The Power of God – Our Only Ally

BY APOSTOLOS MAKRAKIS

Delivered in Concord Square the City of Athens, Greece – August 15th, 1866

Yesterday’s speech concerning the power which can enable us to complete our glorious and sacred struggle dwelt on these three points: 1) the sympathy of the Most High for our fight; 2) that we can achieve mutual understanding and fight more effectively with the Lord of hosts than with any earthly power whatever;  3) that the power of God will take action against our enemies providing we accept those terms of the covenant which we proved to be worthy of the wisdom, goodness, and righteousness of God, and that we act accordingly. Given that we have accepted God’s conditions and pact, today we shall take under consideration the power of our ally, and what it can do for us and against our adversaries.

We can view God and His might in the sound of the gentle wind for as we ascertained yesterday, it is there that we can find God. I hear from this sound that the Lord, Who is in sympathy with our struggle and wills to fight with us, declares the following:

“I am God above all, and the Lord over all things that come to pass. No other God was before me, nor shall there be after me. I am the Lord who brings all things to an end. I alone spread out the heavens and set the earth upon its firmament. I created man upon the earth, and have command over all the stars. Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. For my hand created all these things, and they are all mine,” says the Lord.

We note in these words that God, our friend and ally, is the creative cause of all beings and phenomena. He spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and all things were created. God established the order of the universe unto the ages, world without end; He gave an order, and it shall not fade away. God created everything He willed, and creates everything He wills in heaven and earth, in the seas and all the abysses. For He is Lord over every power, moral and physical. Now let us discuss how this is so.

Any hypostasis and essence which functions with self-awareness and with freedom is called a “moral agent” and a “person.” The elements and the beings whose activity is not derived from their own judgment due to the absence of self-awareness and free will are called forces of nature. All the rational souls of human beings are an example of a moral power. The wind, steam, water, fire, and such things are examples of the forces of nature. In distinguishing between the moral powers and the forces of nature, we note that the moral powers are far superior. This is why the forces of nature are subjected to the moral powers, and without the latter the former can do nothing.

Note the steam engines in ships, locomotives, factories, and the thousands of other electrical motors and machines of war. What do you see in these? Nothing else but the forces of nature subjected and harnessed by moral agents. For example, in a ship’s steam engine you see steel, water, fire, steam, all these forces of nature subjected and harnessed by the mechanical engineer who is a moral agent controlling the forces of nature. Without the mechanical engineer, all the forces of nature contained in the steam engine are capable of nothing. ls it possible for the forces of nature in the steam engine to move the ship out of the harbor without the will and activity of the mechanical engineer, namely, the moral agent? ls it possible for the natural force of electricity to carry messages from one place to another without telegraphers? Is it possible for the natural power of gunpowder to aim a bullet without the man bearing the firearm? In short, is it possible for a force of nature to become a meaningful activity without the judgment and will of a moral agent?

If one takes away a moral agent from the forces of nature, the latter dies and remains inactive. Even our body is nothing else but a system of natural forces subjected and harnessed by the moral agent which is the soul. It is by the judgment of the soul that this body functions, moves with various motions, and fulfills various activities. But once the soul leaves the body, the latter dies; i.e. it can neither move nor function.

From the examples cited above, we may now understand two great worlds, the world of all forces of nature, and that of moral agents. Let us understand that both these worlds are ordered in wisdom and prudence, and that the physical world is subjected to the moral world, i.e. that the forces of nature are subjected and harnessed by the moral agents which are themselves in mutual subjection. All the moral agents which Holy Scripture calls angels, including the human souls, are subjected to the Holy Spirit of God which, being omni­present and filling all things, knows all, can do all, and contains all. The Holy Spirit has the same lordship over all the moral agents, both angels and men, which the moral agents have over the forces of nature. This is why David, the Prophet-King, asks: “Where can I go away from thy Spirit, and where can I flee from thy face?” Just as the forces of nature can do nothing without the moral agents, so too the moral agents can do nothing ·without the judgment of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the Church chants in one of her hymns:

“By the Holy Spirit are all things contained, both the visible and the invisible. By the Holy Spirit is every living thing vivified, and is all of creation set in motion. By the Holy Spirit does the divine sovereignty hold sway over all, which the heavenly hosts above worship together with all that lives here below.”

Once we understand the order and mutual relationship of all forces, both physical and moral; once we understand that the motion and activity of all forces depends upon the Holy Spirit of God which is omnipresent and fills all things; once we understand the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Most High and absolute Lord over every force and activity through His Holy Spirit; once, I say, we understand all these truths, we shall understand and behold, as though in a mirror, what the might of God, our friend and ally, is. What this power can work for us and work against our adversaries! Having the Lord of hosts with us, what can any physical or moral force do against us? Having the Lord of hosts on our side, what need have we for power to save ourselves or to annihilate our enemies?

Come then, brethren, let us draw our strength from God, and He shall set at naught those who afflict us. If our enemies attack us in large numbers of ships, our friend and ally can sink them like a stone in the manner in which He also cast Pharaoh with his war-chariots and horsemen into the Red Sea. God can shake our foes like dust in the wind, setting aflame the powder magazines of their ships. He can make fire and brimstone rain down upon them and burn them as He did Sodom and Gomorrah. If our enemies attack by land, with the help of strong infantry and cavalry forces and much artillery, God, our ally, can destroy them with their own weapons, instilling within them a madness and blindness as He often annihilated the large armies of the Philistines. God can make the earth open beneath the feet of our foes and cast them alive into hell, as He did to Dathan and Abeiron. He can send His angel to strike our enemies dead on the plain, just as it happened to the army of the Assyrians who besieged Jerusalem in the days of the most pious king, Ezekias. Not only can God, our helper, annihilate our adversaries, but He can also render them our obedient slaves and servants, just as He once did to the Gabaonites. Just as God can in many and diverse ways destroy our enemies, He can likewise save us. He can even deliver us from a fiery furnace unharmed, in precisely the same manner as He did the three youths. Our Lord can save us from the mouths of lions, just as He did Daniel. He can resurrect us from the grave itself, as He raised His Son after three days for our salvation. Suffice it alone that we be convinced and understand that God is with us, and that all shall bend their necks and worship before us. For what God is as great as our God? He indeed is God who alone does wonderful things. The examples in the history of ancient Israel are sufficient to instill within our souls the unshaken faith that God shall also work wonderful things in our midst, if we heed His voice and walk in His ways.

In the eyes of the Lord the New Israel is much more precious than the old Israel. For while the former bore the shadow and the types, we today bear the truth itself. Old Israel held the Ark of Covenant which was made of wood and had within it the tablets of the Law i.e. the Decalogue. We, however, have the living Covenant of God, the Theotokos who is full of grace, the Tabernacle and Mother of the living Logos who brings forth all things through the word of His might. Now if old Israel, by virtue of that Ark which was but a type, crossed over the river Jordan with dry feet, overcame Jericho, and was restored to the promised land, the land of their fathers, how much more are we, by bearing in faith the living Tabernacle of God and the living Logos who was borne by her, justified in hoping for our restoration to the land of our fathers which today plundering and unjust hands control. I believe this not only because I am convinced by God’s Holy Scriptures and by Right Reason, but also by a certain miraculous vision which I saw many years ago, and which I must now also relate to you; for it does not concern me in particular, but rather the whole nation.

When I completed my course of study at the Great School of the Race in Constantinople,[1] I returned to my native land, the island of Siphnos, in August of the year 1851. Upon my departure from Siphnos in September of that same year, I had boarded an Austrian steamship and was returning to Constantinople in order to resume my teaching duties. Before we came to the Hellespont, I saw in my sleep the Lord’s blessed Mother who is full of grace holding in her bosom the infant Christ as is depicted by the icon called the “Platytera of the Heavens” radiating with grace and glory, the blessed Mother seemed to be descending from heaven to earth with a multitude of heavenly hosts. I then found myself standing before her, and, wanting to turn my face from that radiance, I could not, but saw around me a multitude of people shouting and crying in joy. Being amazed and asking what was the meaning of this, I heard a gentle voice saying, “This is the kingdom of heaven.” After leaving a bit of sweet dew dropped into my heart, the blessed Mother of our Savior departed from me. Awaking in the morning, I could still feel that sweet dew in my heart; but I was then in no condition to understand the meaning of such a vision as I have never seen before. But now I interpret this in the following manner.

The Greek people are the New Israel who faithfully and correctly bear the Ark of the New Testament, the Theotokos who is full of grace, who bore the living Logos of God. It is the Logos who reigns in heaven, and who must descend to reign also over the earth. The vision indicated that once this New Israel comes together and becomes of one mind under the protection of the Theotokos and her Son, it shall rejoicingly go forth and occupy Constantinople, so that it may establish there the Kingdom of Christ, having abolished and cast out the anti-Christ authority of Mohammed. According to my under­standing that is the only true significance of my vision which is in complete accord with all the Biblical references which we have hitherto interpreted. We must all work with faith for the realization of this dream, in no way doubting that this can be done. As children of prudence, we must avoid two opposite extremes which I shall now clearly indicate so that we may shun them and walk the middle and royal road which shall lead us to our goal.

The first extreme consists in senseless and irreligious egoism which is arrogant and boasts that it can do what it wills without God. There are people who think that God does not exist, or that if God does exist, He does not care at all about the affairs of men. Such people have trust only in themselves and in the means they employ. Their purpose is to satisfy their own desire alone. Their will is right and law unto themselves, and it is to this that they subject the others also they are braggards boasting about their own ability which consists in deceiving the more simple-minded and in inflicting violence upon those who are weaker than themselves. People of such character are called egoists because they deify their own ego, while denying the existence or the providence of God, and having no hope in him. Therefore, if we too reject God and His help, and say that we shall accomplish whatever we want by means of our own power and judgment, we fall into the extreme to which foolish and senseless people usually succumb.

The extreme which is opposite to egoism consists in foolish indolence which expects everything from God, while neglecting its own duties. There are indolent and negligent people who think that whatever good things God has will be given to them while they neglect the task set for the acquisition of the good thing desired. God shall provide for us, they say, and folding their hands, they pass their time in idleness, the mother of evil. We should also shun this extreme like the first one, and follow the middle and royal way.

Now the royal way consists in moving and acting with God and according to God. They who follow this way, on the one hand, are conscious that without God they can do nothing; on the other hand, they carry out their duty, without which God grants nothing. “Ask,” says Christ, “and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find . . . ” Asking and seeking signify movement and activity, without which it is impossible for one to find the good thing one desires. By avoiding therefore, the opposite extremes we indicated, and by taking the middle and royal way which the Gospel and Right Reason recommend to us, we shall without failure attain to the illustrious and desired polis. There we will establish the kingdom of heaven, the state of divine righteousness.

Now that we have explained also the third category of the knowledge of our struggle, that is, the power with which we ran fight faithfully, next Sunday we must move on to the fourth and last category, which is the art of battling and overcoming our adversaries.


[1] The foremost school of higher learning in the Church at this time.

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