The Sabbath as Seal of God?
Here’s why I don’t think the seal of God is Sabbath keeping and why I don’t think the mark of the Beast is Sunday keeping.
Let me begin with the arguments that my Adventist friends are familiar with…(I do mean friends. I still love you all and am still thankful that God lead me into a Seventh-day Adventist Church on June 13, 1981 in Toledo, Ohio. You have taught me to value the Word of God above all.)…the SDA position that the Sabbath has the elements of a King’s signet ring or seal and Sunday worship is the counterfeit of God’s seventh-day Sabbath.
First, the argument that the Sabbath has the elements of a King’s signet ring or seal is an extra-biblical one. It is not interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Here in my Former Adventist category of blog posts you’ll find articles where I have addressed my understanding of the Sabbath as being the Old Covenant type of the New Covenant Messiah anti-type.
Second, the application of the Sabbath command and the first angels message of Revelation 14:7 as evidence to elements of God’s claim have some merit to the application itself, but not to the actual biblical understanding of comparing Scripture with Scripture. To me it is using an extra-biblical concept to interpret a biblical text. I think it’s in the same ball park of “obedience to God not man” but I don’t think it’s fair to Scripture to hold it out as a biblical truth.
In order for the Sabbath to be the seal of God it would have to be our means of salvation in order to fit with Ephesians 1:13 and Ephesians 4:30. I realize that some see no correlation of these Ephesians verses to the Revelation verses, but I do.
While I agree with the typical Adventist understanding of identity of the Beast, I disagree that his mark is the change of Sabbath to Sunday. The Sabbath command doesn’t even mention worship of the Creator in its command to obedience and nor does worshiping on Sunday hold an innate evil. Ellen White may prove correct about a revival of Sunday laws in the end, but if the mark of the Beast is Sunday keeping will the Friday prayer service Muslims be spared because they at least don’t worship on Sunday? What about the Catholic faithful who attend Saturday evening mass or the Protestants who attend Saturday worship services because their mega-church offers more attendance options?
Constantine’s Sunday change and the Roman’s church’s blessing is not their most impactful mark against the Kingdom of God. Growing up as such, I am more appalled by the claim of sacrificing Christ anew in every mass and the church’s claim of holding the power of forgiveness of sin than church services on Sunday.
Even more pronounced is the Roman church’s active part in the very anti-biblical social issues sweeping across the globe, any one of which could conceivably be used to enforce a global economy.
Let me throw out another thought since the topic of the Image of the Beast could be brought up here, too. Whose to say that the Image of the Beast couldn’t be an American (or otherwise) law related to sexual or gender rights, since the Image of God is male and female?
I realize that this topic of the seal, the mark, and the image are solidly part of Ellen White’s writings, but whose to say that she lived up to the light given her because this issue in her day would have been so foreign to her she would have out right rejected her reformation roll? Or maybe the Sabbath vs Sunday expressions were similar to Revelation’s figurative communication. (I don’t know, this one is just me thinking out loud so don’t quote me on it.)
Third, allow me to explain my understanding of the biblical position on the seal of God as expressed in Ephesians and Revelation.
Let’s beginning by looking at Ephesians 4:30 where Paul says “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (ESV).
In Ephesians 4:30 we are told that the sealing work is the work of the Holy Spirit is for our redemption and in Ephesians 1:13 we see that it takes place when we believe and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
When Paul first introduced this concept of the sealing work, he likely had in mind the sealing work of a King when documents were sealed with an official seal or signet that validated its authenticity and authority.
When we believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him by grace through faith we have the Holy Spirit’s filling in our life and that is God’s official validating our authenticity as His follower. With the Holy Spirit’s infilling we have the assurance of salvation.
When I read about the sealing work of God I always think of a zip-lock bag and its purpose to seal freshness in and keep contamination out. While this isn’t the actual meaning intended by Paul, obviously he didn’t have zip-lock bags in his day, as a concept it is accurate for the work of the Holy Spirit upon our lives as we follow Jesus.
When we open to the book of Revelation we see that this same work of sealing is what sets God’s people apart from those who receive the mark of the Beast.
Without getting into the details here, the Beast of Revelation counterfeits the seal of God and will insist on the enforcement of his way over God’s way. What will that way of the Beast be that is disobedience to God’s way? We can speculate that it could involve the any or all of the sweeping global unifying issues of sexual deviance, green agendas, abortion rights, or anti-Islamophobia enforcement.
What we certainly do know is that in John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way” and Satan has toiled since Heaven to ascend above Him (Isaiah 14:13) to become the way. The Anti-Christ’s global enforcement as depicted in the conflict between the seal of God and the mark of the Beast is Satan’s final push of persecution against the saints.
Yes, as believers we are subject to persecution and that will only increase and intestify for all followers of Christ as we near the final moments of this age before our Lord delivers us. But remember that persecution is Satan’s wrongful judgment against the saints of God, while wrath is God’s rightful judgment against the evildoers of Satan who persecute the saints.
Revelation 14:1 says that the 144,000 have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.” This is the same 144,000 and multitude of the saved that Revelation 7:1-3 tells us are sealed so that they will not be harmed by the coming wrath of God’s judgment. It is a safe assumption that the seal of God upon the saints is the replication of God’s name or God’s character or Christlikeness, regardless of the seal’s literal physical visible mark if any.
We pray in the name of Jesus because it is only by His character that we have standing with God the Father. A Hebrew understanding of the use of the word “name” is synonymous with one’s character. Psalm 9:10 says “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
When it comes to understanding the idea of attaching the mark of the Beast or the seal of God to one’s forehead or hand, there is likely a deeper meaning than just a literal physical visible application. There is an Old Testament concept of attaching the Scripture to one’s forehead and forearms as a symbolic way to “bind them” to one’s “heart and behaviors” and that is evidenced in both Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deuteronomy 11:18.
The takeaway for us is that only those who have the mark of the Beast will be subject to the wrath of God. In fact, Revelation 9:4 says that “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” will suffer God’s wrath.
God says be sealed by His Spirit. The Beast says be marked by his spirit. God instructed Cain to bring a sacrifice according to His terms as Able did. Cain brought a sacrifice to God according to his own terms. And how did that go? An unhumbled Cain resented Able for being obedient to God’s way and he killed his brother. Interestingly, Genesis 4:6 tells us that Cain received a mark upon his forehead as a result. God wanted no man to revenge evil for evil and take His wrath into there own hands, just as the Beast of Revelation will do to God’s saints.
So when Paul wrote “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30 ESV) we can understand that indwelling Spirit of God will keep us saved through whatever circumstances life befalls upon us, even to the end of the age.
Welcome the sealing of God’s Spirit upon your life now.
If you ever wonder or doubt the infilling presence of the Spirit of God upon your life, take Jesus at His word when He said in Luke 11:13, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”