Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Orthodox Faith – Salvation History (8A)

Many people are interested in prophecy. They want to know their own future and the future of the whole world, so they go to fortune tellers, psychics, card readers, etc. But the Bible forbids us to go to such people.

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not practice augury or witchcraft. (Lev 19:26)

“Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 19:31)

And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the wizards who chirp and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Is 8:119)

 

Consulting psychics, astrologers, etc. shows a lack of trust in God. Our fate, so to speak, is in the hands of a loving God. This is all we need to know.

One perennial curiosity is who or what is the Antichrist. This figure appears in many parts of the New Testament. His coming heralds the end times in which Christ will come again, destroy the Antichrist and establish His kingdom. Throughout Christian history people looked at the Bible to find out when the second coming will be. Even the Apostles wanted to know this. But we see how Christ responds to the question about the end of the world.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. (Acts 1:6-7)

Christ then ascends into heaven. But Christ’s answer has never satisfied people’s curiosity about the end and so many people have used the Bible, especially the Book of Daniel, in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, to identify the Antichrist and determine when Christ will come again.

Throughout Christian history many evil rulers have been called the Antichrist: Emperor Nero, Emperor Diocletian, Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Hitler, Stalin and many others. But Christ’s response to the Apostles question shows us that we will never know the date of the Second Coming. To show how foolish this kind of curiosity is the writer of this article refers to a book he was shown as a seminarian. It was an old book printed early in the nineteenth century “proving” that Napoleon was the Antichrist and the Second Coming was imminent. The author of this book searched the Bible for verses which seem to refer to Napoleon. For us, this may seem silly. We know that Napoleon was not the Antichrist. The point here is that the Bible is not a fortune telling book. But none of this is prophecy in the Biblical sense.

Of course, the Old Testament prophets pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah. Some of the prophecies were uncannily close to what actually occurred. For example the book of Isaiah  has some hymns or songs about the Suffering Servant. Jews would not think that these verses about suffering could be applied to the Messiah. For them a suffering Messiah is a contradiction in terms. For them the Messiah was a victorious king so to speak. Some Jews think that these words apply to the state of Israel. In other words, the suffering servant texts refer to the Jewish people, over the centuries. Out of this suffering came the nation of Israel.. But we see how these words apply to Jesus Christ.

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief;

when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)

This is just an example. In the Book of Isaiah there are many other servant songs which we, as Christians, understand as applying to Jesus.

Fr. John