About the signs of the end of the world
The disturbing events of recent months are causing some people to feel apocalyptic. In order to avoid unnecessary panic, it is useful to remember what the Holy Church teaches us about the signs that precede the Second coming of Christ and the end of world history.
There was probably not a single century after the birth of Christ in which humanity was free from the expectation of the imminent end of the world. The apostles anxiously asked the Lord: “Tell us when it will be?” (Matt. 24: 3). Early Christian communities lived in anticipation of the coming of Christ.
“Maranatha” – “the Lord is coming” – wrote the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16: 22). “To her, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22: 20), – the Apostle John the Theologian echoed him.
The Apostle Paul had to write two Epistles to the Christians of Thessalonica, who were perplexed by the fact that some of the Christians had already died, and yet Christ did not come.
The spiritual life of Christians of the first and second centuries was also characterized by tension due to periodic persecution. In view of this, the Christians of the first centuries “did not count on the long existence of the world and expected the opening of the Kingdom of Christ”.
Increased persecution increased this expectation. For example, the persecution of the beginning of the third century, initiated by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus,
“it seemed so cruel to contemporaries that one of the Church writers (Judas), who explained the weeks of Daniel at that time, believed that the coming of the Antichrist had come”.
Such sentiments arose in Christian society every time when peaceful life was disrupted by political and religious unrest, troubles and wars.
Apocalyptic expectations were common in Russia at the end of the XV century. Some Russian people were so sure that the end of the world would come in 1492 (7,000 years from the creation of the world) that they did not sow the earth with grain that year.
Apocalyptic moods arose every time the peaceful habitual life was disrupted
Since the middle of the XVII century, the expectation of the Antichrist has become an incessant background for the aspirations of old believers.
They placed special “hopes” on the year of our Lord 1666. Bound for 1000 years after the birth of Christ, Satan was freed and took possession of Rome.
Added to this thousand, the number of the beast gives 1666. the King is declared Antichrist, the Patriarch-a false prophet. However, time forces us to postpone the deadline:
“The binding of Satan for 1000 years should not be counted from the birth of Christ, but from the day Of his descent into hell: 1000+33½+666=1700.
The Antichrist also reigns for 3½ years. Thus, 1703 is the year of the end of the world… All this vague theology about the Antichrist was needed to “rock” ordinary people to boldly leave the Church… into a terrible tragic void”.
The intense apocalyptic mood of this era is accompanied by mass suicides of supporters of the old rite. Old believers commit self-immolation, drown themselves in reservoirs, and fast to death. Mass self-immolations are most common.
Groups of people who have condemned themselves to voluntary death in the fire sometimes reach almost three thousand people.
References to mass “burning” of followers of the “old rite” are found up to the beginning of the XIX century. The dissenters themselves perceive this suicide as a feat of martyrdom. They often don’t see any other way to escape.
“It is truly impossible that we should not burn, there is nowhere else to go”, – one of the raskolouchiteley “elder Sergius” admits in 1722.
The year 1666 has long been perceived in old believers ‘ circles as an apocalyptic milestone. In 1844, Saint Filaret (Drozdov) in one of the schismatic books found the doctrine that
“that since 1666… Christians who marry are the serpent’s nest of satanino and his devils’ abominable courtyard; that now Satan is working for the multiplication of the human race and the soul is given from the devil to the conception of the child”.
During the cholera of 1830-1831, quarantine posts were set up around Moscow, through which access was carried out by special certificates. Dissenters began to spread rumors that
“it is alleged that the time of the Antichrist has come and that the quarantine tickets, in their opinion, are nothing but a seal or a sign of the Antichrist” .
The nineteenth century is characterized by the spread of apocalyptic moods around the world. Under the influence of the expectation of the end of the world and as a result of attempts to calculate it, such well-known sects as the “seventh-day Adventists” and “Jehovah’s Witnesses”were formed in our time.
The designated end of the world is constantly moved by necessity, but, oddly enough, these errors do not prevent the named and similar sects from increasing over time.
In the XX century, especially in the second half of it, the appearance of apocalyptic sects turns into a mass phenomenon.
There are many totalitarian sects, such as the” people’s temple”,” Temple of the sun”,” Heaven’s gate”,” AUM Shinrikyo ” and others, whose beliefs are based on the doctrine of the imminent end of the world. Unfulfilled expectations in many cases lead to mass suicides and murders.
Unfortunately, this impatient expectation of the imminent end of the world sometimes attracts Orthodox Christians. Many people remember how a group of more than 30 people (including children) in the Penza region “appointed” the end of the world in may 2008.
These people, waiting for Armageddon, lived underground from the fall of 2007 to may 2008. And not everyone lived to see the light of day.
From the above brief and incomplete overview, we can conclude that waiting for the end of this world is not always useful for a Christian, but can be dangerous, harmful, and even disastrous. Of course, Orthodox
Christians believe that this world is finite, that the end of the world will come with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory. However, the Orthodox attitude to this topic is softened by the realization that it is enough for each person to care about preparing for their own death, which can occur at any moment. Saint John Chrysostom wrote about this:
“Let’s assume that the end will follow in twenty years, in thirty, in a hundred years: what does this have to do with us? Does not the end of every century constitute the end of its life?
Why are you so curious about the General demise and why do you make yourself sad? But what happens to us in other (cases), the same in the present.
As in other (cases) we are not paying attention to their own business, worried about other people saying so-and-so immoral, so-and-so an adulterer, that was stolen, this hurt, and of his not say a word, in contrast, is more concerned about the actions of all other people, rather than on their own – and each of us,
leaving the care of his end, wants to know about the total demise”.
In the cholera of 1830-1831, dissenters spread rumors that ” quarantine tickets are a sign of the Antichrist»
Nevertheless, the Lord has left us through the gospel signs that precede the coming of the end of the world. It is useful for every Christian to know about these signs in order to avoid unnecessary worry. What is The Church’s teaching about the Second coming of Christ?
First of all, it is necessary to point out the unknown time of the Second coming.
“Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Angels of heaven, but only My Father alone” (Matthew 24: 36);
“…watch, because you do not know at what hour your Lord will come ” (Matthew 24: 42), Christ says to his disciples.
From this we can conclude that all attempts to determine the date of the Second coming of Christ are doomed to failure. Guesses of this kind always come from a sectarian or carried away by a sectarian spirit and are evidence of disbelief in the words of the gospel, that is, in the words of Christ Himself.
Guesses about the time of the end of the world always come from an environment that is sectarian or carried away by a sectarian spirit
Moreover, we have the direct prohibition of the Lord on such calculations, which he left in the person of the apostles to all Christians:
“Not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power” (acts. 1: 7).
Attempts to boldly reveal the secret of God’s Providence cannot benefit us and will not go unpunished.
Among the signs of the approaching demise of the world are those that can be found in almost any era of human history. This is the fall of morality, natural and social disasters, wars, the appearance of false Christs and false prophets, the spread of false teachings.
This kind of phenomenon has always existed, and recent times will differ only in the extreme degree of their development. But since any decline in public morals and any deterioration in the natural conditions of existence are perceived by the older generation as extreme, unprecedented until now, this sign is mostly subjective and can not serve as a firm guide in the issue under consideration.
Of the more objective signs that precede the Second coming of Christ, the preaching of the gospel to the whole world should be mentioned first:
“This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the entire universe, as a witness to all Nations; and then the end will come” (Matthew 24: 14).
It should be noted that, according to patristic interpretations, it is not heretics and schismatics who are being preached here, but precisely Orthodox ones.
Needless to say, how far we are from this? Until now, even on earth, scientists-travelers from time to time declare the discovery of new wild tribes. Some of these tribes live in such dense jungles that they never see the sun.
Moreover, they could not hear anything about the Sun of truth-Christ. As for Orthodox preaching, there are still many corners of the earth where an Orthodox missionary has never set foot.
Before the end of the world, according to the Apostle Paul and the patristic interpretations, there will also be a mass conversion of the Israelites to Christ (See: ROM. 11: 25-26).
In addition, the Second coming of Christ will be preceded by the worldwide preaching of the two prophets (see: Rev. 11: 3), one of which is the prophet Elijah. This is what the prophet Malachi said in the old Testament:
“Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet to you before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord” (Mal 4: 5).
The Lord himself warned about this:
“…it is true that Elijah must come first and arrange everything” (MT. 17: 11).
The second prophet is usually understood to be the forefather Enoch, or (less frequently) the prophet Moses.
And of course, the most famous sign that precedes the end of the world is the coming of the Antichrist. He will be a concrete person: “a man of sin, a son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2: 3). According to the book of Revelation of the Holy Apostle John the theologian, the Antichrist will come as the world ruler:
“…and power was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and tribe” (Rev. 13: 7).
From this we can conclude that before the end of the world, all the earth’s States will be United into one, which does not yet exist in reality.
In addition, this world ruler will be a fierce God-worshipper and opponent of Christ:
“And he was given a mouth that spoke proudly and blasphemously”(Rev. 13: 5).
He will demand for himself from mankind divine veneration and worship:
“…in the temple of God he will sit as God, passing himself off as God” (2 Thess. 2: 4).
This worship will be recorded by an inscription on the body of the worshipper, namely, on the right hand or on the forehead, “the inscription, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name”(Rev. 13: 17).
It is important to note that in the book of Revelation, the worship of the Antichrist (“the beast”) and the acceptance of the mark are depicted as interrelated parts of the payment of divine honors to the Antichrist:
“…whosoever worships the beast and his image, and receives the mark on his forehead, or on his hand, shall drink the wine of the wrath of God … and they that worship the beast and his image, and receive the mark of his name, shall have no rest day or night.” 14: 9-11).
That is, the acceptance of the Antichrist mark will be conscious and voluntary, will be preceded by renunciation of God, worship of the Antichrist and recognition of him as God.
The Antichrist will not set the mark forcibly; the acceptance of the Antichrist’s mark will be conscious and voluntary
The particle ” anti “is translated from Greek not only as” against”, but also as”instead”. The Antichrist is not only an opponent of Christ, but also an imitator of the Savior, trying to replace Christ, to be instead of Christ.
The inscription of the Antichrist will be nothing more than a parody of the Christian Sacrament of baptism. Starting to baptism is denied “Satan and all his works” and goes to Christ, and the Sacrament is by faith Krasauskas.
And those who accept the Antichrist instead of God must first renounce Christ and worship the Antichrist as their God and Savior. Without this renunciation and worship, the inscription is meaningless and ineffective.
Therefore, the Antichrist will not put the mark forcibly. He will intimidate those who resist and deprive them of their means of existence:
“And he will make that all, small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, shall have a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one shall buy or sell, except he who has this mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13: 16-17).
The Antichrist will even kill those who refuse to worship him or his image:
“And it was given to him to put the spirit into the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and act, so that whosoever would not worship the image of the beast should be slain.” 13: 15).
But the mark will not be introduced forcibly or secretly. Otherwise, it will have no more power than the state seal on a blank sheet of paper. Therefore, some modern teachings that preach the “involuntary”, “automatic” acceptance of the Antichrist’s mark and, consequently, no less automatic death of man look strange.
Thus we can see that the fears spread by some people of the coming of the Antichrist and its signs are premature and unsafe, and that we, modern Christians, are more useful in remembering our sins and thinking about our own death.
Moreover, by the Reverend Neil myrrh-streaming, the mark of the Antichrist on the heart, rancor, and the one who didn’t get rid of that passion dies without any external faces.
Those who are faithful to Christ and his Church, who try to keep His commandments, who are used to turning to God in prayer, and who approach the Sacraments of the Church with humility, the Lord will not leave them ignorant of the wiles of the devil and will help them overcome his tricks:
“And here I am with you to the end of time. Amen” (Matthew 28: 20).Download Audio