Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mathew Chapter 24 and Simeo Melkio Ondeto

Since I was a little boy, I have read the Bible many times. There is not a verse of the Bible I have not read. And each time I read the Bible, I pray to God to send his Holy Spirit to help me understand his word clearly.  Today, I comment on Mathew 24, a chapter of the book of Mathew that has been used constantly to deny that Simeo Melkio is the Messiah.

The Question of Context

I have met several pastors, some greatly schooled in theology, and I have been shocked at the way they tend to ignore the context of most writings in the Bible. I do not understand how someone can claim his interpretation of the Bible is guided by the Holy Spirit yet he routinely reads verses and uses them out of context. By context, we mean the circumstances, situation or background of a text, chapter or verse of scripture. Every parable or pronouncement of Jesus was made within a context. He never spoke in a vacuum. A verse read in isolation and without details on the circumstances around which the statement quoted was pronounced can mean so many things to different men.  In fact, reading verses out of context distorts the truth of the word of God.

What is the Context of Mathew 24?

Mathew 24 is a continuation of what Jesus was teaching in Mathew 23. If you look at Mathew 23, you will find the teachings of Jesus on the pretensions of the scribes and Pharisees and the calamities that shall befall them. Towards the end of Mathew 23, from verses 35-39, Jesus pronounces judgment on the scribes and Pharisees and on Jerusalem. He talks of how these people kill prophets sent to them by God and reminds them of the blood of Abel and of Zachariah.

In Mathew 23:36, he pronounces great calamities upon the generation he was talking to, not another generation. And in Mathew 23:37-39, Jesus makes a prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem because she has stoned and killed servants of God. At the beginning of Mathew 24, the disciples of Jesus show him the beauty of the Temple of Jerusalem. But Jesus continues the prophecy he had pronounced towards the end of Mathew 23, indicating to the disciples that the temple would be destroyed and no stone would remain on top of another. Shocked by this prophecy, the disciples of Jesus went to him again to find out when these things (the destruction of Jerusalem) would come to pass, the signs of his coming and of the end of the age. The rest of chapter 24 is based on this question, which is first a focus on when Jerusalem would be destroyed and then when the Son of Man would return and the end of the age.

Prophetic Language of Mathew 24

When many people read the prophetic language of Mathew 24 such as the “sun will be darkened, the moon turned to blood and the coming on the clouds of heaven” they incorrectly associate the phrases and images used ONLY with the second coming of Christ. In fact, they even take the statements literally and throw the entire chapter out of context. But if we look back to the context and the audience of Jesus when he made those predictions, we find out clearly that he covered a broad topic, from destruction of Jerusalem all the way to his return. Jesus used Mathew 24 to make a bold prediction about Jerusalem and her destruction (FIRST) before engaging on the matter of "signs" of his second coming.

Indeed, the language that Jesus has used in this chapter is similar to the language used in the Old Testament prophecies about the overthrow and destruction of a single nation at a specific time. And the audience he was speaking to clearly understood what he was saying because they were familiar with such language as it had been used to predict the destruction of other nations even before they were born.

Previous Prophecies on Destruction of Nations

To make myself clear, let me take you through previous prophecies in the Old Testament.  Look closely through these verses and observe the similarity in language with Mathew 24. Let’s start:

(a)    Destruction of Babylon

The prophecy is found in Isaiah 13:1, 6-13. The prophet made the prophecy in 730 BC. And as you can see the language from the verses, you can note that he has used statements such as:

Ø The day of the Lord is near
Ø Stars of heaven and constellations will not flash out their light
Ø The sun will be dark when it rises, the moon will not shed light, earth will tremble and heaven will shake
Ø Hands shall fall limb and man’s heart shall melt in terror
Now, you can see that these statements are almost similar to the ones used in Mathew 24. Yet, when Babylon was destroyed in 539 BC, these things did not actually occur. However, Babylon was destroyed just as Isaiah had predicted.

(b)    Destruction of Egypt

The prophecy is found in Isaiah 19:1 and was made in 730 BC. When you read it, you find the language containing phrases like:
Ø The Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt
Ø The idols of Egypt will tremble in the presence of the Lord
The prophecy was fulfilled in 480BC and the Lord judged Egypt. However, the Lord did not go to Egypt riding on a literal cloud.

(c)    Destruction of Edom

The prophecy is found in Isaiah 34:4-5, was made in 730BC and contains phrases such as:
Ø All stars (hosts of heaven) will wear away
Ø The sky will be rolled up like a scroll and all their hosts will wither
When Edom was judged just before 400BC nothing changed on the sky, yet the prophecy was fulfilled.

(d)    Judgment of Egypt

In 590BC, Prophet Ezekiel pronounced the destruction of Egypt in Ezekiel 30:3-4 and 32:7-8; he used phrases such as:
Ø The day of the lord is near
Ø It will be a day of clouds
Ø Egypt will be extinguished
Ø Heavens will be darkened, sun covered with clouds, moon not giving light, stars darkened
Ø Darkness on the land and the shining lights of heaven will be dark
When this prophecy was fulfilled in 480BC, there was no darkness on the land and Egypt was not extinguished literally.

(e)    Destruction of Israel

In 755BC, Amos predicted the doom upon Israel in Amos 5:18-20 and 8:9. He used phrases such as:
Ø The day of the lord
Ø Sun shall go down at noon
Ø Earth shall be dark in broad daylight
Ø There will be darkness and no light, gloom without brightness
The prophecy was fulfilled in 722BC without literal darkness and without having the sun going down at noon.

(f)     Destruction of Jerusalem

In 630BC, Zephaniah predicted destruction of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 1:7, 14-16). The same event was predicted by Jeremiah from 626-586BC (Jeremiah 4:14-16, 19, 23-28; 6:1, 22). In their predictions, the prophets used a language with these phrases:
Ø The great day of the Lord is near; near and coming very quickly
Ø It will be a day of trumpet and battle cry
Ø There will be sound of trumpet and alarm of war
Ø There will be no light, the heavens shall be dark
Ø It will be a day of trouble, wrath, distress, desolation, destruction, darkness, gloom, clouds and thick darkness
The prophecy was fulfilled in 586BC, but without literal clouds, darkness or trumpets.

(g)    Judgement of Egypt

In Jeremiah 46:2-12, we find a prediction on the coming judgment of Egypt. The prophet calls the coming day as the day of the Lord. The prophecy was fulfilled in 605BC

(h)    Judgement of Nineveh

Nahum predicted the judgement of Nineveh by stating that “the mountains shall quake”, “the hills melt”, “the earth burned”, and the “world and all in it destroyed”. The prophecy was fulfilled in 612BC without literal burning of the earth, melting of hills and quaking of mountains.

Destruction of Jerusalem

After looking at the Old Testament language on the destruction of a nation, let us look at the New Testament predictions on destruction of Jerusalem.
Ø Mathew 24:29-30: The phrases include sign of the son of man coming in the clouds, sun darkened, moon turned black, stars falling from the sky, roaring of the sea and waves, heaven shaken, and men fainting from fear
Ø Mathew 26:64: Phrases used are: Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming upon the clouds of heaven
Ø 2 Peter 3:10-13: Phrases used include: Day of the lord will come, heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and works will be burnt up
Ø Revelation 1:7: The phrase is: Christ is coming with clouds
Ø Acts 1:9-11: Christ will return the same way he the clouds

The phrases listed above are similar to those in the Old Testament and clearly point to the judgment of Israel as a nation. This prophecy about destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in 70AD. According to Josephus, the Roman army killed people, plundered property, demolished the entire city and destroyed the temple upon the orders of Caesar. This way, the day of the lord came to pass and Jerusalem was destroyed as predicted by Jesus and proclaimed by Peter and others.

Second Coming is a Spiritual Event

It must also be noted that prophetic pronouncements often contain phrases that are not fulfilled literally. Like a dream or vision, a prophecy contains images that aren’t fulfilled literally. An interpretation must be given to the images for them to make literal sense. In fact, even the images frequently associated with the second coming of Jesus are not literal but prophetic images.  Those who are expecting graves to break open and people to come out of them are just an example of individuals confusing a prophetic imagery with a literal occurrence. Similarly, those expecting Christ to come upon the clouds of heaven are misinterpreting a prophetic phrase as a literal phrase. Indeed, just like the first coming of Christ, the second coming is a spiritual event described in the bible using prophetic terms which should not be considered purely literal.

Simeo Ondeto’s Mission in Light of Mathew 24

Many times, I have met pastors who claim that Ondeto is a false Messiah. The pastors quickly quote Mathew 24:5 to support their argument and assert that Jesus warned against such false Messiahs. However, a quick glance at Mathew 24:5 revolts against what these pastors preach about Ondeto. In this verse, Jesus has just been asked when the destruction of Jerusalem would occur. And he first warns his listeners about false Messiahs and prophets before he proceeds to declare the time. In fact, he states that these false Messiahs are to appear way too early before the time of Jerusalem’s destruction (verse 6). Now, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD and Ondeto’s mission started in 1962AD, meaning the prophecy was not about him.

But why must Jesus warn his disciples about those claiming to be Messiah?
(a)     The Jews expected a political leader who would lead them into war and defeat their enemies. But Jesus knew this would not work and any uprisings would fail. Hence, he warns them against following such leaders (Messiahs).
(b)     The coming destruction of Jerusalem is due to God’s judgment for their failure to heed the warnings of true prophets of the past. It is ordained by God and any man claiming he can help Jerusalem to escape the judgment of God must not be believed.

Well, between the period Jesus spoke these words (around 33AD) and the time Jerusalem was destroyed (70AD), many Messiahs and prophets arose and claimed to be capable of saving the Jews from the grip of Rome. They were believed and followed by many, but they failed just as Jesus had predicted. Equally, the period between 30AD-70AD was a time of Messianic rumours. People sought for the Messiah here and there.  There was war and there were rumours of war. Children betrayed their parents and great divisions arose. In the end, the day of the lord came and Jerusalem was destroyed as predicted in Mathew 24.

Moreover, the prophecy in Mathew 24 is specific just as every prophecy must be specific. A huge portion of it was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed. In fact, the Day of the Lord came when some of those that Jesus had spoken to were still alive. And once a prophecy is fulfilled, it can’t be fulfilled a second time against another generation, nation or person. Those using this prophecy against Simeo Ondeto are simply quoting scripture out of context.

To conclude my commentary, I want to respond to three statements made against Ondeto.

(a)     A pastor called pastor Odhiambo recently said: “Ondeto being a messiah is heretical. For Jesus to be a saviour of the world, he had to die on the cross. How did Ondeto die? He was poisoned; so he is not Messiah.


Dear Pastor Odhiambo,
Those who crucified Jesus did not blame him for claiming he could save the world. The accusations against Jesus are straightforward: he claimed he could destroy the temple and build it in three days (Mathew 26: 61), blasphemy (Mathew 26:65); claimed to be Christ (Mathew 26:66); and he claimed to be king of Jews (Mathew 27:11). These are the main accusations made against him. And while the accusations were lies against an innocent person, opponents of Christianity can still raise these points just as you are raising an irrelevant point against Ondeto. And for sure, the Gospels record the events leading to Jesus death without claiming he was accused of intending or working to save the world.

 Pastor, if you can put the circumstances leading to Jesus death in context without giving them interpretation according to your beliefs or Christian theology, you will end up with the same problems you are seeking to press on the mission of Simeo Ondeto. For example, on Jesus’ cross was an inscription mocking him as king of the Jews and not saviour of the world. This was a concise summary of why he was crucified which is quite contrary to the saviour of world narrative you are preaching.

Nevertheless, I understand what you mean. The accusers of Jesus did not understand his mission and thought his claims to be Messiah were heretical. He was proclaiming a spiritual kingdom in which people enter after their sins are forgiven, yet his accusers expected a worldly king of the Jews who would deliver them from Roman rule. Today we believe Jesus is our saviour because we have understood his mission in spiritual terms.

Therefore, you need to put Ondeto’s claims in context and then to seek the spiritual explanations given for the way he came. For instance, while we believe we are forgiven our sins through Jesus’ death on the cross, Ondeto offers glory to those who obey God, which is a completely different thing that  puts no significance on his death. It is only people like you who want to put any significance on Ondeto’s death to try and pin down a glorification mission onto a salvation mission in order to score cheap points. He was poisoned yes, but his death was not part of his mission. It was just the end of his mission, not the means of helping men to realize the fruits of his mission.

To answer you more precisely, pastor Odhiambo, I implore you to seek to understand the gist of Ondeto’s mission. He spoke of and taught about a spiritual Kingdom of God, not a worldly theocracy. He came so you can enter into the glorious presence of God. As Jesus he came to save from sin, but as Simeo he has come to harvest, to reward and to admit us into the presence of God where we are supposed to be forever. 

 Ondeto died after he had completed his mission while death was part of the mission of Jesus. Ondeto came to glorify men, something achieved without dying for those to be glorified. On the contrary, Jesus could only be a saviour by losing his life. Saving requires sacrifice, glory doesn’t. This is why the death of Jesus is crucial to Christianity while how Ondeto died is not crucial to Legio Maria faithful.

Thank you for your question. May God lead you into his glory.

(b)     A pastor called Jackson Reid wrote to us saying: “Please friends, note that Christ’s second coming will not be to live with us, but to take his church. He will come like a thief. You legions must be using another bible, not the holy one.


Dear Pastor Reid,

We appreciate your zeal in the Lord and your almost certain knowledge of how the second coming occurs. Thanks for your question.

Pastor, we agree that the second coming means we are taken into the presence of God to be in a glorified state.  But our Lord is omnipresent. He can be on earth and in heaven at the same time. He can dwell in me and in you at the same time. He can also live with you and with me at the same time. When the day of the lord came and he was revealed at John Baru’s home, this is exactly what happened. He was seen in his glory in heaven and was at the same time seated on a rock in John Baru’s home. He was with the glorified saints in heaven and was also with men on earth.

Brother Reid, we don’t read a different bible. However, the Holy Spirit came mightily upon us and revealed the omnipresent Lord in our midst. The sight of the heavenly throne of God and of saints and angels singing glorious songs made our brethren to fall down in worship. After this, they realized that the second coming was not a one-day event for the lord was on earth for many years yet receiving holy ones into the mansions of heaven at the same time.

Finally pastor, you may not believe us because you think you know the scriptures. But according to Jesus, we should know “both the scriptures and the power of God”. So what I am telling you is a matter of the power of God in revealing his glory made flesh.

Thank you very much. May you live to experience that same power of God.

(c)     Pastor Odhiambo asked another question: “If Jesus gave us authority to take deadly poison and not die (Mark 16:17), how comes he himself subjected to the power of poison? Again, Jesus could discern the mind of his disciples, so how could he fail to detect poison?”


Pastor Odhiambo, praise the Lord.

Jesus had power over death, but he died on the cross. Jesus could have prevented his arrest, but he was arrested. Jesus could have come down from the cross but he did not? Why do you speak like the thief who was crucified with Jesus and still found it sensible to ridicule him?

Ondeto was poisoned 3 times before he died. In all those occasions, he knew the source of poison and the intention of those who poisoned him. He openly said his time was up years before his poisoning. It is not like he wanted to continue living on earth and his life was cut short by the poison. On the contrary, it was that it was time for him to depart and poison was just the means to that end.

Thanks for your question. I pray that you know the glory of God while you still live.