The Sealing of the Servants of God in their Foreheads
By Al Stoner
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Rev. 7:2-3).
It is true that “judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 4:17; cf. Ezek. 9:6; Isa. 10:12), as Peter declared, as God will, in the end, be clear of any charges of partiality in His righteous dealings with the sons of men. If His people sin, He will visit their transgression with the rod, as is recorded in Psalm 89. But before any visitations of His wrath come upon the ungodly, God will mark those who are His, sealing them in their foreheads.
The seal of reference will not necessarily spare His people from calamity and woe, but it will ensure that they are brought safely through tribulation and affliction with their faith intact. Experientially, the seal manifests itself in men by such things as the full assurance of faith, and confidence in God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Sealing of the Twelve Tribes. “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 Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand” (Rev. 7:4-8).
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26). The 144,000 which were redeemed from the earth, speaks of completeness, as to the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. In chapter 7 the completeness seems to pertain to “the whole house of Israel” (Lev. 10:6; Jer. 13:11; Ezek. 37:11; 39:25; 45:6). But in Revelation 14:1 the 144,000 seems to include all redeemed personalities.
Like the number 7, the number 12 is one that expresses completeness in Scripture (the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, etc.). And here we have 12 X 12,000, denoting completeness as a whole, and as well completeness with regard to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Even as the Lord has a particular regard for His people as a whole, He likewise has a special regard for each individually.
The number 144,000 is symbolic of wholeness and fullness, and cannot be taken as being literal, as the number is elsewhere described as “so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable” (Heb. 11:12).
A Similar Marking of God’s People in Ezekiel’s Prophecy. “He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezek. 9:1-6).
Those who were marked were the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done in the midst of Jerusalem, and in our case, in the midst of the church. The sighing and crying involves having God’s mind and thinking God’s thoughts, at least, in measure, being in agreement with Him: His thoughts about that which He loves and hates, approves of and disapproves of.
Those who sighed and cried were marked for preservation from the evil to come. The mark did not necessarily ensure that trouble would not come to those who sighed and cried for the abominations, but rather that they would be preserved through the trouble.
The Fifth Trumpet. “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” (Rev. 9:1-4).
These locusts, symbolically representing fierce judgments which were to come upon the ungodly, were commanded of God to “hurt” only those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads. For all other men it was open season. This was the first of the last three woes that were uttered in Revelation 8:13.
Every man and woman must examine themselves to see that they have this seal in their foreheads. Are we in fundamental agreement with the will of God as it is revealed in the Scriptures? Do we have a purged conscience? If men have this seal of God in their foreheads, this is their pledge that they will arrive safely in the world to come, in spite of the persecutions and oppositions spawned by the Devil.
The Second of Two Beasts. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:11-17).
Both the first and the second beast identified in Revelation 13 are animated by the Devil, the first beast being worldly government, and the second, religious government, imposed upon the sons of men. Both beasts have significance for the people of God because of the fierce opposition of these two against those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The seemingly best of civil governments finally raise their ugly heads in opposition against Christ and His brethren, against God and His eternal purpose in Christ, imposing laws that are contrary to the will of God.
Perhaps, all the present oppositions and assaults against Israel, and against the Jews, are a ground swelling, that is, an indication of God preparing to consummate His purpose with Israel, grafting them back into their own olive tree (Rom. 11).
Papal Rome rose out of the ashes of pagan Rome. What is declared in Revelation 13 about the first and the second beast is not a history lesson, although there are definite connections with world history. During the reign of Constantine (306-337 AD), Satan subtly change his tactic of opposition against the church. Instead of rabidly persecuting the church, as in the past, “Christianity” was at that time adopted as the state religion.
“When Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople (330 AD), the Pope inherited the power, prestige, and even titles of the Roman emperors. The most significant of such titles is Pontifex Maximus, a pagan title that means ‘Bridge builder between heaven and Earth.’”
In 476 A.D. pagan Rome fell to rise no more, having already been invaded several times. “In 538 AD, the emperor Justinian issued a decree, proclaiming the Pope to be supreme in religious matters. Since then, the Pope has assumed the garb of representative of Jesus Christ on Earth.”
The worship of the two beasts mentioned in Revelation was imposed (forced) upon men. They were caused to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads. It was required that men acquiesce either in thought or in action to the will and power of the beast.
The One Hundred and Forty and Four Thousand Standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).
Having their Father’s Name Written in their Foreheads. In each of the references to God’s Name being written in the forehead, there is no mention of His Name being written in the hand. This seems to speak of a willing submission on the part of those, in whose foreheads God’s Name is being written. This is characteristic of the New Covenant where God writes His laws upon the heart and in the mind. The hands are willingly affected by the writing in the forehead without coercion. Where men happen to be amiss with regard to being duly affected by the writing in the mind, James will have something to say to all such ones. Faith without works is dead.
A Warning against being Identified with the Beast. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:9-11).
Satan capitalizes on “the fear of man” which “bringeth a snare”, as Solomon expressed it. By this men are coerced into receiving the mark in their right hand, or in their forehead. The mark in the forehead speaks of men’s thoughts being conformed to this world by coercion, where Satan is prince. The mark in the right hand speaks of men’s actions being conformed to this present world, and of their allegiance being given unto the beast.
Being caused to receive a mark in their hand or in their forehead means that not even Satan, working through the beast and the false prophet, allows secret discipleship. But the warning here is against any man receiving the mark in one’s hand or in one’s forehead. Any identification at all with the beast and his image puts men in danger of tasting of the wrath of God. Men must, by the grace of God, purpose in their hearts that they will not submit to the coercive powers of the beast in any way.
With regard to the first beast (earthly government) the people of God can and must be good citizens, so long as the laws imposed are not contrary to the will of God.
A Name Written upon the Forehead of the Whore. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:5).
The Identity of the Souls Beheaded for the Witness of Jesus. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 22:4). This speaks of the blessed prospect of new creatureship being the only creatureship, and when this mortal shall have put on immortality, and this corruptible shall have put on incorruption. It speaks of the prospect of His Name being indelibly written in redeemed personalities, when faith shall have given place to sight, and when men shall appear with the Savior in glory. Let every man examine themselves to be certain that God’s Name is written in their foreheads.