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.
THE APOCALYPSE (REVELATION)
In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity
By Archbishop Averky Taushev and Father Seraphim Rose
The Appearance after the Opening of the Sixth Seal of the One Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand Sealed upon the Earth and Clothed in White Garments in Heaven.
7:1 "And after these things I saw four Angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
These four Angels appeared evidently as the fulfillers of the chastisement of God upon the world. One of the purposes set before them is "holding the four winds." As Saint Andrew of Caesarea explains, this "clearly testifies concerning the end of the submissiveness (natural order) of the creation and the inevitability of evil because everything growing upon the earth sprouts and is nourished by winds; and with their cooperation men also sail on the sea...we think that all this in the greatest possible degree will occur at the coming Antichrist, and not in the Jewish land only, but over the whole earth, on the four corners of which, he says, there will stand Angels as the performers of a service pre-assigned to them by God, but for us unknown" (Saint Andrew, ch. 19).
7:2-3 "And I saw another Angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four Angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
But here there appeared also "another Angel" who has the "seal of the Living God" in order to place this seal on the foreheads of the servants of God and thereby deliver them from the approaching chastisements. This is something like what was revealed once to the holy Prophet Ezekiel about the man clothed in a podir, that is, a long linen garment, who places a seal "upon those who groan" (Ezekiel 9:4) so as not to destroy the righteous together with the unrighteous (for the hidden virtues of the saints are unknown even to the Angels).
In what this seal consists we do not know, and there is no need to seek this out. Perhaps this will be the sign of the Precious Cross of the Lord, by which it will be possible to distinguish believers from unbelievers and apostates; or perhaps it will be the seal of Martyrdom for Christ.
"This will primarily be fulfilled during the time of the coming of Antichrist, when the seal of the Life-Giving Cross will distinguish the unfaithful from the faithful, who will bear the sign of Christ before them unashamed and with boldness...the virtuous will need the Angelic help before the coming of disasters, and this will be by the power of the seal of the Spirit which will be given us; but this seal will reveal its power only to the extent that we show our own activity" (St. Andrew, ch. 19).
7:4-8 "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of God were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand."
This sealing will be with the Israelites, who before the end of the world will be converted to Christ, as Saint Paul predicts (Romans 9:27; 11:26). In each of the twelve tribes there will be twelve thousand sealed, and 144 thousand in all. Of these tribes only the tribe of Dan Is not mentioned, because from it, according to tradition, will come Antichrist. In place of the tribe of Dan is mentioned the priestly tribe of Levi which previously had not entered into the Twelve Tribes. Such a limited number is mentioned, perhaps, in order to show how small is the number of the sons of Israel who are saved in comparison with the uncountable multitudes of those who have loved the Lord Jesus Christ from among all the other peoples of the earth who had been pagans.
"This precise equality of the numbers of those saved from each tribe, it seems to me, indicates the fruitfulness of apostolic seed, because the number twelve taken twelve times and multiplied by a thousand gives the number indicated here, for they were the disciples of the seed which fell on the ground and brought forth the multiple fruit of universal salvation" (St. Andrew, ch. 19).
7:9-14 "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb. Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the Angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and aver. Amen. And one of the elders answered saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
According to Saint Andrew of Caesarea, these in white robes "are those of whom David speaks: "If I should count them they are more in number than the sand" (Psalm 138:18, Sept.)--those who earlier suffered as martyrs for Christ and those who, from every tribe and people, are to receive sufferings with courage in the last timesBy the pouring out of their blood for Christ some of them have made white, and others will make white, the garment of their deeds" (St. Andrew, ch. 20).
In their hands they have palm branches--signs of victory over the devil. Their lot is one of eternal rejoicing before the Throne of God.
One of the heavenly elders explains to Saint John that "these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb." All these signs indicate clearly that these are martyrs for Christ, and the reference to "great tribulation" causes some commentators to suppose that these are the Christians who will be killed by Antichrist in the last period of the world's existence. For Christ the Savior Himself has declared concerning this tribulation: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (St. Matthew 24:21). This will be in addition to the number of the martyrs mentioned in Apocalypse (Revelation) 6:11.
7:15 "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in His temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."
As the highest award that they will receive, it is indicated that they shall remain before the throne of God, serving Him "day and night"---indicating figuratively the uninterruptedness of this service; for, as Saint Andrew says, "There will be no night there, but a single day, illuminated not by a material sun, but by the spiritual Sun of Righteousness. And perhaps by 'night' is to be understood hidden and profound mysteries, and by 'day' what is clear and easy to receive. The temple of God is the creation which has been renewed by the Spirit, or, more precisely, those who have preserved the pledge of the Spirit whole and unquenched; in which ones God has promised to "dwell and walk" (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16)" (Saint Andrew, ch. 20).
7:16 "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat."
These words, indicating the characteristics of the blessedness of these righteous ones, mean that they will not endure any kind of misfortunes. "They shall have bread of heaven and the water of life, and they will have no pain and will endure no misfortunes such as are depicted in the form of the sun and heat, for the time of sufferings has passed" (St. Andrew, ch. 20).
7:17 "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
"The "Lamb" Himself "shall feed them," that is, guide them, and they shall be vouchsafed an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit ("living fountains of waters"). The Lord said also of the believer that "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (St. John 7:38). The Saints, being then abundantly nourished by it, having acquired perfect knowledge after the cessation of private knowledge, and being delivered from corruption and change, will remain in endless rejoicing and joy.
(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!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God,