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Sunday, July 6, 2014

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After Ezekiel’s vision in the previous chapter of the increasing scenes of abomination, six angels were charged with executing God’s judgment.  One among them, who was dressed in the ordinary priestly garment, is instructed to put a mark on the foreheads of those who are grieved by the abominations being done in Judah.  All those without the mark, starting from the elders on down, and to those outside the Temple are to be destroyed. But those with the mark should be spared. This judgment was so wide spread that Ezekiel fears that not even a remnant would be spared from destruction (verse 8).

The imagery here is repeated in Revelation 9:4 where God describing the plagues instructs the locusts to not harm those who have received the seal in their foreheads. Just as in the book of Ezekiel, this sealing or marking of God’s people, and in Revelation, indicates God’s special protection upon the righteous as they survive troublesome times just before Christ comes. 

We are truly living in the last days before Christ returns.  That day will be a terrible day for those who have rejected their Savior and received the mark of the beast. Ezekiel’s question about whether a remnant will or will not survive God’s judgment is a serious one.  Will anyone be able to survive?  The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” God does have a remnant. The righteous will bear in their foreheads God’s own mark which is a seal of His ownership. God’s own stamp of approval will be on their foreheads. This mark guarantees the wearer’s allegiance to God and the manifestation of Christ’s character in them as their own, not because of anything they have done, but because of God’s gracious work by His Holy Spirit in their hearts
Many Adventists interpret the seal as Sabbath observance which is an outward indication of ones’ love for and submission to Christ. However, Sabbath keeping is simply an outward demonstration of the sealing work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. The mark is not Sabbath keeping but it represents the character development of the righteous’ hearts.

In vision, Ezekiel saw a nation of people who assume that God is too merciful to bring judgment, and think their actions are not seen by God, or they make excuses for the sin that is all around them. They are prideful and selfish.  But, in contrast, God preserved a remnant that is nothing like the majority.  When God describes those who are marked by God, the identifying mark of the remnant showed their deep grief over the abominations taking place in their own land and among their own people.
There is little difference between the sealed and those without God’s mark.  They are Jews, relatives and neighbors. The remnant, however, are a people who recognize their need and are repentant.  They are a surrendered people who seek the Lord with all their hearts. As they surrender and humble themselves before the Lord, He provides the grace for them to reflect Him.  He is the One who graciously changes our characters and makes us like Him.  That is wonderful news!  Amen.

Dr. Eric Bates, Pastor
Gulf States Conference