It is not a coincidence that the Christ seated on a white horse is the fourth great vision after the outpouring of the vials of wrath. The fourth vision is the center of the seven visions given to John. Again Christ is placed in the center of the events leading to the unification of mankind with its divine vocation. It parallels the fourth image after the seventh trumpet where the Lamb appeared on mountain Sion.
The fourth great vision shows us heaven opened, and starts with a white horse. And he that sat on him is called: Bearer of Faith and Truth. And in righteousness he judges and battles. His eyes are flames of fire, and on his head are many diadems. To him a name is inscribed, that nobody knows but he himself. And he is clothed with a garment, dabbled with blood. And his name is called: The word of God. And the heavenly hosts followed him on white horses , clothed in delicate linen, lighting fine and pure, and out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, with which he should smite in one stroke the world.
The Christ appears here in a new image, leading the heavenly hosts who have chosen for the spirit. And he has on his garment at his hips written the name: King of kings, and Lord of lords. And now, the ahrimanic legions of the beast and the false prophet, who speaks for Ahriman and performs his wonders, come forward. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered to make war against him that sat on the horse and against his host.
Here the final battle with the beast is unlashed. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles for him, with which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into the sea of fire, burning with sulphur. And the others were slain with the sword of him, that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth.
The white horse
The first time we met the white horse was at the beginning of the Apocalypse, when the first seal of the book on God’s lap was opened. Now, nearing the end of the Apocalypse, the white horse appears again. The first time, man was not yet able to manage the divine power of intelligence, symbolized in the white horse, and to control it with the wisdom of the higher self. The mind had the tendency to descend into pure intellectualism and become disconnected from the inspiring love forces of the heart. Now, the rider on the white horse has integrated mind and heart.
The rider on the white horse
Who is this rider? The rider on the white horse not only equals the Christ, the solar being which already existed when man was created, but he also represents future man, the Son of man, shown to John at the start of the Apocalypse. Here we see future man, not only as a remembrance of a long ago past, in which God created man into his image, or as the Son of man in heaven using his sickle to harvest the Earth. Here we see the newly born man, carrier of the I, which has opened itself to love. Bock (p.310-319) sees in the rider on the white horse the being which developed out of the little boy, born out of the virgin Sophia who was clothed with the Sun. He now is grown-up, outside the sphere of influence of the red dragon. In this boy the manly principle of the self-conscious spirit is born. Here we see the matured Son of man, the higher spiritual man, man-in-God, man as he was envisioned by God at the beginning. The Son of man has a purified I, the I which says: not I, but the Christ love in me prevails.
Schult’s vision on the iron rod
Schult (p.311 and following) depicts the rider on the white horse as the divine I which triumphs as God’s completed justice and love. Justice and love are often seen as opposites, but in God they are united. The two-edged sharp sword going out of his mouth, a symbol also shown in the first vision of the Son of man, symbolizes God’s power to divide between light and darkness.
In his hand the rider carries an iron rod, with which he can lead as shepherd of men all peoples. And he shall rule them with iron rod and he will tread the winepress out of which the wine of the divine will of bliss will stream forward as wrath of the Almighty ruler. The symbol of the iron rod was also present at the start of the Apocalypse in the letter to the community Thyatira, which symbolized the birth on Earth of the Christ. And in the center of the Apocalypse the iron rod appeared for the second time at the birth of the cosmic Christ from the virgin Sophia (Rev.12:5). And at the end of the Apocalypse, the iron rod appears for the third time, marking that the overtaking of power by the Christ is completed. God has revealed himself in man and man in God. But where the human I has remained dark, it has to give way to the light, when the white rider treads the winepress.
How the Christ comes to us
Steiner (GA 346, p.140-152) explains the names that are given to the rider on the white horse. Man knows his name as his I, because Christ has come in our being as bringer of light. Because the Christ-being lives in us, we can have a self-consciousness. And we have the possibility to understand the world around us in the way he is understanding the world. This is indicated by his garment, dabbled with blood. And his name is the word of God. The Christ fills us from the inside with the creative word of God. In pre-Christian times, man received the word of God from the outside, through the natural phenomena that surrounded him. Now, man receives the creative word of God by taking in the Christ, by hearing the word of God from the inside.
And Steiner sees, besides being the bringer of light and speaking the word of God, a third way through which the Christ comes to us: through his deeds, through his sword, which represents his will to live in us. Till the arrival of the Christ, man served other lords outside himself. But now man can find the lord which he serves inside himself and follow him, the Christ. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Man is prepared, by opening up for the Christ, to find the essence of what he or she does in himself or herself.
Bock on the four names of the rider on the white horse
Also Bock (p.310-319) discusses the names of the rider on the white horse. Luther translated the first name as: Faithful and True. Bock objects against this translation, and joins Schult in the translation: ‘He is Bearer of Faith and Truth’. Schult (p.313) defines faith as the intuitive force of our spirit to experience truth when still hidden for our mind . The rider unites in himself the two world principles of faith and truth. He lives in a world of consciousness where these two principles are united. These two principles also refer to the two pillars of the temple called Moses and Elijah and the two witnesses of God, which were shown after the blowing of the sixth trumpet. At that moment this higher uniting consciousness was not yet reached. Now, knowledge and revelation are for the first time becoming one. The royal diadems on the head of the rider indicate that he receives the gift of the wisdom of divine thoughts.
The second name of the rider is not expressed. He has a name nobody knows, except he himself. This concerns the secret of the word ‘I’, which possibility only man has in nature. At the same time, the I contains the mission to strive for the higher self and create a dwelling place for the higher self in the I. Paul called this: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’. The I of man is the gift of the Christ. Schult (p.313) points in this context to the name of God, which he reveals in the Old Testament to Moses at the burning bush as: ‘I am that I am’ (Exodus 3:14). This ‘I-name’ means that man has received this I from God. It is the silent innermost secret of the heart of man, it is the Christ in us.
The third name is also implied in the second name, which is written on the garment, with blood. In this white garment dabbled with blood the colors of red and white, soul and spirit, come together. And the name on this garment is The word of God. When this man speaks, the creative word of the Christ co-sounds and in the blood of this man the life-giving blood of the Christ co-flows, because the Christ is co-habiting the soul of this man. That is the result of the ‘alchemical wedding’ that took place. Schult (p.313) points out that this word sounds in man’s inner world. It reveals itself in the God-I, which is hidden in man’s heart.
And he has on his garment at his hips written the name: King of kings, and Lord of lords. This fourth name shows that a balance is reached in the Son of man between the divine and human worlds. Only the Christ-man of the future will know completely the secret of freedom and inner sovereignty, according to Block. Schult (p.413) is of the same opinion and sees the fourth name as freedom which takes the lead in executing the will of the spirit.
The battle with the beast and the false prophet and the great supper
One would think that, since the great wedding, all battles will have been ended. But the contrary is true. Particularly at this moment, all counter-forces of the beast assemble again to annihilate him, who is seated on the white horse. The great supper and the battle against the beast are coinciding. And I saw an angel, standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all birds that fly in the midst of heaven: Come and gather yourselves together to the great supper of God. That you may consume the flesh of kings, and the flesh of warlords, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and slaves, both small and great. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered to make war against him that sat on the horse and against his host. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles for him, with which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.
Schult (p.314) sees in the angel, standing in the sun, archangel Michael. The birds which are invited to the great supper of God, make Schult think of the birds which earlier introduced the last three trumpets with their ‘woe, woe, woe’ call.
At the sounding of the fifth trumpet the pit to Hades was opened. Now, the door to heaven is opened, but simultaneously the door to Hades is open as well. The path to spiritual resurrection goes through death, death of the ego. Although Babylon is destructed by its material heaviness and internal conflicts, now the rider on the white horse and his followers have to overcome the initiator of Babylon: the beast with the seven heads and the false prophet. The god of darkness, Ahriman, symbolized in the beast, and his ally Leviathan (according to Bock), try at this ultimate moment to defeat the Christ. This is the decisive battle at Harmageddon for which the demons have gathered all kings, as described at the outpouring of the sixth vial of wrath (Schult, p.315). A battle in the classical sense with Ahriman and Lucifer is not described. It is just noted that they are taken. And these both were cast alive into the sea of fire, burning with sulphur. And the others were slain with the sword of him, that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all birds satisfied themselves with their flesh.
The spiritual force of the judging world-word of God overcomes all powers of darkness. These are cast alive in the sea of fire. The great supper of God is a terrible counter-image of the wedding dinner of the Lamb and the Sophia-bride. The birds, representing high angelic beings, purify the cosmos of all demons. Schult supposes that their corpses are digested and that their spirits take refuge in the underworld, Hades. It is an intermediate sphere that differs from what the Apocalypse calls ‘the sea of fire’. Schult sees the sea of fire as an anti-world of the new Jerusalem that will continue to exist. This anti-world is not eternal, but an ‘aeon of aeons’, where day and night still exist. The new Jerusalem has no longer the night. In Hades the counter-forces are ripped of their power. According to Schult, their torments are the result of their voluntary choice to reject the love of God. And as a result of the casting in the sea of fire of the beast and his prophet, satan-Sorat is deprived of his instrument on Earth.