Saturday, August 2, 2014

Concerning A False Prophet

2. And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward.

They also burnt down the treasury-chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods, there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers, [to contain such furniture.] 

The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children and a great mixed multitude of the people fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined anything about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set the cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of these escape with his life.

A false prophet* was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that 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; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now, a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such deliverance.  
Book VI, Chapter V, Section 2 (Entire)


Matthew 24:23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.  "For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  "See, I have told you beforehand. "Therefore, if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or, 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.

All of the New Testament scripture fits together like hand and glove when we connect the dots of “all the events” together.   Why would Jesus tell the disciples “beforehand” that Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect?   Because most of Israel did not believe the Messiah had come in the first place  The Jews for the most part were expecting the Messiah to be more like a military who will win battles for Israel and help overthrow the Rome yoke and restore the nation of Israel back to her former place in the world.   The Messiah would be a great political leader a descended from King David. (Jeremiah 23:5)  But above all, he will be a human being, not a god.

There were many false prophets 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 timeline for the coming of the Messiah. Galatians 4:4  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. 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.

The book of Acts lists a number of these impostors just as Jesus predicted.  Simon is probably the best known.   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 (Acts 8:9-11). 

Jerome quotes Simon Magus as saying "I am the Word of God, I am the Comforter, I am Almighty, I am all there is of God." (Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, 92).    Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee mentions “Theudas who claimed to be somebody” He also mentions another false messiah, Judas of Galilee, who drew away some people after him. (Acts 5:37)  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)

Secular historians record other examples of false messiahs who rose up soon after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Josephus tells of a certain false prophet who made a public proclamation in the city that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance (Josephus War of the Jews Book 6/Chapter 5- 2). This occurred in Jesus’ generation.

In 1805 a man named Peter Holford wrote a book called “THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM” He had this to say about the period:

The necessity for this friendly warning soon appeared; for within one year after our Lord's ascension, rose Dositheus the Samaritan, who had the boldness to assert that he was the Messiah, of whom Moses prophesied; while his disciple Simon Magus deluded multitudes into a belief that he, himself, was the "GREAT POWER OF GOD." 

About three years afterwards another Samaritan impostor appeared, and declared that he would show the people the sacred utensils, said to have been deposited by Moses, in mount Gerizim. Induced by an idea that the Messiah, their great deliverer, was now come, an armed multitude assembled under him, but Pilate speedily defeated them, and slew their chief. While Cuspius Fadus was procurator of Judea, another deceiver arose, whose name was Theudas. [4] This man actually succeeded so far as to persuade a very great multitude to take their effects and follow him to Jordan, assuring them, that the river would divide at his command.

Fadus, however, pursued their with a troop of horse, and slew many of them, and among the rest the impostor himself, whose head was cut off and carried to Jerusalem. Under the government of Felix, deceivers rose up daily in Judea, and persuaded the people to follow them into the wilderness, assuring them that they should there behold conspicuous signs and wonders performed by the ALMIGHTY. Of these Felix, from time to time, apprehended many, and put them to death. About this period (A.D. 55) arose Felix the celebrated Egyptian impostor, who collected thirty-thousand followers, and persuaded them to accompany him to the Mount of Olives, telling, them that from thence they should see the walls of Jerusalem fall down at his command, as, a prelude to the capture of the Roman garrison, and to their obtaining the sovereignty of the city. The Roman governor, however, apprehending this to be the beginning of the revolt, immediately attacked them, slew four hundred of them, and dispersed the rest; but the Egyptian effected his escape. At the time of Porcius Festus (A.D.60), another distinguished impostor seduced the people, by promising them deliverance from the Roman yoke, if they would follow him into the wilderness; but Festus sent out an armed force which speedily destroyed both the deceiver and his followers. In short, impostors, to a divine commission, continually and fatally deceived the people, and at once justified the caution, and fulfilled the prediction of our LORD.

If it be objected that none of these impostors, except Dositheus, assumed the name of Messiah, we reply, that the groveling expectations of the Jews was directed to a Messiah who should merely deliver them from the Roman yoke, and "restore the kingdom to Jerusalem;" and such were the pretensions of these deceivers. This expectation, indeed, is the only true solution of these strange and reputed insurrections; which will naturally remind the reader of the following prophetic expressions of our LORD: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." " If they shall say unto you, 'Behold he is in the desert!' Go not forth. They will show [5] (or pretend to see) great signs and wonders,"'

In conclusion, we see that false messiahs were abounding in the first century. In fact, when we come to understand the Jewish concept of the false Messiah, we see that this phenomena was unique to the first century and not to our modern times.

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!


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