Summary: God’s seal (the Holy Spirit) has radical and practical implications for His people.
HEAVEN’S SEAL OF APPROVAL
Sermon Objective: God’s seal (the Holy Spirit) has radical and practical implications for His people.
1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3"Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." 4Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
13Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"
14I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
The Roman signet ring gets a lot of ink in the New Testament. Not only in John’s Apocalypse (where it is in widespread use) but by the other writers as well. In fact, 1st century propriety demanded that adult male citizens of nobility wear only one item of jewelry; this personalized ring used to make impressions in sealing wax in order to authorize documents.
The ones on the screen have a carnelian seal-stone. The stone’s lettering or images are reversed so the insignia can be read properly in the wax and they are designed to tell who the owner is or where the owner lives. Originally, they were made of iron; these signet rings later came to be made of gold.
In this sense it served much the same purpose as a brand does on cattle ranches throughout the American west or the family crest in Western Europe.
The ring began as a necessary tool and later morphed into an accessory (jewelry). But it never lost its utilitarian purpose. To this day, some people will use a personalized wax seal to identify and personalize their documents and nobility in at least four countries of Europe still wear actual signet rings.
The ring’s seal guarantees the authenticity of a document and is a dire warning not to alter it. Any document carrying the seal has the weight and authority of the owner who bore it. To possess the seal, or a letter with the seal, was power!
Genesis 41:41-43 illustrates this: “So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”