The seal of God is a mark of designation, showing who are God's true people. It may be compared to the wedding garment of Matthew 22:11-14. That parable illustrates that although many initially respond to the gospel invitation, not all of them are ultimately retained in God's kingdom. Many who have once entered the service of Christ have not continued to truly serve Him. But the time will soon come when we shall discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not (Malachi 3:18).
Revelation 7:4 tells us that the seal of God is given only to the children of "Israel." Comments on that verse indicate that we can all be children of Israel, regardless of our national or racial ancestry, and therefore be eligible for the seal of God. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter." Romans 2:28, 29. The Hebrew Scriptures made provision for Gentiles to become part of Israel. As we examine those provisions, we will be able to identify what it is that designates one as a true member of Israel. That designation will ultimately constitute God's seal.
The Scripture is Isaiah 56:3-7. It speaks of strangers and eunuchs, and how they may enjoy full privileges as members of Israel. "Stranger" meant Gentile, one who was not of Hebrew descent. This passage tells us how a non-Jew may become one of God's people. Since most of us are in that category, we need to look at it closely. The main points are brought out in verses 6 and 7 which say, "Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."
So, for a Gentile to become one of God's people, he must love God, become His servant, take hold of His covenant, and observe His Sabbath. God's covenant is spelled out in His Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28; Hebrews 10:16). It is obedience to God's commandments from the heart that distinguishes God's true people (1 John 2:3).
Of all God's commandments, one is specifically mentioned as being the special sign which designates and identifies "Israel." We quote Exodus 31:12-17.
|"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, 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. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."|
"Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them."
"And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God."
In the Bible, the words "sign" and "seal" are used interchangeably (Romans 4:11). Before God's angels loose the four winds (Revelation 7), He desires to "seal the law" among His disciples (Isaiah 8:16). Because "her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them" (Ezekiel 22:26), "therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall" (Isaiah 30:13). "And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable" (Isaiah 58:12, 13). Thus through Sabbath reform God's broken law is to be sealed among His disciples.
The Sabbath is God's seal upon His law. Of all the commandments only the fourth one (Exodus 20:8-11) contains all the elements of a lawgiver's seal: His name ("the LORD," Hebrew: Yahweh), His title ("thy God"), the basis of His authority (He created all things), and the realm of His jurisdiction ("heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is"). Thus the Sabbath is the seal of God.
In Revelation 7, God's servants are to receive the seal of the living God just before the close of human probation which signals the commencement of the four angels' mission "to hurt the earth and the sea." This sealing of God's people is the final congealing of their characters. Throughout their Christian experience they have been training their hearts to obey God in all things. As test after test has come to them, they have denied the evil and chosen the good. The final test as described in Revelation 13 and 14 involves a decision to obey God's law and receive the seal of God or to obey man's law and receive the mark of the beast. Everyone will be brought to this test concerning Sabbath observance, and the the decision they make will demonstrate whose servant they have chosen to be. That choice, the culmination of a lifetime of similar choices, will determine their final destiny, just as the rejection of gospel by the Jewish leaders, as demonstrated in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), forever sealed their doom as a people.
When the seal of God is placed upon His faithful servants, their characters will be forever sealed in obedience to Him. They have withstood the greatest test and been victorious. Never again will they have the slightest inclination to sin.