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: THE SEVEN SEALS (Orthodox Christian Lessons) Part III
by Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios
Revelation 6:15-7:3 "Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?' After this I saw four Angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another Angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four Angels who had been given power to harm earth and seas, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads."
According to Saint Peter, the universal turmoil of which we spoke during our last lesson, will bring forth the new heavens, the new earth, and the dwelling of righteousness (cf. 2 Peter 3:13). Being knowledgeable about the future of creation is important to us and can prove to be beneficial in our overall spiritual life since our own body is formed from the same material creation. God used clay, a material element, from the earth, and He fashioned the human body. For this reason, we must never undervalue material creation. Nor, of course, should we attach undue significance to it. This is especially true today, as we have become an increasingly materialistic people.
Even in ancient philosophical systems materialism existed. These systems generally overlook the spirit, and when we ignore the spirit, or at least when we do not attach any significance to it, we become proponents of dualism, which is the foundation of all philosophical systems. The perception of these systems holds that matter is something evil or inferior. We should work to extinguish the element of dualism as soon as we become aware of it within us. Unfortunately, this sense of dualism characterizes many Christians.
For example, we may look upon the body as something filthy, or we may consider marital relations to be polluted, profane, or sinful. Some may go as far as to say, "Don't get married. Marriage is something unclean." Why is it unclean? Do you consider human sperm as something unworthy and unclean? You are in the realm of dualism. Elements of dualism have found their way into our subconscious. They are demonic beliefs. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, unclean, profane, or polluted about sperm or menstruation.
If, as in the Old Testament, God ordered that some things should not be touched or that some animals should not be eaten, He only ordered that for disciplinary or pedagogical reasons. This is easily observed throughout Scripture. When God gives man possibilities and freedoms, the freedom to use certain materials, He always holds something back. He always forbids something. In paradise, He says "You will not touch this fruit," not becomes that fruit was particularly different. He does this for reasons of obedience (cf. Genesis 3:3). In the Old Testament God says in essence, you may eat the meat of the animals, but you will not eat or drink the blood. You will pour it on the earth. It belongs to me (cf. Leviticus 8-11).
These guardians also exist in the New Testament. What are the reasons for the limits we always see in the word of God? While God gives some freedom of movement, some opportunities for expression. He also gives us certain restrictions. If only parents would use this most wise method. If only they understood the importance of this from a pedagogical point of view. When they give some freedom to their children, some breathing room, they should always add some limitations. They could say, 'This you can do, but not that. You can eat this, but not that.' If we eliminate all restrictions, our sense of discipline becomes counter-productive and anti-pedagogical. I am afraid that we want to be smarter and more progressive than God and His Apostles who gave us these Commandments. So, if God did institute some restrictions, He only did it for pedagogical or disciplinary reasons, not because the restricted items contain some sort of evil. How could they? They are God's creation.
So, dualism is foreign to the Old Testament. That is why Saint Paul says, "for everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:4). Thus, when I know that natural creation will be renewed, not only renewed, but also deified, and that it will enter into the glory of the Son of God, then my outlook on material things will be different. I will not undervalue physical creation. All things are included in the grace of God because they are all God's creations...
"...While the upheaval of the universe will be taking place during the opening of the Sixth Seal, before the renewal of the elements of creation, another quake will have taken place. As I stated before, this great earthquake has two aspects, or meanings. Initially, before the Antichrist, there will be the quake that will crumble ethics and ideas. The world paradigm will shift and people in general will become different. They will do away with the traditional lifestyle. This earthquake is one of spirituality and morality. All this occurs before the Antichrist. This quake will have reached its highest point in the deterioration of ethics. The world will be swimming in filth, shamelessness, and degrading acts. When all this reaches bottom and can go no lower, then the other quake will come, the quake with the other meaning, which will be the renewal of the elements of nature.
So, the first earthquake will come to pass. According to the Holy Fathers, when the Sixth Seal is opened, the second earthquake will occur in the blink of an eye as Saint Paul tells us, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52). The resurrection of the dead, the renewal of the universe, all these things will happen in the shortest possible time (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18). We could say that the shortest measurement of time imaginable to a man is a millisecond...We know today that the blink of an eye takes place in a sixteenth of a second. That is why we do not lose the image of the objects in front of us. This is the image Saint Paul uses to express how quickly the resurrection of the dead will take place.
Revelation talks about the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of stars occurring shortly before the resurrection of the dead and the renewal of the universe. Of course, it is not possible for those events to take place in the blink of an eye. It seems that these dreadful cosmic events will require a longer period of time. We have no way of knowing how long it will take. However, from Scripture it seems that it will be for a definite period of time, not just a few seconds, because we learn in Revelation that people will be filled with horror and panic.
Therefore, the final change of the universe will occur in the blink of an eye, because the darkening of the sun is not a change, but an indication that the old universe is dying. It dies in such a way that we can see its death. It will be just like the resurrection of the dead. Again, we will have that period of change of the universe, the death of the universe, to show that the old universe is passing. It falls, it breaks us, and it self-destructs without being lost. Be careful here. Nothing will be lost. This is also taught through physics. Nothing is lost in creation. God creates everything exceedingly well. Nothing will disappear or cease to exist. As Saint Irenaeus writes, "The Creator of matter is trustworthy and sure," so nothing is nullified. It is simply renewed. How will the people of the earth react when these events occur?
(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