Don’t Share That! Messianic Misinformation in the Age of YouTube

This post first appeared on Kineti and is authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.

Podcast cover art for the episode

Friends, have you heard things like this on social media?

  • “Israel is going on COVID lockdown because the Rabbis are meeting with the Messiah”
  • “God or NASA? Who’s lying about the shape of the earth?”
  • “100% proof coronavirus outbreak is staged and faked to round up believers”
  • “Joe Biden’s name in Hebrew means ‘Alas, judgment’”
  • “The coronavirus vaccine is the Mark of the Beast”
  • “CERN, the physics experimental lab for particle collision, is
    opening demonic portals to hell”
  • “NASA scientist admits to Biblical model of flat, non-rotating earth”
  • “WARNING!! Kamala Harris may be the biblical Whore of Babylon”
  • “Thus saith the LORD: Biden is not President, never will be, and Trump will be sworn into office in June”
  • “February 11th, 2021 will witness a sign in the heavens: the sign of the coming of the son of man”
  • “The 32 teams of the NFL + SuperBaal champion correlate to the 33rd degree of freemasons”
  • “During Biden’s inauguration, a scroll named Justice was opened in Heaven. It spoke to me, ‘Massive voter fraud will soon be exposed!’”

All of the above are real quotes from the Facebook pages of my Messianic friends.

And all of it is hot garbage.

Messianic apologist J.K. McKee and I discuss this on our new podcast episode:

Who cares?

Some people shrug, “Ah, who cares, there are always a few nuts.”

No friends, it’s worse than that. A majority of folks in Hebrew Roots believe this nonsense. I suspect even a majority within the broader Messianic movement.

Does it matter?

If we are God’s people, then yes, it matters.

If God’s people care about truth, then yes, it matters.

I’ve been sounding this alarm for years now: our faith communities are filled with nuts who can’t discern left from right. They don’t know how to tell if something is true. They post videos and articles on their social media pages without investigating whether they’re true. They have no credibility in the eyes of the secular world. They are written off by their peers, friends, and family as fruitcakes. They don’t use their God-given intellect. Their skepticism is used exclusively against expert viewpoints; meanwhile they swallow YouTube videos by crackpots as if it were divine Gospel.

For these people, when a medical expert gives his advice on medical matters, he’s clearly influenced by Big Pharma. But if Ovadia Ben Clem on YouTube gives a contrary opinion, his word is God’s own truth.

If a scientist gives his opinion of a scientific matter, it’s to be viewed with extreme skepticism. But when Yahushuyah Yahservant writes an article for Natural News giving a contrary opinion, the matter is settled.

Here’s why it matters.

You’re hurting your witness

Why would anyone believe what you have to say about God and Messiah when you’re blathering nonsense about science, medicine, or politics? It’s a complete turn-off. How will your unbelieving friend feel when you post that “THE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST!!!111”?

Any rational person would completely write off the person spouting that nonsense.

Maybe you have secular family members. How do you think they view your political conspiracy theories? If you post, “Thus saith the LORD: Biden is not President, never will be, and Trump will be sworn into office in June”, this will only alienate such people – if not for politics, than for pure reason and rationality. And when that prophecy inevitably turns out false, what will they think then? Won’t they rightfully think you a crackpot and false prophet? Won’t they rightfully see you don’t care about truth?

This misinformation hurts your witness, both as a disciple of Yeshua and, well, your credibility as a person. I’m a fellow disciple of Yeshua, and even I don’t want anything to do with that nonsense.

You’re hurting the Messianic movement

When so many people believe nonsense, you know what happens? It creates a hostile environment for the sane. It makes genuine believers ask themselves if they’re welcomed, or if they should find a different community.

I know this because of personal experience. A few years ago, when people left my congregation amidst fighting and public disputes over flat earth, I wrote,

This ocean of foolishness has caused me a kind of crisis of faith. If folks in my corner of faith are so deceived, do I really belong here? Is there a place for critical thinking and skepticism in our movement? Is there a place for scholarship, science, modern medicine, and questioning? If not, do I really fit into Hebrew Roots?

A few months ago I wrote about my friend Jonathan, who left the Messianic Movement to become a Baptist. One of the reasons Jonathan left the movement? Jonathan says,

The groups are overrun by conspiracy theorists and false prophets. There are mainstream Messianic teachers supporting flat earth, the fiction of gravity, the falsehood of the moon landing, as well as the electromagnetic healing properties of linen. I will pause again to remind you that these false teachings I am bringing out were not taught by all groups, but they are all far to prevalent. I am aware that there are these teaching in other groups as well, but they have seem to found a home in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots/Torah Observant movement. I asked a messianic friend about the number of crazy things being taught and believed, his response was, “Yeah, swing a cat.” This is a sad commentary on the state of these groups.”

By posting conspiratorial nonsense to your Facebook profile, you are hurting the Messianic movement and its goal of the salvation of Israel.

You’re alienating young people

Just a few months ago, I wrote about a good friend in the Lord, Lucas. I’ve known this kid – now 18 years old – since he was a little boy. He’s attended my congregation in Minnesota all that time.

Lucas wrote that the sensationalistic nonsense in the movement is a turn-off for him:

The president of my childhood was Barack Obama. I barely recall Bush ever being in power. Obama became our president when I was 7 years old, and he left when I was 15. During those whole 8 years, I don’t think I heard a single positive thing going on in the government. I grew up hearing all these negative things that were happening to our country, and I used to worry about it. I agree that he was not a great president for this country, BUT I grew up hearing a lot of sensationalism tied into it. Statements like, “Obama is the worst president we’ve ever had”, or “Obama did more harm to this country in eight years than all other presidents combined.”

This led Lucas into a kind of crisis of faith and identity. Why is so much sensational nonsense spewed from our community? Should Lucas find a different community, one that values truth over sensationalism?

And now we repeating the same mistake, only we’ve doubled down!

*“Thus saith the Lord: Biden will never be President!” *

“Kamala Harris is the Whore of Babylon”

Dear God, save us from ourselves. What’s wrong with us?

Friends, if this is you, I urge you to change course. By posting politicized sensational garbage, you alienate young people from our movement.

As Lucas wrote in his post,

But, today I issue a warning to all the adults in our movement regarding sensationalism, because it does damage the hearts of young people.

How you can do better

I hope I’ve convinced you of the seriousness of misinformation that so many Hebraic and Messianic folks are promulgating on their Facebook pages.

If you want to do better, if you want to be a person of truth, I have some simple advice you can follow:

  1. Be slow to speak. The Bible tells us that disciples of Yeshua should be slow to speak and slow to anger. Does the thing you’re posting align with this biblical trait? Or does it demonstrate that you’re quick to speak and quick to anger?
  2. No information is better than bad information. Don’t post things if you’re not certain if they’re true. Proverbs 17 says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” A popular quote attributed to Mark Twain says the same thing: “It’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
  3. Ask how it’ll impact your witness. If the thing you’re about to post turns out false, will your unbelieving friends, family or peers think less of your credibility?
  4. Look for credible sources. Are the authors of the video or article experts in the subject matter? Are they respected in their field? Or is this just some rando from YouTube?
  5. Ask the experts. Is your video about a hidden Hebrew meaning? Ask a native Hebrew speaker first. Is your article about medicine? Ask someone in the medical field before posting. Is your video about technology? Ask a technologist. (Don’t know any experts in the subject matter? Privately ask for feedback from your congregation leaders before posting. When in doubt, leave it out.)
  6. Avoid sensationalism. Is the thing you’re about to share sensational? Does it make outrageous or extraordinary claims? “The COVID vaccine isn’t a vaccine – it’s biotechnology meant to sterilize us!” Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In my experience, more than 99% of such posts are pure hot garbage. Avoid sensationalistic posts and your truthfulness batting average will improve.
  7. Watch out for confirmation bias. Are you posting this because it’s true, or because it confirms an opinion you already have? Too often Yeshua’s disciples have zero skepticism for viewpoints we already agree with. Exercise your God-given intellect and rationality and be skeptical.
  8. Be wary of politics. Politics blinds otherwise reasonable people to obvious truths. Politics unnecessarily divides communities. There are times when politics aligns with Biblical values – opposition to slavery in the past, and opposition to abortion today are two examples. But outside of these extremes, politics tends to hurt our witness. The Apostle Paul didn’t spend his countless hours talking about how evil Caesar was, or who he’d be supporting as the next Governor of Judea. He spent that time on Messiah and him crucified.
  9. Avoid ‘all spirit, no brain’ If the post you’re about to share is based on private revelation only, shy away from posting it. Example: “During Biden’s inauguration, a scroll named Justice was opened in Heaven. It spoke to me, ‘Massive voter fraud will soon be exposed!” Friends, there is no shortage of hucksters, charlatans, false prophets and televangelists who make such claims. But there is a dire shortage of the real deal. Shy away from posting private revelations because 99% of the time, they’re false.
  10. Refocus on Yeshua. If I go to your Facebook page, will I see you’re a disciple of Yeshua? Or will I see conspiracy theories about THE TRUTH of the moon landing? If you want the truth, Yeshua said, “I am the truth.” Spend your energy on Yeshua and his kingdom, doing the things he told you to do.

I am convinced, friends, if you take even just a few of these action items to heart, if you use them before you post on your social media, you will begin to repair the brokenness that exists today in God’s people. We can turn this ship around, but it takes small steps in the right direction from each person. Including you, dear Kineti reader. I hope this post has encouraged you in that regard.

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