Three Angels Messages Part 69

Welcome once again as we continue to explore the Three Angel’s Messages! The third angel’s message has the most startling language in the Bible, warning against a prophetic beast, its image and mark. We’ve seen that 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 sabbath from the day 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.

We’ve reviewed passages in the Old Testament that help us understand the meaning of a sign or mark being in the “head” or in the “hand.” From these passages, it is obvious that the admonition that the words were to be “as a sign between the eyes or in the hand,” were 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.

We’ve seen that in order for the seal to create an image, the medium had to be soft and pliant, teaching us that our hearts need to be impressionable to receive the impress of the Spirit. What are some of the other lessons we can derive from seals as they were used long ago, and what God is teaching us regarding His seal?

The seal operated as one’s signature in ancient times. When interest rates reached historic lows, we recently refinanced our house. The notary public came to our home and we were requested to sign what seemed to be a ream of papers. She would be pressing her seal to affirm that our signatures were valid. But there was one paper that had a place for us to sign that had the word “seal” beside it, but lacked the other wording that usually went with the notary seal. I asked her about that and her response I found interesting. “Oh,” she said. “I found that confusing too. Actually that’s referring to your signature as being your ‘seal.’” So even today it seems that a signature can be one’s seal, just as it was in ancient times.

Back then, rather than “sign your name,” as we are accustomed to do today, one placed his seal on a document or tablet, which was the same thing as signing his name. Remember what Revelation 14:1 tells us about God’s people at the end of time? They have the “Father’s name written on their foreheads.” This is just another way of saying that they are “sealed,” since the seal functioned as a person’s signature. It is also true that the term “name” in the Bible often stands for “character.” These sealed ones reflect the character of God; they exhibit agape love. The stories of Jezebel and Haman illustrate the concept that sealed letters bore the “signature” of the king.

When we think of the signature in this context, we think primarily of four main lessons; we think of authorship, ownership, approval and authority. The ones whom God seals at the end of time experience all of these. The Bible teaches us that God is the “Author” of our salvation story. Paul mentioned that we are God’s “epistle,” or letter, “known and ready by all men; you are manifestly an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart.” II Corinthians 3:2, 3. God is writing His letter, His testimony, of how He can transform sinners into saints. When the letter is finished, He will sign His name.

It is God Who authors the conversion story of every true Christian. He is the “Author and Finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2. It is His hand which inscribes on our hearts the principles of His kingdom. When the writing is done, when the decision is made final, when the impressions of the Spirit have resulted in the likeness of Jesus, the image of the divine being impressed on the heart and mind, then God will sign His name. The seal, or signature, indicates God’s authorship of our conversion.

Secondly, the seal, like a signature, indicated ownership. When there is an object you treasure, a prized book for example, you write your name on it to let people know it belongs to you. Years ago we purchased a vibrating inscribing tool that allows one to write on metal objects. God claims us as His own. But, someone might say, don’t all people “belong to God.” Yes, in a sense, all do. We are all His by creation. Christ paid for the sins of everyone when He died on the cross. I John 2:2. But not all choose to belong to God. It is only those who make a conscious decision to submit, love and obey Him that He will claim as His own when He comes in the sky.

They will have the insignia of God’s ownership, His signature, His name on their foreheads. In a special sense they belong to Him.  “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:8, 9. The word “His” in that passage and the next indicate ownership or possession. “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” II Timothy 2:19.

Notice in the texts just quoted how the author brings together the three concepts of the Spirit removing sin from our lives, the seal of God, and our belonging to Him. “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on that day that I make them My jewels.’” Malachi 3:16, 17. Again, the word “Mine” indicates ownership.

The seal indicates authorship, ownership and approval. An artist who has finished a painting signs his or her name, indicating that “it is done,” and that it has met their approval. When Jesus comes back in the clouds, He is going to point to the sealed ones, the believers who are alive when He returns and say, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. They receive God’s approval. They will be modern day Enochs, of whom it is written, “By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found because God had translated him’, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5.

The sealed ones will be blessed to hear His words, “Well done.” In Christ’s parable of the talents, on the day when accounts were taken the ones who had made proper use of what God had given them received His word of approbation. “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” Matthew 25:21.

Some time ago it was pointed out to me that the word “done” in the Lord’s commendation is supplied. Actually the sentence begins with one of the shorter Greek words, eu, which many times is attached as a prefix to words such as “eulogy” and “euphoria.” One pastor translates this word eu as the one-syllable word “Wow!” Another word that would fit the context would be, “Great!” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear our Creator God express His approval over us that way? Could there be sweeter music than to hear His word of commendation? The seal of God expresses His approval. Have you ever heard of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”?

Fourthly, the seal conveyed authority. Bearing the impress of the monarch’s seal, all the backing of Ahab’s throne stood behind the letters that Jezebel wrote concerning Naboth. All the authority of Ahasuerus’ kingdom bolstered the letter that Haman wrote. Bearing the seal spoke authority and power. Likewise, the sealed ones will be conferred with divine authority as they, in God’s name, proclaim the last message of warning to Planet Earth. With conviction and power, exceeding even the preachers and events recorded in the book of Acts, these will be imbued with a capacity and competence the world has never before witnessed, as they declare the messages of the Three Angels by divine strength.

Another lesson taught by the seal is that of preservation and protection. The first phase of that preservation is spiritual, the second phase is physical. To countermand the edict of the wicked Haman, through the ministry of Queen Esther, another letter was authorized. The queen was told, “You yourselves write a decree for the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a letter which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” Esther 8:8. Once it was sealed, it could undergo no change.

One of the primary features of the laws of the Medes and Persians is that once signed, once sealed, the law could not be rescinded. This underscores the fact that the saints, once sealed (with the latter rain seal, as revealed in Revelation 7), are saved for eternity. Their destiny is sealed forever. They will not be contaminated by sin from that point onward, forever. It doesn’t mean that things will be easy for them. There will be persecutions and martyrdoms during this time period before the general close of probation. But their destinies are safe with God forever.

We were given some wonderful berry jam by one of our members, sealed in a glass jar. Why do you “seal” a jar of jam? It’s to preserve the contents, isn’t it? We even call the contents “preserves.” It’s to insure that no change will take place; specifically that no contamination or spoiling will occur. That’s the purpose of the seal. Railroad cars are “sealed” to indicate that “no change in transport” has happened. When God’s people are sealed, likewise they will be preserved from the contamination from sin from that point forward. Though they may not know it, their probations have closed. They will be like Noah in the ark with the door was closed, when “the LORD shut him in,” prior to the falling of the rain. Genesis 7:16.

The first phase of preservation is spiritual. A second phase of preservation and protection will be in a physical sense, and will benefit the sealed ones following the general close of probation, the event that closes the door of salvation for the world at large. During the 7 last plagues of Revelation, they will receive God’s special safeguarding, as did Israel in Egypt’s “7 last plagues.” (Upon Egypt there fell 10 plagues, but after the first three, Israel was sheltered. Exodus 8:22.) After this point, no child of God will become a victim of martyrdom, as it would serve no evangelistic purpose. The blood of the saints will no longer be the seed of the Gospel since all decisions have become finalized.

Psalm 91 will become fulfilled, as “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.” Psalm 91:7-10.

Psalm 124 will become precious to these sealed ones. “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:2-8. Let your mind reflect on the familiar phase, “signed, sealed and delivered” as it pertains to God’s seal.

Sociologists are fond of putting labels on different segments of society. They speak of “baby boomers” and “generation X.” Those who live for and walk with God, who receive His seal and will be ultimately translated to heaven without seeing death, we could likewise identify. They will be “Generation Enoch.” Like the beloved patriarch who exemplified God’s love to a world that was dying, those who live in this last generation will follow his pattern of life and his ultimate triumph. Pray to be among that group!

By way of review, the Bible’s most solemn warning is issued against receiving the mark of the beast. We have seen clearly that the beast mentioned is the first beast of Revelation 13, the historical papacy. By the mouth of no less than 7 witnesses, Scripture unveils the identity of the power which would “fall away” and corrupt the Bible and even have the audacity to attempt to change God’s holy law, His Ten Commandments. Of this change the papacy is not embarrassed, but points to it and the honor given to Sunday as a day of worship, kept by nearly the entire Christian world, as  the “mark of her authority in ecclesiastical” matters.

When the keeping of Sunday as a holy day becomes a law; when America repudiates her heritage of freedom and “speaks as a dragon,” through her legislative body, mimicking the policies and practices of the Church of the Middle Ages, enforcing religious dogma by the arm of the state, the “image of the beast” will have been established. At that time the issue will be crystal clear before the whole world. It will be understood that to bow to the Sunday image will be to reject God’s sacred Decalogue, to accept the word of man instead of the Word of God.

When this issue has been made plain to every mind, at that time to turn one’s back on God, His Word, His law and His Sabbath, and accept the day of worship erected by human authority will result in receiving the mark of the beast. This can be received in the “hand,” meaning that one “goes along with it” to escape the penalties accompanying the violation of the law, or it can be placed in the “forehead,” meaning that one erroneously believes that he is doing God’s will. What did Jesus say to His followers? “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.” John 16:2. God is fair and righteous to judge those who “sincerely believe” that they are doing right, because they did not “receive the love of the truth” but believed “the lie.” Can you see how important it is to not be diverted by the idea that the mark of the beast is some sort of tattoo or bar-code? These concepts completely miss the issue of allegiance to Almighty God.

On the other hand, those who face the severe test of the image of the beast; those who are threatened with loss of property or life if they refuse to comply with the Sunday law and instead honor the day of God’s appointment, His sacred Sabbath, the only day Scripture warrants as receiving His blessing, will receive the seal of God in their forehead, the seat of thinking and decision-making. The Gospel promise will have been fulfilled for them, in that they have been transformed by the renewing of their minds. God’s Spirit has written His law on their hearts and His name on their foreheads.

Their hearts were soft and pliable so that the impressions of His Spirit could form the likeness and image of Jesus in their lives. They are sealed. He acknowledges them as His own, the product of His authorship and the recipients of His authority to proclaim the Three Angels’ messages with unprecedented power and conviction in giving the world its last warning. Being sealed, they will be protected from the contamination sin, and following the close of probation for the world at large, from death. Pray to be among those sealed by God! What a great privilege will be accorded those who stand firm for God’s truth and His kingdom!