The fifth great vision of John, after the outpouring of the vials of wrath, refers, together with the next two visions, to the building of the kingdom of the spirit. The mystical secrets are contained in particular in these three last great visions of 1) the period of thousand years, 2) the judgement of the dead, and 3) the heavenly Jerusalem (Schult, p.319). Here, we can find the esoteric depths of the Apocalypse.
In the fifth great vision John sees an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, called Diabolos and Satanas, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the abyss, and shut him up, and set a seal above him, that he should deceive the peoples no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. And after that he must be untied a little time.
And the souls of those that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God and them, which did not worship the beast, revived and reigned with Christ thousand years. The other dead did not revive until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection! On such, the second death has no power. They will be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
After the thousand years have passed, Satanas is untied out of his prison. And he shall go out to deceive the peoples which are in the four quarters of the earth, the Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
Again the deepest counter-force tries to annihilate God’s creation of man and brings the whole of creation in jeopardy. And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And Satanas, that deceived them, was cast into the sea of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are. And they shall be tormented day and night from aeons to aeons.
Satan chained for thousand years
The chaining of satan is an old mythological motive (Schult, p.326), that can also be found in Jewish Apocalypses as well as in the Avesta of Zarathustra and in Germanic Edda. In old Iranian mythology, the serpent or dragon Azhi Dahaka roamed through the universe until Angra Mainyu decided to end him. His champion fighter could not kill the dragon but chained him instead to Mount Damavand, where Dahak will have to remain for eternity till the final battle. In the Edda the Aesir only free the chained Fenris wolf during the twilight of the gods.
The thousand years explained by Bock
Although man has attained a higher consciousness and has under the leadership of the Christ overcome the battle with the beast and the false prophet, a battle with the creator of the beast would be a bridge to far. An angel has to come down from heaven to chain satan and seal him in the abyss for thousand years. This text is clearly mirroring the event at the sounding of the fifth trumpet where an angel came from heaven, Schult (p.326) sees Lucifer in this angel, and received the key to open the pit to the abyss.
Bock (p.322-326) gives an extensive comment on the fantastic interpretations of the so-called ‘empire of thousand years’, which started to circulate since the publication of the Apocalypse till present days. The thousand years refer, according to Bock, to a periodic episode of rest in the spiritual world during which the doors to heaven and hell are closed for man. The empire of thousand years is continuously present in the spiritual world. The number 1000 stands in opposition to the number 666, and is a symbol for ‘eternity in time’. Those who become citizens of this inner empire of thousand years of peace, can later join the fight against satan and the building of the new Jerusalem, the blue-print for the Jupiter-earth.
The thousand years explained by Steiner
Steiner gives an alternative or additional explanation for the 1000 years. Steiner refers to the cycles of creation and the role of the elders around God’s throne, as presented in chapter 4 of the Apocalypse, text fragment 11. Here we have shown that the elders represent the past evolution of earth and man. The 3 previous earth incarnations or large cycles and the present mineral Earth, including the 21 plus 3 small cycles or ‘life conditions’ or ‘kingdoms’ that have passed, are described here as the 24 elders. Yet, another 3 small cycles have to pass after the present mineral cycle is finished, before the new Jupiter earth will emerge. The 3 small cycles that earth and man have to complete can be indicated by three zero’s, or the number 1000. During these three small cycles the advanced human souls, the martyrs and saints, will reign as kings with Christ.
The thousand years explained by Schult
Also Schult (p.322-324) gives several considerations to explain the meaning of the period of thousand years. It certainly does not refer to a mathematical or chronological period of 1000 years. In his view the period of thousand years indicates the kingdom of divine perfection which breaks through at the end of the time cycles.
The number 1000 was used in antiquity, according to Schult, to indicate a large time cycle. The history of creation, in Persia linked to the Avesta of Zarathustra, encompasses a total of 12 periods of thousand years for world history, like our year has 12 months. In Jewish culture, the history of world creation knows seven days. These are 7 world days of cosmic evolution which were counted in 7 periods of 1000 years. The periods of 1000 years have a symbolic meaning and not a mathematical one. The seventh period of thousand years is to be seen as a world Sabbath, the day of rest of the completion of the world. According to Schult, the Apocalypse sees the period of thousand years not as the phase of completion of the world, but as a last but one phase in time before time trespasses into eternity. It is a stage, in between time and eternity, which can also be found in the Avesta of Zarathustra.
The classical culture knew that cosmos as a whole once was originating from fire, from light, and that eventually all in cosmos will return to this fire. The deepest meaning of the period of thousand years is the breaking through of eternity in time, says Schult. This conclusion aligns with the views of Steiner and Bock discussed before.
Characteristics of Jupiter man
The lectures of Steiner at Nurnberg in 1908 on the final chapters of the Apocalypse were limited to some main issues, such as the first resurrection and the second death, because of time constraints. He explained that man living in the new Jerusalem, the Jupiter earth, will be quite different from present man. Jupiter man will have transformed the astral body to a higher level, the higher self or Manas. Jupiter man, therefore, has not four but five parts of being: physical body, etheric body, astral body, the I and Manas. We are able to interpret our sensory observations of our environment and in a similar way Jupiter man will in addition interpret his clairvoyant images. Part of the astral world will be accessible for him. This makes that Jupiter man lives in a different moral relationship with his physical and social environment. Pain and pleasure of others appear for him as inner images and torture his soul when nothing is done to reduce the suffering. Jupiter man is continuously connected to the weal and woe of others in his neighborhood. In the night, Jupiter man will further develop his Manas and the results will be imprinted in his etheric body. A similar process can already take place at present, but nowadays we still need the help of the Christ to imprint the purified astral body in the etheric body.
First and second death and leaving behind the physical and etheric bodies
What happens when in the final phase of the present Earth incarnation, the mineral earth more and more spiritualizes? We can learn more about this process from how we die. When we die, we have to leave behind the physical body. But all our desires for delicious food, a fast car, sexual pleasure, gambling, and so on, do not stop, because they originate from the still existing astral body. Now that the physical body is absent, man has no longer the possibility to satisfy his passions. The deceased man is eaten up by the glow of his or her desires. In the Roman-Catholic church this situation is called the purgatory, which continues till the glow of desires extinguishes and man has learned to long no more to satisfy such desires.
When the last phase of the present Earth incarnation arrives and man leaves behind for the last time his physical body, this will not be very difficult for those who have taken in the Christ impulse, even if one realizes that all objects giving pleasure and joy will be left behind forever. The Apocalypse calls this moment the first death. Those following the Christ impulse can easily leave behind their physical body because their etheric body is no longer dominated by lust and sorrow. They resurrect in the spiritual world. They have attained harmony, with the help of the Christ, between their purified astral body and etheric body. But for those who did not open themselves for the Christ impulse of love, such a harmony is absent. They too have to leave behind their physical body, because all physical things dissolves in this phase. Their etheric body is not adjusted to a purified astral body and still is completely oriented towards the physical body. They are eaten up by an insatiable desire for the physical body.
And after this dissolution of the physical world, a next phase comes where spiritualization moves further and where also the etheric body dissolves. Those who have an etheric body that is in harmony with their astral body, can let their etheric body go without sorrow. They see it as necessary for their development to strip of their etheric body, knowing that they can recreate the etheric body because the Christ is in them. But those who still have desires cannot maintain their etheric body when all is spiritualizing to the astral level. The etheric body will be ripped out of them and they will experience this as a second death. This second death passes practically unnoticed for those who embraced the Christ impulse. The second death has no power over them. They are ready for the new Jerusalem.
The moon of the Jupiter earth
After a great period of rest, in Hinduism called ‘Pralaya’, a new cosmos and a new earth, the Jupiter earth, will materialize. This Jupiter earth will be accompanied by a satellite or moon, according to Steiner. On this moon of the Jupiter earth those people will live who experienced the second death but were not able to attain the Jupiter consciousness, the Manas. But also during the Jupiter earth there will be possibilities for them to join the upward movement of the rest of mankind. Even on the following incarnation of earth, the Venus incarnation, there will be a last chance to find the way to the spiritual world. That possibility remains till the phase indicated by 666 is reached, that is the developmental phase when the Venus incarnation of earth finally spiritualizes.
Gog and Magog
After thousand years, satan is set free. And when the thousand years are expired, Satanas will be untied out of his prison. And he shall go out to deceive the peoples which are in the four quarters of the earth, the Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city. For the last time, Christ and spiritualized men have to fight the greatest opponent of Christ and God. In John’s time these adversaries were called Gog and Magog. The names refer to the Bible book Ezekiel where king Gog of the land Magog is pictured as the expected enemy from abroad. Gog and Magog has been explained in many ways, but the common factor is that it refers to barbaric hordes from the North which invade the country and plunder it (Schult, p.329). Steiner (GA 236, p.262-264) translates Gog and Magog as the assembling of small groups (Gog) and large groups (Magog) which are exposed to the seduction of satan, who regains power till the four corners of the Earth. The common characteristic of these people is that they have lost their I. With these hordes, satan moves to the center of the Earth to battle humanity which is prepared for the future Jerusalem (Schult, p.325). Free man should be again submitted to the rules of the group, which are based on e.g. intellectualism and the statistical rules that overlook the unique requirements of each individual person. This will be a decisive moment where individual souls risk a deep fallback. Now all depends on the individual consciousness to represent the spiritual values.
The fire from heaven
At the end, the counter-forces are defeated. And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And Satanas, that deceived them, was cast into the sea of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are. And they shall be tormented day and night from aeons to aeons.
It is not the Christ, but the love of God, presented in the form of wrath, that acts in the kingdom of darkness. The fire from heaven overcomes the power of evil. And satan is cast into the sea of fire. Satan is not killed. Satan and the beast and the false prophet feel the deep pain of being disconnected of God’s love during the aeon of torment.