It is interesting to note that Rudolf Steiner spoke repeatedly about the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, over a period of more than twenty-one years, stretching from 1904 to 1924, including four major cycles of lectures on this topic in 1904, 1907, 1908 and 1909.2
The course of lectures he gave to the priests of The Christian Community in September 1924 contains some remarkable revelations, quite apart from what was specifically addressed to the priesthood. It should also be noted that the eighteen lectures came to an end on 22 September, just a week before Steiner had to relinquish speaking to audiences, and was forced to take to his sick bed for the six months until he died in March 1925. This very fact gives what he revealed and prophesied out of the Book of Revelation a very special meaning.
It may be helpful to consider briefly the life of John the Evangelist, the author of the Book of Revelation. Who was this remarkable individuality? In the lecture course The Gospel of St John and its Relation to the Other Gospels, Steiner stated that Lazarus, who was brought back to life by the Christ (see John 11), was none other than John, the Disciple whom the Lord loved.3 He was present with the Apostles at the Last Supper and was the author of the John Gospel, the three epistles of John, and the Book of Revelation.
Before his initiation Lazarus was a rich man, brother of Mary and Martha, who owned considerable tracts of land in Galilee. They also had a house in Bethany that Christ Jesus visited on a number of occasions, and where he stayed at night during Holy Week.
John-Lazarus can be considered not only as the most intimate disciple of Christ Jesus, but also as one of the greatest Christian initiates. While all the disciples fled before the Crucifixion, John-Lazarus, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene, stood beneath the Cross. We recall that some of the last words spoken from the Cross were addressed to Mary the Mother and to John: ‘When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing by he saith unto his mother, "Woman behold thy son!" Then saith he to the disciple, “Behold thy mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.’ (John 19, 26-27) This relationship is deeply significant for it existed not through the kinship of blood but through the living word of Christ. It is something that points to the future.
Legend tells us that after the Resurrection John-Lazarus travelled for some time before returning to the Holy Land. Then, together with Mary the Mother, he settled in Ephesus, one of the principle Mystery Centres of the ancient world, dedicated to the Goddess Artemis (Diana), the place of the living Word.
It would appear that Mary the Mother dwelt in a small house at the top of the mountain overlooking the Mystery Centre, while John lived close to the sea below.
Titus Flavius Domitianus (AD 51-96) succeeded his brother as Roman emperor in AD 81. Initially, his reign appears to have been benevolent, but later he was given to ordering the most atrocious cruelties, especially against the Christians. John-Lazarus, already in his eighties, was dragged in chains to Rome and subjected to a terrible series of tortures. Legend tells us how he survived these ordeals in a most amazing way. Not having been able to kill him, the emperor ordered John-Lazarus to be exiled to Patmos, a small mountainous island of great beauty close to the Turkish coast and not far from Ephesus. It was there, in a cave half-way up the mountain, that John resided, and dictated the Book of Revelation to Prochoros, his companion and secretary. This work, the last book of the Bible, has often been characterized as a book with seven seals. It is perhaps the most profound of all Christian esoteric writings. After the death of Domitianus in AD 96, John was able to return to Ephesus, where he lived for several more years, writing the Gospel of John. He died when he was over one hundred years old.
The first chapter of the Book of Revelation begins as follows: ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of his prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand.’
We can readily see that John, the Christian initiate whom the Lord loved, received by the grace of Christ Jesus a prophetic revelation that he felt urged to impart to the world. The style is imaginative throughout, and highly dramatic. Aspects of the spiritual past of humanity, going back to the beginning of the post-Atlantean period, are revealed, and we are taken through the future ordeals that human beings will have to face.
Towards the middle of this remarkable work we hear of ‘a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon ...’ ( Rev. 12, 1-3)
We then hear how the Archangel Michael intervened and how the great dragon was cast out. In the next chapter, however, two more beasts appear on the earth: one rises out of the sea, and the other out of the earth. This second beast has two horns like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. ‘And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live ... And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.’ (Rev. 13, 12-14 and 17-18)
This being is known as Sorat, the Sun Demon and the most powerful opponent to Christ Jesus in the universe. Sorat rises every 666 years to deceive humanity. Now that in 1998 three times 666 years have run their course since the birth of Christ, it will aim its wrath at humanity again.4 Sorat will do everything in its power to obliterate humanity’s connection with the spiritual world and tempt humanity to deny the Christ.
At the end of Lecture Eight Rudolf Steiner urged his listeners most earnestly to consider the three mysteries of our time: the mystery of Michael (who according to Steiner became regent in 1879), the mystery of the appearance of Christ in the etheric realm (from the beginning of the twentieth century), and the mystery of Sorat the Sun Demon (that is rearing its head at the end of the twentieth century). One can truly say, ‘The time is at hand!’ and we are faced all over the world with tremendous challenges. Will the call of Revelation be heard?
Rene Querido, Boulder, Colorado
Greeting by Johannes Werner Klein
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