Before Christ returns, the world will face a deadly, seductive spiritual counterfeit: the False Christ. This servant of the devil will not come as an atheist or as an enemy of Christ; he is a particular man who will claim to be Christ (and God). The False Christ will work evil miracles, and will demand worship. Most of mankind will follow him, to spiritual doom. Unless his reign were cut short (which, by the mercy of God, it will be), none â€“ even God's elect â€“ could survive.
1. The prophet Daniel warned against the ultimate sacrilege in the Temple, the "abomination of desolation." Jesus referred to this same prophecy in his own teaching about the end of the age.
Daniel 9:27: And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week: and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fall: and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation: and the desolation shall continue even to the consummation, and to the end.
Daniel 11:31-32: And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall defile the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the continual sacrifice, and they shall place there the abomination unto desolation. And such as deal wickedly against the covenant shall deceitfully dissemble: but the people that know their God shall prevail and succeed.
Daniel 12:9-13: And he said: "Go, Daniel, because the words are shut up, and sealed until the appointed time. Many shall be chosen, and made white, and shall be tried as fire: and the wicked shall deal wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the learned shall understand. And from the time when the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred ninety days, Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh unto a thousand three hundred thirty-five days. But go thou thy ways until the time appointed: and thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot unto the end of the days."
2. During Christ's ministry, the religious authorities persecuted Him for healing an invalid on the Sabbath. Jesus rebuked them, saying that they would reject Him, and receive an imposter who would come in his own name:
John 5:42-43: "But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive."
3. Several days before the Passion, Jesus taught the disciples about the coming fall of Jerusalem and its Temple (which occurred a generation later, in 70 AD) and about the events leading to the end of the age.
Jesus said that there would be many false Christs and false prophets:
Matthew 24:4-5: And Jesus answering, said to them: "Take heed that no man seduce you: For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many."
Matthew 24:11: "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many."
Mark 13:5-6: And Jesus answering, began to say to them, "Take heed lest any man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and they shall deceive many."
Luke 21:7-8: And they asked him, saying: "Master, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when they shall begin to come to pass?" Who said: "Take heed you be not seduced; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he; and the time is at hand: go ye not therefore after them."
The false prophets and pseudo-Christs would work deceptive miracles, and would send out false evangelists:
Matthew 24:22-26: "And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not."
Mark 13: 20-23: "And unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect which he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; lo, he is here: do not believe. For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets, and they shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce (if it were possible) even the elect. Take you heed therefore; behold I have foretold you all things."
Previously, as Jesus and the disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, Jesus had said:
Luke 17: 22-23: "And he said to his disciples: The days will come, when you shall desire to see one day of the Son of man; and you shall not see it. And they will say to you: See here, and see there. Go ye not after, nor follow them."
Jesus then warned of a coming "abomination of desolation," the ultimate desecration of the Holy Place. This warning referred in part to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Rome in 70 AD, and in part to the final desecration of the Church at the end of the age:
Matthew 24:15-16: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains."
Mark 13:14: "And when you shall see the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not: he that readeth let him understand: then let them that are in Judea, flee unto the mountains."
4. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul gave the clearest warning about the deeds of the False Christ, the Man of Sin â€“ and prophesied his doom at the hands of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-11: Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, Who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.
5. Satan and his servants â€“ including the False Christ and his followers â€“ will present themselves as righteous. They are wolves in sheep's clothing, as Jesus and as St. Paul warned:
Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
2 Corinthians 11: 13-15: "For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice, whose end shall be according to their works."
(1) Source documents: The M+G+R Foundation, "Old Testament Prophecies Identify Jesus as THE ONE and ONLY Messiah," http://www.mgrfoundation.org/ChristTheMessiah.html, April 24, 2007, and The M+G+R Foundation, "Biblical Prophecies on the Return of Christ," http://www.mgrfoundation.org/ReturnOfChrist.html, May 21, 2009. The verses listed here are quoted from the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, available on line at http://www.drbo.org/index.htm.