“…and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:3-4 NIV)
Christ’s answer above gives his servants a chronological order to what takes place during the last days. We would do well to pay close attention to what was spoken by our Lord. Recognize, also, that strong forces of deception threaten this generation just as they did the people in Noah’s day, before the flood (Matthew 24:38-39).
Why is Jesus’ plain, step-by-step description of the last days (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21) among the least understood or most frequently misinterpreted passages in the Gospels? The enemy is at work. The lie is Satan’s chief weapon and deception a specialty.
Once the end times started to capture a significant amount of interest, fake news moved in. Satan’s plan is to disrupt our study of God’s Word and place teachers before us speaking like experts. With them, come cleverly invented stories that neutralize God’s warnings. No one who believes their fake news will be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. –French author, Victor Hugo
Accurate interpretation of prophecy is an idea whose time has come. The devil is very aware, so he is hard at work. He will stop at nothing to distract or dissuade Christians from studying their Bible and demanding sound teaching.
When apostles Paul and Peter described future events, they offered warnings (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Timothy 3:13, 2 Peter 3:3-13). Why were warnings consistently posted alongside prophetic texts?
Fake news surrounds prophecy. Take for example, Matthew 24:4’s “Watch out that no one deceives you…” Christ’s alert is aimed at those claiming “Jesus is the Christ” (cf. Matthew 16:16). This means Christian leaders will do Satan’s dirty work (Matthew 24:10-11). (Have you been warned about this?) Many will fall away from the faith sealing their fate. (In our assemblies, has this been made sufficiently clear?) These deceivers are cleverly disguised. They sound like sheep, but their words belong to Satan, who leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9).
Unfortunately, gullible sheep will repeat the lie lending it credibility. By failing to critically analyze what came from trusted ministers, they become dupes and pass on fake news. Many, believing they are glory-bound, will be derailed. False prophets and false Christs will cover the globe (Matthew 24:11, 23-25).
Maybe you heard a fake explanation of Matthew 24:4, that it applies to the crazies who declare they’re Jesus. I was told this was what Jesus meant, but do the delusional influence our beliefs? Will many fall away or turn away from the faith because of some nut claiming to be Christ?
Could it be instead that teachers who claim that “Jesus is the Christ” confuse the Lord’s warning, and, like a virus-carrier, spread the devil’s lies?
We have only scratched the surface of the deceit surrounding Matthew 24. Stay tuned!