My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
Let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.
Shine in our hearts, O Merciful Master, the pure Light of Thy Divine
knowledge and open the eyes of our mind that we may understand
the teachings of Thy Gospel, implant in us also the fear of Thy
Blessed Commandments, that we, trampling down all carnal desires,
may enter upon a spiritual manner of living both thinking and doing
all those things that please Thee. For Thou art the Source of Light
for our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and not Thee we ascribe
glory, together with Thy Eternal Father, and Thine All-Holy, Good, and
Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever, and from the ages of all ages,
THE VENERABLE PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
"Blessed Christians," says Saint Kosmas Aitolos (+ 1779), a large number of churches neither preserve nor strengthen our faith, as much as they should, because those who believe in God are not enlightened by both the Old and New Testaments. Our Faith was not established by ignorant Saints, but by wise and educated Saints who interpreted the Holy Scripture ACCURATELY AND WHO ENLIGHTENED US SUFFICIENTLY BY INSPIRED TEACHINGS. Today, however, because of the dreadful state in which we find ourselves due to our sins, such wise and virtuous men who can preserve unaffected our Orthodox brethren, are absent or at least extremely rare.
Blessed Saint Paul gives the following advice, "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written FOUR OUR INSTRUCTION, that we through patience and the consolation of the Scriptures may continually have hope" (Romans 15:14). This he practiced above all men, being brought up in the Law of hs fathers; for he who exhorted others would himself first follow the advice he gave. Hence we find him continually appealing to the testimony of the Venerable Prophets, and searching into their writings. Saint Paul then applies to reading, for it is no slight advantage that is to be reaped from the Scriptures."
The Greek word προφήτης, derived from πρόφημι, means foretell, that is, to tell beforehand. In Hebrew, the word "prophet" meant not necessarily one who foretold the future, but ONE COMMISSIONED BY GOD TO SPEAK TO MAN…"
"…Who is it that prophecies? According to Saint Basil the Great (330-378 A.D.), "The prophetic gift shines clear in souls pure and cleansed from all defilement. In a foul mirror you cannot see what the reflection is, neither can a soul preoccupied with cares of this life, and darkened with the passions of the lust of the flesh, receive the rays of the Holy Spirit. Every dream is not a prophecy, even as it is written: "The speakers have uttered grievous things, and the diviners have seen false visions, and they have spoken false dreams" (Zachariah 10:2). Saint Anthony the Great (+251-356 A.D.) maintains that in general, VISIONS AND REVELATIONS WERE GIVEN TO THE SAINTS ONLY IN MOUNTAINS AND IN THE WILDERNESS."
The prophets spoke as they saw and heard. "But the prophetic ear was not the ear ‘of man’." says Saint John Chrysostom, "for not as men did they hear, but as Prophets. Thus says, "He hath added unto me an ear to hear" (Isaiah 50:4), meaning by ‘ADDITION,’ that which was from the Spirit. From where it was plain that before hearing it had not entered into the hear of man, as it is written: "FROM OF OLD WE HAVE NOT HEARD, NEITHER HAVE OUR EYES SEEN" (Isaiah 64:4). For after the gift of the Spirit, the heart of the Prophets was not the heat of man, BUT A SPIRITUAL HEART; as also Saint Paul says, "WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST" (I Corinthians 2:16), as if he would say, ‘Before we had the blessing of the Spirit and learned the things which no man can speak, none of us nor the Prophets conceived them in his mind.’ How should we since not even Angels know them?" Now PROPHECY IS ESPECIALLY THE WORK OF GOD." Saint John Chrysostom informs us, "which devils cannot even imitate, though they strive exceedingly. For in the case of miracles there may be delusion; but exactly to foretell the future belongs to that pure Nature; or if devils ever have done son, it was by deceiving the simpler sort, whence their oracles are always easily detected."
Holy Scriptures have taught us that in many modes God may be seen and known. Saint Irenaeos tells us that "it was not by means of visions alone which were seen, and words which were proclaimed, but also in actual works, that He (the Logos/Word of God) was beheld by the Prophets, in order that through them He might PREFIGURE AND SHOW FORTH FUTURE EVENTS BEFOREHAND."
Saint Athanasios (+296-373 A.D.) writes: "For when of old time Prophets and Scribes studied the Scriptures, they perceived that what they read DID NOT REFER TO THEMSELVES, BUT TO OTHERS."
Saint Gregory the Great tells us that "the whole of Scripture WAS INDEED WRITTEN FOR US, BUT NOT ALL OF IT IS UNDERSTOOD BY US. So many truths were written there simply, to nourish children, but some in obscure sayings that may occupy the strong, since things understood with effort are the more welcome. But some things in it are closed, so that when we do not understand them, recognizing the weakness of our blindness, WE MAY ADVANCE TO HUMILITY RATHER THAN TO INTELLIGENCE. For there certain sayings which so refer to heavenly matters that they are manifest only to those heavenly citizens who continue steadfastly in their own country, nor are they yet revealed to us sojourners."
The Coming of Christ
At the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, we chant: "Today is the crown of ou salvation and the manifestation of the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes Son of the Virgin." The Prophets FORETOLD THAT He was to become a child, taking flesh from the Virgin, being joined to men and seen by those on earth, even as Baruch proclaimed (Bar. 3:35-37).
The Virgin Theotokos
At the Nativity of the Theotokos, Saint Joseph the hymnographer (816-886 A.D.) chants that the Prophets honored the Virgin whom they PREFIGURED, for many of their prophecies were fulfilled at Christ’s birth."
The Prophets and the Apostles
The Prophets proclaimed THE WAY OF SALVATION, and in their sufferings conformed to the Passion which they foretold. They served as mediators of the Ne Testament (Covenant) of Christ. The grace of the Holy Spirit shone in the Apostles. For the Hebrew Nation the Prophets were to FORETELL THE MESSIAH’S COMING AND TO LEAD THEM TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. The holy Apostles proclaimed Christ’s mighty deeds and enlightened the nations by holy Baptism. According to Saint Justin, "Righteousness is NOT placed in Jewish rites, but IN THE CONVERSION OF THE HEART GIVEN IN BAPTISM BY CHRIST." On the day of Pentecost, the Comforter (The Holy Spirit) descended IN ALL FULLNESS upon the holy Apostles and the faithful with them.
The PROPHETICAL GIFTS OF THE JEWS WERE THEN TRANSFERRED TO THE CHRISTIANS, according to Saint Justin the Martyr. He says to Trypho the Jew, "The prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that the gifts formerly among your nation have been transferred to us."
The Sufferings and Rewards of the Prophets
The Diinenly-inspired Prophets preached in word and deed, and they received as their reward LIFE WITHOUT END. They refused to worship the creation instead OF THE Creator. They RENOUNCED THE WHOLE WORLD FOR THE SAKE OF GOD’S WORD AND HIS LAW. They ENDURED MANY TRIALS AND AFFLICTIONS, AND SOME WERE MARTYRED.
The use of the Septuagint (Old Testament translation of the 70 Hebrew scholars), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, is the preferred text throughout this work. It is the Old Testament version which the Greek-speakng world read from the 3rd century before Christ, through the Apostolic era, and up to the presented ay in the Orthodox Church.
Saint John Chrysostom remarks: "In the first place we will say this about the Septuagint because were justly entitled to confidence above all the others. For the others made their translations AFTER Christ’s coming, continuing to be Jews, and may justly be suspected as having spoken rather in enmity, and as darkening the prophecies on purpose; but the Seventy, as having entered upon this worked a hundred years or more BEFORE THE COMING OF Christ, stand clear from all such suspicion, and on account of the date, and of their number, and of their agreement, would have a better right TO BE TRUSTED. [Source: The Lives of the Holy Prophets)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George