Mankind has always had a keen interest in the end-time and the coming of the Antichrist as a precursor. In times of war, like now, this issue is particularly hot-button.
As the situation in the world deteriorates, the sense of the imminent end of the world is heightened. There are many judgments, opinions, revelations about the end of the world and the approaching arrival of the Antichrist. In such mournful times, believers often turn their eyes to the book of Revelation of St. John the Theologian in order to look up for analogies of what is happening around them today. In addition, there are revelations of the elders, which in their own way explain the events of our time.
Our time is no exception. The Revelation of St. John the Theologian stands alone in the collection of books of the New Testament. The Gospels, the Epistles of the Apostles have a huge corpus of interpretations of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church. But few of them took up the Apocalypse, since this is a book of deep symbols, the understanding of which can only be the fruit of revelation, rather than pious reflections. Since the Apocalypse does not have a church-wide patristic interpretation, we listen with particular sensitivity to those of our contemporaries who have direct knowledge from God and speak in His name, not from their own minds.
Those people who know the living spirit-bearing elders and knew those who left this world not so long ago testify that many false prophecies are being circulated on the Internet and in the print media that these elders did not speak. Conversely, what they actually said was not made public. Without going into the details of these revelations, we will convey only one main message that expresses the essence of the eventualities – humanity is entering the era on the eve of the end of the world.
Of course, one can take this warning rather skeptically, pointing out that the world has already experienced wars, upheavals, epidemics more than once, perhaps even on a larger scale than the current ones. We will not argue, but will only convey what we have heard and received from the spirit-bearing fathers, without analyzing and criticizing this revelation.
“The seal of the Antichrist will be associated with the direct renunciation of Christ” is the main idea of many modern prophecies.
The main content of this article will be devoted to the issue of the seal of the Antichrist. This topic is very important, because I have heard more than once that the seal of the Antichrist will be placed approximately in the same way as a travel ticket is composted. It means that at some stage of the movement of our world train along the rails of time, clerks of the underworld security service will be sent to the all-human carriage and, approaching Christians, will offer them to renounce Christ. If the latter agree, their hand or forehead will be sealed’ otherwise they will be killed at best or deprived of social rights and doomed to a slow death at worst.
“The seal of the Antichrist will be associated with the direct renunciation of Christ” – this is the main idea of many modern prophesies. Therefore, with the firmness of authoritative experts, at every step that brings the world closer to an apocalyptic catastrophe, they confidently declare: “No, this is not yet the seal of the Antichrist”, “And that is not yet a seal, either”, etc. The flock trusts them and calms down: "Well, if experts say this is not yet a seal, then we can." So, step by step, litle by little, we are slowly lowered into the threshold of hell, so that no one notices when we pass that point of no return, from where the Sun of Truth rising over the horizon will no longer be seen. Therefore, there is a need to talk about the seal of the Antichrist in more detail.
So what is it like?
In the Revelation of St. John the Theologian, little is said about the seal of the beast, and the holy fathers did not particularly comment on this topic. However, according to the book, the seal of the Antichrist is clearly opposed to the seal of Christ, which the Holy Fathers wrote a lot about. All unanimously say that this seal is Baptism. Saint Basil the Great wrote that this is the seal of the Holy Trinity, the outer part of which is the sacrament of Baptism, and the inner part is the human heart, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of Confirmation, the priest, anointing the body of the baptized, says, "The seal of the Holy Spirit." The cross of Christ, according to the fathers, is also a symbol of this seal. They even considered the very sign of the cross, which a person puts on himself, to be the seal of Christ.
The holy fathers even considered the very sign of the cross, which a person puts on himself, to be the seal of Christ.
Consequently, the seal of the Antichrist will also have certain visible attributes and some kind of marking symbolism. Having studied patristic interpretations concerning the seal of the beast, Saint Theophan the Recluse came to the conclusion that the Antichrist would not need any seal. Most likely, he will do it technically in some way, but not because there is a need for it, but because it is written about in the Apocalypse, i.e. purely out of cynicism.
Here it is important to pay attention to something else. The seal of Christ means forever. Man cannot be baptized for the second time. Only by trampling Christ within ourselves can we lose this seal. This means that the seal of the Antichrist will be inalienable, so that a person will not be able to give up on it. It is not about some kind of talisman or sign one can refuse at any time, but about something that will no longer be possible to refuse.
In fact, a person's life goes along one of two paths till he steps over the point of no return, after which there is no turning back. It is impossible for us to imagine that St. Seraphim of Sarov or Sergius of Radonezh at the end of his life would suddenly decide to become fornicators or robbers. Their souls came to a state in which a return to sin is impossible. From the possibility of not sinning they came to the impossibility of sinning. These people became bearers of the seal of Divine sonship. Potentially, we all bear this seal. However, it can reveal itself only in the course of time, gradually crystallizing and acquiring clear outlines as a result of our moral choice and spiritual efforts.
Yet, there is another way. To come from the possibility of sinning to the state of impossibility not to sin. The seal of the Antichrist excludes any repentance. Step by step, starting with a small conciliation with sin, moving to acceptable, as it seems to us, compromises with conscience, a person gradually draws out of himself not only the likeness of God, which he failed to acquire, but the very image of God, turning into a demon-like creature. Unbeknownst to him, the point of no return can be overlooked, after which there will be no turning back. A visible seal of the beast is only a symbol that confirms the deadness of the spirit of its bearer.
The seal of the Antichrist excludes any repentance. A visible seal of the beast is only a symbol that confirms the deadness of the spirit of its bearer.
Therefore, an important conclusion to be drawn is that the spirit of renunciation matures gradually and, what is most terrible, imperceptibly. A person cannot change instantly. Our soul, like all living things, matures slowly. God created the laws of the existence of this world in such a way that a person had the opportunity and time to choose, so that he could not say later something like “I did not have time to look around, I could not understand, I did not realize.” In order to make a choice of either of the seals, a person is given a whole life. The Holy Fathers say that a sin committed once is a mistake, twice is a habit, and three times is passion and slavery.
When a bloody terror broke out in our country a hundred years ago, Christians also thought that the time of the Antichrist had come. They thought that after their arrest they would be told to deny Christ and live, or else to remain faithful to God and die. But everything went differently. They were accused not of believing in God, but of being engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, having a bad attitude towards political power, and so on. Christians were offered not to renounce their faith, but to sign some papers on cooperation with the authorities or write a denunciation of a certain person. As accusations, there were created articles of the criminal code that were not directly related to faith. Not everyone then understood that the seal of Antichrist is not only about one’s direct renunciation of Christ, but also compromises with one’s conscience.
Sometimes the situation looked like this. On the one hand, there is the life of the parish, the family, worship, and on the other, a formal requirement to conclude a cooperation agreement with the NKVD, or later with the KGB. At the same time, they assured priests this is only on paper, only for formal reporting before the authorities, and no one will demand any denunciations from them. Instead, they will be guaranteed security and a relatively quiet life. The same thing happened to the number of bishops, who did not see any betrayal of Christ in such “deals”. Our time is no different from the past.
Today we are offered small steps to make small compromises. “This is not the seal of the Antichrist, there’s nothing wrong about it,” we think. After all, it has nothing to do with faith. Of course not. One, two, three steps of seemingly insignificant concessions to the world, and then it turns out you have crossed the line, after which the way back is already closed.
Not everyone then understood that the seal of Antichrist is not only about one’s direct renunciation of Christ, but also compromises with one’s conscience.
Our time is special. Satan is now massively marking his adherents with the seal of the beast using the technology of division and inciting hatred. With this sieve, he very efficiently sifts not only people who are far from the Church, but also our parishioners, and notably the clergy.
I had to correspond with people who consider themselves Orthodox priests, but at the same time, instead of a cross, they’d better wear a Mauser around their necks. With their rhetoric of hatred, they would look more organic. The seal of Christ and the seal of Antichrist do not imply any third state. Either you are with Christ, Who has always been, is and will be Love in any case, in any era and under any circumstances, or you betray this Love and take the side of evil and hatred, no matter how you call it and how you justify it. In turn, the devil can stuff your head with as many excuses as he likes.
The forces of evil offer to go beyond love in the name of truth, justice, expediency, and even for the sake of God. Communicating with these unfortunate shepherds, I was facing typical sectarians who pronounced in different interpretations the same propaganda slogans of the religious-state ideology, which has nothing to do with Orthodoxy. In order not to turn from a good shepherd into an evil political officer, it is enough for a priest to remember what the Gospel teaches him. However, even such a simple and understandable truth appears more than one can manage.
When asked by his spiritual children about the main thing in the ascetic life, Elder Tikhon (Golenkov) gave the following answer: "Soberness", i.e. the main thing is not to let evil enter your mind and heart. God can act in this world as He pleases. Even the greatest saints were not able to conceive and comprehend the ways of Divine Providence. The Lord can lead us through sorrows, trials, upheavals, which we will perceive as evil, because we will suffer from them. But we know that the Lord always is moved only by one thing – love. As for other people, none of those who want to be saved have the right to applaud, seeing someone else’s afflictions, and say, “It serves you right!” And even more so to wish for evil as retribution or punishment, because this, in essence, is a curse on themselves and the removal of the seal of Christ.
The last thing I would like to say about the seal of the Antichrist is that it will not be possible to play both sides of the fence: to buy and sell and at the same time not to renounce Christ. A lot of people will look for precisely such an option for themselves – to have their cake and eat it. It will never work that way, since there is no third way.
Either you are with Christ or you are with the Antichrist. One or the other.
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