In our discussion group Tuesday evening we talked about the Book of Revelation. It was almost, ahem…. prophetic, as news broke the next day that Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Is this a step towards peace or are we moving closer to a war of all wars?
Blessed Augustine was of the opinion that those watching for the signs of the times would be taken in just as easily as those who weren’t. Moreover, St. Seraphim of Sarov taught: “Adam was made so wise by the breath of life which was breathed into his face from the creative lips of God, the Creator and Ruler of all, that there never has been a man on earth wiser or more intelligent than he, and it is hardy like that there ever will be.” If Adam was the wisest man his helpmate was not at all stupid. Yet, we all know how easily they got tricked.
The Book of Revelation is not intended to be used as a road map to the end of the world. As someone noted a few nights ago, chapter 10:4 is of great significance: “And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” The Orthodox Study Bible comments that “this command not to write down the utterance shows John’s revelation does not exhaust divine decrees for humanity: undisclosed mysteries remain”.
When the Apostles asked the Lord when He would restore the kingdom of Israel He replied by telling them it’s none of their concern (Acts 1:7). Then, right afterward, He ascended into heaven. And the Apostles just stood there, gazing up into the heavens. Two men in white clothing appeared and said: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
I think those angelic men in white are asking us the same question: Why are you guys looking into the sky? There is a difference between what we know, what has been written down and what we don’t know and, moreover, was commanded not to be written down. And that is that “He shall come again to judge the living and the dead”. This we know and confess and await.
As far as Jerusalem goes our eyes need not be fixated on the Middle East but “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2).”