Orthodox view on the problem of the end of the world.
by Alexander Smirnov
The library Golden-Ship.RU 2014
The original text in Russian
freelance translator Anna Zhukovska
The book is intended for free distribution on the Internet.
To communicate with author, e-mail: email@example.com
In the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can't discern the signs of the times.
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these
things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Chapter 1 The beginning and the end of our world
Chapter 2 The Day of Wrath: signs
Chapter 3 "The millennial reign of the saints with Christ"
Chapter 4 1843-1844 years
Chapter 5 "Little season" and animal images
Chapter 6 Numbers
Chapter 7 View from another area
Chapter 8 Conclusion
The aim of our research is such a complex and controversial issue, as an attempt to look into the future . In general , is it possible to learn at least in general terms, what we can expect on the basis of information available to us ? This question torments people for a long time . Attempts to look into the future on the basis of Bible prophecies have been taken many times , but each time predictions turned to be false . Not accidentally , the Orthodox Church takes negatively this kind of quest . And this attitude is justified with words of Christ which he s aid to the apostles :
"And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts. 1:7),
and also :
" But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only " (Matthew 24:36),
neither the Son, but the Father (Mark 13: 32).
The position of the Orthodox Church is justified since there was a lot of errors because of attempts to predict the date of the end of the world . Those errors resulted in these religious movements , such as Adventism or movement of Jehovah's Witnesses . All attempts carried out previously to determine the date of the end of the world had no success . Whenever the next bubble arose . So, everything that will be discussed later can and should be subjected to critical analysis by the reader.
It is necessary to say right away that the author didn't consider himself neither visionary nor the prophet, and all that will be discussed here is only the result of intelligence. This is nothing more than a warm-up of the mind, just a theory that doesn't aspire to anything . If you wish, it's a gourmet meal for analytical gourmets who enjoy solving complex puzzles . Cause searching for a doomsday date , anyway, is an activity of many people - sometimes just for fun. Man is constituted in the way that he desires to solve any riddle .
In conclusion of the introductory part let's say a couple of words about the linguistic side of the study. We will use as the canonical Russian and Church Slavic translation of the Holy Scriptures, though these two translations of the content is slightly different . Thus, the canonical translation of the Bible doesn't contain some of the books that exist in the Church Slavonic translation , for example, the Third Book of Esdras , also called the Old Testament Apocalypse , which we will refer to . This discrepancy happened because the Canonical and Church Slavic texts are translations of various sources. Church Slavic is a translation of the Greek Septuagint , and the Canonical text - translation of the Masoretic text (for translating I used King James Version - translator).
The beginning and the end of our world
Let's consider words of Christ : "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons". After the cross death and resurrection from the dead , the Lord appeared to his disciples several times , and preached to them about the kingdom of God (Acts . 1: 3) . Then, it was said:
"Not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. . "(Acts . 1: 4.5 ).
This is very important because the baptism of the Holy Spirit , or the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost, of ordinary people , gathered by Christ in different places of Palestine - in fact, ordinary people - did the prophets. After that they became those apostles, that we know - teachers who spread the gospel throughout the world.
And then, when the Lord told his disciples to wait for the promise , they asked him :
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1: 6) .
Then he told them : "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons". It is necessary to know the history to understand what expectations were associated by Jews with the Messiah - Christ. Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire . Prophecy also said that the time will come , and there will be the Savior - the One Who will restore justice and make the world a kingdom of the one God. When he appeared , and wasn't recognized by many, and crucified as a criminal , which was also predicted (eg , Isaiah 53, Daniel 9 : 24-27, etc..), Many of his disciples were in confusion, because it didn't pass that they expected. The risen Lord appears and tells them not to leave, but wait for the promise . Naturally, students ask whether it would be promised to restore the kingdom to Israel? And God says to them : "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons".
What does it mean? It means exactly what it says. They asked, and the Lord told them what he had to answer. The mission of disciples of Christ was preaching the good news (the Gospel) and spreading of Christianity throughout the world. And, it seems, for that they really didn't need to know times or dates of the end of human history. The discovery of this mystery through the preaching of all the people wasn't a part of their task. And they got a response.
The Israelites of that time understood "restoring the kingdom to Israel" not quite as the Lord had said. The Jews were waiting for the restoration of an independent state in its historical boundaries, headed by the King, who will subject all the surrounding nations. The fallacy of such expectations is obvious to us, but not for Jews of Christ's time. In fact, what do the promises of God to David mean, about that in his seed the throne shall not be taken forever before the Lord (2 Sam. 8: 12-16)
"There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel" (3Kings.8: 25 3Kings.9: 5 2Chronicles.6: 16).
Cause after a period of three kings (Saul, David and Solomon) a single state in 980 BC, was divided into two irreconcilable parts: the north - Israel - fell in 722 BC, being captured by the Assyrians - and the southern kingdom - Judah, which disappeared from the surface of the earth in the year 70 BC, destroyed by Roman troops.
So, did God lie to David? Or was he wrong? Both assumptions are not valid. People can make mistakes and lie, but not God. Analyzing the history, we can often see the fallacy of certain expectations arising from a misunderstanding of words of the Lord. And in this case, Jews were told not to visible or sensuous reign of Christ, - a descendant of David - but the reign of the spirit, the essence of which wasn't understood by many Jews awaiting the visible reign.
Creator of the universe and Father of all people repeatedly speaks through the prophets about the restoration of Israel , probably understanding the whole world , that must to get rid of misconceptions , going through the cleansing fire of suffering and temptation, a new world, the timing of which hasn't come yet . Probably about "times and seasons" occurrence of this particular kingdom Christ didn't tell his disciples . Meanwhile they were asking him about the earthly kingdom of Israel , about the fate of his beloved homeland.
But let's get back to the phrase of Christ , which is usually interpreted as a prohibition on the search of end date in human history. We can see that the response to disciples from Christ : "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons", is not categorical . The key here is clarifying : "It is not for you". That is, we see a specific reference to historical figures - apostles . This is not approved by the inability to find these " times and seasons" in due time by someone else , or by subsequent generations. That is , you can hear that this case is "Not for you", but for someone else . Categorical prohibition would have sounded different. For example , "it's impossible to anyone to know the times or the seasons", or "Nobody knows the times or the seasons " , etc. Moreover, it is clear from this response that these times exist and are known , but for some reason are not reported to apostles .
However, this is not the only place in Scripture speaking directly about the timing of the end of the world. Much more specifically the following answer of Christ sounds , when disciples asked him about when to wait for His second coming .
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew.24: 36 Mark 13:32)
And this response is usually justified by the fundamental impossibility to predict the date of the end of human history. After all, how does one know what is unknown to anyone but God the Father ? But this response states unknown before specific time intervals : day and hour . Categorical prohibition would sound differently , for example: "no one knows about that day", or "nobody knows when it happens". However, they spoke about many specific time categories: day and hour . That is, Christ says it is impossible to predict the day and hour , not "times and seasons" more broadly - the century , decade or year. Again "no man knows" now is not the same as "no man will know". In other words, this response is deprived of absolute categorical and is not an absolute prohibition .
The Bible says a lot about the "last days", and later we will look at these areas in more detail. Here we would like to bring one more quote from the Holy Scriptures , namely words of the prophet Joel, from which it's clear that the Lord didn't put this knowledge to an absolute prohibition. But the only condition is that the secret shouldn't be disclosed until a certain time - as , I think, Christ said to the Apostles .
In Joel we read:
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. ". (Joel 2 : 28-31)
Thus, we see that the Lord wanted at a certain time to open many secrets through ordinary people : in "all flesh", "young men, old men, sons and daughters". That is, before the end of history, God will begin to open to humanity that , until that time, remained hidden . And, of course , "all a lot of things flesh", - the sons and daughters , old men and young men - are not smarter , more talented , or somehow superior to the disciples of Christ , which was said at the time : "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons ". It's obvious.
Question of predestination
What is the future ? From a scientific point of view, there is only a certain probability of certain events , which can be assumed with a certain probability . But from the point of view of various religious movements it can be predestined . For example, Muslims believe in predestination , but their theology doesn't give a precise answer how it relates to the freedom of man's will . Therefore, the Qur'an requires Muslims belief in predestination , but forbids to go into this question.
"You will never completely feel at ease until you firmly believe that Allah already pre-ordained all matters. The pen has dried and has written all that will happen to you, so don't feel remorse over that which is not in your hands. Don't think that you could have prevented the fence from falling, the water from flowing, the wind from blowing or the glass from breaking. You couldn't have prevented these things, whether you wanted to or not. All that has been pre-ordained and shall come to pass "
At the same time, Muhammad tells believers : "And if anyone would mention predestination, then refrain from talking about it". That is, you have to believe that everything happens by the will of God, but it is consistent with freedom of will and choice between good and evil - the mystery , which is dangerous to speculate .
In Christianity, too, we have the belief in predestination , but to different degrees in different streams. Particularly strong belief is in predestination in Calvinism . According to the teachings of John Calvin , God in the beginning of the universe determines the fate of the human soul and can't subsequently change his choice . Man doesn't know exactly is his soul saved or doomed . It can be found only by indirect evidence . So , according to Calvin, success in business means exclusivity, the same failure - doomed to eternal torment.
And it is based on very few quotes , namely:
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren". (Romans 8: 29-39 )
"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. "(Revelation 17: 8)
Here's what Hilarion
Alfeyev says about predestination in Orthodoxy :
" The Orthodox tradition, again based on the theological heritage of the Fathers of the Eastern Church, says about predestination of man to salvation in a different way . From the Orthodox point of view, all people created by God are predestined to salvation ; no one is obviously destined for destruction, condemnation or damnation. This is evidenced , in particular, by St Symeon the New Theologian in the interpretation of Rome. 8 : 29-30. To those who " pervert to their own destruction " the words of the apostle he says, " what does it profit me to raise a lot of work to show an appeal to repent, if I'm not God predestined to salvation ?" Simeon says:
" Do n't you hear every day of the Savior: I live, and I don't want the death of the sinner , but I want him to turn and live? Do n't you hear , as he says: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven. Maybe , he said to ones: "I don't repent , because I won't accept you," and to the others , a predetermined " You repent because I foreknew you "? No! But every day in every church He calls all over the world : Come unto me, all the bothered and burdened, and I will give you the rest . Come, he says , burdened by many sins to Him who takes ( away) the sin of the world!
Called to salvation and predetermined to deification is everyone , therefore, justified and glorified can be anyone who wants it. God desires all men without exception to make gods by grace :
Grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to kindle in our hearts to ... approaching the fire - or individually , or if you can, all together - ignited and shone like gods ... I think , and it's the way it actually is , that (this is the will of God for us...
For seven centuries before Symeon the New Theologian and for eleven centuries
before Calvin, Eastern Christian
tradition in the face of St. John Chrysostom expressed its views on predestination and calling , "If everybody have sinned ,
why did some survive and others die ? Because
not everyone wants to come ,
although the will of God are all saved ,
since all are called . " In other words, salvation is predestined and called upon all without exceptions , but saves only those who voluntarily responded to the call of God ; but
those who reject God's call
is not saved .
Salvation , according to the Orthodox Faith, is the fruit of " synergy" ( cooperation, co-work ) between God and man . This synergy is crucial free will of man , which can be directed to both the good and the evil. If it is directed to evil , it's not because God has predestined, but because a person makes a free choice in favor of evil. If it is directed to the good, then this happens , although the action of God's grace , but again without the involvement of the man himself. The struggle for salvation takes place inside a person , not outside it . The devil can use a variety of means to influence the man, but man is able to stand up to himself . The will of the devil can't destroy a person : the ultimate deciding factor for the fate of man is precisely the direction of his free will to do good or evil.
This doesn't mean that the Orthodox diminish the value of predestination, calling an action of God's grace in the salvation of man . It just means that the Orthodox Christian concept of God is alien punisher , who in all fairness would have to destroy all the people after they turned aside into sin and only by the grace he saves some. The Orthodox Church , following St. Paul , believes that God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2.4 ). The salvation of every person is the result of God's love for all mankind , and not due to the fact that in His unfathomable mercy , God withdraws from " convicted masses " that ones , which are brought with salvation against his equity.
God can and wants to save every human being . But He can't save a person without the participation and consent of the individual. As emphasized by Maximus the Confessor , every person has the right to reject salvation. Salvation for anyone can't be forced : only those will be saved who want to follow Christ. It is in harmony with God's man about his own salvation , in voluntary adherence to the commandments of God the synergy talking about Orthodox theology is . " (" Orthodoxy " Volume 1 Section III Chapter III )
Thus, we see that in the Orthodox Church it' s considered to all men to be predestined to salvation , and no one is predestined to damnation . It seems reasonable, since if only a few places in Scripture can be interpreted in favor of predestination , then a much larger part of the appeals to the people from God speaks in favor of the fact that there is no such thing . That is , we can say that Orthodoxy rejects predestination in the sense in which it's understood by Muslims and Calvinists .
In Scripture, it constantly refers to the need to fight against the temptation , the need to fight against passions , and even that the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force :
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew11: 12)
From the context of this and many similar phrases it is impossible to draw a conclusion about predestination. After all , if it's pre- determined that some will be in the kingdom of heaven , while others will not , then why make the effort ? Then John said not correctly , the Kingdom of heaven is not taken by force , and only one is defined , while others do not. And our efforts are a fiction. But here and in other places it often talks about the need for personal involvement in determining your own destiny. Logic says that the predetermination defeats the purpose of punishment for the wicked and reward for the righteous. What eternal torments punish those who pre- ordered to sin ? Whether they are guilty in this case? No, they are not . After all, they couldn't do otherwise . And what about reward for the righteous ? If they were originally destined to behave this way , and they can't behave differently ? They are worthy ? No . What is the merit of the man himself ? He's like a robot that does the will of the Creator. Orthodox theology , and the logic of any normal person can't reconcile the existence of predestination with the existence of hell for sinners and heaven for the righteous .
And if you look at the same issue from the perspective of everyday experience , you also arrive at the same conclusion . Is it better to believe in fate and do nothing , or do not believe in destiny and take care about creating their own future ? In many ways, the second approach to life is more reasonable.
But if there is no predetermination of what we are told by our theology , reason and experience of life , then what words from Revelation about "written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" (Revelation17: 8) can mean and how it may be known to those or other facts from non-predefined future that are even written in the Holy Scriptures ?
Objectively, there are knowledge about the future . There are facts recorded in the sacred books and have already came true , such as the prediction of Cyrus - conqueror of Babylon. Denying that such knowledge laid in Scripture is impossible . But how to reconcile this with the lack of predestination ? The answer to this question may be the following. There is no predestination , since, as has already been said , predestination and free will of the individual are mutually exclusive , but God's foreknowledge , or knowledge , that is accomplished in the end , knowing what would be the story of people who are free in their actions. God simply knows the story from the beginning to the end of days . There is intervention in the course of events , of course, and there is a certain predetermination of global processes ( what we would consider in the future, in the seventh chapter , the example of the Elliott Wave Theory ), but it doesn't apply to human freedom. Therefore, we , as free creatures responsible for their own future , take responsibility for our actions . And that's what we commit our own free will , what is known to God. This explanation helps us to understand the phrase "not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world". There are people who have lived , live or will live the life of iniquity, and it isn't predetermined , but it's known to God from the beginning of the world . God's foreknowledge is not contrary to the freedom of the will of man , and the use of this postulate can explain many paradoxes .
God knows the whole story from beginning to end . Moreover, he shares with the people a part of this knowledge through the prediction and prophecy. Probably aware of the effect of this knowledge , so to speak, the final version of the story. It's a mistake to think that this knowledge can put the predicted performance . So Jews were informed in advance that Christ will come in the basest form , won't be recognized , would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver , killed and resurrected.
Predictions about Christ recorded in the Bible:
Birth from the seed of the woman
" And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. " ( Gen . 3:15).
Birth of the Virgin
" Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel "(Is. 7:14)
Will be the Son of God
"... I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee ... "( Ps. 2:7); (1Chr. 17:11-14); (2 Kings . 7:12-16).
Birth in Bethlehem
" But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting . "(Micah. 5:2).
Will teach with parables
" In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted . "(Ps. 77:2).
Messiah must come to the Temple
" ... and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple ... " ( Mal . 3:1).
Betrayal of close one
" Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. " ( Ps . 41:9).
Shall be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver , which will be spent by chief priests to buy the land from a potter to bury.
" And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD ". ( Zechariah 11:12,13)
Shall be beaten and spat upon
" I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting " (Is. 50:6); (Micah. 5:1).
Hands and feet will be pierced
". .. they pierced my hands and my feet. "( Psalm . 22:16).
Will be crucified by transgressors
".. . because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors .. ."( Is. 53:12).
".. . For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. "( Ps. 16:10)
And it's just a small part of information that Jews had at the time of coming of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament there are more than three hundred theologians predictions about the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But this knowledge is not affected by the actions of the chief priests . Of course, we mustn't forget that the language of the Scriptures is always rife with allegories , parables and metaphors , so that even the knowledge given by God was often not understood (not understood by many ), and had no significant effect on the general course of history.
In conclusion , we should quote from the book The Wisdom of Solomon , which is in Church Slavonic translation of the Bible , aborted later Jewish scribes ( Masoretes), and therefore not included in the canonical Russian Synodal Bible text . Undoubtedly, this book was known to Jews at the time of Christ , but still they could not , or did not want to understand of whom it was said. In a few paragraphs it told almost the entire Gospel story . Son of God, denouncing the unjust, and their plan to kill Him , and His Resurrection , called " salvation." It was said that he " will stand" before their faces and unmask them after his death , which they regarded as disgraceful and shameful .
"Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected. "". (The Wisdom of Solomon 2 : 12-20)
"Then the righteous man will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have afflicted him, and those who make light of his labors. When they see him, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation. They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say, "This is the man whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach - we fools! We thought that his life as madness and that his end was without honor. Why has he been numbered among the sons of God? And why is his lot among the saints? "(The Wisdom of Solomon 5: 1-5 )
Not surprisingly, later Masoretes didn't include this book in the main text of the Bible , and it preserved , as another ten books , referred to as non-canonical , thanks to the Septuagint - the translation of the Scriptures into Greek , made more than 200 years before the birth of Christ by seventy Jewish translators for the king Ptolemy Philadelphus ( 285-246 BC) . Of course , these texts were known to the chief priests and scribes , crucifying Christ.
Thus, science doesn't investigate the future because there's no the subject of research for science , by and large, there is only a certain likelihood of certain events . But from a religious point of view, the future can exist as something concrete . And theological thought trying to explain why there are predictions that come true . Some religions explain it in predestination , or , in other words - originally created version of world history, until predetermined every action of every person. But in this case it's impossible to reconcile the existence of free will of man with punishment for sin and reward for righteousness . Predetermination of human lives deprives these concepts make sense. And in various religious teachings , this paradox is solved differently . Islam claims that predestination exists, but doesn't allow its followers to think about it. Protestants -calvinists believe in predestination , and even though that some people initially ordained to eternal destruction , which, of course , is absurd. But Orthodoxy assumes that all people are predestined to salvation , but it depends on the will of man. That, in a sense, is not predestined at all. We do bold assumption that God predestined laws, but not