Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Seal of the Living God

The Seal of the Living God. - This is the distinguishing characteristic of the ascending angel; he bears with him the seal of the living God. From this fact, and the chronology of his work, we are to determine, if possible, what movement is symbolized by his mission. The nature of his work is evidently embraced in his having the seal of the living God; and to ascertain what his work is, the inquiry must be answered what this seal of the living God is, which he bears with him.
1. The Term Seal Defined. - A seal is defined to be an instrument of sealing; that which "is used by individuals, corporate bodies, and states, for making impressions on wax, upon instruments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity. The original word in this passage is defined, "A seal,i.e., a signet ring; a mark, stamp, badge; a token, a pledge." Among the significations of the verb are the following: "To secure to anyone to make sure; to set a seal or mark upon anything in token of its being genuine or approved; to attest, to confirm, to establish, to distinguish by a mark." By a comparison of Gen.17:11 with Rom.4:11, and Rev.7:3 with Eze.9:4, in connection with the above definition, the reader will see that the words token, sign, seal, and mark are used in the Bible as synonymous terms. The seal of God, as brought to view in our text, is to be applied to the servants of God. We are not, of course, to suppose that in this case it is some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but that it is some institution or observance having special reference to God, which will serve as a "mark of distinction" between the worshipers of God and those who are not in truth his servants, though they may profess to follow him.
2. The Use of a Seal. - A seal is used to render valid or authentic any enactments, or laws, which a person or power may promulgate. Frequent instances of its use occur in the Scriptures.

In 1Kin.21:8, we read that Jezebel "wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed the with his seal."
These letters then had all the authority of King Ahab. Again in Est.3:12: "In the name of King Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring." So also in chapter 8:8: "The writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."

3. Where a Seal is Used. - Always in connection with some law or enactment that demands obedience, or upon documents that are to be made legal, or subject to the provisions of law. The idea of law is inseparable from a seal.

4. As Applied to God. - We are not to suppose that to the enactments and laws of God binding upon men, there must be attached a literal seal, made with literal instruments; but from the definition of the term, and the purpose for which a seal is used, as shown above, we must understand a seal to be strictly that which gives validity and authenticity to enactments and laws. This is found, though a literal seal may not be used, in the name or signature of the law-making power, expressed in such terms as to show what the power is, and its right to make laws and demand obedience.

Seal of King George the V

Even with a literal seal, the name must always be used. (See the references above given.) An instance of the use of the name alone seems to occur in Dan.6:8: "Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not;" that is, affix the signature of royalty, showing who it is that demands obedience, and his right to demand it.
In a gospel prophecy found in Isaiah 8, we read: "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." This must refer to a work of reviving in the minds of the disciples some of the claims of the law which had been overlooked, or perverted from their true meaning, and this, in the prophecy, is called sealing the law, or restoring to it its seal, which had been taken from it.
Again, the 144,000, who in the chapter before us are said to be sealed with the seal of God in their foreheads, are again brought to view in Rev.14:1, where they are said to have the Father's name written in their foreheads.
From the foregoing reasoning, facts, and declarations of Scripture, two conclusions inevitably follow:-

1. The seal of God is found in connection with the law of God.
2. The seal of God is that part of his law which contains his name, or descriptive title, showing who he is, the extent of his dominion, and his right to rule.

The law of God is admitted by all the leading evangelical denominations to be summarily contained in the decalogue, or ten commandments. We have, then, but to examine these commandments to see which one it is that constitutes the seal of the law, or, in other words, makes known the true God, the law-making power. The first three commandments mention the word God; but we cannot tell from these who is meant, for there are multitudes of objects to which this name is applied. There are "gods many and lords many," as the apostle says. 1Cor.8:5. Passing over the fourth commandment for the time being, the fifth contains the words Lord and God, but does not define them; and the remaining five precepts do not contain the name of God at all. Now what shall be done? With that portion of the law which we have examined, it would be impossible to convict the grossest idolater of sin. The worshiper of images could say, This idol before me is my god; his name is god, and these are his precepts. The worshiper of the heavenly bodies could also say, The sun is my god, and I worship him according to this law. Thus, without the fourth commandment, the decalogue is null and void, so far as it pertains to enforcing the worship of the true God. But let us now add the fourth commandment, restore to the law this precept, which many are ready to contend has been expunged, and see how the case will then
stand. As we examine this commandment, which contains the declaration, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is," etc., we see at once that we are reading the requirements of Him who created all things. The sun, then, is not the God of the decalogue; the true God is he who made the sun. No object in heaven or earth is the being who here demands obedience; for the God of this law is the one who made all created things. Now we have a weapon against idolatry. Now this law can no longer be applied to false gods, who "have not made the heavens and the earth." Jer.10:11. Now the author of this law has declared who he is, the extent of his dominion, and his right to rule; for every created intelligence must at once assent that He who is the Creator of all, has a right to demand obedience from all his creatures. Thus with the fourth commandment in its place, this wonderful document, the decalogue, the only document among men which God ever wrote with his own finger, has a signature; it has that which renders it intelligible and authentic; it has a seal.
But without the fourth commandment, it lacks all these things.
From the foregoing reasoning, it is evident that the fourth commandment constitutes the seal of the law of God, or the seal of God. But the Scriptures do not leave us without direct testimony on this point.

We have seen above that in Scripture usage, sign, seal, token, and mark are synonymous terms. Now the Lord expressly says that the Sabbath is a sign between him and his people. "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Ex.31:13. The same fact is again stated by the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 20:12,20. Here the Lord told his people that the very object of their keeping the Sabbath, that is, observing the fourth commandment, was that they might know that he was the true God. This is the same as if the Lord had said, "The Sabbath is a seal. On my part it is the seal of my authority, the sign that I have the right to command obedience; on your part it is a token that you take me to be your God."
Should it be said that this principle can have no application to Christians at the present time, as the Sabbath was a sign between God and the Jews only, it would be sufficient to reply that the terms Jew and Israel, in a true Scriptural sense, are not confined to the literal seed of Abraham. Abraham was chosen at first because he was the friend of God while his fathers were idolaters; and his seed were chosen to be God's people, the guardians of his law and the depositaries of his truth, because all others had apostatized from him; and it is true that these words respecting the Sabbath were spoken to them while they enjoyed the honor of being thus set apart from all others. But when the middle wall of partition was broken down, and the Gentiles were called into be partakers of the blessings of Abraham, all God's people, both Jews and Gentiles, were brought into a new and more intimate relation to God through his Son, and they are now called "Jews inwardly" and "Israelites indeed." And now the declaration applied to all such; for they have as much occasion to know the Lord as had his people of old.
Thus the fourth commandment, or the Sabbath, is taken by the Lord as a sign between him and his people, or the seal of his law in both dispensations; the people by that commandment signifying that they are the worshipers of the true God, and God, by the same commandment, making himself known as their rightful ruler, inasmuch as he is their Creator.
In harmony with this idea, the significant fact is to be noticed that whenever the sacred writers wish to point out the true God in distinction from false gods of every description, an appeal is made to the great facts of creation, upon which the fourth commandment is based. (See 2Kin.19:15; 2Chron.2:12; Neh.9:6; Ps.115:4-7,15; 121:2; 238
124:8; 134:3; 146:6; Isa.37:16; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; Job9:8; Isa.51:13; Jer.10:10-12; Ps.96:5; Jer.32:17; 51:15; Acts4:24; 14:15; 17:23,24,etc.)
We refer again to the fact that the same company who in Revelation 7 have the seal of the living God in their foreheads, are brought to view again in Rev.14:1, having the Father's name in their foreheads. This is good proof that the "seal of
the living God" and the "Father's name" are used synonymously. The chain of evidence on this point is rendered complete, when it is ascertained that the fourth commandment, which has been shown to be the seal of the law, is spoken of by the Lord as that which contains his name. The proof of this will be seen by referring to Deut.16:6: "But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there shalt thou sacrifice the passover," etc. What was there where they sacrificed the passover? - There was the sanctuary, having in its holiest apartment the ark with the ten commandments, the fourth of which declared the true God, and contained his name. Wherever this fourth commandment was, there God's name was placed: and this was the only object to which the language could be applied. (See Deut.12:5,11,21; 14:23,24, etc.

Source : The Treasures of Life 1944, pages 417,418,419.
This book has been renamed Daniel and Revelation

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