The Seal of God in the Last Days

By Pastor Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: In 1971, infamous cult leader Charles Manson was found guilty as the mastermind behind multiple murders in Los Angeles. At his sentencing, he showed up with a swastika tattooed between his eyes, what he called his “devil sign.” To his death at age 83, Manson remained unrepentant of his crimes, bearing the mark of his allegiance on his forehead.

Most people know that the mark of the beast is something they must not get, even though many have no idea what the mark is. Some think it’s a tattoo, a microchip implant, or something else out of the latest sci-fi film. Yet even fewer have heard of its counterpart: the seal of God. Before the coming of Christ, every human will be identified with one of these two marks—how and by whom we are marked will have direct implications on our eternal destiny.

The more you read about the Second Coming in Scripture, the more clearly you realize there will be only two kinds of people at the end of time. When Jesus told a parable about “the end of the age” (Matthew 13:39), the two kinds were represented as “wheat” and “tares” (v. 25). In another parable, they are labeled “sheep” and “goats” (25:32). Every person will ultimately belong to one of these two groups, entering through either the wide or the narrow gates. There is no neutral zone—no Switzerland.

In the last book of the Bible, this concept comes into sharp focus through the following angelic warning: "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:9, 10, my emphasis).

And Revelation 7:3 reads: "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads" (my emphasis).

The mark you receive indicates to which of the final two groups you belong. We are solemnly told that those with the mark of the beast will be subject to God’s unmitigated wrath, which includes “the seven last plagues” (15:1) and, ultimately, eternal death (14:10; 20:10–15). On the other hand, those with the seal of God will be divinely protected (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1) and, ultimately, receive everlasting life (Revelation 7:15–17; 21:3, 4; 22:3–5). 

In which group would you like to be? The Bible reveals that it is your free choice as to which mark you receive. Let’s prayerfully study this out.

The Hand and the Forehead

First, notice where people will be marked: foreheads and hands. While some view this literally, the Bible often uses these body parts as symbols. And don’t forget that Revelation draws most of its symbols from the Old Testament. 

In Exodus 13:9, we read: "It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth" (my emphasis).

In Deuteronomy 6:6, 8, God says: "These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. … You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes" (my emphasis).

What’s between your eyes? It’s your forehead—your brain. Right behind your forehead is the frontal lobe, which manages your decision-making. In Scripture, the forehead represents not what’s on but what’s in your head—your thoughts and beliefs. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them” (Hebrews 10:16, my emphasis). Notice here that the heart and mind are interchangeable.

The hand represents action: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands” (Isaiah 59:6).

What you do comes from how you think and who you are, that is, your mind and heart (Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 15:18, 19). Thought and action typically harmonize.

Notice that the mark of the beast can be in the hand or the forehead, whereas the seal of God is only in the forehead. Why? Some will receive the mark of the beast in the forehead, meaning they fully believe in and worship the beast. Those who receive the mark in the hand represent those who likely do not believe in the beast but who cooperate from fear or seek some personal advantage. The seal of God is found only in the forehead because it springs from worship and faith as opposed to works.

These marks are not some external, visible symbol, such as a tattoo; they identify whom your heart worships, obeys, and serves. They denote what kind of character—or name—you have (Revelation 14:1, 11). One thing is certain: Even though the marks will be invisible, God will know who has which mark (2 Timothy 2:19).

Understanding the Marks

Did you catch what God wants in our minds and hearts? The Bible states over and over that it is God’s law, the Ten Commandments, His Word. Yes, God’s seal is found in obeying His commandments in heart, mind, and action. The Lord says, “Seal the law among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16). “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

How is keeping God’s law a seal? A seal guarantees authenticity, an official stamp of approval. Seals have been used throughout history and are still used today. For instance, Great Britain updated its seal when King Charles III ascended the throne in 2022. Seals typically have three main components:

1. The name of the official

2. The official’s title of authority

3. The official’s territory

Such a seal was placed on Daniel’s lion’s den by King Darius of Medo-Persia (Daniel 6:17). A seal was also placed on Jesus’ tomb in the name of Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea (Matthew 27:66). God’s seal authenticates a person as a citizen of His heavenly kingdom. 

You might be surprised to learn that all three components of a seal are found in a single commandment—indeed, at the very heart of the Ten Commandments. It’s the fourth commandment, the Sabbath, which governs our worship of God. 

It is also the only commandment where you find the word “holy”: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God [His name]. In it you shall do no work. … For in six days the LORD made [His title, Creator] the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them [His territory], and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8–11).

The Sabbath command authenticates God as the creator of the universe. It is also a sign of His sanctifying power because He made this day holy and also wants to make us holy. No wonder the Sabbath is targeted by Satan! His rebellion is based on overthrowing God’s authority and seating himself on heaven’s throne. (See Isaiah 14:12–14; Ezekiel 28:2, 6.) It is Satan, symbolized by a dragon (Revelation 12:9), “who gave authority to the beast” (13:4). The power behind the beast and his mark is the devil. Now, notice how concerned this beast power, a symbol for a nation (Daniel 7:17, 23), is with worship (Revelation 13:4–8). 

This is Satan’s rebellion in action. In order to eclipse God, the devil is exalting his own laws, his own authority, his own character: "He [a second beast also given authority by Satan] was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (vv. 15–17).

Through these two beast powers, the devil fabricates a counterfeit system of worship, one based on the principles he cherishes. Following Satan’s system will mark you as one of his. And he will place front and center in his worldwide mandate a counterfeit “holy day”—his so-called “Sabbath” on which he, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV), will be worshiped.

In these last days, when obedience to God will be threatened with certain death throughout every nation, one’s allegiance will be signaled by which day one keeps holy. By keeping the Sabbath, you confirm your allegiance to your Creator’s law of love, life, and liberty (Matthew 22:37–40; Romans 8:2; James 1:25). By obeying the laws of the beast, Satan’s counterfeit, you will confirm your allegiance to the world’s archvillain and his reign of terror, selfishness, and sin (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8).

You will choose which mark you receive.

Sealed by the Spirit

You now might be asking, “How can I be sure to be marked by God?” We certainly know that it’s not by outward works. Merely wearing a cross around your neck or having a Bible on your bookshelf—even going to church on Saturday—doesn’t make you God’s. Motives matter.

The Bible says, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9). When we ask Him, the Holy Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). It is the Holy Spirit who convicts individuals of their sins (16:8), which leads them to repentance (1 John 1:9), which, in turn, allows God to transform their characters into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, it is the Holy Spirit who writes God’s law—exemplified in Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1:14)—in our hearts. David wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. … Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10, 11). It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments, to live the same life that Christ lived (Matthew 5:17).

Furthermore, we learn in 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22, that it is God “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 

Ephesians 1:13, 14, adds, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (my emphasis).

Let’s briefly consider Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins, an illustration of the Second Coming (Matthew 25:13). The 10 virgins are split into two groups (sound familiar?)—those with enough oil for their lamps and those without (vv. 3, 4). In Scripture, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13; Zechariah 4:2–6). The virgins who didn’t have enough oil did not enter with the bridegroom into the wedding (Matthew 25:10–12). We may have the Holy Spirit to some degree, but if we do not allow Him full access to our hearts, to cleanse us of all sin, to dwell in us without measure (John 3:34), we will not enter with Christ into His heavenly kingdom. (See also Mark 2:18–20; Revelation 19:7, 9.)

Preparing for the Latter Rain

The sealing of God and the marking of the beast are completed by the time probation closes at the end of the world. Just before God’s people are sealed, the Bible prophesies that the Holy Spirit will come in full force, a special event called the latter rain.

The prophet Joel wrote of the former and latter rain, known in agriculture as two periods of heavy rainfall crucial to crop growth and harvest (Joel 2:23). Joel paralleled these times to a special outpouring of the Spirit (vv. 28, 29) just before “the great and awesome day of the LORD” (v. 31). 

The apostle Peter identified Pentecost as the former rain (Acts 2:14–21). The latter rain is yet to come.

Joel’s prophecy states that the Holy Spirit will be poured out “on all flesh” (Joel 2:28), to every person living on Earth. But look at what occurred during the former rain: There were those who were “confused” (Acts 2:6) and “perplexed” (v. 12) at, even “mocking” (v. 13), the working of the Holy Spirit. That is, they did not receive the former rain at its outpouring. Likewise, not everyone will receive the latter rain. Given what we’ve learned, we know that those who reject this second outpouring of the Holy Spirit will not receive the seal of God. If you are living at the end of time and do not receive the latter rain, neither will you be marked to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Christian author A.W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” We could learn a few things from the early church. What did those disciples do to ensure they received the former rain?

Studied God’s Word (Acts 10:44): One of the Holy Spirit’s duties is to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13), but how can He if you don’t give Him the opportunity to do so? (See also 6:63.)

Persisted in Prayer (Acts 1:14): Remember, God will never force you to do anything against your will. If you want the Holy Spirit, ask for Him! (Zechariah 10:1; Matthew 7:7).

Were Willing to Obey (Acts 5:32): You cannot obey God without the Holy Spirit, but you can be willing to surrender your will to His. (See also John 14:15–17.)

Gathered to Worship (Acts 4:31): This doesn’t mean that you must always physically be with other believers in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Rather, God’s blessings fall upon us particularly when we honor Him together. (See also Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:24, 25.)

Were United in Truth (Acts 2:1): Divisiveness, which results from pride, envy, and resentment (1 Corinthians 3:3; James 3:16), turns away the Holy Spirit; a merciful, humble, and repentant attitude makes room for Him (Ephesians 4:30–32).

The disciples allowed the Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts beforehand—and He made them ready to receive Him in full abundance!

The Time Is Now

By no means are these truths less relevant now. Our choices today affect who we become. Though some reading this may go to the grave before Jesus returns, they also, in a sense, will be marked as either loyal to God or Satan. Everyone makes this decision, whether during their lifetime or at the end of time.

Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, my emphasis); “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15, my emphasis). Don’t allow your decisions to cause you, like the foolish virgins, to miss out on eternal life. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart today and every day. Be prepared to receive the seal of God. 

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