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FALSE MESSIAHS:

Self-Claimed and Acclaimed!

How Many Serious "Christ-Claimants" Have Their Been?


Have False Messiahs been spread equally over history, or Clustered?



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FALSE MESSIAHS:

Self-Claimed and Acclaimed!

How Many Serious "Christ-Claimants" Have Their Been?

Have False Messiahs been spread equally over history, or Clustered?

False Messiah's of History:

    Amazingly, even Jesus prophesied that there would come "FALSE CHRISTS!"

    Jesus also prophesied there would be FALSE PROPHETS:

      >> Who actually came in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth;

      >> Saying that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ;

      >> But having a purpose of drawing disciples after themselves;

      >> Thus deceiving some "True Believers in Jesus" - to follow people of strange doctrine;

      >> Some modern False Prophets would be as follows:

        o King Henry-VIII & King James-I starting the Church of England - The Anglican Church - ARTIFICIALLY POSITIONED half-way between the Roman Catholics and Reformed Protestors;

          **[Beyond The Anglican Church, note that the rest of the major "False Prophets" rose during the Second Great Awakening of the early to middle 1800's - along with the Great Revivalist CHARLES FINNEY and CHARLES SPURGEON, the movement centered in the USA effecting England and Europe to some degree]:


          o Alexander Campbell, 1788-1866, a Baptist Minister for much of his ministry, as a leader of the early Second Great Awakening founded the "Campbellite Movement" a return to Primitive, First-Century Christianity - of which the basic principles are fine: we need pure, unadulterated Christianity! . . .

          . . . However, he came to teach that the water of baptism - NOT THE BLOOD OF CHRIST - actually washed our sins away giving rise to the 'Baptismal Regeneration Movement'.


          o Joseph Smith, 1805-1844, was formerly associated with the 'Methodist Revival Movement' started the Mormon Movement - (first called his followers and churches "Church of Christ" - died in prison . . .

          . . . when he and brother Hyrum were attacked in prison by a community vigilante group - killing Hyrum instantly, and shooting Joseph five-times as he tried to escape from the jailhouse window firing back at his attackers with a pistol: he was 38.


          o Mary Baker Eddy, 1821–1910, was the founder of the Christian Science religion, focused on physical health and healing. Eddy and others credit her with the ability to heal instantaneously, including farm animals. . .

          . . . she and first husband owned slaves - amazingly, she suffered much of her life with physical and mental illness, unable to care for her son (whom she named George Washington), later self-healing and accused of plagiarizing her theories from Quimby;


          o Ellen White, 1827-1915, a prolific writer claiming over 2,000 visions and paranormal experiences - who allegedly plagiarized much of her material - became the scholarly leader of the Seventh day Adventist Movement of the middle 1800's . . .

          . . . absorbing the "Millerite Movement" - formerly headed up by a Baptist Minister, William Miller, who went off the deep end prophesying the End-of-the World for 1844;


          o Charles Taze Russell, 1852-1916, became the leader of the of the later 1800's that eventually became the modern Jehovah's Witnesses . He called for the End of the World for 1914. When the GREAT WAR broke out in 1913: . . .

          . . . many saw this GREAT WAR (Later renamed World War-I) as the Armageddon, and flocked to the movement in droves, the followers being called the "Russellites" following "Russellism" - he was associated with the "Millerites" in the early days;


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FALSE MESSIAHS:

Self-Claimed and Acclaimed!

How Many Serious "Christ-Claimants" Have Their Been?

Have False Messiahs been spread equally over history, or Clustered?

The False Christs of Israel

    How many FALSE CHRISTS have there been that Jews truly considered?

      FACT-1: There have been EXTREMELY FEW over 2,500 years of LOOKING for the Son of David!

      FACT-2: They were definitely clustered!

    Amazingly, The Book of Enoch sets the parameter for approximately a "One-Century" Stage:

    Enoch the Prophet, 7th from Adam, made some tremendous prophesies: YOUR BIBLE SAYS SO! [Jude 1:11-14]

      Enoch prophesied great judgement upon God's people exactly 70 generations after Enoch. Since he also prophesied Messiah had to precede this judgement, as He was to come to the temple, etc., the Christ had to be born sometime during, just before, or just after, this 70th generation.

      All Jewish believers had heard this fabled prophecy all their life, and the "believers" in the prophesied Word of God were excited and Luke says that "All men mused in their heart whether John the Baptist was the Christ . . . knowing it was time. Luke 3.15


      [NOTE: This is also the reason so many "false Christ's" arose during that time [Such as Theudas and Judas mentioned by Paul in Acts 5:36-37] from Jesus and John the Baptist - the 70th from Enoch, making from AD-70 through 135 the 70th generation if one starts AFTER Enoch's generation

      Thus there were significant claims by warriors to be the "Prophesied Christ who were able to gather great followings, as the "Believers" knew the Christ had to come by that generation or their Bible would be proved to be false!

      Thus we find in history:

        >> no group of false Messiahs before this 70th-71th generations,

        >> with many false Christ's during this time including Theudas and Judas mentioned in the Book of Acts 5:36-37; and The Jew from Egypt (whom some thought was Apostle Paul!) in Acts 21;

        >> and MANY who thought John the Baptist was the Christ, and Scholars from the Temple questioned him in John 1;

        >> with bar Kochba in a final revolt in AD 135 being the last;

        >> and no false Christs after this time period (except for a mental case here and there).


      [2] Enoch prophesies the Christ would one who existed before the universe!


      [3] Enoch prophesies the Christ would be called the "Son of Man!"


      [4] Enoch prophesies the Christ would be the one who will judge mankind!


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FALSE MESSIAHS:

Self-Claimed and Acclaimed!

How Many Serious "Christ-Claimants" Have Their Been?

Have False Messiahs been spread equally over history, or Clustered?

Looking for Messiah in the 70th, 71st Generations:

    Modern Christians and Messianic Jews, focused as they are on interpreting the Last Days as the AD-2,000 era, are sometimes surprised to learn that there were mostly false messiahs around the time of JEsus himself.

    The New Testament records four of the fivemajor false Messiahs of Israel:

      [1] Judas (Judah) the Galilean: Founder of Zealots, Acts 5:36-37,

      [2] John the Baptist: Matthew 4, Mark Luke 1 & 4, John 4;

      [3] Theudas, Acts 5:36-37,

      [4] one unnamed Egyptian Jew some thought Apostle Paul to be.

    Judah the Galilean was the 'False Messiah';

      First was Judah the Galilean is mentioned in Acts 5:37, arrived on the scene a decade before Jesus.

      Josephus, the first century Jewish_Roman historian, also made reference to Judah the Galilean, stating: "Judah the Galilean told Jews about ten years before the birth of Jesus, that it was shameful for them to be 'consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters after having God for their Lord'" (1).

      It is interesting to note that Judah apparently had a false prophet by the name of Saddok. Very likely Saddok presented himself to the people as being Elijah, who, according to Scripture, was to precede and announce the coming of the Messiah (2).

      The pattern of false messiahs having false prophets was to become all too familiar. Judah and Saddok are credited by Josephus with having founded the Zealots, a group we are introduced to in the New Testament.

      You'll recall - so did some of the Zealots of Judas the Galilean, namely one of the TWELVE DISCIPLES: Simon the Zealot!


    John the Baptist was second 'False Messiah':

      John the Baptist was a "False Christ" - NOT because of what he claimed, or anything that he did - but because so many people thought he was the Messiah!

      Since John the Baptist WAS anointed and Chosen by God, he deeply stirred the hearts of Israel like none other. Even Jesus said of John "there was none greater born of women than John the Baptist. . ."

      Thus the Jewish Leaders officially came to him and asked him directly: "Are you the Messiah?" in John 1:1-20.

      John said "I am not! The Messiah is coming AFTER ME . . . and his Shoes I am not worthy to unloose . . . HE must increase, but I must decrease. . ."

      Had John NOT been of God, had John WANTED to have claimed Messiah-ship, he could have gathered thousands to his cause.

      He WAS a "Burning, Shining light" John 1:1-7, but NOT the Messiah.


    Theudas was third 'False Messiah':

      Theudas is mentioned in Acts 5:36.

      In his historical work, Antiquities, Josephus also wrote about Theudas who, around 45 AD, influenced "the majority of the masses to take up their possessions and to follow him to the Jordan River." He claimed that the Jordan would part for them at his command.

      Obviously it didn't, and he and many of his followers paid for their foolishness with their lives (3).


    An Unnamed Egyptian Jew was fourth 'False Messiah':

      The unnamed Egyptian is mentioned in Acts 21:37-38.

      Rabbi Paul was nearly killed by a hostile mob. The Roman commander stationed at the Temple arrested Paul. When Paul s

        "Do you know Greek? Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the 'assassins'* out into the wilderness?"

        Of course, Paul assured him he was not that man.

        *[NEWT-NOTE: Literally 4,000 men, the Assassins; that is, 'Sicarii', a Lat loanword from 'sica', meaning dagger; could be translated assassins, cut-throats, or daggermen].

      Historian Josephus wrote of this incident as well, though he mentions the number of followers of this unnamed Egyptian Jew as about thirty thousand. The numbers could have grown, or this could have included wives, children, and perhaps parents, all living in the desert/wilderness.

      This Egyptian-Jew led his followers to the Mount of Olives, threatening to force entry into Jerusalem and liberate it from Roman occupation. Battle ensued and most of his followers were killed in the battle.

      Obviously, like John the Baptist, Paul assured he was not the Messiah, but also like John, he could have drawn many followers to himself had he so desired.


    Shimon Ben-Kosiba (bar Kochba) was fifth and final 'False Messiah':

      Dating to AD-135, bar Kochba is NOT mentioned in Scripture.

      It is strange, that Shimon Ben-Kosiba - more commonly known as Bar Kochba - was one of the most famous of Israel's false messiahs, and is actually regarded by the Jewish community as a hero!

        But before Ben Kosibam there was a major Jewish uprising against Rome, about AD-66 . . . which ended tragically and catastrophically . . .3-1/2 years - 42 months - 1,260 days later, with the decimation of the Jerusalem Temple, Jerusalem and Israel in AD-70.

        There was neither a major leader nor False Christ associated with this revolt. It seems the anger of the Jewish people simply boiled over, as their High Priest (like the catholic Pope - should have been the most spiritual and patriotically person in Israel) . . .

        . . . seems to have been recognized as a perpetual traitor to Israel, literally an AGENT of the Roman Empire, with Rome "owning" Israel's High Priest:

          >> Appointing them;

          >> Paying them;

          >> Bribing them;

          >> Controlling them;

          >> Owning them;

        For Jews to learn their most beloved leader, the office of the high priest for 1,500-1,600 hundred years was a TRAITOR, a PUPPET, a STRAW-MAN - "selling-out Israel at every turn - was simply more than Jews could take.

        The rage boiled over and Roans were attacked all over Israel. Rome responded by smashing Israel like a fly struck by a swatter!

        It was not, however, the last attempt at Jewish national sovereignty. A full generation later, the few Jews left in Israel - mostly poor, elderly, and feeble, had been able to raise up a few sons and welcome a few Jewish-escaped slaves back to the home land.

        The last revolt began in AD-132, led by a Jewish general by the name Shimon ben Kosiba. For over 15 years, Kosiba had defied Emperor Trajan.

        About AD-115 Kosiba was successful in a couple minor military exploits against Roman soldiers in Israel, so small, Rome didn't even retaliate.

        The Jewish people were understandably eager to be free from the oppressive Roman occupation, and this zeal for sovereignty so heightened people's messianic expectations - believing that is was Now or never!"

        When Kosiba met with initial victories over Roman soldiers - who had such a few in ISrael compared to a century before in the Temple days, a Rabbi named Akiva recklessly declared him "Bar-Kochba" ("son of a star") - a title taken from Numbers 24, a prophecy which referred to the Messiah.

        In so doing, Rabbi Akiva became a false prophet, and Kosiba a false messiah.

        Unlike John the Baptist and Apostle Paul, Kosiba made no effort to disavow the title bestowed on him. It is worth noting that, up to this time, Messianic Jews had been fighting right alongside their non-messianic brothers.

        But once Akiva's pronouncement of Bar Kochba was made, that Christian support became impossible, and the Messianic Jews withdrew involvement in the revolt. They could NOT be aligned with one they knew to be a false messiah.

        Rome was not about to permit one of its smallest vassal countries to defy it, and as soon as Rome got around to getting an army to Israel - in about three years - the Jewish revolt was decisively crushed.

        The New Messiah, Kosiba, was killed.

        The False Prophet, Akiva was tortured and put to death.

        Thousands of those who fought under the banner of this false messiah were likewise put to death.

        This was the last of the False Messiahs, and of Israel. Rome

          >> Rome changed the name of Israel to Palestine (an error in spelling "Philestine" - the ancient enemy of Israel, of Goliath, the people Israel drove out of the Promised land of Canaan).

          >> Rome changed the name of old Jerusalem to Attalina

          Shabbetai Zevi (1626-1676)Shabbetai Zevi was born in Smyrna Turkey, allegedly on Tisha B'Av (a day associated with the most tragic events in Jewish history. Many sources affirm this, though the date may have been fabricated, owing either to his infamy, or else to a tradition that the Messiah would be born on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple). At a young age, Zevi was identified as a prodigy. He entered into rabbinical studies under Joseph Escapa, who was at that time considered the most illustrious rabbi in Smyrna. However, Zevi left the Yeshivah (Jewish school for higher religious education) at fifteen years of age, preferring to live an ascetic life of solitude and to be his own teacher. At eighteen he was ordained as a "hacham" (literally a “wise one” - similar to being ordained as a rabbi).

          Zevi was given alternately to bouts of euphoria and melancholy. In modern terms, he would have been diagnosed as manic-depressive. About the same time he was ordained, Zevi's psychotic episodes worsened. During his times of euphoria (referred to by his disciples as "illumination"), Zevi would disparage the Torah, coming up instead with new and bizarre rituals. He advocated sexual license, and exhibited a disturbing obsession with attempting to pronounce the Ineffable Name of God (the Tetragrammaton - the Yod Hay Vav Hay). At first very few people took Zevi's behavior seriously, knowing him to be mentally ill.

          In 1648, when news of the massacres of the Jews in Poland reached Turkey, Zevi's bizarre public episodes became more frequent and pronounced. Not long after this, news began spreading that a "man of God" called Nathan had appeared in Gaza. Nathan supposedly was able to perform miracles, and could disclose to each individual the particular formula for the "tikkun" ("restoration") that their soul needed. Shabbetai Zevi traveled to Nathan of Gaza, hoping to be cured of his mental illness. Instead of remedying the situation, Nathan made it worse by urging Zevi to pursue his messianic visions, and appointing himself Zevi's prophet.

          The Shabbatean movement (followers of Shabbetai Zevi) officially began in May of 1665, when Zevi publicly declared himself the Messiah. By October of that year, reports of "the messiah" and news of miracles and visions swept across Europe. Groups of emissaries were sent by Jewish communities from all parts of Europe to Turkey to pay homage to the one many were calling "our king." In September of 1666, Zevi was summoned by the Sultan to Constantinople, where he was given the choice of execution or conversion to Islam. Zevi chose conversion. The effect of his conversion to Islam was devastating. Many within the Jewish diaspora became disillusioned, and a great schism occurred. Many saw the whole episode as a debacle, while others maintained that Zevi had only converted to Islam on the surface, but was continuing his true work surreptitiously. The Doenmeh were groups of Jewish people who followed Zevi's example and publicly converted to Islam, but secretly continued in their own form of Judaism, still clinging to Zevi as the messiah. Interestingly, small pockets of Doenmeh actually survived into the Twentieth Century!

          Shabbetai Zevi died in 1676, shortly after his fiftieth birthday on, of all days, the Day of Atonement. A number of letters he wrote during his last years indicate that he continued to believe he was the Messiah. During the last ten years of his life he allegedly had revelations of the mystery of the Godhead, which he imparted to his followers, which amounted to heresies. According to Zevi, the God of Israel was not actually the Creator, but rather "a second cause," a kind of demi-god. Naturally, this met with revulsion and violent opposition from the mainstream Jewish community. After his death, Nathan of Gaza spread the idea that Zevi had actually ascended to heaven and was deified. Nathan, as it turns out, was much more of a strategist than Zevi, and really is the one responsible for the spread of the Shabbatean movement. Nathan himself died just a few years later, in 1680.

          Jacob FrankJacob Frank (1726-1791) was born Jacob ben Judah Leib. From age nineteen until nearly thirty, Frank earned his living selling cloth, precious stones and other goods. His travels took him from Bucharest to Turkey. Frank associated with Shabbateans from his youth. Not long after joining the Shabbatean sect, Frank gained a reputation as a "prophet" having, it was thought, special powers and inspiration. Frank is described as a man of "unbridled ambition" and domineering "to the point of despotism" (4). He had a very powerful personality, and people were swept up in his magnetism. He was regarded by many in the Shabbatean sect as "a new transmigration or a reincarnation of the divine soul which had previously resided in Shabbetai Zevi" (5). Frank readily accepted this appellation.

          Frank lapsed into the same form of heresy as Zevi, teaching that the God of Israel was not the First Cause, but rather subordinate to the true Creator. In secret, he presented himself as the Messiah, God in corporeal form. Also like Zevi before him, Frank converted (on pretense) to Islam in 1757. Later, in September of 1759, Frank was baptized as a Catholic, and thousands of Jewish people followed his example. In the city of Lvov alone, 500 people were baptized. But this was no different from his previous conversion to Islam. It was only a pretext. Secretly, Frank continued to teach that he himself was the Messiah, while publicly making every effort to present his teachings as Catholic theology. But the facade didn't last long. Later that year, six of Franks new "Catholic converts" confessed to having all the while believed that Frank was the living incarnation of God. When this information became public, Frank was arrested, subjected to a thorough investigation, and sent into exile for thirteen years. Frank eventually died in Germany in 1791.

          THE EFFECT OF FALSE MESSIAHSIn every case, the effect of false messiahs on the Jewish community has been devastating. The discovery that these men were not the true Messiah led to widespread disappointment and division. People were left in despair, having invested their hopes, their energies, and in some cases, their worldly possessions, in these men.

          Another effect of false messiahs was that it left the largely Roman Catholic leaders of Europe, as well as the Islamic leaders of the Middle East, feeling smug and disdainful toward the Jewish people. As a result, anti-Jewish legislation became more common and severe through much of the world. Perhaps saddest of all is that many Jewish leaders over the years have all but abandoned hope in the Biblical promise of the Messiah, preferring not to risk further division and decimation in the Jewish community should another false messiah arise.

          COMMON DENOMINATORS OF FALSE MESSIAHSHow could our Jewish people embrace these counterfeits? How is it that we have been repeatedly deceived? How can we avoid these same mistakes? If we're to have the answers to these questions, it is important that we consider what these movements and their leaders had in common:

          These were ambitious individuals who were accountable to no one. Rather than allowing the Scriptures to be their guide, people allowed circumstances to dictate their expectations. Lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, especially those prophecies concerning the Messiah, coupled with looking to extra-biblical sources for authority, (for example, the Zohar), allowed people to be more readily deceived. The emphasis on personal, subjective, emotional experiences, as over the unchanging word of God. For example, the Encyclopedia Judaica states that "as part of his mission he (Jacob Frank) journeyed to the grave of Nathan of Gaza..." (6). In a striking parallel, it is worth noting that one modern televangelist tells of having visited the graves of Catherine Kuhlman and Amy Semple McPherson and that he "felt a terrific anointing," claiming that "the anointing has lingered over Amy's body" (7). Esoteric "knowledge" allegedly available only to an elite group, served as an enticement to join the movements. Furthermore, considerable pressure was put on people to either "get with the program" or else risk missing out on God, and be labeled as "unspiritual." The fixing of dates for Messiah's coming was characteristic of some of these movements, as was the belief that our efforts can hasten His coming. Most significantly, these (and other) false messiahs were able to draw and deceive people who had already rejected Yeshua as the Messiah. When we shun the truth, we become vulnerable to a lie.

          There are false prophets and false messiahs on the scene even today. Their methods follow much the same pattern, and their victims have many of the same fallacious notions and lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, as those who preceded them. Only as we look to the Word of God and embrace the truth found in Yeshua of Nazareth, will we be immune to the lure of false teachers.

          End Notes

          Josephus, Wars, 2:118 Malachi 4:5, 6 Josephus, Antiquities, 20:97ff Encyclopedia Judaica, 1972, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Ltd., Israel - Vol. 7, pg. 56 ibid, pg. 56 ibid, pg. 56 Christianity in Crisis, A Harvest Audiobook, Hank Hanegraaff, c. 1993, Harvest House Publications



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