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Chapter 22

The Seal of God and the 144,000

 

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 7:2—4)

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. Remember the principle that the entities associated with numbers in the books of Daniel and Revelation referring to events prior to the Second Coming are symbolic. To denote the 144,000 as literal Jews, members of the tribes of Israel, would violate the principle that literal numbers are associated with symbols as found throughout these end-time prophetic books. This passage must be understood in the New Testament usage of the term "Israel" or "Abraham’s seed."

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s 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 that 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 comprise 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 follows:

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

The seal of God thus is the Father’s name inscribed in the forehead. What does this mean? God’s name represents His character. In the Lord’s prayer we are encouraged to pray—

Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)

We hallow His name because it enshrines His pure and holy character.

As we have seen, the 144,000 do possess the character of Christ.

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 God’s character reflected in the lives of true believers, then the mark of the beast, by contrast, represents Satan’s character in the life. This should come as no surprise, for 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. 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 God’s 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 1:9)

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 authors.)

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

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 Pilate’s seal was placed over the tomb of Christ, it displayed these three mandatory elements: name—Pontius Pilate; authority—governor; region governed—Judea. Similarly, Augustus, the ruler of the Roman Empire, possessed a seal. Its designation stated: name—Caesar Augustus; authority—emperor; region governed—the Roman Empire.

So important is God’s seal that He did not commence a word of Scripture before placing His seal within 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—God; authority—Creator (sometimes referred to as the Maker of all); area governed—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 God’s name is inserted three times, His authority is mentioned on four occasions (made, three times and created, once), and His region of governance once.

 


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