My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
REVELATION (APOCALYPSE): THE SEVEN TRUMPETS AND THE ANTICHRIST (Part V)
By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
Saint Paul adds to these signs. We just read a first-rate sign provided by Saint Paul, "Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because if the rebellion does not come first, the Lord will not come." Some false teachers had deceived the Thessalonians by telling them that Christ was coming in a few days. Acting upon this information, they gave up their occupations, closed their shops, and waited for Christ to come, as the Jehovah Witnesses have repeatedly done. This is not correct according to Saint Paul, who writes essentially to tell them to be attentive. If the Antichrist does not come first, Christ will not come. Now, I ask you, is this not a sign? It is certainly a great sign!
Apostle Paul also said that "a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:25-26). The Lord and Saint Paul both said that "the gospel must first be preached to all of creation" (cf. Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23), to all the nations. In previous chapters of Revelation, we saw references to signs and changes in heaven, etc. All these are signs that determine, in a general sense, whether we are very far or relatively close to the Second Coming of Christ. For example, you hear from many different people--and not from me, of course--and you read in many publications, that we are living in the times of the Antichrist. We should understand this to mean that we do not exclude the coming of the Antichrist in our century, and that it does not contradict the sayings of the Lord about anyone knowing the day or the hour. Of course we cannot know the day or the hour, but based on these Scriptural signs, an approximate determination could place the Lord's return within fifty or a hundred years.
I would like to focus on what the Lord said about the flood after His words about the day and the hour (St. Matthew 24:37). Was the time of the great flood known or unknown? It was seemingly unknown. In reality, it was both known and unknown. More specifically, the year was not unknown, at least Noah. Even Noah, however, did not know the day and the hour. To the people outside, everything was totally unknown; they were oblivious. We surmise this because the Lord used it as an example. God commanded Noah to build the ark. It took Noah one hundred and twenty years to build the ark. In those one hundred and twenty years, all the people saw Noah building this ark. They had conversations with him: "Noah, what are you making?"-"An ark." "What are you going to do with this huge vessel on the land?"-God will send a flood, and people will drown because they are very sinful. God told me to build this ark, so my family and I will be saved." Noah's contemporaries were probably saying that Noah was getting old and had lost his mind; Noah was crazy! They did not believe.
So, what were those one hundred and twenty years that it took to construct the ark?--a one hundred-twenty year sermon of repentance. When the one hundred-twenty years were completed, Noah entered the ark and he took with him the pairs of animals as specified in Scripture. He prepared their feed and all his food supply, and when he was finished, the Lord told him to go inside and close the door. As he entered, the rain began. The exact year was not known to Noah. When he saw that the work was completed and the animal selection was done, then Noah knew that the flood was imminent. He could not determine the exact day or hour, but he did know that this event could not expand beyond the boundaries of his life, because God had told him that he would be saved from the flood. Therefore, the general time frame was within the remainder of Noah's life; however, the day and the hour were not known. Interestingly enough, the Lord Himself, in referring to his Second Coming, also refers to this, as "were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man" (St. Matthew 24:37). Based on all this, the faithful will have the capability to determine the general time.
In an amazing epistle to Saint Polycarp, Saint Ignatius writes, "Study the times profusely. Keep expecting the Awaited One." This agrees totally with the words of Christ to the hypocrites. He said, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (St. Matthew 16:2-3). Thus, the Lord calls upon us to study the signs of the times very carefully, which is exactly what Saint Ignatius tells Saint Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. Study the times. Search the times. The reason behind all this searching is that we are to keep anticipating the Awaited One, to wait on Christ. This does not contradict the words of the Lord about anyone knowing the day or the hour--definitely not!
"...Therefore, it is not exceedingly important if the actual Antichrist comes next year, this year, after fifty years, or after five hundred years. What is important is to realize that "many antichrists have come" into the world, as holy Scripture tells us, and we need to be watchful (1 John 2:18). Or do you think it is that difficult for us to lose our soul due to the influence of the various agents of the Antichrist who are working full-time in our days?
Now, what exactly will this man, this person of the Antichrist, be? Scripture has portrayed the person of the Antichrist very well, and it is interpreted by the Church Holy Fathers. Saint John Chrysostom asks, "Will the Antichrist be the incarnation of the devil? Or will he be a simple man? Will he be Satan?" "Impossible," says Saint John of Damascus. "The devil cannot become man--he cannot incarnate like the Lord did. God forbid." Thus, we understand that the Antichrist will be human being. He will be a man, but as Saint Paul writes, a man according to the energy of Satan, (2 Thessalonians 2:9). In other words, he will be born normally, from a woman, but through fornication, according to Saint John of Damascus. His agents will stage a virgin birth since his aim is to mimic the virgin birth of Christ. He will pretend that he was born of a virgin, since there will be no father in the family, given that he will be the result of the act of fornication. As we previously mentioned, according to the words of Blessed Augustine, the Antichrist will be the monkey of Christ.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God