Apocalypse (5) Human Evolution in the Apocalypse of John1

“The saints, patient and faithful, at the same time know that they share a higher level of existence”, Frieling writes (p. 102). “As John beheld the temple in the great city and those praying there as a kind of non-geographical region of the Holy Grail [11:1], so Christians living in the realm of the Antichrist find each other united in spirit in a higher region where they are lifted beyond the activities of the beast – this is Mount Zion, which is also part of the still growing heavenly Jerusalem. On this holy mountain John sees Christ in the form of the Lamb in the midst of the 144,000.” [14:1, at the beginning of the Fourth Throne Vision]

Here, those gathered around Christ receive a new higher faculty. Harpers and singers in the higher world now sing the New Song before the throne “to” the living creatures and the elders (14:3), who had begun this song when the Lamb had taken the scroll from the hand of the One sitting on the throne (5:9). The 144,000 are able to hear the heavenly music and even to “learn” the New Song. “While in the realm of the Antichrist all human deeper feelings are threatened with extinction, there dawns in the souls of the saints a whole new realm of feeling as a result of Christ’s sacrifice” (as Frieling writes, p. 103). “By virtue of the sealing in which they shared earlier [7:3-4], the 144,000 have become able to keep themselves free of the imprint, the ‘charagma’ of the beast. (This ‘charagma’ appears seven times: 13:16,17; 14:9,11; 16:2; 19:20 and 20:4.) The seal on their foreheads is now being transformed into the inscription of the Lamb and the Father God (14:1).” In the promise in the sixth of the Seven Letters (3:12), a first foreshadowing had been given of a threefold naming, which here changes to a twofold one, finally to be combined into the one divine name which unites God and the Lamb (22:4).

For the seventh and last time, in 14:12 we find a reference to “endurance” (hypomonè, following 1:9; 2:2,3,19; 3:10; 13:10), which is now near its reward. From 14:13 onwards, an even more forceful apocalyptic series of seven takes its place: the Beatitudes (after 1:3, to be followed by 16:15; 19:9; 20:6 and 22:7,14). The distinctive “now” of the Michael hymn (12:10) here in 14:13 appears in a “from now on”. Whereas the “now” in the Michael hymn had as it were been spoken “in anticipation” (“above”, the victory, which on earth still has to be fought, has been already assured), here in 14:13 the “now” is as it were spoken “in retrospect”: only now, the dead become conscious of the final triumph.

“The motif of the New Song” (as Frieling remarks, p. 105) “occurs, slightly changed, for the third and last time in chapter 15, where preparation is made for the pouring out of the bowls of wrath, which has to precede the final fulfillment” – revealing yet another progression. In 5:8 the highest beings of the innermost circle around the throne sing the song for the first time. In 14:2 its waves have spread to the 144,000 who have risen on Mount Zion and “learn” the song. Now [at the beginning of the Fifth Throne Vision] those appear as harp players and singers, who have conquered “out of” the beast (as the Greek says), who through their victory have freed themselves from his power and the might of his mark (15:2). “They stand beside the sea of glass whose originally pure crystal now appears mingled with ‘fire’ – a higher union of crystal-clear purity and the burning fire of love to which the world’s first form of creation has now advanced” (p. 105/6) – the crystal sea seen for the first time in the great vision of the throne to which John was called to “come up hither” (4:6).

The new song now receives a different name: “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb” (15:3). At the time of the great deliverance at the Red Sea, after the exodus from the plague-ridden darkness of Egypt, Moses and his people sang his great song (Ex 15). This exodus from Egypt, which happened under the sign of the sacrificial Passover Lamb, became the prototype of eschatological events. Now, the exodus from the decaying world under the sway of the beast becomes possible through the sacrifice of the true Passover Lamb.

“In the description of how the victors have won ‘out of’ the thralldom of the beast there is indicated – as well as in the Song of Moses – the great ‘exodus’ still to come, which has its prelude in all the foregoing exodus stories. In the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat both are allowed to grow together until the moment of harvest has come, and with it the separation of one from the other [Mt 13:14ff]. Christians on earth have to suffer the régime of the beast in patience. Men opposed to the divine harden themselves more and more (16:9,11,21). The harlot Babylon [seen in the Interlude] is ‘drunk with the blood of the saints’ (17:6). In the unchristianized world – which appeared as ‘the great city … Sodom and Egypt’ [11:8], and finally as Babylon falling into the abyss, presenting the counter picture to the heavenly Jerusalem – ‘was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who have been slain on earth’ (18:24). The call ringing out from heaven: ‘Come out of her, my people’ (18:4) means the final exodus. Thereafter comes the catastrophe of the ‘great city’, which according to 16:19 had already had its earlier stages.” (Rudolf Frieling, p 106)

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