XXXV - 2 (02)
what of the night?”"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
“Mark A Tau”
“Joshua Was Clothed with
The Seal of God or the Mark of the Beast
Whenever Ezekiel 9, which can be related to the ritual of
the typical Day of Atonement, is studied, the question follows as to what is
the "seal of God," as well as to what is its prophetic antithesis,
the "mark of the beast." In this issue we follow the same sequence of
study. The "man clothed in linen" places a mark on the foreheads of
certain inhabitants of
The conflict between God and the "beast" is about worship. We worship either "Him who made," or we worship the beast and his image and receive a mark. However, associated with the message to worship the Creator, is the "everlasting gospel." Is there a "gospel" involved with the "beast"? All of these factors must be considered to arrive at a correct answer as to the "mark."
Back in 1998, the current Pope issued an Apostolic Letter
He suggested that "Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil
legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy" (#67). This caused
widespread comment. However, three years earlier this same call was made in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church
(#2188) and little was said. The real emphasis in both the Catechism, as well
as the Apostolic Letter, was the altering of the Catholic explanation and claim
for the change in the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Further, the
emphasis on Sunday worship is centered in the celebration of the Eucharist -
"We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible."
"Mark a Tau"
The Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This was
the mark which the "man clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his
side" was instructed to place on the foreheads of those "that sigh
and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst" of
All of this data could open up speculative interpretations which should be avoided. The context within this vision given to Ezekiel suggests that the concept of the Tau as the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet has merit. It is placed upon the foreheads of a "last" people of God. Throughout this vision, the "man" who places the tau is described as "clothed in linen" (vs. 2, 3, 11). This was the type of cloth of which the attire of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement was made. (Lev. 16:4). The "man clothed in linen" with the other six having slaughtering weapons in their hands, come and stand at the brazen altar where the last act of reconciliation was performed ceremonially on that day. (Lev. 16:18-20). He who was enthroned above the cherubim moved to the threshold of the sanctuary, and gave commandment to the man clothed in linen at the Altar.
In the book of Revelation, this last group, those which are "redeemed from among men," have "the Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev. 14:4, 1). We would not, nor could we conceive suggesting that God signs His name with an "x." However, the Father has been closely identified with the Cross. He "was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (II Cor. ). In Revelation, the vision of God upon the throne includes the "Lamb as it had been slain" standing in the midst.
In the typical service of the Day of Atonement, the objective concerned a select group of people - only those who had confessed their sins, and received the results of the first atonement, forgiveness. Likewise the placing of the special mark is confined to a select group, those who sigh and cry for the abomination done in the midst of a special city, a city where God had placed His name. In this vision of Ezekiel, the same One who would provide forgiveness placed the mark on the recipients of that forgiveness. When "the man clothed in linen" completed his work, he reported back to the One seated on the cherubim (v.11).
The Chapter also contains a revelation of a description of
the work of the men with slaughtering weapons. These execute the wrath of God
against those who have filled
The "man clothed in linen" does not pass from view, for in the next phase of this extended vision shown to Ezekiel, He again appears, but minus "the writer's inkhorn" (10:2, 6, 7). The marking had been done. (). Now another command awaits him. This command and the symbolism connected with it demand our careful study.
From the throne (10:1) the "man clothed in linen" was instructed –
Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city." (10:2)
These cannot be considered "coals" of destruction, because the men with slaughtering weapons had already slain "utterly" all who had not been marked (9:6). Those remaining in the city were only the marked ones, and on these were scattered "the coals of fire from between the cherubim." Here again we see the mingled blood (Lev. ) of the final atone-
ment - the Man clothed in linen, who marked His people with a "mark of redemption;" and the One on the throne who provided "coals of fire" for their cleansing. (See Isaiah. 6:6-7) Then "the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory" (Eze. 10:4). Is this again alluded to in Revelation 18:1 - "and the earth [the court] was lightened with his glory"?
"Joshua was Clothed with Filthy Garments"
The revelation given to Zechariah in the vision of the third chapter demands careful study. Joshua, the high priest stands in judicial review before, "the angel of the Lord" with "Satan standing at his (Joshua's) right hand to resist him" (v.1). As the vision unfolds, this Angel is designated simply as "the Lord" (v. 2) and His redemptive powers as the Messiah are revealed (v. 4). Further, this Divine Messenger proclaims the promise and the objective of the Lord of hosts to be realized by His messianic servant, "the BRANCH" (vs. 7-8). There is a close relationship between these verses and the revelation in Chapter 6:12-13, which reveals "The BRANCH" as the One who will accomplish the design of "the counsel of peace which was between the Two of Them" (Heb).
Here in Zechariah 3 are all the elements symbolized in the services of the typical Day of Atonement: the mingled blood of the bullock and the Lord's goat to accomplish the final cleansing (the action of the Messianic Lord and the decree of the Lord of hosts); the scapegoat for Azazel (Satan standing at the right hand of Joshua); the High Priest carrying in himself the sins of the children of Israel, and placing them on the head of the scapegoat (Joshua clothed in filthy garments); and the ultimate atonement, the removal of the uncleanness of the children of Israel (the change of raiment and the removal of all iniquity). (See Leviticus 16).
In this vision given to Zechariah, the High Priest is standing for the people as the mediator between them and Jehovah. When the office was instituted, not only was the high priest to carry Israel in symbol in the two onyx stones set in gold placed on his shoulders (Ex. 28:11-12) and in the breastplate (28:29); but there was a special significance to the plate of pure gold which he was to wear on his forehead on which were engraved the words, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" (28:36) The instruction states:
And it (the plate) shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow in their holy gifts, and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord" (Ez. 28:38)
Keil & Delitzsch make a very enlightening comment on this verse. It reads:
The high priest was exalted into an atoning mediator of the whole nation, and an atoning sin-exterminating intercession was associated with his office. The qualification for this he received from the diadem upon his forehead with the inscription "holiness to the Lord." Through this inscription, which was fastened upon his head-dress of brilliant white, the earthly reflection of holiness, he was crowned as sanctified to the Lord, and endowed with the power to exterminate the sin which clung to the holy offerings of the people on account of the unholiness of their nature, so that the gifts of the nation became well-pleasing to the Lord, and the good pleasure of God was manifest to the nation. (Commentary of the Old Testament, Vol.1, pp.203-204)
When we understand that the Aaronic priesthood was but typical of the reality, Jesus Christ, High Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedec, then the "sin exterminating intercession" which was basic in the final atonement, takes on renewed significance in the light of the vision to Zechariah. First, Joshua, standing for the people, could not remove his filthy garments. They had to be taken from him. The command was given by the Divine Messenger, "Take away the filthy garments from him" (3:4). Joshua could refuse, knowing the result - he would at some point be naked before the Lord. He had a choice. Either respond as did Adam, and make himself a garment of "fig leaves," or accept the provision of the Divine Mediator: "I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will give thee a change of raiment."
It is either faith or works, my works to achieve perfection, or faith to believe what the great High Priest says He will and can do. The message of the type declared plainly that the High Priest alone accomplished the cleansing on the typical Day of Atonement. The vision given to Zechariah states likewise that the Divine Messenger, The BRANCH, will do for man that which he cannot do for himself, take away his "filthy garments" and give him a change of raiment.
The concept that the high priest stood for
ship: "the dead in Christ shall arise first" (I Thess. ). "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. ). It was Paul's desire to "be found in Him, not having [his] own righteousness, which is of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9).
There are two other revelations in this vision given to Zechariah which need further and careful study: 1) The results of the mediation of the Divine Messenger produce "men wondered at" (v.8). The margin, indicating the Hebrew, states that these cleansed ones will be "men of wonder." What does this mean? And 2) The "Lord of hosts" declares that He "will remove the iniquity of the land in one day" (v.9). The question is, does this apply to the final cleansing of the earth by fire at the end of the age, or is this speaking of the final "manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. ) just prior to the close of probation?
The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor, who is at God’s right hand, presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with merits of Christ’s propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned.
Oh, that all may see that everything in obedience, in penitence, in praise and thanksgiving, must be placed upon the glowing fire of the righteousness of Christ. The fragrance of this righteousness ascends like a cloud around the mercy seat. (Manuscript 50, 1900)
The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast
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
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.