The Preacing of the Apostles (Part IV)

St. Moses the Hierarch of Novgorod

St. Moses the Hierarch of Novgorod

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 PREACHING OF THE APOSTLES: THE SECOND COMING
by Saint Irenaios of Lyons

People United under the Reign of Christ

As to the union, concord and peace of the animals of different kinds who are by nature enemies and mutually hostile (cf. Isaiah 11:6f), the elders say that this will actually happen when Christ returns to be ruler of all. Prophet Isaiah uses a Parable to tell of the gathering of people of different nations (though of like mind) in peace and concord through the name of Christ. These united, righteous people, who are likened to calves, lambs, kids and children, will not be harmed by those who had formerly been so brutal and beastlike through their lustful pride that some of them acted like wolves and lions, ravaging the weaker and making war on their equals, while their women behaved like leopards or vipers, quite capable of killing even their own loved ones with their deadly venom. Instead, united in Christ's name, they will be changed by the grace of God, acquiring righteous habits, and reforming their wild and untamed natures.

This has actually come to pass already. There are those who were once very wicked, to the extent of leaving no work of ungodliness undone, who, having learned of Christ and believing in Him, have been so changed that they now leave no excellent work of righteousness undone. That is how great a change is made in those who believe in Christ as a result of their faith in Him.

The Prophet also speaks of Him rising up to "rule over the Gentiles," because He is to die and rise again, and be confessed and believed in as Son of God and King. Therefore, he says "and His rising shall be honor"--that is, glory for when He Rose, He was glorified by God.

The Body of Christ

Again, therefore, the Prophet Amos says, "In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos 9:11; Acts 15:16). Clearly, he is declaring that the body of Christ, which as we have said, was born of David, will be raised up after death, for the body is called a tabernacle (cf. Wisdom 9:15; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Peter 1:13f).

Several things are set forth in these passages:

--that the Christ, He Who is a descendent of David according to the flesh, would be the Son of God;
--that after His death, He would rise again;
--that He would be man in form, but God in power;
--that He Himself would be judge of the whole world,
--the only redeemer and worker of righteousness.

All of this has been declared by the Scripture.

Summation

Thus, then, the Prophets foretold:

--That the Son of God was to be born;
--His manner of birth;
--where He was to be born;|
--that He is Christ, the one eternal King.

We shall see how they foretold that when He came:

--He would heal people (and He did heal them);
--He would raise the dead (and He did raise them);
--He would be hated, despised, suffer, and be put to death by crucifixion (and He was hated, despised, and killed).

The Suffering Christ
He Carries our Illnesses

At this point let us look at His healings. Prophet Isaiah says, "He has taken our infirmities and carried our illnesses" (Isaiah 53:4 as quoted in St. Matthew 8:17). That is He will take and will carry, for the Spirit of God speaking through the Prophets often speaks of future events in the past tense. What God has planned is considered done, and the Spirit uses expressions which have the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy in view.

As to the various kinds of cures, the Prophet says, "In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and in darkness and mist they eyes of the blind shall see" (Isaiah 29:18). Later on he adds, "Be strengthened, feeble hands and trembling knees; be comforted, you who are fearful in mind; be strengthened, fear not; behold our God will render judgment; He Himself will come and save us. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the stammerer shall be free" (Isaiah 35:3-6).

Concerning the raising of the dead, he says, "So shall the dead rise again, and those who are in the tombs shall be raise" (Isaiah 26:19). Because He does these things, He will be believed to be the Son of God.

His Sufferings

Prophet Isaiah foretells how He will be despised and tormented and finally put to death:

"Behold, my Son shall understand and be exalted and extolled greatly. As many shall be astonished at You, so shall Your visage be inglorious among men. And many races shall be astonished, and kings shall shut their mouths; for they to whom it was not told concerning Him shall see, and those who have not heard shall take notice. Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We have told our tale before His face, like a child, as a root in dry ground; and He had no comeliness and no beauty. But His form was inglorious, made less than other men, a man in bruises and acquainted with the bearing of pain; because His face was turned away, He was despised and not esteemed. He bears our sins and suffers pain for our sakes; and we considered Him to be in pain and in bruises and in torments. But He was wounded for our iniquities, and was tormented for our sins. The chastisement of our peace is upon Him; by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 52:13-53:5).

Here, it is said that He was tormented, and David also writes, "I was tormented" (cf. Psalm 37:9). David, however, was never tormented, but Christ was, at the time the command was given for Him to be crucified. As the Logos/Word Himself says through Prophet Isaiah: "I gave my back to blows and my cheeks to smiting, and I have not turned my face away from the shame of spitting" (Isaiah 50:6). The Prophet Jeremiah says the same thing: "He shall give His cheek to the smiter; he shall be filled with reproaches" (Lamentations 3:30).

Christ Did Suffer All These Things

Judgment--Salvation from Suffering

Prophet Isaiah, continuing says, "By His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep, have gone astray; man has gone astray in his ways, and the Lord delivered Him up for our sins" (Isaiah 53:5f). Thus, it is clear that these things happened to Him by the will of the Father, for the sake of our salvation.

Then he says, "And through His suffering He did not open His mouth; He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and mute at a lamb before the shearer" (Isaiah 53:7). Note that He sets forth how He went voluntarily to death.

When the Prophet goes on to say that "in humility His judgment was taken away" (Isaiah 53:8), he is speaking of the fact that the manner in which the judgment was taken away was by Christ going through His humiliation and suffering. The taking of the judgment leads to salvation for some and to the torments of Hell for others, for there is such a thing as taking to a person and also taking from a person. Judgment has been taken to some people and they receive the torments of hell. It is taken from others, and they are saved as a result.

Those men who crucified Him took judgment on themselves, for not only did they mistreat Him, but they did not believe Him. They were taken to the torments of hell through the judgment they took on themselves. Judgment has been taken from those who believe in Him, and they are no longer under it. Unfortunately for those who do not believe, the judgment by fire which is to come will be their ruin at the end of the world.

(To be continued)

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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.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George