“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.” – Matthew 24:23-25
I was sent a video yesterday of a strange occurrence happening in the skies over Jerusalem. Whether the imagery and the sounds were real or fabricated (People can do just about anything with video these days.), it was indeed intriguing. I also found it a bit eerie. The person who sent it to me declared with great excitement that prophecy was being fulfilled! I had to wonder, Which prophecy? When I asked, he responded, “Jesus does what Jesus wants. It is the signs and wonders!”
I had to wonder, a sign of what? Usually when Jesus does something, it means something. The lack of a specific message in this weird phenomenon made me hesitant to jump on the signs-and-wonders bandwagon.
Because of the way things are going these days, I have been revisiting the Scriptures regarding the Last Days – the final days before Jesus’ return to earth – and it does seem possible we could be heading toward the end. But as believers we need to exercise caution. I don’t recall a prediction of this recent sign specifically, although the vague prophecy of “wonders in the heavens and on the earth” (Joel 2:30, quoted by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:19) might include this one.
Nevertheless, Jesus warned His followers multiple times to be cautious in the last days, because there would be many false prophets and false messiahs, performing false miracles. Just because something appears to be supernatural doesn’t mean it is. And even if it is, we can’t assume it’s from God, especially when Jesus told us to watch out for them.
The apostle John admonished us, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1) Revelation 13, reminiscent of the prophet Daniel and his dreams, foretells the rise of a “beast” that will be given power by a “dragon.” This beast will appear to suffer a fatal head wound and be healed. Because of this “miracle,” according to John’s revelation, men will be seduced into worshiping both the beast and the dragon.
All these warnings are disturbing, especially considering the kinds of things happening today. One thing that gives me comfort is the phrase, “if that were possible,” implying that the Lord will not let His children be deceived. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. Are we availing ourselves of that promise? When we read about the latest “miracle,” the latest sign, conspiracy theory, or the latest teaching at a well-known church or organization, are we testing the spirits? Are we like the ancient Bereans, who when they heard the gospel searched the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul was teaching them was true? Their healthy skepticism was not criticized, but rather it was written that “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians.” (Acts 17:11)
I am not saying we should stick our heads in the sand and disregard the news of the day – “if that were possible.” I am saying that as always, and now more than ever, our main source of truth should be in the Scriptures, and we should prayerfully read them every day. What is being taught today will be either confirmed or denied based on the Word of God.
This post is a bit shorter than usual. I am headed for my 50-year class reunion, 51 years after graduating. (Last year’s reunion got postponed.) By the time this is posted, I will be in St. Louis with former classmates, some of which I haven’t seen in 51 years. It will be a time to get reacquainted and “catch up” with one another’s lives. And if you have read me for any length of time, you know what I’ll be sharing. 😉 I hope to have some good stories to tell when I get back.
Meanwhile, here’s a post about my page in the new yearbook, one of the features of this year’s reunion:
Prayer: Lord, as we wait longingly for Your return, help us not to be led astray by the enemy’s various attacks and deceptions. Help us hide Your Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and stay clear-minded and self-controlled so we can pray. (I Peter 4:7) In Jesus’ name, Amen.