Today Is the Sunday of the Dread Judgment, and it is natural for us to speak of the Dread Judgment and of the signs of the end of the world. No one knows that day; only God the Father knows; but the signs of its approach are given in the Gospel and in the Revelation [Apocalypse] of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Dread Judgment principally in images and in a concealed manner; but the Holy Fathers have explained it, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks to us both about the signs of the approach of the end of the world and about the Dread Judgment.
Before the end of life
on earth there will be confusion, wars, civil strife, famine, and earthquakes.
Men will suffer from fear; they will expire from the expectation of calamities.
There will be no life, no joy of life, but a tormenting state of falling away
from life. There will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith as
well: when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth? (Luke
Men will become proud
and ungrateful, denying the Divine Law: together with a falling away from life
there will be also a dearth of moral life.
There will be an
exhaustion of good, and a growth of evil. The holy Apostle John the Theologian,
in his divinely-inspired work, the Revelation, also speaks of this time. He
himself says that he "was in the Spirit," which means that the Holy
Spirit Himself was in him when the fate of the Church and the world was revealed
to him in various images, and that is why it is God's Revelation.
He represents the fate
of the Church in the image of a woman who, in those times, hides in the
wilderness: she does not show herself in public life, just as in Russia today.
Those forces that are
preparing the appearance of Antichrist will have a leading significance in
public life. Antichrist will be a man and not the devil incarnate.
"Ann" is a word meaning "old," or it means "in place
of" or "against." That man wants to be in place of Christ, to
occupy His place and possess that which Christ ought to possess. He wants to
possess the same attraction and authority over the whole world.
And he will receive
that authority before his own destruction and that of the whole world. He will
have a helper, a Magus, who, by the power of false miracles, will fulfill his
will and kill those that do not recognize the authority of Antichrist. Before
the destruction of Antichrist, two righteous men will appear who will denounce
him. The Magus will kill them and their bodies will lie unburied for three
days, and Antichrist and all his servants will rejoice exceedingly. Then
suddenly, those righteous men will resurrect, and the whole army of Antichrist
will be in confusion and horror, and the Antichrist himself will suddenly fall
dead, slain by the power of the Spirit.
But what is known about
this man, Antichrist? His precise ancestry is unknown. His father is completely
unknown, while his mother is a defiled, pretended virgin. He will be a Jew from
the tribe of Dan. There is an indication of this, in that Jacob, when dying,
said that [Dan], in his posterity, would be a serpent by the way… biting the
heel of the horse (and the rider shall fall backward) (Gen. 49:17). This is a
figurative indication that he will act with craftiness and evil.
In Revelation, John the
Theologian speaks of the salvation of the sons of Israel that before the end of
the world a multitude of Jews will be converted to Christ; but the tribe of Dan
is not included in the enumeration of the tribes that are saved.
Antichrist will be very
intelligent and gifted with the ability to deal with people. He will be
charming and affectionate.
Vladimir Soloviev worked extensively on this subject in order to present the
advent and the personality of Antichrist. He made careful use of all relevant
materials, not only Patristic, but also Muslim, and produced a very striking
Before the advent of
Antichrist, his appearance is already being prepared in the world. "The
mystery is already at work" (cf. II Thess. 2:7), and the forces preparing
his appearance struggle above all against lawful royal authority. The holy
Apostle Paul says that Antichrist cannot appear until "he that
restrains" is removed. John Chrysostom explains that "he that
restrains" is the lawful, godly authority.
Such an authority
struggles with evil. The "mystery" working in the world does not want
this; it does not want an authority that wars against evil; on the contrary, it
wants an authority of iniquity, and when it succeeds in bringing this about,
then nothing will stand in the way of the coming of Antichrist. He will be not
only intelligent and charming: he will be compassionate, he will be charitable
and do good, for the sake of consolidating his power. And when he will have
strengthened it sufficiently, so that the whole world acknowledges him, then he
will show his real face.
He will choose
Jerusalem as his capital, because it was here that the Saviour revealed His
Divine teaching and His Person, and the whole world was called to the
blessedness of goodness and salvation. But the world did not accept Christ and
crucified Him in Jerusalem; while under Antichrist, Jerusalem will become the
capital of the world that has recognized the authority of Antichrist.
Once having attained
the summit of power, Antichrist will demand that men acknowledge his attainment
as something to which no other earthly power and no other man could possibly
attain, and he will demand that men bow down to him as to a superior being, a god.
Soloviev describes well
the character of his activity as Supreme Ruler. He will do what pleases men, on
the condition that they recognize his Supreme Authority. He will let the Church
function, and allow her to hold Divine services, he will promise to build
magnificent temples—provided he is recognized as the "Supreme Being"
and that he is worshipped. He will have a personal hatred for Christ. He will
live by this hatred and will rejoice at seeing men apostatize from Christ and
the Church. There will be a mass falling away from the faith; even many bishops
will betray the faith, justifying themselves by pointing to the splendid
position of the Church.
A search for compromise
will be the characteristic disposition of men. Straightforwardness of confession
will vanish. Men will cleverly justify their fall, and an endearing evil will
support such a general disposition. Men will grow accustomed to apostasy from
the truth and to the sweetness of compromise and sin.
Antichrist will allow
men everything, if only they "fall down and worship him." This is not
something new. The Roman emperors were similarly prepared to grant the
Christians freedom, if only they recognized [the emperor's] divinity and divine
supreme authority; they martyred Christians only because they professed:
"Worship God Alone and serve Him Alone."
The whole world will
submit to him, and then he will reveal his hatred for Christ and Christianity.
Saint John the Theologian says that all who worship him will have a mark on
their forehead and right hand. It is not clear whether this will be an actual
mark on the body, or if this is a figurative expression of the fact that men
will acknowledge in their minds the necessity of worshipping Antichrist, as
well as submit their wills to him. And when the whole world manifests such a
complete submission—of both will and conscience—then the two righteous men
[already] mentioned will appear and will fearlessly preach the faith and expose
Holy Scripture says
that before the coming of the Saviour two "lamps," will appear, two
"burning olive trees," "two righteous men." Antichrist will
kill them by the power of the Magus. Who are these men? According to Church
tradition, these are the two righteous who never tasted of death: the Prophet
Elias and the Prophet Enoch. There is a prophecy that these saints, who had not
tasted of death, will taste it for three days; but after three days they will
Their death will be a
great joy for Antichrist and his servants. Their rising three days later will
bring them unspeakable horror, terror and confusion. And then will come the end
of the world.
The Apostle Peter says
that the first world was created out of water and perished by water. "Out
of water" is also an image of the chaos of the physical mass, while
"perished by water" is [an image] of the Flood. And now the world is reserved
unto fire.....The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up
(II Peter 3:7-10). All the elements will melt. This present world will perish
in a single instant. In an instant everything will change.
And the sign of the Son
of God will appear, that is, the sign of the Cross. The whole world, having
willingly submitted to Antichrist, "will break out in lamentation,"
Everything is finished. Antichrist is slain. The end of his kingdom, the end of
the war with Christ. The end, and accountability for one's whole life, an
account to the True God.
Then, from the
mountains of Palestine, the Ark of the Covenant will appear. The Prophet
Jeremiah hid the Ark and the Holy Fire in a deep well. When they took water
from that well, it burst into flame. But the Ark itself they did not find.
When we look at life
today, those able to see, see that everything foretold about the end of the
world is being fulfilled.
Who then is this man —
Antichrist? Saint John the Theologian figuratively gives him the name 666; but
all attempts to understand this designation have been futile.
The life of the
contemporary world gives us a fairly clear understanding of the possibility of
the world burning up, when all the elements shall melt with fervent heat.
Atomic fission gives us that understanding.
The end of the world
does not signify its annihilation, but its transformation. Everything will be
changed, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. The dead will resurrect in new
bodies — their own, but renewed — just as the Saviour arose in His Body, and on
it were the traces of the wounds from the nails and the spear; but it possessed
new properties, and in this respect it was a new body. It is unclear whether
this will be an altogether new body or that with which man was created.
And the Lord will appear
on the clouds with glory. How will we see Him? With our spiritual eyes. Even
now, at death, righteous people see that which other people around them do not
The trumpets will
sound, loud and powerful. They will trumpet in men's souls, in their conscience.
Everything in the human conscience will become clear.
The Prophet Daniel,
speaking of the Dread Judgment, relates how the Ancient of Days, the judge, is
on His throne, and before Him is a river of fire. Fire is a purifying element.
Fire scorches sin, it burns it up, and woe also burns it up; if sin has become
natural to a man, then it burns up the man himself as well.
That fire will flare up
inside a man: on seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, while others will fall
into despair, confusion, terror. In this way, men will immediately be
separated. In the Gospel narrative, some stand to the right of the Judge, some
to the left — their inner consciousness separated them. The very state of a
man's soul casts him to one side or the other, to the right or to the left.
The more consciously
and persistently a man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his
joy when he hears the words: "Come unto Me, ye blessed"; and
conversely, those same words will call forth the fire of horror and torment on
those who did not want Him, who fled or fought or blasphemed Him during their
The Dread Judgment
knows no witnesses or charge-sheets. Everything is recorded in men's souls, and
these records, these "books" are open. Everything becomes clear to
all and to oneself, and the state of a man's soul assigns him to the right or
to the left.
Some go to joy, others
"books" are open, it will become clear to all that the roots of all
vices are in man's soul. Here is a drunkard, a fornicator; some may think that
when the body dies the sin dies as well. No; the inclination was in the soul,
and to the soul the sin was sweet.
And if [the soul] has
not repented of that sin and has not become free of it, it will come to the
Dread Judgment with the same desire for the sweetness of sin and will never
satisfy its desire. In it will be the suffering of hatred and malice. This is
the state of hell.
Gehenna" is the inner fire; this is the flame of vice, the flame of
weakness and malice; and there will be [the] wailing and gnashing of teeth of
St. John of Shanghai