Sign, Seal, and Mark
In one text, Romans 4:11, the words "sign" and "seal" are used interchangeably. In many other instances the word "sign" is used where the word "seal" would be inadmissible. Contrariwise, other texts using the word "seal" could not use "sign" without violating the sense. (For example, see John 2:18; Cant. 8:6; Rev. 5:1.)
God's sign between Himself and His people is the Sabbath. A person may be said to possess this sign when he sincerely accepts the true Sabbath. It is a sign of sanctification (Ex. 31:13); a sign of recognition of God as the Creator (Ex. 31:17); a "sign of man's allegiance to God" ("Patriarchs and Prophets," p. 309); and a sign of union between the individual and his Maker. Eze. 20:20. There is also a seal of the Spirit "which is the earnest of our inheritance," which for ages has been the blessed experience of God's people. Eph. 1:13, 14.
The seal introduced in Revelation 7:1-8 is distinct from the foregoing, and pertains only to the 144,000. This seal is placed in the foreheads of "the servants of our God." Rev. 7:3. It is the Father's name that is written in their foreheads (Rev. 14:1), therefore this seal is the Father's name. "And even after the saints are sealed with the seal of the living God, His elect will have trials individually. . . . The indelible mark of God is upon them. God can plead that His own name is written there."—"Testimonies to Ministers," p. 446.
It is often stated that the Sabbath is the seal of God. This is true in a general sense. (See "The Great Controversy," p. 640.) It is more accurate to say that "it contains the seal of God."—"Patriarchs and Prophets," p. 309.
Now the "angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God," is identical with "the third angel" of Revelation 14. (See "Daniel and the Revelation," comments on Revelation 7:1-3; "Early Writings," p. 89; and "Counsels to Teachers," p. 459.) A hint of his rank in the heavenly host is given when referred to as "this highest angel."—"Testimonies to Ministers," p. 445.
The three messages of Revelation 14 are now being given to the world simultaneously by Seventh-day Adventists. (See "The Great Controversy," pp. 453, 454.) The first message contains a direct quotation from the fourth commandment, and is a call to worship God as the Creator; viz., to observe His memorial of creation, the Sabbath. The third message is a warning against false worship and its consequences. As a direct result of this world-wide proclamation, hundreds of thousands have already heeded the call of God. From among this vast multitude, God is sealing a special group to be known as the 144,000. They are commandment keepers (Rev. 14:12), hence possess the "sign" of union with God; and having developed characters like Christ (see "Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 214), it is appropriate that He should write upon their foreheads His Father's name, a name that signifies His character. Ex. 20:6, 7. This is the seal of God.
This seal is found exclusively in the fourth commandment, since only here is the name of God distinguished from those of other gods by His title as Creator. It is self-evident that God could place His seal, His name, only on the foreheads of those who observed the commandment containing His seal.
From the foregoing paragraphs it is plain that thousands in past ages have possessed the sign, but only a special company among the remnant people of God have the seal. Moreover, this sealing of a special company of Sabbath keepers is a sovereign act of God, a demonstration to the universe of His mighty grace in behalf of the last generation of men.
As God has a sign and a seal, so God's enemy, the beast power (Revelation 13) has a sign and a mark. Ti,2 Sunday sabbath is the sign of allegiance to this power. (See "The Great Controversy," p. 446.) Millions today and in centuries past have possessed this sign.
Next we inquire, What is the mark of the beast? In a general sense it may be answered that it is the false sabbath, or its observance. (See "Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 117.) More specifically, it is the name of the beast. "So that no one can buy or sell unless he bears the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the cipher of his name." Rev. 13:17, Moffatt.
The name of God signifies His character; the name of the beast signifies his assumed character: Viearius Filii Dei. Only those possessing the sign of allegiance to God's enemy are in danger of receiving the mark. (Read Rev. 13:8, 15, 16.) Moreover, it is in the final issue only, not in ages of the past, that the mark is impressed. (See "The Great Controversy," p. 449.) The Sabbath will "become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom." "The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty." "The Great Controversy," pp. 615, 605. This test will be world-wide. Rev. 13:12; 14:6, 9, 10. Those who then choose to obey God may be among those who sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (Rev. 15:2, 3), while those choosing to obey the powers of earth will suffer the doom of the lost.
New Haven, Conn.
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