“Every age has produced impostors and delusions…
“The year 1666 was a year of great expectations, and gave birth to the appearance of one of the most remarkable of the false Christs.
“‘Great multitudes marched from unknown parts to the remote deserts of Arabia, and they were supposed to be the ten tribes of Israel, who had been dispersed for many ages. It was said that a ship was arrived at the north part of Scotland with sails and cordage of silk, that the mariners spoke nothing but Hebrew, and on the sails was the motto: ‘The Twelve Tribes of Israel.’ Then it was that Sabati Levi appeared at Smyrna and professed to be the Messiah.'”
“The Jews gave up their business and attended him. He obtained one Nathan in Jerusalem to pass for his Elias or forerunner. Nathan prophesied for him, and the Jews became very penitent, and reformed under the expectation that the Messiah would appear in two years. ‘Some fasted so long that they died – some endured melting wax to be dropped on their flesh – some rolled in snow – many whipped themselves. Superfluities in dress and household furniture were dispensed with; property was sold in large amounts and contributions were made to the poor. Though he met with opposition, his followers increased, and began in large numbers to prophesy and fall into ecstasies. Four hundred men and women prophesied of his growing kingdom, and young infants who could hardly speak would plainly pronounce “Sabati, Messiah and Son of God.” the people were for a time possessed, and voices were heard from their bowels. Some fell into trances, foamed at the mouth, recounted their future prosperity, their visions of the Lion of Judah, and the triumph of Sabati.’
“‘When he was brought before the magistrates, some affirmed they saw a pillar of fire between him and the Cadi or Magistrate, and others actually swore that they saw it. This the credulous Jews believed… Those who would not believe in him were shunned or excommunicated persons, and all intercourse with them prohibited.
“‘The Grand Seignor determined to try his faith by stripping him naked and setting a mark for his archers; but rather than subject himself to this test, he turned Mahomedan (Muslim – RAV), to the great confusion of the Jews.'”
The account here rendered in an abridged form was printed in 1831, and referred to sources from the 17th century. It seems that things have not changed very much in time since Pentecost where the Christian religion is concerned. The writer was presenting a warning against what was then a new religion or form of Christianity in his own generation: Mormonism. There have been false Christs, false religions and false teachers since the Lord went to the cross, and even today they continue to arise and to flourish. As Phineas T. Barnum said, “There is a sucker born every second and two to take him.”
Jesus said, for our warning and benefit – “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father.”