Written by Vladimir Moss



     In the fullness of time, in accordance with the plan that He had indicated to Adam and Eve immediately after the Fall, and in accordance with the sayings of the Old Testament prophets, God, the Creator of the universe, became a man in the womb of the Holy Virgin Mary. Having lived a life of perfect virtue, He offered a perfect Sacrifice for the sins of all mankind on the Cross, died, and descended into hades, destroying the power of the devil and leading all the dead who believed in Him into Paradise. Then, on the third day, He rose from the dead, appeared to His disciples in His resurrected Body, and on the fortieth day ascended in glory into heaven. Ten days later, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, creating the New Testament Church. 

     The events recounted in the Gospel constitute the most important series of events in history, the turning-point in the whole history of mankind. By His Resurrection from the dead, the central and completely decisive event in the history of the world, Christ proved the truth of all His claims and thereby gave hope to all men who believed in Him of receiving remission of sins and eternal life. For He was truly “The Word of God and God” (John 1.1), “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1.29) and “the Son of God, the King of Israel” (John 1.49). He was truly the pre-eternal God, Who had created the heavens and the earth and Who had “all authority in heaven and on earth”, over all creatures, both angelic and human (Matthew 28.18). Through His Incarnation as a man, His blameless life and Sacrificial Death on the Cross and Resurrection from the dead, He had truly given all men who believe in Him the possibility of remission of their sins, deliverance from hell and death, and eternal life with God in the age to come. The rest of history to this day has consisted in the self-determination of every nation and every individual in relation to this central, supremely important fact… The eternal destiny of every man in every age depends on his sincerely believing this good news and fulfilling the commandments of Christ.

     Now Christ was also “the Son of David”, that is, a descendant of the old royal dynastic line of Israel; He came to restore that line and make it eternal. For, as the Archangel Gabriel said to the Virgin at the Annunciation: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1.32-33).

     What kind of Kingdom was meant here, and what kind of kingdom did the Jews have in mind for themselves?

     William Barclay writes: “Throughout all their existence, the Jews never forgot that they were in a very special sense God's chosen people. Because of that, they naturally looked to a very special place in the world. In the early days, they looked forward to achieving that position by what we might call natural means. They always regarded the greatest days in their history as the days of David; and they dreamed of a day when there would arise another king of David's line, a king who would make them great in righteousness and in power (Isaiah 9:7, 11:1; Jeremiah 22:4, 23:5, 30:9).

     “But as time went on, it came to be pitilessly clear that this dreamed-of greatness would never be achieved by natural means. The ten tribes had been carried off to Assyria and lost forever. The Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried the Jews away captive. Then came the Persians as their masters; then the Greeks; then the Romans. So far from knowing anything like dominion, for centuries the Jews never even knew what it was to be completely free and independent.

     “So another line of thought grew up. It is true that the idea of a great king of David's line never entirely vanished and was always intertwined in some way with their thought; but more and more they began to dream of a day when God would intervene in history and achieve by supernatural means that which natural means could never achieve. They looked for divine power to do what human power was helpless to do. 

    “In between the Testaments were written a whole flood of books which were dreams and forecasts of this new age and the intervention of God. As a class, they are called Apocalypses. The word literally means unveilings. These books were meant to be unveilings of the future. It is to them that we must turn to find out what the Jews believed in the time of Jesus about the Messiah and the work of the Messiah and the new age. It is against their dreams that we must set the dream of Jesus.

     “In these books, certain basic ideas occur. We follow here the classification of these ideas given by Emil Schuerer, who wrote A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ.

     “(1) Before the Messiah came, there would be a time of terrible tribulation. There would be a messianic travail. It would be the birth-pangs of a new world. Every conceivable terror would burst upon the world; every standard of honour and decency would be torn down; the world would become a physical and moral chaos.... The time which preceded the coming of the Messiah was to be a time when the world was torn in pieces and every bond relaxed. The physical and the moral order would collapse.

    “(2) Into this chaos there would come Elijah as the forerunner and herald of the Messiah. He was to heal the breaches and bring order into the chaos to prepare the way for the Messiah. In particular he was to mend disputes....

     “(3) Then there would enter the Messiah.... Sometimes the Messiah was thought of as a king of David's line, but more often he was thought of as a great, superhuman figure crashing into history to remake the world and in the end to vindicate God's people.

     “(4) The nations would ally themselves and gather themselves together against the champion of God....

     “(5) The result would be the total destruction of these hostile powers. The Jewish philosopher Philo said that the Messiah would 'take the field and make war and destroy great and populous nations'.... The Messiah will be the most destructive conqueror in history, smashing his enemies into utter extinction. 

     “(6) There would follow the renovation of Jerusalem. Sometimes this was thought of as the purification of the existing city. More often it was thought of as the coming down of the new Jerusalem from heaven....

     “(7) The Jews who were dispersed all over the world would be gathered into the city of the new Jerusalem.... It is easy to see how Jewish this new world was to be. The nationalistic element is dominant all the time.

     “(8) Palestine would be the centre of the world and the rest of the world subject to it. All the nations would be subdued. Sometimes it was thought of as a peaceful subjugation.... More often, the fate of the Gentiles was utter destruction at which Israel would exult and rejoice.... It was a grim picture. Israel would rejoice to see her enemies broken and in hell. Even the dead Israelites were to be raised up to share in the new world. 

    “(9) Finally, there would come the new age of peace and goodness which would last forever. 

     “These are the messianic ideas which were in people's minds when Jesus came…”

     Christ by no means rejected all of these apocalyptic ideas. After all, several of them were grounded in the God-inspired Scriptures. But He rejected their cruelty, their national ambition, and their anti-Gentilism. 

     He was Himself both the Son of God, one of the Holy Trinity, and the Messiah, the Son of David. But He came as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, not the ferocious war-lord of the apocalypses. And He came to restore Israel, not as a State ruling over all the nations by the power of the sword, but as the kernel of the Universal Church ruling by the power of the Spirit. His Kingdom was not of this world; it was the inner Kingdom of Grace.

     The question was: would the Jews accept Him as the Messiah, as the true King of Israel, together with the spiritual, not the nationalist image of Messiahship? On this would depend the salvation of both the people and their State… Tragically, in their great majority the Jews failed this test. They both crucified their True King and God, and said to Pilate: "We have no other king but Caesar" (John 19.15). At that moment they became no different spiritually from the other pagan peoples; for, like the pagans, they had come to recognize a mere man, the Roman emperor, as higher than God Himself. As St. John Chrysostom writes: “Here they declined the Kingdom of Christ and called to themselves that of Caesar.” 

     What made this apostasy worse was the fact that they were not compelled to it by any despotic decree. Pilate not only did not demand this recognition of Caesar from them, but had said of Christ – “Behold your king” (John 19.14), and had then ordered the sign, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”, to be nailed above the cross. The Jews had in effect carried out both a democratic revolution against their True King, and, at the same time, a despotic obeisance to a false god-king. 

     Thus did the City of God on earth become the City of Man - and the stronghold of Satan: “How has the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of justice, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers” (Isaiah 1.21). Thus did the original sin committed under Saul, when the people of God sought a king who would rule them "like all the nations", reap its final wages in their submission to "the god of this world”. 

     But the positive result was that the Kingdom, with all its ineffable and inestimable benefits, were passed to other peoples. As the Lord Himself had prophesied: “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21.43). Or as St. Paul put it: “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect [from the Gentiles] have obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11.7). Thus all the other peoples of the world were now given the opportunity of joining God’s Kingdom in the Church, “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16).

     But for the Jews who rejected Him it was another matter. After their killing of Christ – which was not only regicide, but also Deicide, an act unparalleled in evil in the history of the world – there came upon them the punishment prophesied by Christ: “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24.21). “That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation…” (Matthew 23.35-36). This prophecy was fulfilled in 66-70 AD, when the Jews, incited by the Zealots, rose up in armed rebellion against Rome. The Roman Emperors Titus and Vespasian crushed the rebellion, destroyed the Temple and killed very many of the Jews. The extent of the slaughter is a matter of controversy, but the depth of the horror and suffering is beyond dispute.

     The message of the revolutionaries was strikingly similar to that of another Jewish-inspired revolution – Russia in 1917. As Neil Faulkner writes, it was a message “of sectarian radicals and messiahs… addressed, above all, to the poor. Josephus was explicit about the class basis of the conflict: it was, for him, a struggle between dunatoi – men of rank and power, the property-owning upper classes – and stasiastai – subversives, revolutionaries, popular leaders whose appeal was to ‘the scum of the districts’. The Dead Sea Scrolls were equally explicit, though from the other side of the barricades: whereas ‘the princes of Judah… wallowed in the ways of whoredom and wicked wealth’ and ‘acted arrogantly for the sake of riches and gain’, the Lord would in due time deliver them ‘into the hands of the poor’, so as to ‘humble the mighty of the peoples by the hand of those bent to the dust’, and bring them ‘the reward of the wicked’…

     “The popular movement of 66 CE amounted to a fusion of Apocalypse and Jubilee, the radical minority’s vision of a revolutionary war to destroy corruption having become inextricably linked with the peasant majority’s traditional aspiration for land redistribution and the removal of burdens…”

     But these earthly motives were secondary to the primary cause and crime: the rejection and murder by God’s people of their only King and God.


     In 135 there was another rebellion under Bar Kokhba. It was crushed by the Emperor Hadrian with the deaths, according to Dio Cassius, of 580,000 Jewish soldiers. The city was renamed Aelia Capitolina, Judaea was renamed Syria Palaestina and Jews were barred from entering it. Finally, the city and ruins were ploughed over and a completely Hellenic city built in its place; a temple to Jupiter was planned for the site of the Temple, while Golgotha was covered by a temple to Venus…

     Paradoxically, the Jews’ last stand in both their rebellions took place in the hilltop fortresses built at Herodium and Masada by that arch-Hellenist and Romanist, Herod the Great. Equally paradoxically, their submission to pagan rulers was the result of their rejection of their mission to the pagans. Instead of serving as God’s priests to the pagan world, enlightening them with the knowledge of the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were puffed up with dreams of national glory and dominion over the nations. And so God subjected them to those same nations whom they despised, entrusting the mission to the New Israel, the Church. 

     “On coming into the world,” writes Tikhomirov, “the Saviour Jesus Christ as a man loved his fatherland, Judaea, no less than the Pharisees. He was thinking of the great role of his fatherland in the destinies of the world and mankind no less than the Pharisees, the zealots and the other nationalists. On approaching Jerusalem (during His triumphal entry) He wept and said: ‘Oh, if only thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!’…, and recalling the coming destruction of the city, He added: ‘because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation’ (Luke 19.41, 44). ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… which killest… them that are sent to thee!’ He said a little earlier, ‘how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and yet would not!’ (Luke 13.34). What would have happened if the Jews at that decisive moment had accepted the true Messiah? Israel would have become the spiritual head of the whole world, the beloved guide of mankind. At that very time Philo of Alexandria wrote that ‘the Israelites have received the mission to serve as priests and prophets for the whole world, to instruct it in the truth, and in particular the pure knowledge of God’. If they had recognized this truth in full measure, then the coming of the Saviour would have confirmed forever that great mission. But ‘the spirit of the prophets’ turned out to be by no means so strong in Jewry, and its leaders repeated the role of Esau: they gave away the right of the firstborn for a mess of pottage.

     “Nevertheless we must not forget that if the nationalist hatred for the Kingdom of God, manifested outside tribal conditions, was expressed in the murder of the Saviour of the world, all His disciples who brought the good news of the Kingdom, all His first followers and a multitude of the first members of the Church to all the ends of the Roman empire were Jews by nationality. The greatest interpreter of the spiritual meaning of the idea of ‘the children of Abraham’ was the pure-blooded Jew and Pharisee, the Apostle Paul. He was a Jew by blood, but through the prophetic spirit turned out to be the ideological director of the world to that place where ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’.”


     The history of Israel culminating in the Coming of her true King and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fall of the state of Israel in 70 AD, provides us with the answer to a question which neither the despots of the east nor the democrats of the west could answer - the question, namely: what is the end of the State? 

     This question can be divided into two further questions. First, what is the end, that is, purpose of the State? And second, what is the end, that is, destroyer of the State, that which brings the State to an end? 

     The two questions are logically related. For that which brings the State to an end is its failure to carry out the end or purpose for which it was created by God.

     Now the purpose of the State lies in its ability to save men from death – in other words, its survival value. Man as an individual, and even in small groups or families, cannot survive for long; he has to combine into larger groups that are self-sufficient in order to provide for his basic needs and protect himself against external enemies. That is why Aristotle defined the State as a large community that is “nearly or completely self-sufficient”. 

     However, for Aristotle, the State had a positive as well as a negative purpose. It was not distinguished from the smaller units of the family or the village simply because it was better able to guarantee survival: it was qualitatively as well as quantitatively distinct from them insofar as it enabled man to fulfill his potential as a human being. Hence his famous definition of man as “a political animal”, that is, an animal who reaches his full potential only by living in “polities”, “cities” (for city states were the dominant form of political organization in the Greece of Aristotle’s time). For it is only in city-states that man is able to develop that free spirit of rational inquiry that enables him to know the True, the Beautiful and the Good. It is only in such states that he has the leisure and the education to pursue such uniquely human activities as art, science, organized religion and philosophy, which constitute his true happiness, eudaemonia

     The problem was that Greek democracy did not attain its positive end, that is, eudaemonia, and even failed to attain its negative end, survival. First, Athenian democracy was defeated by the Spartan dual kingship and aristocracy, a kind of political organization that theoretically should have been much inferior to democracy. And then the Greek city-states as a whole were defeated by, and absorbed into, Alexander the Great’s despotic empire, a kind of political organization which the Greek philosophers agreed was the worst and most irrational of all – although the multi-racialism of the empire, and the spread of Greek philosophical ideas, prepared the way for something new and better.

     Israel was a completely different kind of state: the first and only autocracy of the ancient world. The distinguishing mark of this state was that its origin was not the need to survive physically, but spiritually, in union with God, in accordance with the meaning of the word “Israel”, “he who sees God”. It achieved this in the first place by obeying the call of God to leave the existing states and their settled way of life and enter the desert on the way to the Promised Land. Here physical survival was actually more difficult than before, but the prize was far greater - spiritual survival, life with God. Thus we may say that the negative end of Israelite autocracy was the avoidance of spiritual death (Babylon, Egypt, the kingdom of sin and death), and its positive end was the attainment of spiritual life (the Promised Land, Israel, the Kingdom of righteousness and life). 

     It follows that since neither spiritual life nor spiritual death are political categories attainable by purely political means, the end of the Israelite autocracy was not in fact political at all as the word “political” is usually understood, but religious. Its aim was not happiness in this life, the peace and prosperity of its citizens in this world, but the blessedness of its citizens in the world to come, in which there will be no politics and no states, but only Christ and the Church, the Kingdom of God. Thus the end of the state lies beyond itself, in serving the Church, which alone can lead the people into the Promised Land. 

     The Israelite state survived so long as it placed spiritual ends above purely political ones and was faithful to the Lord God of Israel. When it faltered in this it was punished with exile and suffering. When it faltered to such a degree that it killed its true King, the Lord Jesus Christ, it was finally destroyed… 

     However, since, as the Archangel Gabriel said to the Holy Virgin Mary, Christ “will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1.33), and since the purpose of God remains unchanging, the salvation of all men for eternity, the Israelite autocracy was re-established on a still firmer and wider base, the Church of Christ, “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16), while in its political aspect it was re-established in the very state that had destroyed the old Israel – Rome


May 17/30, 2017.



[1] Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, pp. 223-230.

[2]St. John Chrysostom, Homily 85 on John, P.G. 59:505, col. 461. See also Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), "Christ the Savior and the Jewish Revolution", Orthodox Life, vol. 35, N 4, July-August, 1988, pp. 11-31.

[3] The revisionist case has been presented by the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand. Josephus, our only source for these events, writes Sand “estimated that 1.1 million people died in the siege of Jerusalem and the great massacre that followed, that 97,000 were taken captive, and that a few thousand more were killed in other cities”. However, Sand argues that these figures were grossly exaggerated, and that “a cautious estimate suggests that Jerusalem at that time could have had a population of sixty thousand or seventy thousand inhabitants” (The Invention of the Jewish People, London: Verso, 2009, p. 131).

[4] Faulkner, “The great Jewish revolt against Rome, 66-73 CE”, History Today, vol. 52 (10), October, 2002, pp. 50, 51.

[5] Again, Sand disputes these figures. He claims that the population of Palestine “in the second century DE remained predominantly Judeans and Samaritans, and it started to flourish again for one or two generations after the end of the revolt” (op. cit., p. 133). He also denies that there was any significant exile from the land after the destruction of the Second Temple, arguing that it was only the conquest of Palestine by the Arabs early in the seventh century that “put an end to the presence of the Jewish people in its land” (p. 141).

[6] Tom Mueller, “Herod: The Holy Land’s Visionary Builder”, National Geographic Magazine, December, 2008, pp. 58-59.

[7] Tikhomirov, Religiozno-Filosofskie Osnovy Istorii, p. 142.

[8] Aristotle, Politics, 1252 b 28.

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