“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.”
The above passage in Matthew which also shows up in Mark, has always perplexed me because it seems to me that the chronology of events is backwards.
It never made sense to me that “false Christs” would show up publicly declaring themselves to be the Christ before “false Prophets” would be going forth to prepare the way before the false Christs.
The prophet John the Baptist came first, to prepare the way before Christ in the Old World. The prophet Nephi did a great work to prepare the people before Christ came to the New World.
That is the pattern that I would think would be copied by old Scratch.
The very beginning of the first verse speaks of false prophets directing people to a secret place where Christ is.
The next passage in Matthew seems to indicate that the false prophets will have an agenda of wanting to lead the people to a place where they will meet the Christ, which is consistent with the original pattern of prophets preparing the way before the coming of Christ.
“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.”
This passage correctly postulates that the false prophets will be leading people on a quest to find Christ. It is consistent with the prophet first, Christ second, scenario as documented in history. It is the first clue that perhaps the phrase “false Christs and False prophets” means something different than the chronological order in which they appear in public which assertion can be made with a surface interpretation. (At least I have made that interpretation. For all I know, I am the only one that has assumed that!)
Interestingly, the topic of “secret chambers” comes up. Perhaps even referring to the “secret bridal chambers”. A topic I have recently been pondering and speculating about.
After assuring us that the true Christ will not be in the desert or the secret chambers where the false prophets want to lead the people, the Savior declares that the light shines forth at a time when the elect have ALREADY been gathered together and have ALREADY been prepared to meet him.
“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. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
The above statement is completely consistent with Modern Revelation and Lectures on Faith. It is consistent with the true doctrinal scenario of the first laborers of the last kingdom returning to the vineyard to reclaim the land of Zion and to gather, consecrate, and prepare the elect of God to meet the Savior when he comes in secret for the third time, in the third watch. (See LonF, D&C 29, 65, 84, 88 and the parable of the Redemption of Zion in 101)
Yet the previous passage warns us that false prophets will want to lead people somewhere else, in an unsuccessful attempt to meet the true Savior. The scenario being promoted by the false prophet will not conform to the scriptures of the LDS restoration.
One commenter on this blog pointed out that Brigham Young led a people to the “desert” and built temples with special “chambers” (holy of holies) in them where the Saints are led to believe the Savior appears to “prophets” and others that receive special endowments.
That is an intriguing observation and perhaps it is a shadow fulfillment. I don’t think it is a literal fulfillment since Brigham Young did not show forth “great signs and wonders”.
His ministry was rather unremarkable with regard to miracles and besides, he was quite clear about the fact that he had not been visited by Christ.
Several months ago another commenter on this blog made a comment that caused a light bulb to turn on in my head and it has completely changed the way I interpret the first passages quoted in this post.
The implication of the person’s comment, from my perspective, was that first, an otherworldly spiritual being would appear privately to a person.
The spiritual being would claim to be Christ and would commission that person with a message to give the people.
Hence, the “false Christ” from the spiritual realm appears first, in private, to an individual, followed by the deceived person declaring publicly that they have an important message from God.
That is the process by which the person becomes a “false prophet”. It stems from the commission they have literally been given by the false Christ.
That scenario makes perfect sense to me.
I believe that is what the first passage is referring to and that is why it begins speaking of false Christs and then speaks of the false prophets in that order.
This means that the false prophet is not lying about a visitation.
Indeed, they really did have a visitation or multiple visitations from a false Christ.
It would follow that other visitations from other lying spirits disguised as angels of light would also manifest themselves to the false prophet and perhaps to some of his followers.
The sobering declaration that false prophets “shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” is one that we need to remember. The false prophet will be making a declaration, preparing people for something that is about to happen and something pretty amazing will probably indeed happen.
Since the LDS people have been so starved for truly miraculous and prophetic events, many will probably flock to the new movement once the miraculous event takes place.
When someone comes among the LDS people, that is unfamiliar with some of the very basics having to do with the history of the church, the doctrine of the priesthood and the doctrine of the gathering, and they are teaching false doctrine, yet they are claiming that they have a message from the Lord, we need to beware… Particularly if their message contradicts the true pattern that has been given in the scriptures.
Another thing that has dawned on me recently is that when a charismatic person is visited by a false Christ and then begins giving their message, others become seduced by the same false spirit. Some may be visited by the same false Christ. Others are simply influenced by the seducing spirit.
Once seduced by the same spirit, they begin bearing a false witness to others that the false prophet is a true prophet.
When they do this, they are not intentionally telling a lie. They honestly feel like they have received promptings from the Holy Ghost and therefore, they feel like they are inspired to testify that the message of the false prophet is true, even though they don’t even understand what the message is ultimately going to be.
The apparently innocent, yet incorrect testimony that they bear, actually makes them a false prophet as well. That is very possibly why the passage refers to false prophets (plural) yet possibly having to do with the same spiritual movement.
In other words, Christ’s prophecy may not have been referring to lots of individual false prophets with differing messages. It could have been referring to a specific movement with lots of people bearing a false testimony about a false message from God.
The first false prophet begins accumulating passionate followers that begin bearing their testimonies that the message from the primary false prophet is true.
Everyone that begins bearing their testimony that a false prophet is a true prophet, becomes a false prophet also, along with the primary false prophet.
One of the things that has occurred to me is that the primary false prophet and the secondary false prophets are not necessarily people with evil intent, who are intentionally telling lies and desiring to lead people down the wrong path. These could be very good but naive people who desire to do good, but are simply deceived.
Just a few thoughts I have been pondering.