. I lack just to explain my view and I will try as best I can to come to this in my further posts.

In “The Timeframe in Matthew 24” you did see the time frame of Jesus’ prophecy, and the judgment of Jerusalem, but I made a big jump all the way to Mat. 24:34 and did not bring the warnings that Jesus gave to his disciples and those things that happens in the tribulation (Matthew 24:4 – 33). I’ll fix it now and make some posts about it.

I want to show how history record that we have available today may shed light on the Scripture, no, not spiritual light that the Holy Spirit gives, but the historical light. Yet they are both a powerful combination and the source to understand the Bible better when we read it, especially what Daniel, Matthew, the other Gospels and the book of Revelation says about the era (end time). So let’s go into Matthew and take step by step.

The first thing we see is that Jesus warns his disciples against deception and false Christs (Matthew 24:4-5). Not only the Bible, but history can tell us about false messiahs, also called antichrists (Mark.13:6; Matt.24:5; Apg.20:30; 1.Joh.2: 18, etc.).

In the first century it was a great expectation to Daniel 9’s prophecy, it was popular and was the only source that could provide some opportunity for a prediction of the time of the end. This was probably also the reason that there were many who claimed to be Christ after Jesus’ death. These were tried by force, wonders and signs, to drive out the Romans and take over as leaders of Israel, for we must remember that Jesus was not seen as a king, because they believed he failed (did not take the royal seat of power, but as He actually did). Many of those were able to gather large groups or sects of disciples.

We can read from the works of Flavius Josephus, a historian from the first century, about many of these false Christs and antichrists. It may be mentioned: Justus, son of Ezekias [War 2:4:1] Theudas [Ant, 20:5:1] The Egyptian false prophet [Ant, 20:8:6; War, 2:13:5] and Manehem [War 2:17:8] among many others. It is interesting to mention a couple who clearly misled many, and wrote the story, Theudas:

“Now it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus’s government.” 

And the false Egyptian prophet

… Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the robbers stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages, and plundered them. 

There are many more recorded as of such missleading in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, and in fact it emerges one in the Bible as well. In Act.8: 9 – 10 we read of Simon Magus, he was described as “The great power of God.” When we see how the story can tell us how big and serious this problem was, we can easily see what behind Jesus ‘warning and the disciples’ concern and warning to their churches again, like. John:

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” [1.John.2:18] 

The scholars also mention that this things played a big role in the religious and political form that led to the Jewish war against Rom (67 – 70 AD). There was great religious fanaticism in this area and that area was always infested with false prophets and false messiahs. According to Josephus left one with a crowd of thirty thousand men!

This We didn’t know? But now we see there was an enormous problem and it was with good reason Jesus warned his disciples about this. My question is whether this is allowed to transport this warning 2000 years or 3000 years into the future and leave the disciples without? Jesus warned his disciples of what they had to expect and not what we have to expect. This is so evident in both the history and the Bible.

We should be careful in our time too, with false prophets, but an antichrist? Well, it can be some who claim to be Christ himself today as well, but an Antichrist who will set himself up as a God in the temple in Jerusalem, I have rather difficult to believe and is not mentioned in the Bible that it will happen in our time or in the future. Then the temple first have to be rebuilt and that is not mentioned in the Bible either, but more on that topic later.

What the Bible actually says is that days disciples and Christians, could expect such a one. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” [Mat.24:15] Later, we see that John transfer this warning on to the church” And so as you have heard that the antichrist will come … “[1 John. 2:18], John is also author of the book of Revelation. This Antichrist as they expected and was warned against came (the persecution of Christians began in the summer of 64 AD) and tore the temple in Jerusalem (70 AD) and he will not come again.

For those of us who are waiting for Christ knows how He will come again, For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [Mat.24: 27].

Note:
Scripture text is from KJV (King James Verson)
Ant = Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus.
War = War of the Jews, Flavius Josephus.

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