Three Angels Messages Part 68

Thanks for joining us once again as we continue to explore the Three Angel’s Messages! The third angel’s message has the most electrifying language in the Bible, warning against a prophetic beast, its image and mark. We’ve seen that, in harmony with the testimony of the Protestant Reformers, the beast of the third angel’s message is the system (not the people) of the Roman Catholic Church. We’ve seen that the word “image” means “copy,” and that the “image of the beast” will be the last-day reenactment of the harsh policies of the Middle Ages, when the Church compelled the conscience in matters of faith.

We’ve seen that the “mark” of her authority, by her own confession, is the attempt to change the day of worship from the one of divine direction, the seventh day of the week in commemoration of God’s Creation, to the first day of the week. We’ve seen that Revelation’s twin signs, the mark of the beast and the seal of God, stand in opposition to each other, representing either rebellion against or submission to the government of God.
In our last two studies, we looked at passages in the Old Testament that help us understand the meaning of a sign or mark being in the “head” or in the “hand.” We saw that both in Exodus and Deuteronomy admonition was given that God’s teaching, whether regarding the meaning of the Passover service or the Decalogue, were intended to be as a sign in the head or hand. This was not to be understood in a literal sense, but that the concepts and principles would be in the mind (the “head”) and manifested in the behavior (the “hand”) of God’s people.

In many respects, the Bible is a book in which the stories and symbols that are found in its beginning, recorded in the book of Genesis, are also found at its end, recorded in the book of Revelation. The Bible begins with God creating a perfect world; it ends with God recreating the world. In Genesis God’s people are in a beautiful Garden called Paradise; the book of Revelation pictures God’s people being in Paradise. The Bible tells how tragically, sin entered the picture and brought nakedness; Revelation celebrates God’s people being clothed with the robe or righteousness. The Bible begins by telling us about the great “divorce” (the word translated “drove out” in Genesis 3:24 is the word “divorce”), but ends with the marriage of the Lamb.
And, as we have seen, the story ends with a warning about receiving a mark in the head or hand. We’ve seen that the mark in the head symbolizes a person really believing in something that isn’t true. The mark in the hand stands for someone who doesn’t believe it, but goes along with it because of extenuating circumstances. Here’s a question to ponder: do we find anything that can be seen as representing the concept of “head” or “hand” as the Genesis story begins? We believe so.

We can see that Eve was deceived, and really believed that she had found something wonderful. She should have, and could have known better, if she had believed God instead of the snake, but she set aside the Word of God and disobeyed His commandment. She represents those who receive the mark in the forehead, those who believe in the doctrines of devils, and thereby transgress God’s command.    

On the other hand, Adam was not deceived, yet he nevertheless disobeyed the commandment of God because he felt he had no choice but to do so. His deed, his behavior put him on the side of Satan. He represents those who will receive the mark in their hand, the token of action. Evil was done by both, but it can be seen that there was a difference. Even so, they were both expelled because of their sin. One was “sincere” and truly believed what Satan had proclaimed, and the other had not. Likewise, at the time of the end, whether the mark of the beast is received in the head or hand, the result will be the same, eternal loss.

In our study today, we are going to look at some of the wonderful lessons conveyed by the placement of the seal. Why are we doing this? It’s so that as we become more acquainted with what a seal was and what it meant, we can let our minds transfer all those beautiful lessons to Revelation’s seal of God that He wishes to place on His chosen ones.

As we think of what the Bible means when it speaks of the “seal of God,” we turn to incidences and stories of the Scriptures to help us gain understanding. Seals in ancient times were typically of two types. There was what we would refer to as a cylinder seal, and there was the signet ring. A cylinder seal was an object of ivory, wood or stone, perhaps 1 to 1 ½ inches in length, about ¾ inches in diameter, carved with a decorative pattern. The major museums of the world have impressive displays of these, or you can do a search on the internet and see them. The intricacy and detail on these carved seals is amazing! Think of it as being a miniature rolling pin. A cylinder seal was hollow, like a straw, and with a leather string passing through it, could be worn around its owner’s neck.

Such seems to be the case when Judah had an encounter with one he thought was a prostitute who, unbeknown to him was actually his daughter-in-law Tamar. Having nothing with him at the time to pay her, he asked what she wanted as collateral. She replied, “Your signet and cord,” referring to the signet, or seal, and the cord by which it was suspended from his neck. Genesis 38:18.

In the touching love story contained in Song of Solomon, the bride expresses the desire to be as close to her beloved as possible. See in your mind’s eye a seal suspended around Solomon’s neck as his lover says, “Set me as a seal upon your heart.” Song of Solomon 8:6. A similar expression of endearment regarding a signet ring is found in Haggai. “‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubabbel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.’” Haggai 2:23.
When the cylinder seal was rolled over soft clay or warm wax, it would impart an image upon the material to be sealed. Leaping gazelles or reigning monarchs can be seen on these seals of the past. Even today some important documents have seals that are embossed, and you can feel the raised surface as you run your fingers over them. My birth certificate has such a seal on it.

Beside the cylinder seal, people of past also used a signet ring. We find numerous accounts in the Old Testament that refer to such. In order to obtain the vineyard of Naboth, the wicked queen Jezebel sent out letters setting him up for false accusations and execution. “So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.” I Kings 21:8.

Likewise the unscrupulous Haman wrote a letter jeopardizing the lives of the Jews in Queen Esther’s time. “In the name of King Ahaseurus it was written, and sealed with the king’s signet ring.” Esther 3:12. The lions’ den into which Daniel was cast was sealed with the signet rings of King Darius and of his lords. Daniel 6:17. The tomb in which Jesus rested was “sealed.” Matthew 27:66.

Reflecting on this, here’s an important point to consider. Could you make such an impression in hard stone or set concrete? That would be difficult, to say the least. When the impression is made, the material must be soft and pliable. But after the document is sealed, it then becomes set and fixed, so that it doesn’t change after that. That’s what happened when something was “sealed.” What does this mean for us? It means that we must now be open to the impressions of the Spirit, as He remolds our characters into the likeness of the divine.

In other words, just as the medium on which the seal was rolled had to be soft and pliable, so the minds of the saints must be impressionable to the counsels of the Holy Spirit in order for the likeness, the image to be transferred. It would do little good to try to place the seal on hard clay; it does little good for the Holy Spirit to attempt to make impressions on minds that are petrified and obdurate by the love of the world. If that is the case, we will be left to maintain the image of lost humanity, and more specifically, the image of Satan himself. What should we be doing right now? We should be asking God, pleading with Him, to make us soft, pliable and impressionable to the movements of the Spirit on our hearts and minds.

The material on which a seal is place must be soft and pliable! There’s good news on this; God can take the “stony heart” from us and give us “heart of flesh,” according to the terms of the New Covenant. Ezekiel 36:26. Remember God’s objective: to change the way we think so that our characters reflect His image. The seal is a beautiful lesson of this! You can see how this beautiful and sublime truth of the Gospel is lost if we see the “seal” as a bar-code or tattoo.

Next time, as we continue our study of the “seal of God,” we’ll find that in ancient times a seal operated as a signature, indicating authorship, ownership, approval and authority. Each of these functions teaches us important lessons regarding what God wants to do in our lives to prepare us for the times ahead. May, by His grace, each one of us receive His seal and be ready for Jesus to come!

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