I wanted to talk about an important topic that has been lingering on my mind for a while, it is regarding the end of the world. We all know that no one knows the hour nor the day when it will happen but at the same time we have a lot signs that are becoming reality. Not just the wars and natural disasters (even though lately the trend and amount has increased dramatically in our generation) but also other signs.
For example, one of the signs is the establishment of the Jewish nation and there gathering from all over the world, which started back in the 1940's when Israel became an independent nation. Also from the parable of the fig tree, we know that the fig tree symbolizes the jewish nation and that God cursed it because it didnt bear fruits. However, Christ said when the fig tree becomes tender we should know that the summer is near. So if the fig tree symbolizes the jews, then their return to God is a sign of tenderness, a sign that the end is near.
In addition, as many can predict, the building of the temple will happen in the near future within a few years since they are very close to finding it. At that point, Elijah and Enoch will come back followed by the antichrist.
I have many things to say about this topic, for example some of the old testament prophecies, but I would like to see what others think regarding that.
Mark 13:28-29 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
These are two separate things.
#1 Our Lord is saying, as an example, when the fig tree is tender then you know the sign, and it means that Summer is near.
#2. So, when you see these signs (war, tribulations, false Christs etc) then you will know that the end of things is near.
I can't see that he is saying anything about the Jews or referring to the Jews when he speaks of the fig tree. It seems to me he could have said something similar about any kind of tree. He was just saying that when we see a sign then we know that some time is near.
Looking through some of the commentaries, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome and Origen all seem to understand the passage as not referring to the Jews.
Personally, having been greatly influenced by Americans such as Hal Lindsey in the past, I do not believe any interpretation of the such prophetic passages should be attempted beyond what the Fathers have already said. They have said quite a lot, almost always applying the passage in a manner which provides spiritual teaching. I just don't think that we are in the end times more than in any other time. Things are bad now, but they have often been worse. Yet the Lord is merciful and slow to bring judgement. I also don't think that we should heed any of those who say that 'when this happens - that will happen'. It is almost entirely all Protestant wishful thinking I am afraid. It is not usually what the Fathers teach at all. I have been there already - I was greatly involved in such things - now I believe they are all wrong and false.
Nowadays I am more concerned with my own state, especially as I reach middle age and my own passing is more real to me.
Fr. Peter I agree with you that the parable of the fig tree has a great spiritual meaning to everyone of us because as we draw near to God then the grace of the Holy Spirit will grant us its fruits. I know what you mean that it is better to focus on my own end rather than the end of the world.
I am not sure what you mean about it being protestant wishful thinking regarding "when this happens-that will happen". The reason why I am asking about this topic is from a few sermons that I heard that made it seem that the end is near, at least in the next generations. One of the reasons used was the parable of the good samaritan, where he took the injured person and gave the owner of the place two dinaries and said that he will pay him the rest when he comes back. It was explained that the two dinaries symbolize two thousand years (where it says one day for God is like a thousand etc) so after the two thousand years are over the Samarian will come back.
Also, the priest was saying (I believe in Isiah) that we will die for two days and on the third day the lord will raise us and again he was saying maybe the two days are two thousand years and the Lord is coming anytime in the third day.
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to clarify whether this is true or atleast is acceptable. Again I know that it is better to focus on what spiritual life looks like rather than when the world wil end.
Chernobyl is the Russian word for the plant mugwort, while the word used in the Greek New Testament, apsinthos, refers to the plant wormwood. These are not the same plants. Indeed, as far as I understand, the Russian translations of the Bible use the word polyn which means wormwood in Russian, and not the word chernobyl which means mugwort.
If people do want to study these things I advise that they refer only to the Fathers of the Church. As I said earlier, almost all that is said in modern times about these things is a result of Protestant thinking. I never hear anyone refer to the Fathers, except Ioannes - I don't mean here only but generally when it comes to these types of passages.
If we begin and end our reflections with prayer and with the Fathers we will not be led astray.
We know nothing of the detail of these times and I truly believe we should hesitate to make any statements about these things especially if we are not simply reflecting the teachings of the Fathers.
The first Greek commentary we have on the Apocalypse was written by Oecumenius, a correspondent of St Severus, and a member of our own communion. He speaks about the beast with 10 horns, and does not make any prediction at all. He does not say, 'This refers to a federation of ten nations', rather he uses the meaning of the number 10, which is completeness, and says simply 'the ten horns witness to its great power'.
This is how ancient commentary on such matters is different to modern Protestant thinking. For several hundred years there have been Protestant groups insisting that they could interpret these things and that they were happening in their time. And many of the ideas which we might read about on the internet were all thought up in the 1830s by members of my own Protestant group - the Plymouth Brethen, who held conferences to try and work out what these things meant.
But this does not seem to me to be the way of the Fathers.
I recommend reading the Commentary of Oecumenius to get a good idea of how the Fathers dealt with these sort of passages. But St Cyril also deals with those references in St John and St Luke, so we can also get a good idea of how to understand them from him.
...'Watch for you know not the day or time when the Son of Man is coming.'
So my question is how can someone start reading writings of the fathers of the church? in what manner should they be read? because some of their advices about spiritual life are very strict and require a lot of asceticism
What are some of the writings that are easy to read in the beginning until someone gets accustomed to these writings
If we are reading the Bible then the Ancient Christian Commentary series is useful because it contains excerpts from the Fathers for each verse. There is also a collection of passages from the Fathers for the Gospels which was selected by Aquinas.
Online it is easy to read the commentaries of St John Chrysostom and St Cyril of Alexandria.
I would suggest that a good place to begin reading the Fathers is with the earliest ones. These are:
St Ignatius of Antioch (he wrote a series of short letters)
The Martyrdom of St Polycarp
The Letter of St Polycarp
Fragments of Papias
St Justin Martyr
St Irenaeus of Lyons
Letter about the Martyrs in Vienne and Lyons
Many of these can be found in translations of varying quality here...
Some of these writings are not Orthodox. But the ones I have mentioned are important and not too hard to read. They are quite short. These named Fathers all lived in the generation after the Apostles and knew the Apostles themselves, or the direct disciples of the Apostles. So their writings describe the life of the Church in that very early period. It is interesting and useful to note those aspects of the life of the Church and the teaching of the Church which are the same as that which has been preserved in the Orthodox Church to our own time.
So according to the orthodox church fathers, none of these prophecies should be used in an attempt to explain the state of the world that we are in or try to predict the end of the world?
Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a New Age belief that a cataclysm will take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 is simply the first day of the 14th b'ak'tun.
Sandra Noble, executive director of the Mesoamerican research organization FAMSI, notes that "for the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle". She considers the portrayal of December 2012 as a doomsday or cosmic-shift event to be "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in." The 2009 science fiction apocalyptic disaster film 2012 is based on this belief.