Question: Are the Jews going to destroy the Mosque of Omar and try to reconstruct the temple of Solomon?
Answer: Well, it’s their problem what they are going to do with it. One thing is human intentions, and the second thing is how God wants it to come out. They tried before to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and did not succeed.
Question: Are they going to return to using the Book of Leviticus and go back to all the laws?
Answer: I would think they would try to do as much as possible. If the whole idea of building the temple is to get back to that old religion, I suppose they would try to imitate it as closely as they could. But, of course, in modern times they would undoubtedly find they would have to change all kinds of things. And when Antichrist himself comes to sit there, he will have his own ideas, to make it acceptable for everybody else.
It is difficult to know how the exact form might come out, but when it is all fulfilled, you will see it is exactly the way it was predicted. If men, however, try to do something before the time when God wants it to be done, then it simply will not work. That was the attempt of Julian the Apostate. He wanted to build the temple to prove that Christ was wrong when He said that one stone would not be left upon another. Julian commanded the Jews to begin building their temple, and they began building. It is a very well-authenticated historical fact, found in several of the early Church historians, that they would build, and at night everything would fall down, and everyone would see balls of fire coming out of the earth. Nowadays historians say they must have been digging oil wells or something. Obviously there was something there preventing this project from going on, and they finally gave up. Then Julian himself was killed, and the whole thing came to nothing. The times were not ripe for that to happen, so it could not happen. Of course, today the times are much riper for that.
There were two saints of the Old Testament who did not die: Enoch was translated, and he was not found; and Elijah went up in the fiery chariot. Therefore, they will come back as the two witnesses and preach against Antichrist. There could be others like that, too. In fact, there are traditions about St. John the Theologian returning in the last times. There is also a prophecy of St. Seraphim of Sarov that he would come back at that time; but he died, so he could only come back resurrected. The two mentioned in the Apocalypse, however, are Enoch and Elijah.
Question: Are they just going to try and tell the people that this is the Antichrist and not Christ?
Answer: According to tradition, they have two functions. Elijah will speak to the Jews. It says in the Gospel that they asked Jesus if Elijah had come yet. Some said that John the Baptist was Elijah, who was supposed to come to reconcile the fathers to the children. And Jesus said that he had come in a certain sense, i.e. in a spiritual sense. Most people, however, would not accept this. Therefore, the real Elijah comes at the end of time to reconcile the fathers (the Jews) to the sons (the Gentiles). And Enoch will speak to the rest of the people. In other words, it will be quite clear at that time that Antichrist has come, and that there are the two prophets telling that this is Antichrist.
Question: How do you view the Orthodox presence in America in terms of these apocalyptic things? What is the apocalyptic significance of Orthodoxy in America?
Answer: I don’t think there is anything more significant about America than any other country, like Uganda perhaps, but I think it is definitely significant that people in America are waking up to Orthodoxy. People who have never had any relationship with Orthodoxy are led to it, simply because they heard the word preached, and they begin to wake up to see it. In a country that is supposedly totally Christianized, they wake up and see that all that is called Christianity is not really Christianity; and they want Orthodoxy. That could very well be one of the signs of the end.
Of course, there are different kinds of ends. There is the time when a country is coming to its end, like the period before Communism came to Russia. At that time a great spiritual revival was actually occurring. They had great saints, such as St. John of Kronstadt and the many Elders of Optina. Many holy monks and bishops were living at that time, and many people were very fervent. But the whole society was sort of against it: it had become so Westernized – almost anti-Christian – that the revival was finally submerged. If you look at it from the point of view of a spiritual revival, however, there definitely was such a revival going on.
Therefore, the more you see that kind of thing happening here, the more you begin to wonder whether something is not coming to an end for us, too. And, of course, that is going to be bound up with the end of everything – because things right now seem to be stepping up their tempo, both in Russia and in America, and in the whole world situation. It looks as though we are heading for some momentous events quite close in the future.
We should not, of course, get carried away by historical events. Basically, Christianity is to save your soul; and, therefore, each person finds out about the truth and starts right here and now to live a life according to the Church’s commandments. That is the first thing we should always have in mind.
In Russia, the Gulag and all that happened was aimed at destroying Christianity; and to some extent this succeeded, because it is with great difficulty that people find out about Christianity now. And in the West, all the indifference, tolerance, freedom, and prosperity also help to destroy any kind of strong Christianity. The end result is not much different. As Solzhenitsyn says, however, in the East they have become stronger; after Communism they have become stronger than we in the West who have all this freedom. But we should not be satisfied with being weaker. We should at least offer to God our struggle.