When Anak Krakatau (the great Indonesian island volcano) exploded in 2018, it had a huge eruption cloud that climbed eleven miles into the sky and which then levelled out into the classic anvil shape familiar from meteorological thunderstorms in the tropics.
When the wall of the volcano failed, it allowed seawater to come into direct contact with magma. The result was a series of spectacular explosions that sent steam and ash rapidly upwards and much of the water vapour continued skyward, where it formed that anvil-topped cloud that persisted for six days. And, as the water vapour went higher it turned to ice in the sub-zero temperatures at altitude.
On average, there was three million tons of ice hanging above Anak Krakatau and up to 10 millions tons at the peak of ice production.
What’s more, the movement through the plume of all this frozen material – some of it going up, some coming down – initiated a frenzy of lightning with approximately 100,000 strikes recorded by sensors in the six days of cloud plume following the eruption.
God really does have enormous power and can and will move in this world at the appropriate time. The Elders of the recent past and today are saying that the antichrist is near. There will be wars and rumours of wars and earthquakes and volcanoes and diseases all on a scale hitherto unknown to man.
Then will come the end times. When will they actually arrive? No one knows. No one knows how long the warning period will last. All we know is that the antichrist, when he arises, will come from central Europe.
One of the most recent saints of the Orthodox Church, Saint James of Altai who reposed in 1991, and who had the gift of prophecy, explained his understanding of the basic prophecies of the end times that have come down to us from Scripture and the Fathers. “First, all the prophecies spoke not only about one time of the reign of the antichrist, but about three sections of the last times:
The first was called ‘the beginning of sorrows’, according to the prophetic word of the Saviour, or ‘apostasy’, according to the Apostle Paul, and in the Revelation of the Apostle John it is referred to as the coming out and reign of the beast from the sea with his head-followers.
The second section of the last times is ‘the beast was and is not’ or the time of the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world,
The third period, (the time of the enthronement of the Antichrist). The Saviour calls it ‘the end’, the beginning of which is the placing of ‘the abomination of desolation’ or the coming ‘out of the beast from the abyss’ (Saint John the Divine), or the appearance of ‘the man of sin’ (Saint Paul the Apostle).
As for the ‘whore’, this image refers to a traitor-church that has betrayed Christ, that which should be ‘the bride of Christ’, but which has been united with the scarlet beast. In the Apocalypse there are three ‘women’, and all three signify the Church, it is only by their clothes and their activity that we can distinguish them: on the way into the wilderness she is clothed in the sun, but there she is divided into she who is clothed in scarlet and she who goes out to meet Christ, clothed in pure white to greet Christ, the other clothed in red – the schismatics are greeting antichrist.
And so Saint James of Altai divides the end times into three stages:
- the Soviet period, which began in 1917 and lasted until 2008;
- (2) the Triumph of Orthodoxy, which will see the spread of the True Faith throughout the world for a short time; and
- (3) the reign of the Antichrist.
Saint James’ schema was not unique to himself: many saints of Russia expressed similar thoughts. All agreed that the abdication of the tsar, “he who restrains”, according to Saint Paul (II Thessalonians 2.7), marked the beginning of the last times, the reign of the Antichrist. However, Soviet power was not the antichrist in the literal, personal sense, but the collective antichrist – a forerunner, of which there were and are others, many others.
But these saints did not believe that the period of Soviet power, or the collective antichrist, would be followed immediately by “the end”, the reign of the personal antichrist, the false king of the Jews. On the contrary: they believed that after the collapse of Soviet power that true Orthodoxy would be re-established in Russia. Moreover, some also believed that this would lead to the spread of Orthodoxy throughout the world, in accordance with the words of the Lord: “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24.14). Certainly the rejuvenation of Russian Orthodoxy after ten years of repentance and its rejoining with its preserved conscience (ROCOR) has had a profound effect on Orthodoxy – provoking the Constantinople patriarchate to bring about a schism and also enlivening the missionary activities is the rest of the world. Orthodoxy will emerge looking different but enlivened by its mission to the world.
As Saint John of ShangHai who reposed in 1966 said, this prophecy of the Lord has not yet been fulfilled. “The Gospel of the Kingdom” must refer to the Orthodox Gospel, and not to the Catholic and Protestant heresies; and we cannot yet say that the Orthodox Gospel has yet been preached to all nations.
In fact, if we include the pre-revolutionary saints who prophesied the fall and resurrection of Russia, we have a “great cloud of witnesses” who clearly imply that today, we have not yet reached “the end”: the reign of the personal antichrist.
Many great – and greatly joyful – events have to take place before His coming: Monk Abel the Prophet, Elder Seraphim of Sarov, Elder Porphyrius of Glinsk, the Elders of Valaam, Elder Barnabas of Gethsemane Skete, Righteous John of Kronstadt, Elder Aristocles of Moscow, Martyr-Eldress Dunyushka of Siberia, Hieromartyr Andronicus of Perm, Elder Anatolius of Optina, Elder Alexis (Mechev) of Moscow, Elder Nectarius of Optina, Martyr-Eldress Agatha of Belorussia, Elder Theodosius of Minvody and others all so testify.
Is Russia the key? Yes. Already we are seeing the further break-up of Orthodoxy led by Constantinople, wishing to join with the pope of Rome, both of them having made moves towards the moslems and protestants, seemingly in pursuit of antichrist’s great world religion.
How then will come the spread of genuine Orthodoxy throughout the world? The question rather, is: How did the genuine Orthodoxy return to Russia? We reject the Soviet post-Saint Tikhon pseudo-church and rightly so. But what next? The Soviet appointed hierarchs have all died off. The Soviet government is gone. We have now had a great upsurging of religion in Russia and new hierarchs. Can this be seen as the resurgence of real Orthodoxy in Russia? Yes it can, it happened after a decade of introspection and repentance in Russia, when the Church Outside Russia re-united with the Moscow Patriarchate bringing with it the fullness of Orthodoxy.
In that case, we have the Patriarchates of Russia, Georgia, Jerusalem, Serbia and Antioch leading the world back to the true religion of the Apostles, unchanged over time and we see those Local Churches spreading into the west and Africa.
How long before the authentic Gospel is preached worldwide? Difficult to tell because it must take root in the local people, not just immigrants.
Orthodox Church Elders over the past century have begun saying that the time of antichrist is near. In these last few years Elders such as Paisios (reposed 1994) and Elder Elias (still with us) say this and Elder Elias and Patriarch Kyrill have begun recently saying publicly that the antichrist is now “in sight”. What they mean by that is unclear.
The Bible predicts that there will be such a man as antichrist in the last days of man’s rule on earth just before Christ returns to rule it. To the world he is going to appear as an angel of light, the most perfect man, the greatest leader the world has ever known outside of Jesus Christ, clever enough to solve the world’s problems—economic, political, and finally religious.
This new world-wide leader from central Europe will rise to power by bringing peace where there are wars and by flattery of present leaders and by clever deceit (Daniel 11:21,24). By his seemingly supernatural wisdom, and clever political maneuvering, he will temporarily solve the military, political, and economic problems of the times and will effect a peace pact between the great superpowers, ideologies, and religions of the world. Going on from which he will work to establish a world government, possibly using the United Nations as a basis.
This world government will at first seem to be much better than the chaotic conditions of the recent past. It will achieve a peaceful world, economic balance based on peace, a world with fair distribution of goods and wealth. Communism seeming to work as it never worked before. Under this seemingly ideal political leader the world will finally be properly world governed.
This leader will then proceed on to pretend to be the mahdi, messiah, Christ returned. In fact, he will claim to be God,
The prophet Daniel said “And he”—the Antichrist—“shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27). This word that’s translated “week” is “shabua” in the original Hebrew, which means “seven.” So here, or “one seven,” equals seven years. Thus the verse can be read, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for seven years.”
As we will see from many other scriptures, he makes this covenant as a world peace treaty. He’s restoring the world, he’s trying to bring universal happiness, and he’s working to bring world peace, until he’s finally got everything firmly in his grip. When he establishes his worldwide government, with which he will say everything is going to be peaceful and safe, secure, everyone will have plenty, and my kingdom’s going to be a kingdom of peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
For there “shall stand up a vile person, who shall come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21). The world will think him to be Christ and will be deceived.
In the midst of this, three and a half years into the seven-year covenant, that the antichrist proclaims himself as God. “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered” (Daniel 8:11–12).
Five hundred years later Jesus, in His “the signs of his coming and of the end of the world” in Matthew chapter 24, said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place” “whoso readeth, let him understand.” “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15, 21)
The Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church and finally now the Elders of The Church are warning us that time is running out. Do we have a couple of years? A decade? Half a century? We do not know and we will not be given that. We must judge as we see things happening.
What we can see now happening is a world descending into open debauchery. You can see it rapidly evolving – homosexuality, adultery, abortion, transexualism, paedophilia, rape gangs, stabbings on the open streets, and the great natural warnings of volcanoes, terrible diseases spreading and coming quickly one after another. Are we fools? Can we not see that this is a dramatic descent. Through it all, the so-called churches rapidly losing members, any sort of faith disappearing, the moral values of a century ago all but disappeared. Saying all that is telling nothing more than the obvious truth.
Just taking this country alone: We now seem to have a government dedicated to cleaning corruption out in the corridors of government. That’s good. But what else? More police on the streets – that’s good. But what about all the other moral degradation? I see nothing proposed about that. This country needs open, large scale spiritual leadership but I don’t see a source of that. The Orthodox Church in this country is not one, it is dissipated and it shows little obvious interest in converting the local populace. The western churches do not have the full truth and what of it they had, they are rapidly discarding.
I doubt that there will now arise any sort of national spiritual leader for the UK, I think that from now on it is going to be small scale, individual and small group leadership scattered all over the nation. In other words, it’s up to us and may God have mercy on us.
So, whence will spiritual leadership arrive? Who will go for Us? Whom shall We send?