More about seals and sealing – part 3
Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 1:21.22: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and (above that) given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.”
In our last 2 studies we looked at the background of sealing process dealing with people living just before Christ’s 2nd coming.
It was announced in Revelation chapter 7:1-8 – (can read key points)
Angels are holding back universal calamities, wars, natural disasters and destruction that are to be fully released on rebellious humanity that will reach its peak of wickedness after God’s servants get sealed in their foreheads with the seal of living God.
Revelation points us to Jacob and his family – and particularly to his sons in OT.
Their low moral and spiritual condition and unconverted state when God began to deal with them is used as a type of people who will comprise the symbolic number of 144 000 sealed.
The amazing end product of this process is found in Revelation 14:1-5
This group has our Heavenly Fathers and Christ’s name written (imprinted) in their foreheads.
They reflect Heavenly Father’s character, thinking, attitude, will and mind.
Appeal of Paul in Philippians 2:5 – “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus”, has become reality in their lives – fully transformed by God’s grace!
Here we see harmonious group – no longer fragmented, distrusting, pretending, scheming, dishonest and hostile with each other. Lengthy process God used with Jacob (
(Comment briefly on story of
Today we will (and only can) look briefly at 3 points from our Revelation texts:
1) Numerical values of 144 000
2) Seal of the living God – what it is
3) Process of sealing on the foreheads
So point # 1 – Let’s look at the numerical values of 144 000 and 12 000. Are they literal? What does number 12 and its 1 000 multiple mean in John’s Jewish thinking?
12 = foundational structural number, skeleton of organization from heavenly perspective.
12 patriarchs, 12 apostles, 12 New Jerusalem gates and 12 foundations, 12 priestly orders, 2 x 12 elders, 12 regular months in the year, 12 kinds of fruit in each month, measurements of the city New Jerusalem, etc..
Their multiplication indicates growth in stability to the full amount attainable.
12 x 12 = 144 – Nothing you can add to it – it is stable and immovable – the final count
1 000 = large amount,
Multiplication by 1 000 – for example the biblical counting 1 000 x 1 000 angels means such a large amount that it is almost impossible to calculate
So when book of Revelation uses multiplication of 12 x 12 x 1 000 it describes a solid unshakeable group that is rather large so it cannot be easily numbered.
It is a final count – maximum possible, maximum attainability
What exact amount that will be? Will every group be of the same size? It wasn’t so with the size of different tribes in OT – some were large and some were small, some were strong and some were weak.
On what will then the exact count depend?
On response and willingness of each type of people
– Will they allow God to change them?
– Will they admit and confess their wrongs?
– Will they submit to God’s providential leading in their lives?
– Will they allow God’s word and Spirit transform them?
– Will they co-operate with God in developing beauty of Christ’s character in them?
In Revelation 7 John first hears that number (described in exact numerical values) and then he looks so he sees them – verse 9: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
Salvation through everlasting gospel is not reserved for few chosen individuals from particular ethnic or religious background or affiliation! It is offered to all. Yet it only becomes reality in the lives of those who accept salvation on God’s conditions.
Now point # 2 – Seal of the living God – what is it?
Where there is a seal – imprint, there must be a seal – instrument and there must be “the Sealer(s)” who make(s) that process possible.
Now let’s look at 3 main verses in NT and 1 verse in OT that give us a clue.
i) 2 Corinthians 1:21.22: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.”
Comment: God sets us, stabilizes, establishes us in Christ, builds us up and sets us apart for sacred purpose – to be His servants.
He also “seals us”, that is He marks us for security and preservation reasons.
+ He anoints us with the Spirit and gives us the indwelling Spirit as a deposit – down payment of better things to come.
ii) Ephesians 1:13: “In Him you also trusted, after you have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Comment: When believing the gospel and accepting offer of salvation “in Christ” in whom we put our trust, we are being sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit is “the Agent” that God uses to seal us, to secure us to Himself in Christ.
iii) Ephesians 4:30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Comment: Holy Spirit has not only done the sealing – He is Guarding, securing that seal as we live in harmony with His leading and Father’s will (abiding “in Christ”).
iv) Isaiah 8:16: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.”
a) Testimony of God’s word about the plan of salvation, will and character of God
b) God’s holy law that stands on the agape love to God and man – defines His will for our lives – are the tools that Holy Spirit uses in the sealing (settling in) process.
c) How about the Sabbath which is the inseparable part of God’s law and which has the 3 elements of the seal, (namely the title, territory and authority of God the Creator) in it? We traditionally and triumphantly look at the Sabbath as “the it”, a sort of an end in itself comparing it with the fallacy of Sunday worship.
(More comments about the true purpose of God’s holy Sabbath that was established at creation, embedded in 10 commandments, kept by Jesus and the disciples and that will be observed on the earth made new can be read at the end of this sermon.)
One more thing to remember: it is the Holy Spirit that keeps God’s word alive and working in our minds and hearts so we grow from grace to grace. We are capable of stopping the process by aborting the work of grace thus to nullify its deeper and deeper penetration into the very recesses of our lives and minds (Hebrews 4:12).
Finally point # 3 – Process of sealing the believers on their foreheads
The forehead in the Bible is symbolic of rational, volitional thinking and deciding. It is also the seat of conscience and spiritual discernment and perception. It is the part that decides whether we keep our worship within the parameters of God’s word.
It stands for human freedom and capacity to make intelligent decisions – especially in spiritual/moral matters.
God however will only rule in love over those who understandingly and freely submit to His rule of love and grace. Bible calls this arrangement “a covenant”.
It is the “new covenant” which Jesus sealed with His own blood at the cross. (All the terms of the covenant were stated and confirmed by Jesus during His ministry. No omissions or additional changes could be made to the covenant’s contents after Christ’s blood was shed and sealed it. That much for the traditions that contradict God’s word.)
Matthew 26:26-28 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it all of you. For it is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
While Christ’s shed blood provides forgiveness and cleansing from guilt and sin, His body and its “eating” represents assimilating His word and principles of His Law in the atmosphere of Divine agape love. Under the administration of grace the Holy Spirit “writes/imprints” both intellectually, but even much more experimentally in our minds and hearts.
It has to come from the motive of love for no casual or legalistic response can be in harmony with the intent of God’s word and law. Thus faith in Christ combined and resulting in “love to God” and “love to fellow man” must precede the response “to obey”. Only thus we can “fulfill” the intent and the purpose of the gospel and the “new covenant” and be also brought into harmony with righteous requirements of God’s law.
Both – Christ’s blood and God’s law(s) internalized are the provisions of “the new covenant”. They must work together in a right sequence, relationship and in mutual harmony. Reversing or confusing their role will eventually have devastating effect on any religious experience, however sincere and zealous it may be.
Hebrews 8:10 – “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of
We cannot separate blood and body provisions – 2 equally important parts of the “new covenant”. Both are key issues in the process of sealing we have studied about.
For Jesus must be both – our loving Savior from the condemnation and pollution of sin and its controlling power and equally so: the understanding and caring Lord, Law-giver, Leader, Healer and Shepherd of our lives. He does this through His High Priestly ministry by the Holy Spirit’s unceasing activities in our lives. He teaches us to more fully understand and then accept the provisions made for us and ministered to us.
Have you accepted Christ’s sacrifice, received His forgiveness and allowed Him to be your Lord so He can cleanse/free/deliver and keep you from your besetting sins and harmful habits? Have you come in full submission to the cross, with a repentant heart so the “new birth” experience could become reality in your life? That experience starts sanctifying process that changes your desires, thoughts, attitudes and eventually your feelings. This is the biblical prerequisite to any acceptable and satisfying obedience.
If you have, Christ’s righteousness covers both your past sins and your presently imperfect and incomplete life. Then as you yield your all to Jesus you become “complete in Him”, while His character is being reproduced in your inner life. This is the “sealing process” going on today.
If you opened your heart and mind to God’s Love/Grace/Word//Law, the Holy Spirit can write in them Christ’s loving and beautiful character thus making it part of your life.
If you are not sure or you know you have not, would you like the following prayer include you?
(Offer the prayer of commitment and/or re-dedication.)
Added material to consider
Extra comments on the Sabbath: There is a problem here. Good number of leading Jews, scribes and Pharisees were strict Sabbath keepers yet they crucified the Lord and rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Many Laodiceans are Sabbath-keepers but they will be lost unless they repent. In both of these cases Sabbath keeping and Sabbath worship on the “right day” does not consist the seal of God. So should we jettison the Sabbath as a side issue unworthy of our notice? Or is it an important part of God’s will and purpose for the last generation Christians? Is it a legalistic end in itself or is it a necessary sanctifying means to God’s gracious purpose?
Sabbath then must be not the end and goal but the means toward the end. The end (or its goal and purpose) is the closest possible fellowship with our Lord and thus a restoration of the character of God in men (not merely keeping the right day).
The Sabbath was “made for man(kind)” and not the other way around, as Jesus pointed out, correcting its false understanding in His time. (I wonder how correct is understanding of His people today of the same commandment. Most reject it or ignore it; others see it as some merit or mainly a benefit for better health or family life).
The Sabbath time entered into through faith experience of submission and surrender to the grace of God is full availing of ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit’s work. We do not choose the time, God has done so on a specific time slot selected and set apart by Himself at Creation. Thus the biblical Sabbath becomes the means and one of the conditions for the transformation and maturing of relationship and character to take place.
For our sealing into unshakable relationship needed for the tough times ahead to be complete, four things need to be in place:
a) Faith in the grace of God and His justification of believer,
b) Full availing of our lives to the workings of His Spirit (sanctification experience),
c) Total dependence on God and on promises of His word which do the changing (by beholding we become changed).
d) Closest possible fellowship during the time God chose – on His not our terms.
It is the new covenant provision in full. The result is the name of the Lamb and of God on believers’ foreheads (Revelation 14:1, 22:4) – which is God’s character reproduced in believers’ lives. We should be very careful how we present the Sabbath – Sunday issue – never as mere legal requirements of 2 opposing camps. This won’t recommend itself to candid minds. Those who accept this narrow understanding will tend to become legalistic, self-righteous triumphalists, snug even self-deceived believers.
One more thought: To believe the “mark of the beast” in a narrow technical way, without first rightly understanding the seal of God and the concept of the righteousness of Christ in both the justifying and sanctifying work of God for the believer will do little for ourselves and even less for others to whom we may thus present it.
I believe that we must radically change our approach how we present the 3 angels message to others. EGW points out that “it is the work of God laying the pride (the self-righteousness and self dependence) of man in the dust so God can do for man what he cannot do for himself”. She calls it the “justification by faith in verity”.
To build our main and triumphant thrust on Vicarius Filii Dei concept is rather questionable claim to official title of papacy. It is a sort of a “lazy theology” research that at its best deals with certain historical facts but does not sufficiently address the real underlying issues in the last spiritual conflict.
I would like to challenge each reader to study this matter for himself – not just on the surface. Rather than parroting concepts of too often legalistic views that ruled the Adventist field prior to the 1888 reformation of our backward and reversed emphasis we must study the Scriptures diligently with prayer and inquisitive mind.
We have much truth to discover and recover yet in our study of the books of Daniel and especially in the book of Revelation. We also need to re-align some traditional and often too shallow views in the plan of salvation in its totality. May God’s Spirit and grace be our guide through His word.