After the opening of the sixth seal and the start of the dissolution of the material world, text fragment 19 shows the opposite side of the consequences of opening seal six. The representatives of the twelve tribes of the Jewish people, symbolizing men from all mankind, are being sealed at their forehead. All disaster and down-fall unleashed by the opening of the sixth seal, will not affect those which are sealed and have assembled under the care of the Lamb.
The separation of human souls
In the public eye, the Apocalypse stands for the annihilation of the world. But this text fragment high-lights the opposite. At the number six, a separation takes place between fall and rise. That is why the Apocalypse presents an intermezzo, painting both pathways instead of continuing the line of the story by presenting the opening of the seventh seal. Here a division takes place between those that are sealed and those that are not, those that search for the spiritual world and those that have chosen for the material world.
According to Steiner (24 June 1908), the seal on the forehead means that these souls carry on their forehead the name of Jesus Christ, because they look up to him. What lives in their heart becomes visible on their forehead, after the opening of the sixth seal. They start to show resemblance with Jesus Christ. After the killed martyrs, which were shown in white raiment after the opening of the fifth seal, now also the living are shown that have developed themselves to a degree that they can wear the white raiment already during their life on earth. John asks special attention for this event, as it is the decisive moment of development at the opening of the sixth seal, the separation between those developing upward and those sinking down in matter and the unanimated mind.
The four angels at the corners of the Earth
Four angels appear, standing on the four corners of the Earth. They create time and space to seal the living men on their forehead. The four corners of the Earth indicate that the whole of Earth is involved. The four angels have the power to bind the winds that blow from the four quarters. According to Bock (p. 120-124) these four angels are under the influence of Lucifer and ready to disrupt life on earth in line with what has started after opening the sixth seal.
Steiner (GA 265: 316) has a somewhat different view and characterizes wind spirits as belonging to the sylphs, elementary beings which work in the air element, and are tied off from angels. To the degree that they assemble themselves, they become more forceful in their effect. This effect is however prevented by the four angels mentioned.
Schult (p.127) sees a connection of the four angels with the four horsemen that represent the planet regions: Jupiter-Marduk, Mars-Nergal, Saturn-Ninurta en Mercury-Nabu. At a higher level these are connected to world keepers in the realm of the fixed stars in the signs of Taurus, Lion, Eagle-Scorpio, and Aquarius. This shows the descend of spiritual impulses, going from the sky of stars, to the planet spheres and finally to the elemental world of the winds. The physical will dissolve or will be integrated in a purified way in the heavenly etheric world.
The angel with the seal
Then the angel appears with the seal of the living God. He summons the four other angels to postpone their disruptive work till those men, which have opened themselves for the divine love, have been sealed on the forehead. The angel, ascending from the rise of the Sun, comes from the east. This is the second time that this mighty being, identified by Schult as archangel Michael, acts in the Apocalypse. The first time when he spoke was at the moment that creation seemed to stagnate because nobody could open the book. Now he speaks again, to announce the decision of the divine will, to save men which serve the spirit and are the seeds for the creation of the new world. Schult (p.127) sees a parallel with the end of the Apocalypse, when Satan is chained and the new Jerusalem is announced, with this text where the wind demons are restrained by the four angels, to allow the sealing of the purified souls.
The 144,000 sealed
The number of 144,000 sealed shines here for the first time. The number 144,000 represents completeness as it contains twelve times twelve and the thousand. It is the seed of the future community of individualized men which are at the same time part of the purified whole of humanity. Schult (p.128-129) depicts the sealing of the 144,000 as a cosmic consecration to priesthood. Where the Holy Spirit is awakened in the I of man, God imprints his seal. Also Paul refers to this process (Ephesians 4:30): ‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed until the day of redemption’. At the opening of the fifth seal the martyrs received the white raiment of spiritual enlightenment of the intelligence, the Manas. At the opening of the sixth seal the forces of life are transformed till the Spirit of Life, the Buddhi. Those not only have conquered the forces of the planets, symbolized by the four horsemen in the fifth seal, but also the forces represented by the zodiac. After the collapse of the starry sky, the new mankind emerges as the 144,000 sealed, which has itself acquired star quality. The martyrs had to wait till their number was full. At the opening of the sixth seal the number of men has become full: 12,000 of each of the 12 tribes, representing the whole of mankind.
In chapter 7 the number of the heavenly twelve comes forward in the Apocalypse, the twelve that characterizes the heavenly Jerusalem. As we will see, the wall of this city measures twelve times twelve or 144 cubits, which is said to be the measure of man as angel. In this measure, man comes to his completion. That is why the number 144,000 is linked to mankind completed.