Before the Second Coming of Christ there will be omens in the sun and the moon and in the stars, and on the earth there will be sorrow in the nations of bewilderment and of the noise and excitement of the sea (Luke 21:25). How can these signs be distinguished from the signs of the antichrist, because he will also give signs in the sun, the moon, the stars and in the air?  The former will be true and will therefore be completely different from the signs of the antichrist, which will consist of deceptive phenomena. The performers of the signs of the antichrist will be the antichrist himself and his “apostles”, and the signs of the sun, moon and stars announcing the Second Coming of Christ will become by themselves, without any mediation. The celestial lights will fulfill their purpose, which is why they shone in heaven at the command of the Creator (Gen. 1:14). They have already fulfilled this purpose at Christ’s birth with the wonderful star (Matt. 2: 2), they fulfilled it at the crucifixion of the Godman, when the sun was covered with the dark veil of darkness at noon (Matt. 27:45). St. Evangelist Matthew says that after the tribulation caused by the dominion of the antichrist has passed, Christ’s coming will come immediately, and it will begin with the sun going dark and the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from the sky (Matt. 29:25). These lights will remain in place, notes Blaz. Theophylact of Bulgaria, but they will darken and it will seem to human vision that they have disappeared from heaven, because of the abundant heavenly light that will illuminate the world, prepared to receive the Lord in His glory.
We dare to call the doctrine of miracles and signs that we offer you the doctrine of the Holy Orthodox Church, the doctrine of its holy fathers. The essential need for an accurate and as detailed as possible exposition of this doctrine is obvious. The true signs were helpers of the true knowledge of God and the salvation he gave; false signs were helpers of delusion and the doom that resulted from it. In particular, the action of the signs that the antichrist will perform will be extensive and powerful, it will captivate unhappy humanity and make it recognize as god the messenger of Satan. The pious contemplation of the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ is edifying, comforting, and soul-saving. What holy simplicity there is in them! How through them the knowledge of God has become easier for people! What kindness, what humility, and what irrefutable power of conviction lurk in them! Contemplation of Christ’s miracles elevates us to the Word, which is God. In order to restore communion with fallen apostasy, God pleased His Word to put on human flesh, to appear and communicate with people, to enter into the closest relationship with them, and by winning them over for Himself, to exalt them. in the sky. Dressed in human flesh, the Word continued to be the Word of God and to act as a word according to His Divine dignity. It sits at the right hand of the Father with accepted human nature and as God continues to be everywhere. It is written on paper, It is clothed in sounds, but being Spirit and Life (John b. 63), It enters minds and hearts, recreates those who unite with Him in spirit, attracting to spiritual life and body. From contemplating the miracles of Christ, we ascend to the knowledge of this great meaning, which is contained in the Word of God, the only thing necessary (Luke 10:42) for our salvation, to the Word who serves salvation and accomplishes salvation to the fullest. The knowledge of the Word of God from the Holy Scriptures, spoken and clarified by the Holy Spirit, together with the knowledge derived from the activity directed according to the Word of God, finally overshadowed by the knowledge taught to us by God’s grace, give the Christian purity of mind and heart.
In this purity the spiritual mind shines, like the sun in a clear cloudless sky. At daybreak, after the night darkness, the clarity of material objects changes: some of them, which have not been seen before, become visible, some, which have been seen vaguely and merged with other objects, are separated from them and outline more clearly. This is not because objects have changed, but because the clarity of human vision in relation to them changes as the darkness of night changes with the light of day. The same is true of the human mind in regard to moral and spiritual objects, when the mind is enlightened by the spiritual knowledge emanating from the Holy Spirit. Only in the light of spiritual reason can the soul see the holy way to God. Only in the light of the spiritual mind can the unmistakable invisible procession of the mind and heart to God take place! Only in the light of spiritual reason can we avoid delusions, fatal gaps and precipices. Where this light is lacking, there is no knowledge of the truth, no God-pleasing virtue saving man to lead him to the abodes of paradise. Our spiritual eyes should be illuminated with the light of spiritual reason when we look at signs and wonders. In this way we will avoid the calamities in which our perception through carnal wisdom may involve us. We saw the nature of the miracles of the Godman, we saw what their purpose was. The signs, having fulfilled their purpose, have left the field of their ministry, leaving the real doer to act – the Word. It is He who abides and will abide as a doer until the end of the world, as He has declared to Himself: behold, I am with you to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20). After the end of the ubiquitous performance of the signs that accompanied the sowing of Christianity through the preaching of the apostles and co-apostolic men, the signs were performed in separate places by selected vessels of the Holy Spirit. Over time, with the gradual weakening of Christianity and the deterioration of morality, holy men performing signs became few,  and eventually disappeared altogether. Meanwhile, people, having lost reverence and respect for all that is sacred, having lost the humility with which they could see their unworthiness not only to perform but also to see signs, now crave miracles more than ever. Intoxicated by arrogance, arrogance, ignorance, they strive indiscriminately, hastily and boldly for everything related to miracles, not refusing to participate in the performance of miracles, they decide to do so without the slightest they think. But this course of action is more dangerous than ever. We are gradually approaching the time when the great spectacle will open before us of the numerous and astonishing false miracles, and the unfortunate graduates of carnal wisdom, who will be seduced and deceived by these miracles, will be led to perdition.
The revival of the soul through the Word of God leads to a living faith in Christ. Living faith seems to see Christ (Heb. 11:27). To her view, Christianity, by remaining secretly, becomes open, by remaining unattainable, becomes clear and understood, no longer hidden by the thick, impenetrable veil that hides it from the dead faith. Living faith is spiritual reason. She no longer needs signs, because she is completely satisfied with Christ’s signs and especially with the greatest of them, the crown of signs – His word. The desire to see signs is a sign of unbelief, and signs have been given to unbelief to convert to faith. To cling with all our souls to the Word of God, to unite with Him in one spirit, and the signs of the antichrist will not attract even our attention. With contempt and hatred we will look away from them as from the spectacle of demons, as from the actions of God’s fierce enemies, as from the blasphemy of God, as from deadly poison and contagion. Let us remember the following particularly important remark, drawn from the experience of the ascetics. All demonic phenomena have the property that even the slightest attention to them is dangerous. From such attention, admitted even without any sympathy for the phenomenon, we can leave the most harmful impression, to succumb to the most severe temptations.
Humility is inseparable from spiritual reason. St. Isaac Sirin says: “Only he who is humble can be considered reasonable. He who has no humility will never have reason. ” Living faith opens the eyes of the soul to God, the Word of God unites the soul with God. He who has seen God in this way, who has felt God in this way, sees his nothingness, is filled with unspeakable reverence for God, for all His works, for all His commandments, for all His teachings, and preserves humility. And the humble one will not dare even to be curious about what is happening outside the will of God and which has been timely condemned by the Word of God. Therefore, the signs of the antichrist will remain foreign to the humble, as having nothing to do with them.
The knowledge of one’s own weakness and nothingness, the knowledge of God, of His majesty, omnipotence and infinite kindness, urges the soul to aspire to prayer to God. All the hope of such a soul is centered in God, and therefore there is no reason for it to be distracted by prayer; she prays by uniting her strength and striving for God with all her being, she resorts to prayer whenever possible, she prays constantly. When the great tribulations come in the time of the antichrist, all who truly believe in God will turn to Him in fervent prayer.  They will cry out for help, for intercession, they will ask for God’s grace to be sent to them for support and guidance. Man’s own strength, though faithful to God, will be insufficient to withstand the combined strength of rejected angels and men who will act with fervor and despair in anticipation of their imminent doom (Rev. 12:12). The divine grace, which will cover God’s elect, will invalidate for them the deceptions of the deceiver, his fearless threats, his despised miracles. She will give them the courage to confess the Savior, Who saved people, and to expose the false messiah who came to destroy people, she will lead them to the scaffolds as royal thrones, as a wedding feast. The feeling of love for God is sweeter than the feeling of life. Just as the pre-mortal and death-accompanying sufferings are the beginning of the sinner’s eternal torment,  so the suffering for Christ and the violent death for Him are the beginning of the eternal joys of heaven. We see this clearly from the actions of God’s grace on the martyrs of the first centuries: they were originally given the opportunity to show their will; from the very first torments help came down to them from above and made for them both torment and death desired for Christ. Foretelling the tribulations that must precede His Second Coming, the Lord commanded His disciples to be vigilant and to pray: Beware, be vigilant and pray, for you do not know when the time will come (Mark 13:33).
Prayer is always necessary and useful for man – it maintains his communion with God and keeps him under God’s protection, keeps him from arrogance, from deceptive vanity and pride – both from his own, arising from fallen nature, and from those who are brought into his thoughts and imagination from the world of fallen spirits. Prayer is especially needed in times of tribulation and danger, whether visible or invisible, because it is an expression of rejection of arrogance, an expression of our hope in God, it draws God’s help on us. Almighty God acts instead of praying in difficult circumstances and brings His servant out of them through His wonderful providence.
The knowledge of God, the living faith, the gracious humility, the pure prayer – these are the belongings of the spiritual mind, they are its constituent parts. Conversely, ignorance of God, unbelief, spiritual blindness, pride, arrogance, and arrogance are the attributes of carnal wisdom. By not knowing God, by not accepting and understanding the means offered by God to obtain knowledge of God, it is in itself a wrong, soul-destroying way of acquiring knowledge of God, according to its structure: it seeks signs from heaven. Amen!
(Writings of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov. Volume IV. Ascetic Sermon and Letters to the Lay People, St. Petersburg, 1905, pp. 292-326 [in Russian])
* All underlining in the text is by the translator
32. The Evangelist. Interpretation of the Gospel according to Mark, ch. 8, pp. 11-12.
33. St. Isaac Sirin. Words 25, 26, 27 and 28.
34. Prep. John the Ladder. Ladder, word 26:52.
35. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 28.
36. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 89.
37. St. Ephraim Sirin. Word 106.
38. St. Isaac Sirin. Word 38.
39. This thought belongs to the holy martyr James the Persian. – see Lives of the Saints, November 26.