THE SEAL OF GOD OR THE MARK OF THE BEAST
Excerpt from WWN2(02)
Any discussion of Ezekiel 9 involving "the mark" is then associated with Revelation 7 involving the "sealing" of the 144,000. The text in Revelation reads:
saw another angel ascending from the east having the seal of the living God:
... 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
The antithesis of the "seal of God" in Revelation is the "mark of the beast" (14:9). Because of little study and much less reflection on the Scriptures, many in Adventism give an elementary answer to what this "seal" and "mark" is. These quickly respond that the "seal" is keeping the Sabbath, and the "mark" is keeping Sunday. It is true the Roman Church claims in their catechisms, and other publications, that the change in the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday is an evidence of her power "to institute festivals of precept." Further, they boast that this change accepted by Protestants "is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Roman] Church." However, these admissions and boastings carry the "imprimatur" and "nihil obstat" of that Church. This is not the case when dealing with the single quotation from a papal source which designates this act as a "mark" of "her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters," and which is then used to define Sunday, as "the mark of the beast." Simple handling of truth demands that we have more substantial evidence than this, to so interpret Biblical symbolism which is given such prominence in prophecy.
First, let us consider the letter which is the basis for
the documentation of the conclusion drawn. It was written in 1895 by J. F.
Currently, the only source available to me of this exchange is in the book, Facts of Faith (pp. 292-293), One part of Snyder's letter, quoted verbatim is the phrase, "as a mark of her power" in reference to the change of the Sabbath. The Chancellor's reply is quoted (in full, or in part is not indicated) and reads:
Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change was her act. It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical without her. And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.
The word, "mark" used by Thomas, was suggested by
Snyder. However, the Chancellor's letter does not carry the official imprimatur of the
In 1995, the first 825 page English edition of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church was published by Doubleday, to be followed in 1997 by a 904 page second edition revised in accordance with the official Latin text promulgated by Pope John Paul II. Both editions carried the Apostolic Constitution, Fidei Depositum in which the Pope declared the Catechism "to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (p. 5, 2nd Edition).
Nowhere in this new Catechism do you find stated as is to be found in The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine. It read:
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the
Catholic Church, in the Council of
This Catechism not only carried a double imprimatur as well as a nihil obstat, but also its author, Peter Geiermann, received a letter of commendation from the Vatican bestowing the Apostolic Blessing of Pius X, expressing the Pope's appreciation of his "zealous efforts ... for the spread of the knowledge of the True Faith" (p.3).
Nor can there be found as stated in A Doctrinal Catechism by Stephen Keenan which read:
Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
A. Has she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; - she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority. (p. 174).
This catechism carried the imprimatur of Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of New York (circa 1876).
The new Catechism of the Catholic Church holds:
The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of His universal beneficence to all." Sunday worship fulfils the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up the rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of His people. (#2176, 2nd Edition)
Prior to this conclusion, it sets for the Sabbath as
"the seventh day" giving Scriptural reference, noting that it not
only recalled the creative acts of God, but that it also serves as "a memorial of Israel's liberation
from bondage in Egypt" (#2170, 2nd ed.; emphasis theirs). Further, it is
stated: "God entrusted the sabbath to
Jesus rose from the dead
"on the first day of the week." Because it is the first day,"
the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the
"eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation
ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of
all days, the first feast of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake
They reason further - "Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfils the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God" (#2175).
[It is of interest to observe that "sabbath" is
never capitalized in these sections of the Catechism, while "Sunday"
and "the Lord's Day" are. It is also of interest to observe that the
text of Scripture used to preface the section on "The Lord's Day" is
from the Psalms (118:24) - "This is the day which the Lord has made; let
us rejoice and be glad in it" - a text frequently used by Protestants in
their justification of Sunday, especially the
The next section in the Catechism is captioned - "The
Sunday Eucharist." It dare not be overlooked. The first sentence reads -
"The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and
his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life"
(emphasis supplied). Then the Codex luris Canonici is quoted: "Sunday is the day on which the
paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be
observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church"
(#2177). This same Codex is quoted further as "the law of the Lord"
stating that "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are
bound to participate in the
In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They have to give to everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. (#2188).
This objective, officially stated in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church,
reflects the plans of
When the time comes and men realize that the social edifice must be rebuilt according to eternal standards, be it tomorrow or centuries from now, the Catholics will arrange things to suit said standards. ... They will make obligatory the religious observance of Sunday on behalf of the whole of society, and for its own good, revoking the permit for free-thinkers and Jews to celebrate incognito, Monday or Saturday on their own account. (p.63; the author's emphasis).
Observe closely the wording - "revoking the permit ...
to celebrate incognito" (in secret) the Sabbath. This gives an enlarged
perspective to the whole question. It will not only be what is perceived as
necessary for the good of "the whole of society" - "the
religious observance of Sunday" - but also what you individually will be
forbidden to do, even secretly, that which God commands to done - "Keep my
sabbaths" (Lev. 26:2). The test will not be a
Sunday closing law which forbids work on Sunday such as could be termed a
"National Sunday Law" but what is perceived by
Another factor in this picture needs to be considered. As noted above, the Catechism declares "the Sunday Eucharist" as "the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice." (par. 2181) Further, participation in the Sunday Eucharist "is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church" (par. 2182). In light of the fact that the Scripture indicates that the "mark" can be received in the forehead, or in the hand (Rev. 14:9), the significance of how the Mass is received needs careful consideration. In a section captioned - "How to Receive Communion" - the first sentence reads, "Holy Communion may be received on the tongue or in the hand ..." (Handbook for Today's Catholic, p.42). The desired response is then indicated:
When the minister of the Eucharist addresses the communicant with the words, "The Body of Christ," "The Blood of Christ," the communicant responds, "Amen."
What is the meaning and significance of this mental assent?
When the minister raises the eucharistic bread or wine, this is an invitation for the communicant to make an Act of Faith to express his or her belief in the Eucharist, to manifest a need and desire for the Lord to accept the good news of Jesus' paschal mystery.
A clear and meaningful "Amen" is your response to this invitation. In this way you profess your belief in the presence of Christ in the eucharistic bread and wine as well as in his Body, the Church. (ibid.)
Whether the "bread" rests in my hand, or in my
mouth, my mind, literally my fore-head gives consent, and I am a member of the
Body of Rome. However, I have also given consent recognizing the blasphemous
The Three Angels' Messages place in direct contrast two calls "to worship." One, in connection with the "everlasting gospel," is "to worship Him" who has the genuine power to create (Rev. 14:7). The other is a dire warning of judgment for "any man" who worships "the beast and his image" (v. 9). It must be clearly understood, that one does not worship a day, but he worships on a day some Person, or object Who or which is declared worthy of adoration.
There can be no question but that the Sabbath is the
memorial of the creative action of God, blessed and sanctified by His resting
thereon (Gen. 2:3). Further, in the irrevocable Ten Words, God asked that this
day be remembered and kept holy, because He did create the "heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that in them is" in six days, and "rested on
the seventh day" (Ex. 20:8, 11). When this law was repeated to
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day" (Deut 5:15).
Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, Dies Domini, picks up on this factor and uses it as the basis for the change from Sabbath to Sunday. He wrote, "The connection between the Sabbath rest and the theme of 'remembering' is found also in the Book of Deuteronomy where the precept is grounded less in the work of creation than in the liberation accomplished by God in the Exodus" (#17). After quoting Deuteronomy 5:15, he adds - "This formulation complements the one we have already seen [creation], and taken together, the two reveal the meaning of 'the Lord's Day ' with a single theological vision which fuses creation and salvation" (ibid.) Then he concludes:
What God accomplished in creation and wrought for his People in the Exodus has found its fullest expression in Christ's Death and Resurrection. . . It was in the Paschal Mystery that humanity, . . came to know its new "exodus" into the freedom of God's children who cry out with Christ, "Abba, Father!" In the light of this mystery, the meaning of the Old Testament precept concerning the Lord's Day is recovered, perfected and fully revealed in the glory which shines on the face of the Risen Christ. We move from the "Sabbath" to the "first day after the Sabbath," from the seventh day to the first day: the dies Domini becomes dies Christi! (#18).
We must never forget that connected with the First Angel's Message to "worship Him who made," is the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6), with its deliverance from sin. On Friday, Jesus finished the work given Him to do, and "rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." On the first day, He arose to begin a new phase of His saving ministry - a Heavenly Priesthood - which will end when He comes again the second time "without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).
The Seal of God involves not only the observance of the
Sabbath as the memorial of God's creative work, but also the Gospel of God's
redemptive work in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the
Mark of the Beast involves the first day of the week of
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is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of His
people? It is a mark which angels, but not human eyes, can read; for the
destroying angel must see this mark of redemption. The intelligent mind has
seen the sign of the cross of
We would suggest to all that in reading the issues of WWN beginning with XXXV-1(02) until we complete our search of that which we need to both "learn and unlearn" that you check each reference carefully in your Bible. If you have either questions or challenges, we would be happy to receive them for our further study and/or reply.