In the list of the “beginning of birth pains” in the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24, the first sign is of the appearing of false christs or messiahs. There’s a simple detail there that’s easy to pass over but needs to be pointed out ¾ christs or messiahs are plural, which means more than one will appear. I feel I must address this plurality in light of my many articles on the rise of the Antichrist and the possibility of Islam’s Mahdi (their messiah) being him, because those expecting the universally revered revived Ottoman Empire caliph and Islamic messiah could be tripped up when another appears first.
The Olivet Discourse given by Jesus and found now in Matthew 24 and 25 came as an answer to the question of the disciples ¾ “What are the signs of your return and the end of the age?” Jesus then walked through a list of signs.
Jesus began with what He called the “beginning of birth pains” and then He discussed the actual birth pains, which include the reign of the Antichrist, the abomination he commits, his deception and the great tribulation he brings. The “beginning of birth pains” is an unspecified amount of time that runs from whenever it starts until the abomination that leads to desolation, which is when the Antichrist sets himself up to be worshipped in the Jewish Temple. This moment is the midpoint of the final seven years of this age. First century Jews recognized the “birth pains” to be the Great Tribulation at the end of the age.
Biblical prophecy doesn’t give us much on the timing of the rise of the Antichrist other than that there is sequence to his rise, which is found in Daniel 8 and Revelation 17, and that he is in power at the start of the final seven years. Therefore, if there are multiple false messiahs and the Antichrist is one of them, he’d likely be the last. It also means these false messiahs would begin to rise much earlier than the final seven years.
I’ve written that it seems clear the final empire of the Antichrist is a revived Ottoman Empire or Islamic Caliphate, and he will then likely be recognized as the Muslim messiah which, in reality, is a false messiah. That checks off one of the false messiahs, but Jesus said there would be many.
Do you see the possible confusion?
I believe we jump to think of insignificant crazies like David Koresh of the Branch Davidians in Waco as what Jesus intended when he warned of false messiahs. Though to the few that followed Koresh he was a false messiah, I doubt he even made the list of what Jesus was talking about. The deception of the last days is extremely significant, and these false messiahs seem to have great reach and potential to deceive many.
When it comes to the other false messiahs, there are many possibilities. Remember, the Jews of today are still looking for a messiah to come, and I don’t believe that Scripture describes them accepting the Antichrist as one. Therefore, the stage is set for a Jewish messiah to come and be accepted. If the case is convincing, then many others, especially including Jews and Christians, are greatly susceptible to this false messiah. Right now, there are whispers in Judaism that the Messiah is alive today and is in hiding. One of the most popular Jewish rabbis in history who passed away earlier this year claimed to have met this messiah.
There is also no reason to presume that there aren’t multiple people who come as a Jewish messiah, but in all truth, they are all false. That’s one possibility.
Within Islam there are two big divisions ¾ Shi’ah and Sunni. They are each looking for a messiah figure. Shi’ah are looking for the 12th Imam and the Sunni the Mahdi. Therefore, there’s likely a false messiah that will rise to claim to be each. This may be why Daniel 8 seems to describe a war with modern-day Turkey and Iran leading to the rise of the Antichrist. Again, there doesn’t just have to be one who arises claiming to the 12th Imam or Mahdi. Likely there will be multiple ones.
Those are the two easy areas to see possible false messiahs arising from, but there could be many more from different groups who feel they have their messiah. It could be Christians who claim to be a messiah. It could be a pagan who claims to be a messiah. I had information sent to me from a group of 60,000 who believe there is an alien messiah on the earth now.
There are many likely scenarios because Satan diversifies.
As with each article I write, I do so to help us stand firm. In particular, with this article, my hope is that we recognize the reality that there will be multiple false messiahs and that just because someone appears claiming to be a messiah it doesn’t mean they’re the Antichrist.
Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)