When the first vial of wrath is poured out on earth … there fell ulcers, painful and malignant, upon men, which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which had to worship his image.
Bock (p.250-278) expected, now that we are approaching God, that events would become more lovely. But the contrary seems to be the case. First the vials of wrath are poured out on his creation, on the people, the earth, the seas and also on the Sun, the throne of the beast, the river of life Euphrates, and in the air. Then, a great earthquake disrupts all earthly conditions, the great Babylon is divided in three pieces and has to drink the wine of God’s wrath. Islands and mountains do no longer exist. And with great hailstones from heaven the plagues end. This hail represents all astral aspects, which are not suitable to go to the next phase (Schult, p.267). The unsuitable is stripped off from earth and man, like a reptile is throwing away the old skin for a next phase of growth.
The consequences for the natural elements
The effects of the outpouring of the seven vials follow the Greek natural elements if we split the fifth, the quintessence, in its components:
- water (the sea),
- air (the life-giving aspect is here depicted as the living waters of rivers and fountains),
- fire (the Sun),
- light ether (here depicted in its contrast of black magic propagated from the throne of the beast),
- sound ether (her depicted in its contrast of the river Euphrates that dries out and, consequently, that the three counter forces has to withdraw from the throats of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet), and finally
- life ether (here depicted as air and its contrast of everything losing its integrity which results in collapse).
In the coming part of the Apocalypse these events become visible. Lower aspects of our constitution no longer continue. Only the higher aspects can still exist.
Divine love and divine wrath
It is of course understandable that the Holy of holiest of God’s temple cannot be entered without preparation. It is protected by forces which repel everything that is not holy and pure. The seals protecting the book on God’s lap and the trumpets sounding around the heavenly altar, find their representation in the protecting golden vials of wrath before the Holy of holiest can be entered. The seven vials have a similar build-up as the seven trumpets, but the effects are more serious and fatal.
Also Bock and Steiner (25 June 1908) mention the fact that the Greek word thymos is more than wrath. It means that the soul is in strong movement. This is expressing God’s vehement and temperamental love, which should not be confused with a tender-hearted type of love. This is the love of a passionate God, that is strengthening those which are giving selfless love. During the outpouring of the vials of willpower it still is this passionate love, which is however experienced as wrath by the human souls not joining in the spiritual development. For those which did not develop the selfless love in themselves the fire of God’s love turns into its contrast, the blessing becomes a curse.
Wrath as a means to purify
If we look beyond the luciferic and ahrimanic impacts, we will discover, according to Steiner (GA 346, p.218), that the whole of creation is pervaded with light which is the exterior manifestation of the inner force of divine love. The human consciousness soul affected by evil forces will in the future result in a growing strength of the effects caused in nature, by means of phenomena like storms, earthquakes and floods. As a countervailing power the divine love will manifest itself as divine wrath to purify these forces and annihilate the sources of the negative natural effects.
The first vial of wrath
The first angel pours out its vial, as said, on the earth. Bock (p.250-278) sees the element of earth as a symbol for the physical body of man, which is rooted in the spiritual world. But for those, wearing the sign of the beast and surrendering to a materialistic world view, this outpouring of the first vial leads to painful and malignant ulcers. Health, which is generated from inside, is disharmonious when the spiritual connection with God’s love is disrupted. Man is no longer master of his or her body, but the body becomes a tormentor, here represented by the ulcers.. Steiner (GA 236, p.250 and Schult (p.267) see these ulcers as manifestations of barriers to the inflow of spiritual and astral energies. The spirit can particularly work at such places of degradation processes. At these barriers the divine wrath is building up. The ulcers are possibilities to purify the astral causes of these barriers.