The DAY OF
the Last Judgement! That day no one knows -- only God the Father knows -- but
its signs are given in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle
John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world
and of the Last Judgement primarily in images and in a veiled manner. However,
the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church
tradition that speaks clearly concerning the signs of the approach of the end,
and concerning the Last Judgement. Before the end of life on earth there will
be agitation, wars, civil war, hunger, earthquakes... Men will suffer from
fear, will die from expectation of calamity. There will be no life, no joy of
life but a tormented state of falling away from life. Nevertheless there will
be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and "when
the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (St. Luke
18:8). Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with
the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life. There will be an
exhaustion of good and an increase of evil.
Of these times, the holy Apostle
John the Theologian speaks in his God-inspired work, the Apocalypse. He says
that he "was in the Spirit" when he wrote it; this means that the
Holy Spirit Himself was in him, when under the form of various images, the fate
of the Church and the world was opened to him, and so this is a Divine
The Apocalypse represents the
fate of the Church in the image of a woman who hides herself in the wilderness:
she does not show herself in public life, as today in Russia. In public life, forces that prepare the
possibility for the appearance of Antichrist will play the leading role.
Antichrist will be a man, and not
the devil incarnate. "Anti" means "old," and it also
signifies "in place of" or "against." Antichrist is a man
who desires to be in place of Christ, to occupy His place and possess what
Christ should possess. He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and
authority over the whole world. Moreover, Antichrist will receive that
authority before his destruction and the destruction of the world.
What is known of this man --
Antichrist? His precise ancestry is unknown: his father is completely unknown,
and his mother a foul pretended virgin. He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan.
He will be very intelligent and endowed with skill in handling people. He will
be fascinating and kind. The philosopher Vladimir Soloviev worked a long time
at presenting the advent and person of Antichrist. He carefully made use of all
material on this question, not only Patristic, but also Moslem, and he worked
out a brilliant picture.
Before the advent of Antichrist,
there was a preparation in the world, the possibility of his appearance. The
mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thes. 2:7). The forces preparing for
his appearance fight above all against the lawful Imperial authority. The holy
Apostle Paul says that Antichrist cannot be manifested until what withholdest
is taken away (II Thes. 2:6-7). St. John Chrysostom explains that the
"withholding one" is the lawful pious authority: such an authority
fights with evil. For this reason the "mystery," already at work in
the world, fights with this authority; it desires a lawless authority. When the
"mystery" decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the
appearance of Antichrist any longer.
Fascinating, intelligent, kind,
he will be merciful — he will act with mercy and goodness; but not for the sake
of mercy and goodness, but for the strengthening of his own authority. When he
will have strengthened it to the point where the whole world acknowledges him,
then he will reveal his face.
For his capital, he will choose Jerusalem, because it was here that the Savior
revealed His Divine teaching and His person. It was here that the entire world
was called to the blessedness of goodness and salvation. The world did not
acknowledge Christ and crucified Him in Jerusalem; whereas, the whole world will
acknowledge the Antichrist’s authority and Jerusalem will become the capital of the world.
Having attained the pinnacle of
authority, Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that he has attained what
no earthly power had ever attained or could attain and then demand the worship
of himself as a higher being, as a god.
V. Soloviev describes the
character of his activity well, as "Supreme Ruler." He will do what
is pleasing to all -- on the condition of being recognized as Supreme Authority.
He will allow the Church to exist, permit her Divine services, promise to build
magnificent churches…. on the condition, that all recognize him as
"Supreme Being" and worship him. Antichrist will have a personal
hatred for Christ; he will see Him as a rival and look upon Him as a personal
enemy. He will live by this hatred and rejoice in men's apostasy from Christ.
Under Antichrist, there will be
an immense falling away from the faith. Many bishops will change in faith and
in justification will point to the brilliant situation of the Church. The
search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men.
Straight-forwardness of confession will disappear. Men will cleverly justify
their fall, and gracious evil will support such a general disposition. There
will be the habit of apostasy from truth and the sweetness of compromise and
sin in men.
Antichrist will allow men
everything, as long as they "fall down and worship him"; and the
whole world will submit to him. Then there will appear the two righteous men,
who will fearlessly preach the faith and accuse Antichrist. According to Church
tradition, they are the two Prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah and Enoch,
who did not taste of death, but will taste it now for three days, and in three days
they must rise. Their death will call forth the great rejoicing of Antichrist
and his servants. Their resurrection will plunge them into great confusion and
terror. Then, the end of the world will come.
The Apostle Peter said that the
first world was made out of water — an image of the primordial chaos, and
perished by water — in the Flood. Now the world is reserved unto fire. The
earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (II Peter 3:5-7, 10).
All the elements will ignite. This present world will perish in a single
instant. In an instant all will be changed.
Moreover, the Sign of the Son of
God, the Sign of the Cross, will appear. The whole world, having
willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep. Everything is finished forever:
Antichrist killed, the end of his kingdom of warfare with Christ, the end, and
one is held accountable; one must answer to the true God.
"The end of the world"
signifies not the annihilation of the world, but its transformation. Everything
will be transformed suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. The dead will rise in
new bodies: their own, but renewed, just as the Savior rose in His own body and
traces of wounds from the nails and spear were on it, yet it possessed new
faculties, and in this sense it was a new body. It is not clear whether this
new body will be the same as Adam was made, or whether it will be an entirely
Afterward, the Lord will appear
in glory on the clouds. Trumpets will sound, loud, with power! They will sound
in the soul and conscience! All will become clear to the human conscience. The
Prophet Daniel, speaking of the Last Judgement, relates how the Ancient of
Days, the Judge sits on His throne, and before Him is a fiery stream (Daniel
7:9-10). Fire is a purifying element; it burns sin. Woe to a man if sin has
become a part of his nature: then the fire will burn the man, himself.
This fire will be kindled within
man: seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, but others will fall into confusion,
terror and despair. Thus, men will be divided instantly. The very state of a
man's soul casts him to one side or the other, to right or to left.
The more consciously and
persistently man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his joy
when he hears: "Come unto Me, ye blessed." Conversely: the same words
will call the fire of horror and torture to those who did not desire Him, who
fled and fought or blasphemed Him during their lifetime!
The Last Judgement knows of no
witnesses or written protocols! Everything is inscribed in the souls of men and
these records, these "books," are opened at the Judgement. Everything
becomes clear to all and to oneself.
Moreover, some will go to joy,
while others — to horror.
When "the books are
opened," it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human
soul. Here is a drunkard or a lecher: when the body has died, some may think
that sin is dead too. No! There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and that
sin was sweet to the soul, and if the soul has not repented and has not freed
itself of the sin, it will come to the Last Judgement with the same desire for
sin. It will never satisfy that desire and in that soul there will be the
suffering of hatred. It will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured
condition; it will hate everyone and everything. "There will be gnashing
of teeth" of powerless malice and the unquenchable fire of hatred.
A "fiery gehenna" —
such is the inner fire. "There will be wailing and gnashing of
teeth." Such is the state of hell.
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