Messiah of Waco: The Psychopathology of David Koresh — Messiah? Delusional? Both?

Despite the incidents that occurred under the leadership of David Koresh of the Branch Davidians and the religious edict that secured the control of his followers, his manifesto presents a methodical approach to the Scripture and explains why his followers found his words so captivating in the subtle paradigm he used to manipulate individuals from sectors that would benefit his agenda.

David Koresh’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, consented to distribute Koresh’s manifesto once he had finalized it (David Koresh 1 of 2, 2022). Koresh intended for academic experts to study and analyze his work with discerning and perceptive reverence to ascertain its merit from credible academic and religious publications, most likely to propagate his ideology to a larger audience and expand his following.

He thought it probable that a platform such as peer-reviewed scholarly research would provide insurmountable evidence that his interpretation of Scripture and the Book of Revelation would be of unprecedented messianic findings. His objective was to supersede the academic biblical experts who have preconceived notions about the Book of Revelation based on their extensive academic study of the Scriptures and the history of the text.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

However, Koresh wrote his manifesto in such a way that an individual without formal education or basic knowledge of the Book of Revelation or Scripture could understand how to interpret his self-proclaimed prophetic understanding of the Biblical message and in a way that would influence them to think he had a special message sent through his connection with God.

His charisma and Jesus Christ-like persona, alongside his mastery and exegesis of Scripture, manipulated not only individuals from his targeted sectors but also individuals of all levels of intelligence. Koresh taught and leveraged his esoteric interpretation of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation to establish his identification as the Lamb.

Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash

Revelation 5:2 states, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” This concept alone is inherently powerful and intrinsically valuable. Koresh manipulated Scripture and history so that it was obliquely disguised as a prophetic proclamation relating directly from God to his identity as the Lamb.

Consequently, those who identified with and believed in his rhetoric facilitated Koresh’s ulterior agenda, which at first was to become a rockstar, like every long-haired hippie that starts a cult. He later changed his agenda to obtain power and wealth by selling and stockpiling weaponry. His followers obeyed his command as they thought they were doing God’s work, preparing for the apocalypse that Koresh preached for hours at a time.

This caused cognitive and physical exhaustion for his followers, which led to their susceptibility to his suggestions. He used several textbook cult leaders’ psychological tactics, such as demanding his followers maintain strict regimens and diets; dissolving all marriages; physically and sexually abusing women and children; having them commit crimes for him, and having them blindly follow his lead toward their eventual demise.

Photo by Nathan Lindahl on Unsplash

Koresh claimed the divine destiny in Revelation 5:2 and used it to conceal his true intent. Koresh accomplished this by identifying himself in Revelation 5:5, which indicates that only the “Root [Branch] of David” is worthy of opening the cryptic book sealed with Seven Seals.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth is regarded by 30,000 active Judeo-Christian sects as the White Lamb mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Koresh’s manifesto contradicts this premise by professing to be the White Lamb himself. In his teachings and manifesto, Koresh does not explicitly claim to be Jesus or God in the text, but he does imply that he was a prophet and messiah through inferences in his teachings and manifesto. For his agenda, he cloaked Scripture in esoteric meanings. He used his fluency in Hebrew to establish more credibility in his interpretations, giving the impression that he was a guide to God. As the first seal is broken in Revelation 6:1–2; 19:7–19, the Lamb rides the White Horse.

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

He continues riding the White Horse into the “marriage of the Lamb.” Because of how he was able to conduct menticide on those he saw as vulnerable and at opportune times at correct intervals, many people interpreted his teachings as him being Jesus reincarnate.

Much of the misconception originates from the use of the epithet “Christ”, which is a Greek title, not a name. In Hebrew, the literal translation is “anointed one” or “messiah”, which means one who brings another to Christ. Regarding historical Biblical accuracy, it was customary for all of Israel’s ancient high priests, monarchs, and kings to be “anointed.” Therefore, they were all referred to as “christ” or “messiah”.

Photo by Lians Jadan on Unsplash

Several historical inaccuracies and biblical modifications throughout the centuries have been caused by several “prophets” that began to designate an archetypal and ideological representation of Christ the Messiah, who is to profess himself to the world.

Koresh purported to be a direct descendant of King David’s genealogy and that he would become a “Branch of David.” Koresh declared that he would be the one to rule as King in Jerusalem and bring peace to Israel and other countries, citing Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5.

According to Koresh, David is alluded to as the “Son of God” in Psalm 2:6 and 2 Samuel 7:14, in the very same way as Christ was. He asserted and persuaded his followers that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited triumph. On the other hand, Koresh could have made use of this Scripture by emphasizing that the Biblical prophets precipitated another Christ to come.

He proceeded to cite the Book of Revelation, claiming that in apocalyptic times, a Davidic Branch would be the one to open the Seven Seals. Koresh referenced Psalm 45 as the key to the First Seal, in which the King is anointed and evolves into the Christ who mounts the White Horse prophesied in verses 1–7.

Jesus of Nazareth had not fulfilled this prophecy or met the criteria outlined in Psalm 45. Additionally, Koresh showed that a myriad of other considerations and failures implied that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was only one of the messiahs in the first century, and not the messiah described in the Book of Revelation.

He justified this assertion by claiming that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy because no empirical evidence existed that Jesus had married or had children, implying that he was the messiah who would fulfill the prophecy. As shown in Revelation 6:1–2 and 19:7–19, the symbol is the Lamb. The marriage feast begins after the Lamb has conquered his enemies.

Koresh declared himself to be the Messiah to carry out the prophecy. He stated that he would marry the virgin daughters of his followers and have many children with them, stating it was their destiny to rule the world with him.

To this day, people believe Koresh is the messiah and will return…

Yet, all he did was create a tragedy in Waco, Texas.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Christopher Jacob Gil

Christopher Jacob Gil

Come as you are. Passionate about psychology, philosophy, and theology. International Association of Professional Writers and Editors 2x award-winner.