In his signs of the times discourse in Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus gave many indicators of the events that would occur prior to His Second Coming. He warned that there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, plagues, famines. However, despite all these things, the End would not yet happen; these would be just the beginning of sorrows.
One of the signs He gives of the approach of His return to earth is “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Never in the entire course of history has the Gospel been preached in the world to the extent it currently is.—If not directly by missionaries, travellers and visitors, it is certainly being preached by the modern mediums of radio, television, and most notably, on the internet. Never before in history has the Bible been translated into as many languages and made easily available online as it is today!
One of the signs of the times that Jesus warned us about is that before His Coming there would arise false Christs and false prophets who would deceive many people. More is devoted to this topic in Matthew 24 than other basic signs of the times, which indicates He considered it an important warning.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.—Matthew 24:3-5, 11, 23-27
In recent current events, a number of false prophets have been arising in various nations worldwide, claiming to be the second coming of Jesus. While many are following these self-proclaimed Messiahs, some are speaking out against their false teachings, being mindful of Christ’s words in Matthew 24:5, “For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ,’ and shall deceive many.”
In Australia: Alan John Miller lives in Queensland, Australia with his partner Mary Luck. Miller claims that he remembers details from his “former life” as Jesus, and Luck says that she is the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene. Both state that they were married in their previous life and had a daughter together. “I have very clear memories of the crucifixion, but it wasn’t as harrowing for me as it was for others like Mary who was present,” Miller told Sky News last year.
The two run the organization Divine Truth, and have appeared on local and international television programs to speak of Miller’s claims of being the Messiah. Crowds of generally 100 people or more gather to hear him speak at his seminars, and some followers from across the country have given up their possessions and families to be nearer to Miller.
Siberia: Also known as Vissarion, Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop began proclaiming himself as Jesus reincarnated after he was fired as a traffic officer in Russia in 1990. He went on to found the Church of the Last Testament, which combines various religions together, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. At the last report, Torop has over 5,000 followers, some of which gather to listen to the self-proclaimed Messiah speak. His words are often collected in a book, which spans ten volumes.
Torop, also known as “Jesus of Siberia,” has long hair and wears long, flowing gowns. He speaks from the side of a hill covered by an umbrella. Approximately 2,000 of his followers live in a settlement in Siberia dedicated to his worship. “I am not God. And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God,” he told reporters in 2002. “But I am the living word of God the Father. Everything that God wants to say, He says through me.”
Brazil: Also known as Inri Cristo, Alvarro Theiss has been claiming since 1979 to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He runs Suprema Ordem Universal da Santmssima Trindade in Brazil, where he also maintains a compound that houses his followers, who are mostly women. Theiss dresses in a white robe and wears a cloth “crown of thorns.” His followers often wear a blue uniform with a rope tied around their waist. Theiss and those who live with him at his compound are vegans and grow their own fruits and vegetables on the property.
“Life as it is known—union of the matter with the spirit—only happens when the newly-born breathes the air for the first time,” he once told reporters. Theiss has his own 24-hour television internet channel, which airs messages from the self-proclaimed Messiah around the clock.
“My mission is to prepare the elect, the survivors of the inevitable nuclear atom bomb that will culminate in the end of this chaotic world, for the formation of the new earthly society, which will strive to fulfill the Creator’s will,” he said.
Tragically, those who are deceived in the last days by these false christs will sincerely regard themselves to be genuine believers, actively doing the work of Christ. Jesus provided the signs of the times in detail, so that no one need be deceived. In Matthew 24, He goes on to say:
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.—Matthew 24:28-31