Imagine walking with Jesus Christ and being able to converse with him about the end. When the disciples asked the Lord about his return, what was his first sign? Jesus gave an important sign that is before the Apostle John's visions in Revelation. This first sign concerns future leaders who would appear and take his place (Mt. 24:4, Lk. 21:8).
When Christians study the writings of other apocalyptic groups, this point emerges. One simple lady once said that she did not join an apocalyptic group when she heard the members continually praise and exalt the role of their prophet. In practice, they emphasized their leader more, not the Lord Jesus.
While reading Manhee Lee's book, I thought about this point too. Does the revelation to Mr. Lee put Mr. Lee on a level that takes the Son of Man's place? To find answers to this question, we need to analyze the specific signs Jesus reveals about final leaders in the Olivet discourse (Mt. 24, Mk. 13, Lk. 21).
1. ¨For many will come in my name¨ (Mt. 24:4). The Lord says that a leader will come in his name (i.e. claim to be his authority and representative on earth). In Shinchonji, Manhee Lee claims to come in Jesus' name. ¨The next advocate, the holy spirit of the advocate who comes from heaven at the second coming, comes in Jesus' name¨(Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 437).
2. ¨Many will come in my name, saying I am he,¨ (Mk. 13:5). Jesus says that the leader will announce to everyone that he is the one everyone was waiting for in the end. He is linked to the Messiah's presence. In the same way, Manhee Lee teaches that he is the body/flesh that people see when Jesus' spirit returns to earth.
¨Jesus promised that when the gospel of heaven is spread to the ends of the earth, he will return in spirit to unite with his promised pastor¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 143). Manhee Lee states that he is "the flesh" through whom Jesus appears in Rev. 19. ¨John sees heaven open and someone called 'Faithful and True' riding a white horse leading the armies of God (Rev. 19:11)...The spirit chooses one flesh as its horse and works through that person. At the second coming, Jesus chooses the one who overcomes (Rev. 3:12) as his horse and works through him (Rev. 6:2)¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, pp. 246,247).
3. ¨I am he and the time is at hand,¨ (Lk. 21:8). Jesus says that a leader not only proclaims to be the savior-Messiah's presence, but he announces the coming of the end of the age. In Manhee Lee's book, he writes that he is witnessing the end of the age and that the time is at hand. ¨...the prophecies in the New Testament exist to testify about the promised pastor who acts as a savior¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 177). ¨Today the time that was appointed for Revelation's fulfillment has finally come¨ (p. 564).
4. ¨...they will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect.¨ The Lord teaches that final leaders will perform signs to convince people, almost convincing the elect (Mt. 24:24). A sign is necessary to give the leader credibility and convince many. Manhee Lee states that mastery of the Bible's prophecies is a spiritual sign that he is the chosen pastor (i.e. explanations of Revelation).
5. ¨At that time if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ...There he is, out in the desert, do not go out... or here he is in the inner rooms, do not believe it.¨ Jesus states that some will announce how the Lord returns. They will point to a hidden or secret return (Mt. 24:26,27, Lk. 13:21). In Shinchonji's article on Rev. 1:7, Shinchonji teaches that Jesus comes back in an invisible way and the final pastor is the one everyone sees.
When thinking about these signs from the Lord Jesus, we see that he expects us to wait for him, not a leader who comes in his name or embodies a spirit return of Christ. When leaders of apocalyptic movements appear, they say they come as servants of the Lord but end up ruling, judging, and saving the Christian world in place of the Lord. In Manhee Lee's book, the emphasis is noticeably on Mr. Lee and his final role.