The seal that seals
A review of our previous study
will help clarify the significance of worship in receiving the seal of
Looking more closely at the seal of God will help us better understand the mark of the beast because the mark is the counterfeit of the seal.
". . . Hurt not the earth,
neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our
God in their foreheads." (Rev. 7:3)
"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30)
Sealed for redemption by the
Spirit of God. In anticipation of the final sealing God has always invited
His children to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10) — to
cooperate with the sealing work of Spirit of God. What a privilege that
God not only provides salvation; He continues, through the Spirit, to speak
to our souls. After long and determined resistance, however, the pleading
becomes an intrusion and the Spirit leaves the unrepentant one alone. This
is how I understand the unpardonable sin — the sin for which no pardon
is desired. Anyone who feels sorrow for having resisted the Spirit, has
not committed the unpardonable sin. (compare John
Okay, let's get back on target. We mentioned the fourth commandment. It is unique. Here God identifies who He is and why He has a right to tell us what we should do. How can we drift away from Him if, at the end of each week, we lay down all our routine burdens of life and remember that He is our Creator?
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Ex. 20:8-11)
The first word is, remember.
The end of the commandment clarifies the basis of the commandment — what
is to be remembered. "For in six days, the LORD made" everything around
us. Therefore He blessed the seventh day and made it holy (from Gen.
2:1-3). This is the seal of God in the sense of it's being a mark of
His identity and His authority. As we rest on this day, we recognize God
and accept His authority. We accept the joyful relationship He offers as
To prepare for the winds connected with the beast and its image, we need to be sealed with a seal. The word "seal" is used as both a verb and a noun. The end-time saved will be sealed (approved and made secure in their faithfulness) with a seal (sign or pledge of their commitment — the Sabbath).
If you are like most faithful Christians who worship on Sunday and who have seen the hand of the Lord in your life and in answered prayers, you should hesitate at my assertion that Sabbath observance will be the sign of loyalty to God at the very end of time. Some verses in the Bible seem to indicate that the seventh-day Sabbath (the one that is based on God's authority), is not binding on Christians. In fact Sunday has been called the Christian Sabbath. You may wonder if I have jumped a cog somewhere in my explanations. This is a fair concern. The importance of the creation Sabbath is seen more in chapter 14, but we need to discuss a few special concepts before then. Below we will go to the Scriptures to see how true Sabbath observance is connected with the immovable faithfulness — the tree planted by the waters. This we need in order to stand when the winds blow before the coming of Christ.
Here are questions consider. We will look at some directly and others indirectly.
Isn't the seventh-day Sabbath only for the Jews?
We don't keep other sabbaths of the Old Testament. Why this one?
What makes Sabbath keeping important for character preparation?
Wasn't Sunday given in place of the seventh-day as a memorial of the resurrection?
Don't we find our Sabbath rest in Christ?
Isn't sabbath keeping a type of righteousness by works?
We were discussing the mark of the beast. Assuming that the seal of God will be seen as a sign of loyalty to God at the end of time, we may expect that the mark of the beast — the sign of loyalty he demands — will be a counterfeit sabbath. See more at 1407.
I see the Scriptures here as challenging popular ideas. Thank you again for your patience. Let's pray for each other, that the Holy Spirit would indeed lead us into all truth, cleansing us through the word jn1613, ep0526f).
Reasons to choose Sunday - 1
Before moving on, we should
look at a few verses which seem to conflict with those I have referred
to. First on what was nailed to the cross:
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross . . . . Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Col. 2:13-17)
We look closely at this text under Colossians 2:13f.
Also, in the passage we are looking at, Paul commands the Colossians not to let anyone judge them about "a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a sabbath day" (NIV). Does this give us freedom to replace the seventh-day Sabbath? Let's take a closer look at what was at issue. The believers were being drawn to the ceremonies of the world around them (Col. 2:8) as well as by the ceremonial laws nailed to the cross including the special rest days of the sanctuary calendar (Col. 2:14). The Sabbath of the moral law was not at issue.
Is every day alike?
Another verse — the one about regarding every day alike shows a similar concern. Does it really matter which day we choose for our sabbath?
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgeth another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks." (Rom. 14:1-6)
Here no sabbath is mentioned. Because of the connection between what foods were to be eaten and what days were important, we may assume Paul to have been writing about fasting which, although not required by God, had been a blessing to some, "weak in the faith," who participated. Paul's point was that opinions about the topic were not to be an issue.
Another reason to believe that the apostle did not have the seventh-day Sabbath in mind is seen in his own behavior. He worshipped on Sabbath (Acts. 17:2; 13:14; compare Luke 4:16). This was not just in order to find a Jewish audience because when a group of Greeks wanted to hear him, he preached to them the next Sabbath (Acts 13:42-44; compare 18:4), and once he met with interested women beside a river on Sabbath (Acts 16:13).
He did meet with believers who had gathered to eat on the first day of the week (Acts 20:6, 7). He preached until midnight. The days in Bible calculations begin at sundown (Lev. 23:32; Gen. 1:5). Apparently they had gathered to eat after sunset Saturday, which would have been the beginning of the "first day." Even if they had gathered before sundown on the first day of the week and he had preached that evening (into the second day), this would not make Sunday holy any more than it would Monday. He had been traveling, stopped to be with them for seven days and had this final meeting with them before continuing his journey. The focus of the story is the miracle of bringing a young man who fell out of a window back to life.
When the New Testament was written, Sunday, as the name indicates, was the pagan day for sun worship. No one had yet thought of it as a special time for worshipping the Creator God. May He bless each of us as we "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)
Reasons to choose Sunday - 2
Is keeping the
seventh-day Sabbath legalism?
Be careful. A "yes" answer seems quite reasonable because "a man is not justified by the works of the law" (Gal. 2:16). Then we conclude that we should disregard the Sabbath as a divine requirement to avoid legalism. That sounds good until we remember that there are nine other commandments to disregard! Ah, we think of something else. The commandments were given in the time of the Old Testament. Now we are saved by grace ep0208-0. But our idea is still in trouble. This two-method salvation implies that people of the Old Testament were saved by works thus under a different gospel ga0108, he0402. Working to be saved is taught by pagan religions. Then we look in our concordance and find that God often exercised grace before Jesus came as well as after. (Gen. 6:8). But could people really be saved by grace then? Or, if not, how could works have saved them ac0412? and how could God have changed His mind Mal. 3:6? Something doesn't compute. Let's take a minute to see how people were saved before the cross. First, what gives us a right to ask for grace?
"But God commendeth his love
toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much
more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath
through him." (Rom.
What a powerful, magnificent promise! But what happened before Jesus died? Do you remember the story of the man brought to Jesus on a stretcher?
"And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Mark 2:4, 5).
Jesus knew the heart cry of
this fellow and responded to it before healing him. But just a minute.
Jesus hadn't yet died. When we ask for forgiveness, we are asking to be
"justified by His blood." How did that man find salvation? Just as all
others before the cross found it. ". . . Abraham believed God, and it was
accounted to him for righteousness" (Gal. 3:6). And how did he demonstrate
that faith? In obedience, even to being prepared to sacrifice his own son
22:1! He also built altars and offered sacrifices Gen.
12:7 according to instructions which God had, no doubt given (Gen.
4). John the Baptist recognized Jesus as "the Lamb of God that taketh
away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). By calling Jesus "the Lamb" he
was recognizing in Him, the one who had been represented in the sacrificial
animals of the sanctuary system. The animals helped the people understand
the Saviour who was to die on Calvary, the one having been "slain from
the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
People of the Old Testament were saved by grace in looking forward to the sacrifice of Christ just as we are saved by grace in looking back to it. (compare John 3:14)! ". . . without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb. 9:22).
So what about legalism and the Sabbath? John helps us put it together.
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
Being cleansed with the blood is connected with walking in the light. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" (Col. 2:6). Why is the walk so important when we are saved by grace? (Eph. 2:8-10)
Salvation comes "through faith."
Faith is more than belief. It is trust. Disobedience is refusing to trust
that God knows what is best. And in rebellion, we lose the true faith that
reaches out to grasp the promise of grace!
So is Sabbath-keeping legalism — salvation by works? Yes, if we think of it as a means of salvation. No, if we rest in the Lord of the Sabbath, recognizing the holiness of the sacred hours. Obedience is the natural result of a faith relationship. It is the demonstration of our faith (James 2). In rest, we recognize that our own works earn no part of our salvation any more than Adam and Eve created themselves and their own earth. The Sabbath is, in fact, a safeguard against trusting in works! Deut. 5:15.
If we choose to set apart a day which the Scriptures have not sanctioned, is it an act of faith? Faith in whom? When Jesus came, the apostate religious system had no problem knowing which day was the Sabbath, but they made their own rules about it and about other activities, too, until trying to get saved was an incessant burden (Matt. 23:1-12). They had learned their lesson about idol worship and, like the Babel tower builders, decided that they had the wits to avoid a recurrence. Keeping the law and following a mass of added rules would save them. When the real Saviour came, few recognized Him! Just as the apostasy of the Christian era has been foretold in the Bible, so the apostasy before the first coming of the Messiah was predicted. Jesus pointed it out.
"Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you [scribes and Pharisees], saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:7-9).
The rebukes of Jesus were
not directed to the people who did not understand these things, but to
the Jewish leaders who should have known but were building up their own
prestige. So today, few understand how much we tend to follow the commandments
of men. And the challenge of faithfulness is equally for those who claim
to believe in the Bible Sabbath but who are careless about the holy time.
Thank you for letting me share the beauty of God's gift of rest in Him. We could look at other verses, but it's time to move ahead in the book of Revelation. May God strengthen each us as we learn to rest in Him.
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