3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]” 4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5
Matthew 24 has a lot to say about the end times’ events that we should expect to see. I will deliver several devotions on this portion of Scripture, breaking it down by events and then talking about them. Jesus is talking to His disciples and telling them what to be looking for before He returns and the world ends. The first warning Jesus gives them is to not let anyone mislead them, saying many would come in His name claiming to be the Messiah and that they would deceive many. The truth is that there are many Scriptures warning us about false prophets and teachers and guarding ourselves against deception. Here are some:
1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. 2 Peter 2:1-3
1Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ Ezekiel 13:1-3
28“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own bloodh—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.i 29I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. Acts 20:28-31
21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance. Mark 13:21-23
You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 2 Peter 3:17
These are just a few I’ve selected but there are many more. Jesus wants us to be aware, be prepared, be on guard, and not be deceived. What a good God He is, right!? He gives us all these warnings and tells us what to look for and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit alive and at work in us, He teaches us to discern all things, test every spirit, and filter everything through the Living Word of God so that we can be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
A quick search on Wikipedia shows that there have been at least 25 “Messiah claimants” in the Christian faith alone since the first century through now. There are many others listed as well, so we can see that this warning from Jesus has been validated through these false messiahs coming on the scene and staking their claim to be the Anointed One. Spoiler alert: THEY’RE NOT HIM!!!!
We need to always be on our guard and use our God-given discernment (go listen to our latest podcast over this topic) because in these days, as the verse above from Mark 13 says, “these false Christs and false messiahs will perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if possible.” So we are likely going to see some crazy, miraculous events in the coming days that are really going to require us knowing what the Word of God says and building ourselves up in our faith and discernment in order to not fall for these lying signs and wonders. We need to start now and not waste another day. Get serious about our walk with Christ and allow Him to filter all the junk out of our lives so that we can be spiritually sharp and aware of all that is going on. Gird up, brothers and sisters. The Day draws ever nearer. Let’s pray:
Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You so much for giving us these warning signs to look for as we get nearer to Your return to the earth. We also thank You for the Holy Spirit alive and at work within us, teaching us all things and guiding us into truth. We are so grateful for this gift of discernment and that it can be cultivated and grown in us. We ask you right now to do the good work in us that You want to do. Make us look more like You and help us to be on guard against those imposters who claim to be You, who aim to deceive and steal, kill, and destroy us. Help us every day to ready ourselves, that when the Day comes and You make Your triumphal return, we will be part of the Bride who is spotless and pure of heart. We long for this day…Maranatha, Lord Jesus! Help us until then though, to be about the Father’s business. Amen and amen.