“Then, if anyone says to you’ ‘Look, here is the Christ’ [messiah] or ‘There!’ do not believe it, for false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it…” (Matthew 24:23-26)
When blogging a brief update on the Middle-East this-day last week I referred to Shiite Islamic expectation of the appearance of their ‘hidden twelfth Imam’ or ‘Mahdi’, or who’s also incorrectly referred to as a ‘messiah’ (Jewish term!). Maybe I ‘sensed’ something was afoot?
Sure enough, in Monday’s Christian Today Harry Farley reports on the ASA (Arrogantly Stupid Atheists aka. Advertising Standards Agency) investigating complaints about a number of billboards placed by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community claiming that ‘The Messiah Has Come’. This peace-loving community, ‘a heavily persecuted minority Muslim sect (aims) to promote the idea, considered heretical by mainstream Islam, that the Messiah promised in the Qur’an has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’.
As I’d expect, fellow blogger Archbishop Cranmer takes issue over ASA involvement:
‘We like the ASA. They jump in with both feet; bark, intimidate, harass, bludgeon and hassle with reams of paperwork, and then they issue their decree and skulk off with their tail between their legs.
‘Farley reports that “the campaign has prompted outrage from Christians, Muslims and Jews who all have notions of a ‘messiah’ in their beliefs and find the billboards offensive.”
‘This is odd. Since when did religious advertisements have to conform to a particular interpretation of messianic eschatology? Since when was it the task of the ASA to discern between mythical symbols and promised realities? If the remit of the ASA now extends to determining theological orthodoxy, what hope is there for billboards proclaiming ‘Jesus is Lord’? Don’t Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Jedi Knights all have notions of a ‘lord’ in their beliefs? Might not adherents of any non-Christian religion find such a declaration offensive?
‘Even odder is this:
- ‘The Advertising Standards Agency confirmed to Christian Today it has received 33 complaints so far about the adverts. A spokesman said people have claimed the post is ‘misleading because they believe it is not consistent with the teachings of the Quran’.
‘Since when did religious advertisements have to be consistent with the teachings of the Qur’an?
‘But then we read:
- …the advert was being targeted in a coordinated campaign by other Muslim sects.
- An email template seen by Christian Today and sent to Ahmadi opponents claimed ‘the billboard incites hatred, it is deeply offensive and hurtful to millions of British citizens’. The email urges other Muslims to write to the ASA, the Metropolitan Police and the Charity Commission asking them to take the billboards down.
Then follows His Grace’s thorough appraisal. Suffice to say, he and I dealt with ASA crass stupidity 6 years ago this month when they forbade prayers for healing on the streets in the city of Bath. My report Muhammed knows more than the ASA! starts my coverage of the saga which began when local BBC took up a young person’s grievance about the efficacy of prayer, but failed to check their background. I did and found the complainant not as impartial or honest an investigator of the ‘paranormal’ as pretended and took pride in claiming, because they bragged about their action and closed mind!
THE NUB OF THE MATTER
Be that as it may, we have the clear, undoubted prophecy from the One who is the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy of the appearance of so-called messiahs or ‘anointed ones’, whom people will believe as having an especial anointing from God as a ‘world teacher’ or saviour.
As covered earlier, in answering the disciples queries about His foretelling the ruination of Jerusalem’s holy Temple, Jesus went on to describe very much later times known as ‘The Day of The Lord’. As the first prophecy got fulfilled 40 years later my analysis of the ‘signs’ Jesus spoke about omitted those comparatively early events.
Yet we need to note that both sections of disparate time periods begin with the identical warning! After stating that the disciples sat and asked their questions, Matthew 24:4-6 records Jesus starting His discursive reply with:
“Take heed that no-one deceives you, for many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…”
Those are ‘Signs Nos 3 and 4’ in this blog’s About Signs and, after alluding to the sack of their capital, Jesus begins the variety of signs indicative of End-times’ Tribulation with the very same warning, as given in this post’s opening lines! (‘Signs Nos 9, 10 & 11’)
Moreover, although we could infer Jesus was referring to such claimants from among Jewish people as liberators from the yoke of Roman oppression, as happened before and after His incarnation, it can in fact apply also to other religious beliefs; eg. Islam’s Shiite and Ahmadiyya sects, as mentioned above and earlier posts.
Also, ‘New Agers’ expected the reincarnation of a ‘cosmic master’ to come as a ‘world teacher’ known as the ‘Cosmic Christ’. In my pre-Christian days I was aware of such a claim about a Krishnamurti in 1950s, someone in London’s East End in 1960-70s, and in the early 1980s a whole page advertisement was placed in broadsheet newspapers to say ‘Christ has come’ and showed a photo of an Australian guy.
But Jesus reveals how the whole world will unquestionably know that He, the one and only true Messiah, is here (Matthew 24:27):
“As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”