John sees, in the sixth great image after the seventh trumpet, a figure resembling the Son of man, seated on a white cloud. It reminds us of the first vision with which the Apocalypse started. Here, the Son of man had on his head a golden garland and in his hand a sharp sickle. Three angels come forward with instructions of God. The earth is ready to be harvested and the grapes of the vine are fully ripe to gather. And the winepress was trodden, outside before the city. And there, blood streamed out of the winepress unto the horsebridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
The white cloud
Now that we have entered the new world, we get the opportunity to see the victorious Son of man, which represents at the same time a preview of how we can become ourselves. This image shows how the Son stands between the natural world order of the Father and the order of the Spirit, how the Son elevates the kingdom of Nature in man to the kingdom of the Spirit (Steiner, GA 346, p.110). The white cloud is a symbol for the etheric world in which the Son appears. Schult (p.249) coms to the same conclusion: this imagination of the Son of man on the white cloud refers to the fifth element, the quintessence, where is shown the image of man-in-God. Bock (p. 239-245) characterizes the Son of man, sitting on a cloud with a sharp sickle, as the return of the Christ in the etheric world. This is the moment that Christian religion often describes as the moment of ‘judgement of the world by the Christ’. Bock prefers a different description because, in his view, man is executing this judgement himself. Purified man is, also presently, able to perceive the Christ in the etheric world, while others just ignore his nearness because they are unable to enter the spiritual sphere and see him.
The Son of man in the midst of six angels
Schult (p.249) places the Son of man in the midst of the three angels in the previous text fragment and those appearing here. The Son of man now is an acting entity in heaven, preceded by three judicial angels and followed by three harvest angels. At the start of the Apocalypse, the Son of man was a revealer, here he has a judging and completing role. Earlier he was wearing the sword of the divine disclosing word, now he wears the sickle to harvest.
The two types of harvesting
Bock comments on the two types of harvesting that are described. Firstly, the earth is harvested, which means that all what man has created and constructed in the external world is collected. In addition, the grapes are harvested. They represent what man has developed in his or her inner world.
The divine will of the Father is manifested in the winepress. In the winepress the decisive event takes place where the blood, the carrier of the I of man, is produced. The winepress makes clear if the higher Self has been developed or if man remained chained in the desires of the ego. Schult (p.251) states that red is the color of the seven trumpets, expressing the purification of man’s feelings by the Christ-I. That, which was interior, becomes here exterior.
The blood streamed out of the winepress by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. The number 1000 indicates that a great development cycle is finalized by closing the sixth smaller cycle. 1600 consists of 4x4x100. Four is the number of the Earth, as can be recognized in the four directions of North, South, East and West, or in the kingdoms of stone, plant, animal and man. The 4x4x100 also points, according to Schult, (p.251), at the completion of the Earth and the total cosmos. The purified blood of mankind as a whole circles around earth and cosmos in a dance of divine life. Here, the life forces of mankind are transformed into the spirit of life, the Buddhi.
But those, which are not spiritually reborn, will not taste the completion, and will experience the wrath of God coming from above (Joh.3:36) and described in the next cycle.