Tag Archives: fall of Constantinople

A Sobering Lesson from History

Image result for images of heraclius

Medallion of Emperor Heraclius and his son

In 610 A.D. a man named Heraclius become Emperor of Rome (they were still calling it the Roman Empire, but we remember it as the Byzantine Empire). He inherited an empire in crisis: barbarians pouring in from the north and west, and an aggressive Persian Empire gobbling up Roman territory in the south. The empire’s finances were in disorder, the army was demoralized, and religious controversies brewed chaos on the home front.

By strenuous military and domestic efforts, Heraclius restored stability. In 624 he finally forced the Persians to sue for peace, regained all the lost territories, and a war that had gone on for some 400 years ended in a total Roman victory.

Finally it was time to rest. The treasury was replenished, all the empire’s enemies had been thoroughly defeated, and it seemed as if a new day had dawned. History, for all practical purposes, was over. There was no one left to fight. The people celebrated, and Heraclius struck commemorative gold coins and medallions to seal his victories.

But he lived to see the Arabs come roaring up from the south under their new banner of Islam, seizing Egypt, Syria, the Holy Land, and sweeping through Asia Minor to mount a siege of Constantinople itself. Heraclius watched from the walls as the Arabs, who had no proper siege equipment, shattered their armies against the city’s defenses. But the lost provinces were lost forever, and from then on the empire would be fighting for its very life against Islam, with the city finally falling to the Turks in 1453.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The point is that history wasn’t over: that with all the old enemies quelled, and no expectation of further trouble, a new and more powerful enemy arose–and history rolled on and on.

When the Soviet Union fell, Western leaders and alleged thinkers proclaimed that now history was really over, the great enemy was no more, and we could all just go back to making money and screwing around with our culture.

Like the Byzantines, our leaders were wrong.

I don’t think they have quite come to terms with that–do you?


Are These Really the Last Days?

Image result for images of matthew 24

The disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when shall these things be?” And Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24: 3,36)

And when the Pharisees demanded an answer to the same question, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” (Luke 17:20)

So my short answer to the question can only be, “How could I possibly know?”

I would say most of my fellow Christians believe that these are, if not the last days themselves, then at least their precursor. It’s not my place to say they’re right or wrong, because I don’t know.

But this fallen world has known other ages that must certainly have convinced people that the end was right around the corner.

*The fall of Rome in A.D. 410 and the ensuing collapse of Roman civilization throughout Western Europe.

*The seemingly irresistible aggressions of Islam during the 7th and 8th centuries, culminating in the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

*The Black Death in the 1300s.

*The Thirty Years’ War, in the 1600s.

*Most of the Twentieth Century, including two world wars, several holocausts (such as Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which forced untimely death on at least 40 million Chinese in just five years), the use of nuclear weapons, and the flowering of most of the toxic, pernicious follies that afflict our 21st century.

Like many of you, I pray every day that the Lord would deliver us out of this evil age, which is more evil, more monstrous, and more insane than anything I could ever have imagined.

We are all enjoined by Our Lord to watch, and be found at our posts when He comes. If He comes tomorrow, we will all rejoice. If He comes a thousand years from now, we’ll have to watch from Heaven, and do our rejoicing there.

If anyone demands of us a date for Christ’s return, they’re only doing it to find an excuse to laugh at us. Let’s not give them one. Let’s watch and be ready, as Our Lord commanded. Do the work He has given us, hope, pray… and love.

I don’t know what else to say.


%d bloggers like this: