As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and His disciples asked for the signs of His second coming, He gave several pointers and prophecies that will forecast the religious climate of the earth at the time of His return. One of them is:
“For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many … and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” (Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-26)
Indeed, all through history, many people – whether overtly or covertly – have come in the name of God claiming to be the promised Messiah or the returned Jesus Christ. Many of them have established movements, gained followers and even worked signs and wonders to gain credibility.
The list of such self-acclaimed messiahs is almost endless and more will still come. But in this piece, I will give only recent examples – men who have made such claims in the last decade or so.
- Ariffin Mohammed
Born to a Muslim family in 1941, Ariffin alleged that in 1959 during a debilitating illness, he was visited by an angel and also in the 1970s when his spiritual career began.
Popularly called “Ayah Pin” (Ayah, being a common honorific meaning “father”), Ariffin was the founder of Kerajaan Langit (Sky Kingdom) in Malaysia. His movement had a commune based in Besut, Terengganu which was demolished by the Malaysian government in 2005.
Ariffin not only claimed to be Jesus, he also claimed to be a reincarnation of Buddha, Shiva, and Muhammad. He was said to have the powers of invisibility and telepathic killing.
His followers fondly believe that one day, Ayah Pin will return as the Imam Mahdi. Devotees of the Sky Kingdom cult considered Ariffin to have direct contact with the heavens, and that he is in fact, the king of the sky – the supreme object of devotion for all religions.
After surviving a wave of attacks, arrests and fatwa from the Muslim government against his movement, Ariffin fled, and finally resided in Thailand as an exile in 2009. By then, he had about 10,000 followers. In 2016, he died in the home of his third wife (he had 4 wives).
- Wayne Curtis Bent
Bent Waye (a.k.a Michael Travesser) who was born in 1941, was formerly a Seventh Day Adventist pastor but left the religious group with others of like mind in 1987. He claims that during an experience in his living room in June 2000, God told him, “You are the Messiah.”
Bent has since stated, “I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined.” With a group of about 80 adherents who migrated to Sandpoint, Idaho, Bent founded the Lord our Righteousness Church in Union County, New Mexico.
His cult became a target of media investigation in 2004 which Bent further heightened when he announced October 31, 2007 as the beginning of the Day of Judgement.
Bent allegedly told his congregation that “God told him that he was supposed to sleep with seven virgins,” including a member’s own daughters who were 14 and 15 at the time.
Bent freely admits having sexual intercourse multiple times with his son’s wife. Both he and his son state that “God forced Michael [Bent] to commit this act of consummation.”
Bent was eventually arrested by the New Mexico State Police on three counts of sexual contacts with a minor and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After his verdict, Bent was quoted as saying, “Just as with Jesus, they’ve convicted an innocent man… They had to lie to get rid of Jesus, and they will have to do the same to me.”
Now a convicted sex offender, Bent was paroled from prison in 2016 after spending about 8 years behind bars. This self-proclaimed Messiah has since published The Little Book, based on Revelation chapter 10. Believe me, someone is already buying his lies as you read this.
- Sergey Torop
Known by his followers as Vissarion (“He who gives new life”), Sergey founded and leads a group called Church of the Last Testament with its head church in Siberia.
He has around 4,000 followers living in his sacred Mountain settlement and around 10,000 followers worldwide. He also has branches in Bulgaria and Germany.
Sergey claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus which he said was revealed to him when he was 29 (he’s now 57). He claims to be “reborn” as a returned Christ in 1990, thus making him the Word of God.
His religious system combines elements of Russian Orthodox Church with Buddhism, syncretism and earth-centred beliefs, hence his followers are vegetarians.
He has two wives, the second of which had been living with him since she was 7. Sergey also considers Mary the mother of Jesus to be his biological mother and has even modelled his look after the purported picture of Jesus Christ.
The YouTube documentaries of this “Siberian Jesus” show that he predicted the coming of a great flood and spiritual protection for all his followers, many of who abandon their homes to build settlements near the holy mountain where the great Messiah lives. They all use a modified calendar set by his arrival on earth.
- David Shayler
Shayler, a former British M15 whistle blower, became a part of the 9/11 Truth Movement which maintains as its primary tenet the belief that the attack of September 11, 2001 was largely fraudulent.
In 2007, Shayler made waves in a British magazine, Daily Mail, when he brazenly declared: “I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life.” He also declared himself to be a reincarnation of various historical figures and has pledged his commitment to destroy the “Zionist empire.”
He claimed that God came to him one day and declared him as Jesus:
“Ten years ago when God came to me I realized that I was Jesus Christ. Most of the people think you are insane when you say that, but I would say the opposite is in the Bible,” he said in an interview.
What makes Shayler’s claim to divinity rather remarkable was his admission that he lives part of his life as a woman who squats in a 17th century farmhouse in Surrey; in plain terms, he’s a transvestite.
Someone please page Dr. Fix This.
- Inri Cristo
Brazilian educator and former waiter, Alvaro Theiss, was born in 1948 and has admitted to hearing a “powerful voice” in his head since childhood. Obedient to this voice, Theiss left home at 13 and eventually became an atheist, severing all ties with his Roman Catholic background until he allegedly received a revelation of his new identity.
At the age of 21, he began his public life as a self-professed prophet and astrologer, introducing himself as “Iuri de Nostradamus.” In 1979, while observing a fast in Chile, he claims a raspy voice said, “I am your Father” revealing to him that he was the same Christ crucified 2,000 years ago.
The voice also told him that the second letter of his name (“u” in “Iuri”) would now be turned upside down making his name Inri. But wasn’t it easy to deduce that this man simply took the initials INRI inscribed on the cross of Jesus Christ?
Since then, Inri dresses in white tunic and sandals, announcing that his mission will usher in an era of the New Age. The 69 year old “celibate” guru with his dozen disciples lives in a small compound behind an electrified fence. His devoted female disciples, who live with him, push him around on a fringed red satin platform on wheels.
Inri has toured about 27 countries to spread his message but he has been banned from three countries: the U.S., Venezuela and UK, though he has been welcomed by France. He has also been arrested by police more than 40 times.
- The “Jesus” of Kitwe
In 2013 a former taxi driver, Bupete Chibwe Chishimba, a resident of Mindolo Township in the Zambian copper mining city of Kitwe began to make his own proclamations:
“I am Jesus Christ from the heavens who has come to save you from this world and I would put an end to the Political Government of this world and I will start ruling no one can stop me because I posses the divine power,” he said.
Chishimba claimed he fell off from heaven in 1999 with the sole purpose of initiating judgment for mankind and ending earthly political rule. His preaching has been known to attract many street traders as well as irate youths who assault him for his gross blasphemies.
Chishimba has however denounced church leaders and urged them to stop deceiving people by saying Jesus is coming when he was already there, because he came from the heavenly Kingdom. These days, the 43-year-old goes by the names of Parent Rock of the World, Mr. Faithful and Mr. Word of God.
He drives a taxi inscribed with the words “Lord of Lords” and walks around the local marketplace dressed in a robe, spreading the message of the returned Christ.
- José Luis de Jesus Miranda
Born in Puerto Rico, José became addicted to heroin at 14 and asserted that he was delivered by the power of God and later joined a Baptist church.
In 1973, José claimed he had a vision on which he was visited by a pair of angels as he later told ABC News:
“The same spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth, and the same spirit is in me. He came to me. He [integrated] with my person.”
From there, he began to preach his own peculiar doctrines and later assembled a number of followers forming the Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace) church in Miami, Florida, in 1988. A decade later, José declared himself to be the reincarnation of Apostle Paul.
Perhaps not been satisfied with his own flights of fancies, in 2005, he announced himself to be the Man Jesus Christ, who has returned for the second time. “Anyone who doesn’t believe in me, is miserable,” he declared, to his audience’s applause.
In 2006, he openly claimed to be the Antichrist which he defined as one “no longer following Jesus of Nazareth as he lived in the days of his flesh.”
His followers showed their support by getting 666 tattoos on their bodies; some of them displayed these tattoos on YouTube.
José, known to be a charismatic preacher, taught his followers that 666 is not a sign of the devil, but of wisdom, implying “put your faith in the Jesus after the cross … and that’s me.”
In 2008 he was estimated to have two million followers in 30 countries, no thanks to his motivational-style preaching on radio and TV.
Miranda finally died from liver cirrhosis, a condition that is at odds with his expected immortality. After his death, his followers crowned him as Melchizedek – the king of justice and of peace. His cult later divided into 4 factions, each with different doctrinal positions and agenda.
Men may rise to make bogus claims about themselves, but death usually comes around and deals them its blow and all their boasts end right there.
- Omowole Isaac Omogoroye
Mr. Omogoroye, a Nigerian, and a one-time Student Union President at the University of Lagos during an interview with Sahara TV made this rather astonishing disclosure in 2017:
“Today, I’m appearing to the whole world as the one and only Son of God expected back to life and I come in the new name of God as documented in the only living book, the Bible … What I’m trying to say is that I’m the awaited Jesus Christ. My mission here is to let the world know that Jesus Christ is back.
“No man born of a woman will come from the sky down. It was only a parable in the bible. I’m here to decode that parable in Revelations. I am the Jesus Christ the Bible is talking about.”
In the video which lasted 15 minutes and 32 seconds, Omogoroye further disclosed that he has been appearing in different countries of the world as the awaited Son of God expected to redeem the world, and has also been given the divine mandate to occupy Aso Rock, the seat of the nation’s power come 2019.
He added that as soon as he becomes the President of Nigeria, the government will change its name to the New Jerusalem of the Bible. We will be waiting, with baited breath.
- Apollo Quiboloy
Said to be born on a “prayer mountain” in Davao City, Philippines in 1950, Apollo Carreón Quiboloy was a member of the United Pentecostal Church till he founded the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church – the Name Above Every Name in 1985.
He also claims to be the Appointed Son of God which stirred much criticism. His followers refer to their community as a ‘Kingdom nation’ and it has been estimated that there are about 4 million “kingdom citizens” in the Philippines and about 2 million followers abroad.
Quiboloy oversees the operation of several radio stations, newspapers and a sprawling 8-hectare compound in Davao City where piped central music is played all over the place 24 hours a day. Who says the brainwashed too don’t need some music to luxuriate in the message?
They also hold Bible study sessions and prayers and their cult leader has been known to wield much political and religious power over many in that country.
In 2018, Quiboloy was investigated for human trafficking in Hawaii after the authorities found $350,000 in undeclared cash and rifle parts inside the aircraft belonging to the sect’s leader. He was later freed to fly again, no thanks to his wealth and influence.
- Moses Hlongwane
The South African “Lord of lords”, Moses Hlongwane, says that God identified him as the Messiah during a dream in 1992. At the time Moses was working as a jewelry salesman. Since then, he’s preached in Eshowe, Johannesburg, and other cities in the region.
He claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus and is known to wear a baseball cap embellished with yellow satin. He surrounds himself with dozens of disciples, many of whom have abandoned their families and whose welfare payments fund his Jesus compound in KwaZulu-Natal town.
Hlongwane said he, like Jesus, spent years in the wilderness and has been resurrected as the Son of God. “I was in this room from 1992 and have spent 22 years in a fight with the devil and have overcome him,” said Hlongwane.
“As I speak to you I will never see death and I am now getting ready for the opening of the graves and healing of blind and lame,” he said during an interview with eNCA.
Notice a consistent cultic pattern in all these figures:
- A claim of supernatural revelation or visitation
- A codification of unorthodox beliefs or heretical doctrines
- Claims of self-divinity
- Authoritarian control over followers
- Isolating followers from the rest of the “ungodly” society.
- A searing of conscience and justification of crimes under the pretext of “We are God’s special people.”
Were these men insane loons infected with a messianic complex? Perhaps. But one thing is certain, they are all under the control of the spirit of Antichrist and their multiplicity is proof of the time we are in.