A few months back my wife, daughter and I had a chance to visit New York City and Times Square is impressive and the people friendly. But I was puzzled recently because there are actually two groups claiming that the Jewish Messiah will come from New York City.
New York City is special, but not that special.
Of course, New York is among the most famous cities of the world, but when we look at the Bible, Malachi prophesied that Bethlehem was chosen as the birthplace for the Messiah, because it wasn’t special:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2 ESV)
Bethlehem was also the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:1-3), who foreshadowed the coming of Christ.
So, who are claiming that the Jewish Messiah will come from New York City?
The first involves a religious group in Communist China called the Church of Almighty God (CAG). A woman was recently arrested by Communist authorities for being a member of this group. The group is considered a cult by Chinese authorities, but her arrest is simply part of Communist China’s oppression of religions in the country.
The name of the group translates as “Eastern Lightening?” Though claiming to be Christian, it started in the 1980s and according to an article in the Daily Beast, the group believes that Jesus has already returned to earth. He has been born again and is living as a “mysterious woman” in New York City.
But this is not the only group claiming that the Jewish Messiah is from New York City.
Though the Jews rejected Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, Orthodox Jews still believe in a Jewish Messiah who God will send to earth and establish the Kingdom of God.
In fact, Christians and Jews cite many of the same prophetic verses from the Old Testament when talking about the Jewish Messiah, but Christians believe they refer to Jesus’s first and second coming.
A while back a friend sent me a photo of a billboard that he saw while visiting New York City a few years earlier. It was a photo of a Brooklyn Rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994.
Though Schneerson’s name is not mentioned, the message is clear as the word “MOSHIACH”, boldly printed beside the Rabbi’s photo, is the word “Messiah” in English. This group of Orthodox Jews believes that Schneerson, who is arguably one of the most famous rabbis of the 20st century, is in fact the Jewish Messiah.
And in the billboard we are told that Schneerson will be soon coming back as in the bottom right-hand corner of the billboard, they encourage people to “Greet Moshiach (the Messiah) with acts of Goodness and Kindness!”
Of course, many Orthodox Jews do not believe Schneerson is the Jewish Messiah. But according to Jewish researcher, Rachel Elisor, similar to CAG, the belief that Schneerson is Messiah emerged in the 1980s as his supporters were calling Schneerson the Messiah before he died. However, it was a claim Schneerson soundly rejected.
Prior to His second return, Jesus warned that there will be many people claiming that certain individuals are the Messiah:
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. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:23-26 NIV
Jesus then added when He returns a second time, the whole world will know. If you have to be told that a person is the second coming of Christ, then you can be certain on one thing, this person is not Jesus.