The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast
It is imperative that we identify the mark of
the beast, for our salvation depends upon our rejection of this mark. So
let us first seek the identifying characteristics of those who compose
this remnant which will receive the great joy of salvation. The prophet
Zephaniah plainly identifies the remnant. They are believers who possess
three character traits.
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor
speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth
These people of the remnant thus possess the
1. They do no iniquity (in Godís strength, yielding to Him day by
day and moment by moment they have confessed and forsaken their sins).
2. They speak no lies.
3. They possess no deceitful tongue.
Characteristics 2 and 3 are allied. The term
"guile" is a single word incorporating lying with deceit.
It is of no small import that these two
characteristics are the precise characteristics cited as a summary of
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ
also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his
steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter
It is vital that we ponder this passage, for here all
Christians are admonished to seek Godís power, which is sent through
the Holy Spirit, in order to emulate Christís character. Notice Christís
character was summarized as possessing two features ó
1. He did no sin.
2. There was no guile in His mouth.
Thus the remnant of Zephaniah 3:13 are those who have
followed Christís example in His character. Yet today many members of
the clergy make no calls for their flock to earnestly seek, through
prayer, the faith which will provide them with the power of the Holy
Spirit to develop characters akin to that of Jesus. Of even greater
concern is the fact that not a few shepherds of the flock encourage
their members to believe that consistent sin in the life is no barrier
to salvation. Those who accept such unscriptural error will receive the
mark of the beast for they are clearly unqualified to be a portion of
the remnant who shall be saved.
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the
number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant
shall be saved (Romans 9:27).
Some may cry, "Legalism"! No! A thousand
times, No! To reflect Christís character is simply to love Him
tenderly and wholeheartedly.
If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
Further, let us notice what Scripture attests
concerning the end-time saints. It is not without great significance
that the words immediately following Christís severe denunciation of
those who receive the mark of the beast are as follows:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they
that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus
The question rightly arises, Are we not saved by
grace (Godís mercy), and grace alone? The answer to this question is
an emphatic Yes! Scripture testifies to this fact.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man
should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
Thus even the possession of a Christ-like character
provides no ground or basis for our salvation. Christís immeasurable
grace, His mercy, alone saves us from our sins. This fact must never be
minimized. It is a central gospel fact. That grace is provided for us
through the death of our Saviour on Calvary. We are not saved by the
development of a Christ-like character. But, we cannot be saved without
it, for the possession of such a character, as we have seen, is an
inevitable result of partaking of Godís grace.
So important is this truth that Christ impressed it
on the tables of stone when preparing His ten commandments.
Unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church has deigned to entirely expunge
this matter from the ten commandments. God wrote,
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love
me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:6).
Godís mercy in providing salvation, that is, His
saving grace, is not bestowed without conditions. These conditions are
love for Him and keeping His commandments. This passage of Scripture,
while present in Roman Catholic versions of Scripture such as the Douay
Version, and the Jerusalem Bible, has been removed from Roman Catholic
catechisms, as has the remainder of the second commandment.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or
any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the
earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not
bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing
mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments
Keep this in mind as we further evaluate the meaning
of the mark of the beast. Those who have read John Paulís Apostolic
Letter and have been confused by his continual reference to the Sabbath
commandment as the third commandment need to understand that the Roman
Catholic Churchís expulsion of the second commandment from the
decalogue necessitates the altering of the numeration of the ten
commandments. Thus Roman Catholics refer to the Sabbath commandment as
the third and not the fourth, as Scripture testifies.
The Bible teaches that the entire ground for our
salvation is grace, while the condition upon which grace is bestowed is
faith that is manifested in obedience to Godís commandments (Eph. 2:8,
James 2:9,10), an obedience found in Godís last-day saints (Revelation
14:12). Scripture even asserts that it is the remnant who keep Godís
commandments, upon whom the dragon, who in Revelation 12:9 is identified
as Satan, focuses his great rage in the last days of earthís history
We have seen that the remnant will possess the
character of Christ which is summarized in 1 Peter 2:22 by two features
ó He did no sin, and no guile was found in His mouth. But there is
another very important group at the end of time which will possess this
same character. Indeed, this group of faithful people, called by another
name, are identical to the remnant. They are crucial to our discovery of
the nature of the mark of the beast.
This synonym for the remnant is the 144,000. Listen
to the summary of their characters.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are
without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5).
We see that they share with Christ mouths without
guile, and are faultless (sinless) before the throne of God. God
I will not justify the wicked (Exodus 23:7).
Of course, the remnant/144,000, are redeemed sinners,
for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). But in the power of the Holy Spirit
they have developed a life of overcoming.
This is a characteristic of genuine belief. Many
Christians accept two statements of Scripture with no better belief than
do Satan and his angels. Let it not be forgotten that
the devils also believe and tremble (James 2:19).
But this intellectual acknowledgment alone is Satanís
counterfeit version of belief. Be not deceived, Satan has counterfeited
every virtue of God.
Yet Scripture does assent
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life (John 3:15, 16).
Here Christ guaranteed eternal life on the condition
of belief. Paul and Silas gave the same assurance to the jailer.
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and
thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31).
So then in what way does genuine belief differ from
the belief that Satan and his angels possess, and that which he offers
as a deceptive substitute for the genuine? The following passage
presents the features of true belief in Christ.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is
born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also
that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of
God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love
of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not
grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this
is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he
that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son
of God? (1 John 5:1-5).
Take note that this entire passage is related to
genuine belief, for this fact is stated in the first and the last verses
of the passage.
Now let us highlight the seven character features of
true belief enumerated in this passage of Godís Word:
1. We must be born of God ó the new birth experience (verses
2. We love our neighbor as ourselves (verses 1,2).
3. We love God with the whole heart (verses 1,2,3).
4. We keep (obey) Godís commandments (verses 2,3).
5. We must overcome the world/worldliness (verses 4,5).
6. We must have victory over sin (verse 4).
7. We must have faith, the faith of Jesus (verse 4).
Few Christians who describe themselves as
"believers" measure up to these criteria. The five foolish
virgins were "believers," but because they lacked the oil in
their lamps, the symbol of the Holy Spirit and His power in their lives,
they failed to attain eternal life for they had accepted the devilís
The same is true of the Christians described by
Christ, who will be aghast that they have failed to gain eternal life.
Not every man that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord,
Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast
out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I
profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work
iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).
We observe that these "believers" did many
works, but they did not possess the character of Christ for they did not
do the will of God. Many of these have been beguiled by preachers who
have promised salvation to those who neglect to meet the conditions. The
remnant/144,000 have not accepted such sophistries.
Let us now return to the 144,000, for it is they who
enlighten our understanding of the mark of the beast. The redeemed are
first mentioned by this designation as follows:
And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to
the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we
have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard
the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an
hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of
the children of Israel. (Revelation 7:2Ė4).
Some have interpreted this group as being composed
solely of Jews. No doubt it will include faithful Jews who have accepted
Christ, but other details of this group and the fact that they are
synonymous with the remnant excludes the view that the 144,000 is
entirely composed of ethnic Jews. This passage must be understood in the
New Testament usage of the term "Israel" or "Abrahamís
And if ye be Christís, then are ye Abrahamís
seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).
Revelation 7:2,3 reveals that prior to the release of
the winds of strife which will lead to the seven last plagues, the
144,000 will receive the seal of the living God in their foreheads. Bear
in mind that the mark of the beast is also placed in the forehead, but
in addition it may be received in the right hand (Revelation 13:16). We
have documented from scripture that those who receive the mark of the
beast compose the lost. We shall see that those who receive the seal of
the living God are the redeemed. Thus if we can elucidate the meaning of
the seal of the living God, we will in no wise be in difficulty in
understanding the nature of the mark of the beast.
The seal of the living God represents character. This
is evidenced by Scripture for the seal of the living God is described as
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount
Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his
Fatherís name written in their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).
The seal of God thus is the Fatherís name inscribed
in the forehead. What does this mean? Godís name represents His
character. In the Lordís prayer we are encouraged to pray
Hallowed be thy name (Matthew 6:9).
We hallow His name because it enshrines His pure and
As we have seen, the 144,000 do possess the character
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are
without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5).
The seal is represented in the forehead because it is
a character developed through deep conviction. If the seal of the living
God represents Godís character reflected in the lives of true
believers, then the mark of the beast represents Satanís character in
the life. This should come as no surprise, as rather than living a life
without sin and possessing no guile, the Bible represents him as the
originator of sin (Ezekiel 28:15) and the father of lies (John 8:44).
Manifestly the seal of the living God represents the
character of God which will dwell in the hearts of the redeemed at the
end of time and the mark of the beast, by contrast, represents the
character of Satan which will be planted in the hearts of all those who
have not sought the conditions upon which Godís grace will be
imparted. It is not possible for Christ to take those to heaven at His
coming who refuse to permit Him to take sin from their lives. Such would
continue to sin in heaven and the entire plan of salvation would thus be
thwarted. That plan is to cleanse the universe of sin. This can only be
achieved when sin and sinners are no more. God assures us that
affliction (sin) will not recur.
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make
an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time (Nahum
We may wonder at the purpose of the question. The
answer is clear as we observe the doctrines accepted by most Christians.
They imagine that the Lord will not make an end of sin, for they claim
that the wicked live on forever in hell. The Bible teaches they will be
destroyed (see the book, The Mystery of Death, by the same
But what external evidence will indicate the
distinction between those who possess the seal of the living God and
those cursed with the mark of the beast? The term "seal of the
living God" originates from the practice in Bible times of rulers
at all levels possessing a distinctive seal of their authority. Each
seal contained three mandatory elements:
1. The name of the ruler.
2. The authority of the ruler.
3. The region over which the ruler governed.
When Pilateís seal was placed over the tomb of
Christ, it displayed these three mandatory elements: name ó Pontius
Pilate; authority ó governor; region governed ó Judea. Similarly,
Augustus, the ruler of the Roman Empire, possessed a seal. Its
designation stated: name ó Caesar Augustus; authority ó emperor;
region governed ó the Roman Empire.
So important is Godís seal that He did not commence
a word of Scripture before placing His seal upon the words therein.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth (Genesis 1:1).
Here all three elements of the Seal of God are
incorporated. Name ó God; authority ó Creator (sometimes referred to
as the Maker of all); area governed ó the heaven and the earth.
At the conclusion of Creation week the Sabbath was
instituted. Here once more the seal of the living God was displayed.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and
all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which
he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which
he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it:
because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created
and made (Genesis 2:1-3).
In this passage Godís name is inserted three times,
His authority is mentioned on four occasions (Ďmakeí three times,
and Ďcreatedí once), and His region of governance once.
Since the ten commandments are a transcript of Godís
character it comes as no surprise to discover that it contains the seal
of the living God. While some commandments contain Godís name, the
fourth commandment alone contains all three elements.
Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Six days
shalt thou labour and do all thy work, But the seventh day is the
sabbath of 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: (Exodus 20:8-11).
These elements are found in verse 11: Godís name
ó the Lord; His authority ó made; His region of governance ó
heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is.
There is a most important reason why the seal of the
living God is located in the fourth commandment. This commandment
Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy (Exodus
There is only one manner in which we can truly keep
Godís Sabbath and that is in holiness. In order to keep the Sabbath
holy, men must themselves be holy. If one has stolen a hundred dollars
during the week and has not confessed that sin nor made restitution, no
matter how earnestly that individual may worship the Lord on the holy
Sabbath day, he has not kept the Sabbath day holy. It is little wonder
that the Jews referred to Friday as the preparation day. It was a day to
examine each heart and make right any wrongs so that the Sabbath could
be kept in holiness unto the Lord.
Thus the Sabbath is the key to obedience to Godís
law, for it is only as we obey each one of the other nine commandments
that we can keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath commandment with its
intrinsic call to a holy life is the only commandment which centers on
our total character. Thus it was most appropriate that God placed His
seal within this commandment, for the seal of the living God is Christís
character within the heart.
Indeed the entire Bible has as its theme Godís
loving offer of the gift of His seal. This is the purpose for its
presence in the very first verse of Scripture. It is the reason that it
is found in the very last message God in His love gives to mankind.
When Christ related the signs of His coming to His
disciples, He made a very important promise which was also a prophecy.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in
all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end
come (Matthew 24:14).
It will be observed that at this time Christ did not
present the precise content of this last message to mankind to be
presented prior to His second coming. However, in Revelation this
message is expounded. It is termed, for obvious reasons, the three
angelsí messages. We have already referred to the third angelís
message concerning Godís wrath upon those who receive the mark of the
beast. This is the last of the three angelsí messages. The
introduction to these messages specifically states that they are the
gospel messages to be taken worldwide.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven,
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the
earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people
If we examine the first of these angelsí messages
we discover that it contains the seal of the living God. Indeed the
final portion referring to the all-important subject of worship is
almost an exact quotation of the last portion of the fourth commandment.
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory
to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that
made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters
Notice that this message contains the three mandatory
elements of the sealóGodís name (God), His authority (made), and the
territory of His rulership (heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains
Indeed the great purpose of Scripture is to offer to
every human being the seal of the living God, for God is unwilling that
any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
The Sabbath day is of the greatest significance, for
full obedience to this commandment ensures a sanctified life.
Moreover 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 (Ezekiel 20:12).
It will be observed in the new earth for only holy
people reside there.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I
will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed
and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new
moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come
to worship before me, saith the Lord (Isaiah 66:22, 23).
If Sabbath observance is the external sign of the
seal of the living God, then clearly the adherence to a counterfeit
Sabbath, one which God has never blessed or hallowed, is the external
sign of the mark of the beast at the close of probationary time. Each
symbolizes the character of its founder. The seventh-day Sabbath was
instituted by Christ; the counterfeit Sabbath promoted in the popeís
Apostolic Letter, entered the Christian church via paganism as confirmed
by the Baptist author, Edward Hiscox (see Chapter I of this book).
The popeís claim that Sunday worship was instituted
to remember the resurrection of Christ carries with it no thread of
biblical unction. It is not "Easter which returns week by
week," as the pope asserts. If we are to construct a human basis
for the selection of a day of worship, some surely would select Friday,
the day of Christís crucifixion. Others would select Thursday, the day
of the first Communion service.
It was the lack of Scriptural support for Sunday
observance which caused the Council of Trent (convened 1545Ė1563) to
deny the Bible as the lone rule of faith. The Council of Trent was
called to counter the Reformation. At one point the bishops present were
evenly divided as to whether it would be a good ploy to follow the
Protestant lead and declare the Bible as the sole source of faith and
doctrine or to retain church authority and tradition, in addition to
Scripture, as the rule of faith.
The newly founded Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)
perceptively recognized that if the Scriptures alone were the rule of
faith, the Catholic Church would lose its mandate for Sunday observance.
The Jesuits found in Cardinal Gaspare de Fosso,
Archbishop of Reggio, a city in the "toe" of Italy, one who
acknowledged their reasoning. The day following his discussions with the
Jesuits, January 18, 1562, Cardinal de Fosso arose in the Council of
Trent and stated,
Such is the condition of the heretics [Protestants]
of this age that on nothing do they rely more than that, under the
pretence of the Word of God, they overthrow the authority of the
ChruchÖ.The authority of the Church, then, is illustrated most
clearly by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recomends
them, declares them to be divineÖon the other hand, the legal
precepts in the Scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virture
of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day of the law,
has been changed into the Lordís day.
Here the church authority and church tradition is
placed above the Scripture. Cardinal de Fossoís argument swayed the
thinking of the assembled bishops and the Council of Trent entrenched
church authority as at least equal, and in practice, above Scripture, as
its authority for faith, practice, and doctrine.
Unfortunately, the rash of Christian
"conversions" from paganism which transpired after the
"conversion" of Emperor Constantine, led to the introduction
of many pagan religious practices to which a veneer of Christianity was
applied. Worship on the first day of the week, Sunday, was just one of
these practices. The fact that Christ rose on that day was a convenient
veneer to apply to that rite of paganism.
The end-time prophecy of Revelation 13:15-17, warning
of the enactment of dire penalties for those who refuse to receive the
mark of the beast, is a cause to ponder John Paulís call for civil
legislation to ensure Sunday observance. The new canons which call for
unspecified penalties for any person who teaches
Öa doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff, or by
an ecumenical council, or obstinately rejects the teachings mentioned
in Canon 750 s 2, or in Canon 752 and, when warned by the Apostolic
See or by the Ordinary, does not retract (Canon 1371 cited in the popeís
Apostolic Letter of May 28, 1998 entitled Ad Tuendam Fidem),
generate considerable concern for all lovers of the
principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
It is time to raise, once more, the cry of religious
liberty around the lands of this earth (see the book entitled, Liberty
in the Balance, authored by Colin and Russell Standish). It is time
to study Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is time to
make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). It is time to eschew
all non-Scriptural doctrines and practices. It is time to seek God with
the whole heart.
We have identified the mark of the beast. We have yet
to identify the beast power and the "he" who empowers the
beast. The beast will be identified in Chapter 6 ó Identification
of the First Beast of Revelation 13. The "he" will be
identified in Chapter 7 of this series ó The Second Beast of
Revelation 13. These are the two superpowers of the end time.
Let us recapitulate the Biblical evidence defining
the seal of the living God and mark of the beast.
At the close of earthís history every individual
will have heard the everlasting gospel of Revelation 14:6 Ė 12. If it
is preached "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people." (Revelation 14:6). Those who accept Christís salvation
receive the seal of the living God. Those who reject it receive the mark
of the beast.
Those who receive the seal of the living God will
have developed the character of Christ which the Bible summarizes as two
characteristicsóHe did no sin and no guile was found in His mouth (1
Peter 2:22). This is demonstrated in the life by true Sabbathkeeping,
for the Sabbath is the commandment of total character, since it may only
be kept in holiness. Holiness is the possession of Christís character.
The mark of the beast is received by those who
develop the character of Satan, a character of rebellion against God.
This is manifested by observing a counterfeit day of worshipóthe day
of paganism, Sunday, a day of worship for which the Bible provides no
Those who receive the mark of the beast will be
"rewarded" with eternal destruction. This is an act of love by
God, for they would never find happiness amongst holy beings and their
continued sin would insure the external pollution of the universe.
Those who receive the seal of the living God receive eternal life for
in Christís strength and through His spilt blood, they have been
fitted for heaven. The choice is ours today.