The Bible tells us that there will be only two groups of people in the end times, those whom God calls his faithful remnant, and the ungodly. This has been the case ever since the time of Cain and Abel, and Jesus describes the two groups of tasks as follows: He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth, Luke 11:23. In Matthew 13:24-25 we see that Jesus says that there is only wheat and tares, and in Matthew 25:32, Jesus divides humanity into two groups, sheep and goats. There are thus only two groups, not one group, not three groups, nor four or more groups. Ever since Cain and Abel there has been a physical and spiritual battle between these two groups, and this battle will only intensify more and more in our day.
The whole world is involved in the great conflict, the war between good and evil. Some think they do not participate in this battle, and apparently, it seems that some do not, but everyone, without exception, participates in the battle in their own way. The choice is only between two parties, and those who do not choose God’s side, automatically choose the other side. Everyone, absolutely everyone, has to make a choice, no one escapes making a choice in this conflict.
Ellen G. White says about this: As we near the close of time the demarcation between the children of light and the children of darkness will be more and more decided. They will be more and more at variance. This difference is expressed in the words of Christ, “born again”—created anew in Christ, dead to the world, and alive unto God. These are the walls of separation that divide the heavenly from the earthly and describe the difference between those who belong to the world and those who are chosen out of it, who are elect, precious in the sight of God, (Last Days Events 215.3).
Either we are with God or we are against God, and even if one claims to be indifferent to this, this indifference is the person’s choice. Anyone who is indifferent aligns himself with the children of darkness, because only an active choice can bring us into the fold of the children of light. To get there, we must make a conscious and active choice for God.
When we who are Seventh-day Adventists have come to the conclusion that there will be a sealing, it is because the Bible shows us this in both Revelation 7:3 and Revelation 9:4. When we understand this, we have understood something important that not all Christians have understood. The most interesting question is the question of time, or when on the timeline the sealing occurs. Other questions we have to look at are these. Has the sealing started? Is the sealing an ongoing action? Who will be sealed?
As usual, the Bible does not give an exact date for when events that occur in the end times, such as the sealing, will take place. However, the Bible says that the sealing will take place, and gives certain indications of when we can expect the sealing to take place. We will return to this further down. What is at least as interesting, and which many of those who envision a sealing do not seem to think about or understand, is why God’s remnant must be sealed. We find the answer to this question in several places.
As in Exodus chapter 12, where in verse 7 it is said that Israel should strike blood on the two side posts and on the upper door post, as a sign that the angel of death would pass by (verse 13) when he would kill all the firstborn in Egypt (verse 12). Further, in Genesis chapter 32 we read about of Jacob’s struggle. This was a battle against God (verse 28), and Jacob’s thigh was dislocated (verse 25) as a sign of this. This seemed like a seal for Jacob when he met his brother Esau the next day who was actually supposed to avenge what Jacob did to him 20 years earlier. And in Revelation 7:3 which says that the four angels who held back the four winds of the earth should not harm the earth, the sea or the trees until God’s servants were sealed.
The common denominator for these three verses is that God’s people were, or will be, protected against something, and it was the figurative seal that was their protection. When the angel of death struck Egypt, all within the doors marked with blood were safe. We can say that God had in a way put his «seal» on them. When Esau met Jacob, he was going to kill him and all his retinue, but when he saw him, he was unable to raise his hand against his brother, because God had put his «seal» on Jacob. Moreover, when the four angels are released sometime in the near future, God’s remnant, or servants as they are called here, will be sealed and beyond the reach of the plagues that will hereafter fall upon the earth. Nevertheless, the question of when this happens is impossible to answer.
When the time has come, all people will be put to the last great test, a final choice, and after this choice has been made, these two groups will be marked with their respective marks. God’s faithful remnant will be sealed with the mark of the living God, while the ungodly will take the mark of the beast. (See also English; The end times begin; Revelation 13. The image of the beast.) In the same way as Israel just before the exit from Egypt, and Jacob just before he met his vengeful brother were protected by visible signs – the blood on the doorposts in Egypt, and Jacob’s limping after he had fought against the «man» at Jabbok – this is how God’s people will one day be protected by God.
It can almost seem that the mark of the beast will also in a way be a ‘protection’ against something, but in reality; it has the opposite effect to the seal of God. It is stated in Revelation 13:16-17 that those who take this mark will be able to trade freely, while those who do not take the mark of the beast will not be able to buy and sell.
We do not know when the sealing takes place, but there is, however, a verse in the Revelation that comes with a clear indication of when in time, or rather where on the timeline we are when the sealing takes place. This verse does not indicate any specific year or date, but gives us a clear clue as to what happens just before (and just after) the sealing. The verse is one of those verses that tell us about events during the fifth trumpet and the locusts from the bottomless pit, in Revelation 9:1-12. Here follow the first four verses: Revelation 9:1-4: Then the fifth angel blew. And I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth. He was given the key to the well of the abyss. And he opened the well of the abyss, and smoke rose from it, like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the well. Then locusts came out of the smoke over the earth. And power was given unto them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or anything green or any tree, but only those people who do not have God’s seal on their foreheads.
Type – antitype.
Type and antitype is a well-known principle in the Bible. The type tells us about an event that lies in the past, while the antitype is the same sort of event that lies in the future in relation to the type.
In the SDA’s Bible Commentary Volume 7, Ellen G. White wrote the following in 1900: A sign is placed on every child of God, just as a sign was placed over the doors of the Israelites in Egypt to protect them from the general calamity (when the Angel of Death passed through Egypt). As we see, Ellen G. White draws a parallel between Israel’s exit from Egypt and our exit from this earth. (See also English; The end times begin; The coming great tribulation.)
However, it is the case that Ellen G. White’s view of the sealing changed later in life as she gained more and more light on the matter. In 1850 she wrote of a sister who had passed away that she [Mrs. Hastings] was sealed and would come up at the voice of God and stand upon the earth, and would be with the 144,000, (Last Days Events 222.4). It is clear that Ellen G. White believed that Mrs. Hastings had been sealed, and that the sealing was an ongoing event.
39 years later, in 1889, Ellen G. White in the SDA’s Bible Commentary Volume 7 wrote this: It will not be long before God’s seal will be placed on every one of God’s children … … It is clear that she now believes that the sealing is a future event seen from 1889.
In 1911, she wrote this. The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false Sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God, (The Great Controversy 605.2).
The way she expresses herself here shows that she means the mark of the beast and the seal of God will be given at the same time, after the Sunday laws are given, in the absolute end time. We therefore have the same principle when it comes to the sealing as other biblical events. We have a type and a antitype, and Ellen G. White uses the exit from Egypt as a type of the sealing that will happen in the end times.
On the tenth day of the first month each man was to take out a lamb for his father’s house, a lamb for each household, (Exodus 12:3) but it was not to be slaughtered until the 14th day of the month. Then it was to be slaughtered and the blood of the animal was to be stroked on the doorposts. This is the type on the sealing, and we read in Exodus 12 the following. And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it, (verse 7). And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt, (verse 13).
The prelude to Exodus 12 is that God will free his people from slavery in Egypt, and before the eating of the Passover lamb, God sends ten plagues over the land of Egypt. The first three plagues affected everyone who lived in Egypt. When the water turned to blood, the first plague, it struck Israel just as hard, the frogs during the second plague plagued Israel as much as they plagued the Egyptians, also the mosquitoes during the third plague afflicted God’s people.
However, in Egypt, God made a difference between his people and Pharaoh’s people, and we read in Exodus 8:23 that God says: And I will put a division* between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be.
* Literally, to put a ransom between.
This happened after the third plague, but before the last seven plagues fell upon Egypt, in other words just before Israel left Egypt on the way to the promised land, Canaan. We can therefore assume that the sealing will take place at a correspondingly late point in the end times. Why I claim that is because God Himself is very careful that everything happens according to His perfect plan, that the antitype must play out the same as the type and because God is a God of order.
Another point worth noting about the exodus of Egypt is how quickly it all happened. Exodus 12:11 tells us how Israel was to prepare for the exodus. In connection with the exodus, everyone in Israel was to eat the Passover lamb, and we see from this verse how they all should have prepared themselves when they were to eat it. And thus shall ye eat it; [with] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it [is] the LORD’s Passover.
Israel was to eat the Passover lamb in all haste, it says. As usual, the question becomes a resounding one. Why?
The answer is quite simple. They could not know when the angel of death had completed his task, a task that had to be completed before Pharaoh allowed Israel to leave Egypt. This will also be the case in the end times. A series of events will lead up to the sealing, and the final deliverance. And we don’t know when any of this will happen. The only thing we know is that it will happen, and that it will happen quickly.
But when did God make a difference between the people of Israel and the people of Egypt? It was before the last seven plagues fell upon Egypt. Israel was spared these troubles. We can say in a way that they were sealed, but I must clarify that Israel was NOT sealed in Egypt, yet they were under God’s special protection. This happened when they took the lamb’s blood and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper doorpost of the houses, that is, before they were able to leave Egypt, and before they ate the Passover lamb. Then we can expect that the same pattern will be followed in the end times. Striking the blood on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses and eating the Passover lamb while standing is in itself only an act of faith, and a proof that God’s people had prepared according to what God had asked His people to do.
In Egypt, there fell ten plagues, and three of them, as mentioned, fell on everyone who lived in Egypt, including Israel. However, after the third plague, God says that he will put a division between His people and Pharaoh’s people. Putting a division between is literally translated putting a ransom between his people and the people of Egypt. After the third plague, God’s people were not afflicted by the plagues. But why does God say that He will put a division between Israel and Egypt?
God does this both for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Egyptians. Israel will know by this that they are safely under God’s special protection, and the Egyptians will in this way get proof that the God of the Hebrews really is God and stronger than all the gods of Egypt put together. The great divide that was drawn up in Egypt will be drawn up again between God’s people and the people of the world – the wicked in the end times. God’s people are the subject of God’s gracious salvation; the wicked are under his judgment.
For now, we have established that it will happen at the last moment, and in all haste, and that God will make a divisionbetween His people and those who do not belong to the Lord. What else can we deduce from the texts we have in the Bible that deal with the sealing? In Revelation chapter 6 and verse 17, a very interesting question is asked. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Well, who shall be able to stand on the great day of His wrath, which is the same as the second coming of Christ?
The answer comes in chapter 7, and John begins by explaining that he saw the four angels holding back the four winds of the earth (the winds of war) so that they would not blow on (destroy/kill) any tree. Trees are also a picture of God’s people.
God has a perfect plan that He works according to, and nothing happens without a predetermined pattern of action. Everything comes in the order that God has predetermined. It says in Revelation 7:1 that the four winds of war were held (back). What does that entail?
The reason is that there is something that has not been fulfilled in God’s sovereign plan, something that is of essential importance to God’s own people. We read in Revelation 7:3 … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. This is what is missing, the sealing of God’s servants.
God’s servants are those who are explained as follows. Revelation 14:12, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 12:17, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and according to Revelation 19:10 the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. That it is emphasized that it is God’s commandments that we are talking about should be obvious all the time that we have two sets of ten commandments. The original, which is Gods Ten Commandments, and the copy, which is the pope’s ten altered / counterfeit commandments.
In Revelation 14:3 John tells us that those who have been sealed, the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4 who are the same as in 14:1, sing a new song, which no one else can sing. Once again a resounding: Why?
The 144,000 have gone through the worst time of tribulation in the history of the earth and, like Israel when they crossed the Red Sea, have gained an experience that no one else has. Both groups have a story to tell that no one else has experienced.
Revelation 14:4-5 gives us several characteristics of the 144,000:
They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, wherever it takes them, whether it is to the stake or the stake, they are willing to follow their dear Saviour.
They do not betray Jesus for anything, even under threat of a death sentence.
And in Jesus’ blood and His merits, they are spotless – without fault – before the throne of God.
Do we find anything to indicate that God will really make a difference between people in the end times?
We have already looked at Revelation 9:4, which says that the locusts from the abyss, which are a picture of demonic angels and powers, are not allowed to harm those who have God’s seal on their foreheads. God will certainly make a division between the people in the end times, in the same way that He made a division between His people and Pharaoh’s people in Egypt.
The sealing of the 144,000 will take place before the fifth trumpet sounds. But when does this happen? We know nothing about that. Luckily. Nevertheless, we do know the following things. Revelation tells us almost in detail what will happen right from Jesus’ death on the cross until He returns in glory. We just have to study the scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit, and then we can be given insight into many things.
The seven seals of Revelation tell us the political history of the church, and when we come to the sixth seal, we find signs that indicate that we are passing from one era to another in our history. We are going from prophetic times to end times.
When the seventh seal is opened, we find ourselves in the end times, in extended sense, and in this period, we will see the antitype of the ten plagues that struck Egypt play out one by one. By extended sense, I mean the time from when Jesus entered the most holy place in the heavenly temple, which coincides with the start of the end times, and the return of Jesus, which ends the end times.
The seventh seal contains a silence in heaven and the seven angels who receive the seven trumpets. When the first trumpet sounds, the plants of the earth are affected, the second affect the life in the sea, and the third affect the fountains of waters. The fourth affect the celestial bodies. Then comes the section where God makes a difference between His people and the wicked. We still haven’t gotten there, but where on the timeline of history are we?
Have the plants of the earth been affected, as the first trumpet heralds?
Has the sea been affected, as the second trumpet foretells?
Have the fountains of waters been affected, as the third trumpet foretells?
Have the heavenly bodies been affected, as the fourth trumpet foretells?
We cannot know this for sure. The only thing we know for sure is that we are somewhere between the sixth seal, where we went from prophetic times to the end times, and the fifth trumpet where the devil’s angels are given a free hands to torment the wicked.