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Chapter 23

The Sabbath and the Seal of God

 

Since the Ten Commandments are a transcript of Godís character it comes as no surprise to discover that they contain the seal of the living God. While some commandments contain Godís name, the fourth commandment alone contains all three elements.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lordthy 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 20:8ó11)

Those elements of the seal of God are found in verse 11: Godís nameóthe Lord; His authorityómade (Creator), His region of governanceóheaven 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 commences,

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

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 specify the precise content of this last message to mankind to be presented prior to His Second Coming. However, in the Book of 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. (Revelation 14:6)

If we examine the first of these three 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. (Revelation 14:7)

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 of water).

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 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. (Ezekiel 20:12)

The Sabbath 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 as we come to the close of earthís history. Each symbolizes the character of its founder. The seventh-day Sabbath was instituted by Christ; the counterfeit sabbath promoted in the popeís 1998 Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, entered the Christian church via paganism, as confirmed by the Baptist author, Dr. Edward Hiscox.

There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath Day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week. . . . Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testamentóabsolutely not. . . . Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers, and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism! (Dr. Edward T. Hiscox [author of the Baptist Manual], Source Book, pp. 513, 514)

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 asserted. 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 1545ó1563) to deny the Bible as the lone rule of faith. The Council of Trent was called to counter the Protestant 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 Church. . . . The authority of the Church, then, is illustrated most clearly by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recommends them, declares them to be divine . . . on the other hand, the legal precepts in the Scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day of the law, has been changed into the Lordís day.

Here church authority and church tradition are 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 I, 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 truth that Christ rose on that day was a convenient veneer to apply to that rite of paganism.

The end-time prophecy of Revelation 13:15ó17, warning of the enactment of dire penalties for those who refuse to receive the mark of the beast, provides cause to ponder John Paulís call for civil legislation to ensure Sunday observance. The new canons call for unspecified penalties for any person who teaches contrary to the Roman Catholic Church. The new canon 1371 states:

The following are to be punished with a just penalty:

1 a person who, apart from the case mentioned in canon 1364, teaches a 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;

2 a person who in any other way does not obey the lawful command or prohibition of the Apostolic See or the Ordinary or the Superior and, after being warned, persists in disobedience. (Canon 1371 cited in the popeís Apostolic Letter of May 28, 1998 entitled Ad Tuendam Fidem)

Such a canon generates considerable concern for all lovers of the principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. We emphasize that this was a twentieth century canon, not one enacted in the fifteenth century.

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 your 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.

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 14:6ó12. 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 Sabbath keeping, for the Sabbath is the commandment of character, since it may be kept only 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 mandate.

Those who receive the mark of the beast will receive eternal destruction. This is an act of love by God, for they would never find happiness among holy beings, and their continued sin would insure the eternal pollution of the universe.

Those who receive the seal of the living God receive eternal life; for in Christís strength and through His spilled blood, they have been fitted for heaven. The choice is ours today.

 


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