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'It is later than you think'.

Fr Seraphim Rose (+1982)

No man knows when the world will end. Indeed the time of the end of the world was not even communicated by the Father to the human nature of the Son (Matt.24,36). However, in the Gospels the Son of God does tell us of the signs which must come to pass before the end of the world. What are these signs and what conclusions, however hesitant, can we draw from them about the times in which we live?

The twelve signs that must come to pass before the end are given as follows:

1) Many will come in the name of Christ and deceive many (Matt.24,5; Mark 13,6; Luke 21,8)

2) There will be wars and rumours of wars between nations and kingdoms (Matt.24, 6-7; Mark 13,7-8; Luke,21,9-10).

3) The first sorrows will be in the form of calamities: 'famines, pestilences and earthquakes in divers places', fearful sights and great signs from heaven (Matt.24,7-8; Mark, 13,8; Luke 21,11).

4) Orthodox Christians will be delivered up, killed and hated by all nations (Matt. 24,9; Mark 13, 9-11; Luke 21,12-15).

5) Everywhere men will hate and betray each other (Matt.24,10; Mark 13,12-13; Luke 21,16-17).

6) Many false prophets will appear and deceive many (Matt.24,11).

7) On account of abundant iniquity (evil deeds and unrepented sin), the love of many will grow cold. Only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt.24,12-13; Mark 13,13; Luke 21,19).

8) The Gospel will be preached throughout the world 'for a witness unto all nations' (Matt.24,14; Mark 13,10).

9) After this Jews will become Orthodox Christians (Romans 11,25-28).

10) Preparations will be made for the coming of Antichrist, called the son of perdition and the beast. Preceded by false prophets and false signs and wonders, Antichrist will be a master of illusion, of 'shock and awe', taking away people's freedom, but making them think that they have been freed. He will persecute the true servants of Christ with rage and fury. The Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt for him to be enthroned there in the place of Christ - hence his name 'Antichrist', he who comes in the place of Christ (Matt, 24,15-24; Mark 13,14-22; 2 Thess.3-11; 1 John 2,18; Rev.13,1-8).

11) Signs will appear in the heavens, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, the sea and the waves will roar and the powers of heaven will be shaken (Matt.24,29; Mark,13,24-25; Luke 21,25-26).

12) The sign of the Son of man (the Cross) will appear in the heavens and then will take place the Second Coming of Christ with power and great glory. Angels will be sent and shall gather the elect together 'from the four winds' (Matt.24,30-31; Mark 13,26-27, Luke 21,27).

As we look at the above, we may be tempted to think that the first half of these signs, the first six, have already come to pass. Concerning the first sign, over the centuries many have indeed come, saying that they are Christ and they have deceived many. As regards the second sign, the twentieth century especially but also already the beginning of the twenty-first century, have been marked by 'wars and rumours of wars'. The third sign, 'natural' (i.e. unnnatural) disasters, has been taking place, as 'famines, pestilences and earthquakes' are occurring all over the world. Fourthly, Orthodox Christians have everywhere been 'delivered up, killed and hated'. The fifth sign has also appeared, for the modern world seems to be full of 'hatred and betrayal'. Sixth, false prophets already abound and 'deceive many'.

However, there are those who would go beyond this interpretation. They would say that we are now already three-quarters of the way to the end, with the revelation of the three next signs. For them, the seventh sign, iniquity, now abounds and the love of many is indeed growing cold. And the eighth sign too is now under way, for the Gospel is being preached throughout the world as, with the freeing of Russia and global population movements, Orthodox Christianity is now spreading throughout the world. A time is coming when there will be no man who has not heard of the Orthodox Church. As regards the ninth point, the fact is also that many Jews, in Russia at least, have in recent years been baptised into the Orthodox Church.

If this is the case, then we are now awaiting the preparation of the tenth sign. What can we say of this, the final preparation for the coming of Antichrist?

Certainly, there is now an abundance of false prophets claiming to speak in the name of Christ.

Through modern technology, signs and wonders, unthinkable even a few years ago, now take place.

As the father of lies (John 8,44), Antichrist's master plan of illusion is everywhere in evidence. It is present through the propaganda ('spin') of modern media, advertising and marketing, the conformist drug of television, computer trickery and other electronic technology, the levelling down of modern education -'ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth' (2 Timothy 3,7). Through these instruments of control, the masses are manipulated and enslaved to delusion by those in whose interest it is to manipulate them. Wisdom leaves the city.

Imagining that they are still free, the masses are enslaved in debt to usurers. This debt is cleverly concealed under the illusion of its opposite -'credit', the 'freedom' to buy whatever they want whenever they want.

The illusions of global unity and peace are promised through physical comforts. These are granted at the price of freedom, which must be surrendered to self-proclaimed 'democrats', in fact, dictators.

Through apostasy from faith in the Risen Christ, apostates lose their freedom from the fear of death, the Resurrection faith which is now everywhere being denied. These apostates, fearing bodily death, will be psychologically enslaved to the Master of illusion and willing to do anything in order to hold onto their earthly lives. Antichrist will come to occupy the now vacant throne in men's souls.

Fierce persecution of the last remaining servants of Christ, still faithful to the Resurrection and resisting Antichrist, will begin once more.

Since the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the establishment of the Jewish State, plans have been drawn up for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the coming worship of Antichrist there.

What are we to think?

Many cynics will dismiss this article as mere panic-mongering. They will say that many have already announced the end and become laughing-stocks. This is true - but they became laughing-stocks because they did not know the Scriptures and, ignoring Christ's own words that no man knows of that day and hour (Matt.24,36), they imagined the precise dates of the end of the world. From this we learn that is always foolish to despise the words of the Saviour and ignore the Scriptures.

Other cynics will say that others have predicted the end, without giving a precise date, and still been found wrong. However, many of these did not predict the end of the world, but the end of a world. This happened, as prophesied, in A.D. 70 with the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans and the end of the world of the Jews. This happened in 1066, when English people saw signs and understood that their world was coming to an end with the sack of England by the Normans. This happened again in 1917, when Russian people saw the iniquity around them and understood that their world was coming to an end with the sack of Russia by the Bolsheviks. Those who in such cases predicted the end of a world were indeed found right and vindicated.

Yet other cynics will say that others have predicted the imminent end of the world, without giving a precise date, and still been found wrong. However, if such people care to consider these warnings, they will always find that the warnings were given conditionally. In other words, they always said that the world will end, if there is no repentance. The inevitable events prophesied by Christ in the Gospels can be put forward or put back. We have the freedom either to hasten the coming of Antichrist or to delay it.

It is to this last group that we join ourselves. Not of course because we are prophets, or have any other virtue, but because we, like millions of others, simply hold fast to the two-thousand year-old Orthodox Christian Faith, the Faith of the Church of Christ, the Faith in the Resurrection. Certainly, no man knows the times and seasons (1 Thess.5,1), but if there is not repentance now, it is clear that one day there will be no more times and seasons.

Fr Andrew

16/29 January
St Peter ad Vincula
The Chains of the Holy Apostle Peter

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