The sealing seal and Sunday worship
Revelation 13, the remainder on verse 16

The seal that seals

   A review of our previous study will help clarify the significance of worship in receiving the seal of God re1316d.
   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 6:37)
   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 our Creator.
   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

Sabbath from sunset to sunset    .
   We closed our last study with a list of reasons Protestants give for worshipping on Sunday. Catholics don't expect a biblical reason for their beliefs. In fact, their church claims to have changed the day. At the Council of Laodicea sometime between A.D. 343 and 381, they declared the practice of Sunday rest to be legal Catholic doctrine. Did they have a right to? Daniel 7:25 says that the horn power would "think to change times and laws." In other words any change would be only the idea of the apostate power. God does not change His law ps119089), mal0306, mt0517f, re2218,19.
   Notice an interesting statement from a Catholic publication. "The Catholic church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her Divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. . . .
   "But the Protestant says: How can I receive the teachings of an apostate Church? How, we ask, have you managed to receive her teaching all your life, in direct opposition to your recognized teacher, the Bible, on the Sabbath question? . . .
   "The Protestant world at its birth found the Christian Sabbath [Sunday] too strongly entrenched to run counter to its existence; it was therefore placed under the necessity of acquiescing in the arrangement, thus implying the Church's right to change the day, for over 300 years. The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church, as Spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world." From The Christian Sabbath (pp. 29-31) published by The Catholic Mirror in 1893.
   Actually, although not always called Protestants, groups of Bible-believing Christians all through those long ages have kept the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, many at the risk of their lives.
   A number of reasons given for Sunday worship, and we could add several more ideas to it. I plan, however, to be as brief as is practical so we can move ahead with our chapter. Please check my references whenever you see a reason to. Generally the context of a verse helps us answer our questions about it.

Isn't the seventh-day Sabbath only for the Jews?
    This position generally assumes that nine of the ten commandments are still binding for Christians while the Sabbath commandment is not. Someone explained to me that all ten were nailed to the cross and that the nine were reinstated by Jesus and the apostles. He gave passages to support his idea. The only problem was that he overlooked the following:
    "And he [Jesus] said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath." mr0227,8.
    In the context, Jesus condemned the Jewish leaders' abuse of the sabbath, imposing rules that God had not given them. In the two verses quoted He affirmed that it was for man and that He was its Lord. "Man" here means humanity confirming that the Sabbath wasn't just for the Jews. By his comment about being its Lord, He was claiming to be the Lord of the Exodus who gave the commandments (ex2001; compare jn0858; ex0314) and specifically the Lord of the fourth commandment which declares: ". . . the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God" ex2010. Did He stop being that Lord at the cross? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Heb. 13:8)
   When was the Sabbath "made for man"? At the end of the creation week, before there were any Jews ge0201 (Gen. 2:1-3). It is for all the descendants of our first parents.
   Does God deal with ethnic Jews differently than He does with anyone else? No ac1034. To understand better, let's ask, What is the gospel? It's the good news about salvation from sin lu0210f, mt0121, ga0104. Because sin is "the transgression of the Law" 1jo0304, the standard of that law being required only of the Jews, would make them saved according to a different gospel. This idea Paul stoutly condemned ga0108.
    A text used to support the Sabbath being only for the Jews is ex3116. You might want to look at the context. It does not say that the requirement was only for ethnic Jews. And of course we claim the blessings spoken to the people of the Old Testament without hesitation. Paul assures us that being a Jew no longer has any special meaning that we all inherit the promises ga0328,9.

   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. 5:8, 9)
   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 Gen. 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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