"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.
"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." Rev. 7:2-4.
The mystery concerning the sealing of the 144,000 is probably peer to any vexed Bible subject. Theory has crowded theory, only the more to mystify and confuse the truth of it. No Christian denomination seems to have escaped the controversy which, in giving rise to many divergent views, has only increased the rift in the Protestant lute.
This has been exceedingly regrettable, and very much the more so among us as Seventh-day Adventists, for long ago the messenger of the Lord admonished us to "strive with all the power God has given us to be among the 144,000" (The Review and Herald, March 9, 1905), and then graciously placed in our hands the necessary knowledge for the time then present as to when and where, why and what, the sealing is.
"This sealing of the servants of God," the Lord revealed, "is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision." -- Testimonies To Ministers, p. 445. (Read Ezekiel 9).
And in amplification of the subject the messenger wrote: "Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God's professed people." -- Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 266.
Accordingly, the marking takes place in the church because of "the abominations" practiced in her midst. Hence, the removal of those who foster the abominations is her closing work, not the world's.
With this key knowledge in hand, the church was to have gone on enlightenedly with the progress of Truth and at the appointed time be enabled to unlock the mystery. But failing to obey the voice of the Lord and thus to walk in the Light and to advance from knowledge to knowledge, she lost her way and consequently has for years wandered in the wilderness of theory, so to speak.
And while she was in confusion on the subject, the Spirit of Truth pronounced silence on it then to be "eloquence." But eloquence for how long? Forever? -- Obviously not, but only until the Lord Himself should unroll the scroll, the sealing commence, and the subject become present truth. Then silence could no longer be eloquence; in fact, not even possible -- not if there are ever to be 144,000 sealed and made ready to stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion (Rev. 14:1).
A thoroughgoing knowledge of the subject must necessarily be of as great importance as is a comprehensive knowledge of Daniel 7, Revelation 13 and 17, the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14, or any other revealed Bible mystery or prophecy. And how can one escape the slaughter unless one knows what the sealing, marking, is, when it is, and where it is to be?
Since, as we have previously seen from the Spirit of Prophecy, the sealing and the slaughter take place in the church during the closing work for her, they could not antedate the present time. And the prophecy itself shows that the sealing must begin at a time when her spiritual life is at its lowest ebb, when she is polluted with sin -- in "exceeding great...iniquity." Ezek. 9:9. For it is her defiled condition that causes a Holy God to do in her midst the work of marking, sealing, the saints, and of doing away with the sinners among them.
How did she start to reach this condition? -- The servant of the Lord sadly answers:
"The Lord has not closed Heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing, and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders.
"The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere." -- Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217.
"We have wandered away from the old landmarks. Let us return. If the Lord be God, serve him: if Baal, serve him. Which side will you be on?" -- Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 137.
"As Jesus views the state of his professed followers today, he sees base ingratitude, hollow formalism, hypocritical insincerity, Pharisaical pride and apostasy." -- Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 72.
"Who can truthfully say, 'Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world'? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: 'Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? "How is the faithful city become an harlot?" My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking.'" --Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 250.
"The time has come for earnest and powerful efforts to rid the church of the slime and filth which is tarnishing her purity." -- Testimonies To Ministers, p. 450.
Thus with humiliating certainty we are made to see and to acknowledge that the condition of the church "is deplorable in the sight of God." -- Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 253.
And it is a mournfully admitted fact among all the informed and honest throughout the Denomination, that though she has for years been steadily declining spiritually, she has never hitherto reached her present low level where she retains scarcely any of her former distinction from the world.
"Spiritual death," laments the Voice of Inspiration, "has come upon the people that should be manifesting life and zeal, purity and consecration, by the most earnest devotion to the cause of truth. The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass." -- Christ Our Righteousness, p. 36 (1941 edition).
"Men and women are in the last hours of probation, and yet are careless and stupid, and ministers have no power to arouse them; they are asleep themselves. Sleeping preachers preaching to a sleeping people!" -- Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 337.
Indeed, "the conviction is gaining ground in the world that Seventh-day Adventists are giving the trumpet an uncertain sound, that they are following in the path of worldlings." -- Testimonies To Ministers, p. 86.
For all these and for other reasons, some of which we know not, a pure and Holy God is "whetting his sword in Heaven to cut" down those who do not sigh and cry. "Oh that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among his professed people!" -- Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 190.
"Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done' in the church." -- Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 267.
"The seal of God will be placed upon the foreheads of those only who sigh and cry for the abominations done in the land." -- Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 212.
Necessarily, "while the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth." -- The Great Controversy, p. 425.
Now that this special work is on, there is doubt no longer that "the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor." -- Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 80.
In another memorable vision of this same crucial work, Sister White "saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven, descending to the earth, and again ascending to heaven, preparing for the fulfillment of some important event.
"Then I saw another mighty angel," she continues, "commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory.... This message seemed to be an addition to the third message...." -- Early Writings, p. 277.
And "only those," avers the Spirit of Truth, "who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel's Message] when it shall have swelled into the loud cry." -- The Review and Herald, No. 19, 1908.
"The great issue so near at hand will weed out those whom God has not appointed, and He will have a pure, true, sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain." -- B-55-1886.
Why are the sinners taken from among the righteous before the earth is lightened with the glory of the angel? -- Because "one sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation." -- Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 265.
The clear sequence of facts here brought to view conclusively points out that we are now in "the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand"; that the sealing, marking, sifting, shaking, "special work," "important event," "closing work," and "purification," all result alike in the destruction of the unsealed and in the purification of the sealed. Yes, this is the preparation for the time of trouble, the Loud Cry, the closing work for the world.
Obviously, then, the closing message for the world is proclaimed by the faithful only, and God's people during the plagues are apart by themselves with no unfaithful among them.
Do The 144,000 Ever Die?
"The living saints, 144,000 in number;" we must not conclude that only a part of the whole can constitute the number and yet be true, for the statement made by Inspiration cannot be contradicted for it reads "144,000 in number." When mention is made of this company, it is at the same time when God makes known the day and hour of Jesus coming. If we can locate at what time of the world's history God speaks the day and hour of Jesus' coming, then we may know more about this company. Quoting Early Writings, page 285: "But there was one clear place of settled glory, whence came the voice of God like many waters, shaking the heavens and the earth. There was a mighty earthquake. The graves were opened, and those who had died in faith under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth....And as God spoke the day and the hour of Jesus' coming, and delivered the everlasting covenant to His people."
One may here suppose that the risen and the living make the number, but we do not believe the Spirit of Prophecy would call both companies (the living and the resurrected) living saints. The 144,000 are living saints; the others, resurrected Sabbath keepers. To make it positive, another reference is given, found in Great Controversy, page 637: "Great hailstones, every one 'about the weight of a talent,' are doing their work of destruction. The proudest cities of the earth are laid low....Graves are opened, and "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth...awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." All who have died in the faith of the third angel's message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God's covenant of peace with those who have kept His law." This makes it positive that the resurrected Sabbath keepers come forth in the special resurrection of Daniel 12. This is the time when the great hailstones are doing their destructive work (7th plague). "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air;...And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." Rev. 16:17, 21. The resurrected Sabbath keepers did not live during the time of the plagues, for they were resurrected at the time of the seventh plague, so that they hear the announcement of the day and the hour of Jesus' coming.
If evidence can be brought to view that the 144,000 (in number) lived before the seventh plague, then we have positive proof that the 144,000 never died. Great Controversy, page 649: "And they sing 'a new song' before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the 144,000. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb,--a song of deliverance. None but the 144,000 can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience,--an experience such as no other company have ever had....They have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat, and they themselves have endured suffering, hunger, and thirst." Here is a positive statement that the 144,000 lived in the time of the fourth plague, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat. "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire." Rev. 16:8. This is the fourth plague. How could they (144,000) go through the fourth plague if the special resurrection of the Sabbath keepers (those who died under the third angel's message) did not take place until about the end of the seventh plague? If "they have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence and they themselves have suffered hunger and thirst", they must have lived through all the plagues.
Again, "They sing a new song"....which no man can learn save the 144,000....for it is the song of their experience,--an experience such as no other company have ever had." How can it be possible for all to sing the same song if it is a song of their experience except they all have the same experience? Those who had been in the grave would have the experience of death, grave, resurrection, and receiving a new body. But those who never died have seen the fulfillment of Ezekiel 9; Isaiah 63; Isaiah 60; the closing of the third angel's message, (the loud cry, close of probation), all of the seven last plagues, and they sing this song (of their experience and deliverance) "which no man can learn save the 144,000."
Will Sister White Be With The 144,000?
Sister White was taken in vision to one of the planets which had seven moons, where she met good old Enoch. This place was so beautiful and her desire for it so keen, she begged the angel to let her stay. "Then the angel said, 'You must go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000 shall have the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handiwork of God'." See Early Writings, page 40. There is no contradiction in this statement, for the angel told her that she, with the 144,000, meaning she is one with them but not one of them. She will doubtless be with them for she may be termed as the mother of them (being the messenger and founder of this movement), nor can we suppose they will sing the song of Moses and he (Moses) not be there. Because they are the 144,000, a special company with a special experience, is no reason why others could not travel with them, for undoubtedly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be with them, being the fathers in type. What objection could be made if others would journey with them? We may suppose that Jesus would give to all the redeemed at least one trip to the other worlds.
What Kind Of Seal Is It?
Reference is made in Testimonies to Ministers, page 445. The subject is about the sealing of Revelation 7, the 144,000. We quote: "This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision." Now if the sealing of the 144,000 of Revelation 7, is the same as Ezekiel 9, in order to find the kind of sealing it is, and the time of its beginning, we must study Ezekiel 9:1-9:
"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 brazen 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. And He said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great."
It is positive that the sealing of the 144,000 is Ezekiel 9,--the separation (sifting in the church--the godly from the ungodly). Volume 1, page 181: "I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans." Read the entire page. Note the shaking begins after the straight testimony of the "True Witness" is come.
The Two Seals
Is the Sabbath the seal of the 144,000? First of all it will be noticed that the definition of "seal" is: An instrument which is used to seal, fasten up, or enclose securely; to establish or settle beyond question; to point out and determine; designate. An effort will be made to bring forth enough Bible evidence to satisfy anyone believing in the Scriptures that all who were saved in the ages past as well as those who are to be saved now must have the seal of God. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians said that they were to be sealed. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Eph. 4:30. The grace of sanctification wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost is the seal and assurance of one's redemption to come, of a joyful resurrection. The use and end of this sealing is the sacredness and safety of the thing sealed from the eyes of curiosity and hands of violence, which otherwise would be abused by strangers and enemies; thus the children of God are past the censure of the wicked world. They are preserved as precious things for God's own use, to be with Him in heaven. Quoting 2 Tim. 2:19, written to the Corinthians: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 2 Cor. 1:22.
We read in Revelation 8 and 9, of the seven angels with the seven trumpets. These seven trumpets indicate the principal political and warlike events which were to transpire during the time of the gospel church. The sealing of the 144,000 belongs to the time of the sixth trumpet. Beginning with Rev. 9:1, we read about the angel with the fifth trumpet. Verse 4 of this chapter we quote: "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." Here we see that many years before the third angel's message ever began to be preached, the saints of God were sealed with the seal of God, just the same as the ones under the third angel's message are to be sealed. According to these scriptures which are plainly stated, we must conclude that the saints of God are sealed with present truth in all ages, and whatever that present truth is, that is the seal. Present truth under the third' angel's message is Sabbath truth, therefore, the Sabbath is a seal which seals the people who are obedient to it. Quoting Great Controversy, page 452: "The seal of God's law is found in the fourth commandment....When the Sabbath was changed by the papal power, the seal was taken from the law." Early Writings, page 58: "The sealing time is very short, and will soon be over."
Those who died under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, are sealed with the Sabbath truth, but the 144,000 never die. While they must keep Sabbath and have that seal, they must sigh and cry for the abominations that are in the church, for otherwise they can not receive the mark by the angel with the writer's inkhorn of Ezekiel 9, which is the seal according to Testimonies to Ministers, page 445; Volume 5, pages 210-16; Volume 3, pages 266-7. The sealing of the 144,000 is the separation of the faithful from the disloyal ones; the purification of the church. Those who do not keep the truth, and indulge in the sins and abominations, who try to throw a cloak over the existing evils, will fall under the figure of the five men with the slaughter weapons of Ezekiel 9.
The Sabbath has been present truth since 1845, and being the seal of the law of God has been sealing the law among the people of God ever since that year. Isa. 8:16 "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." This has been the work of the third angel, and for this reason the third angel has no seal, for the seal is in the law, but the angel of Revelation 7, has a seal in his hand. Ezekiel calls him the man with the writer's inkhorn who is to set a mark upon the men who sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof (the church). This is the seal of the 144,000, but all the saved under the third angel are sealed with the Sabbath seal. The 144,000 having this seal are also marked (sealed) by the angel of Revelation 7, which is the same as the one of Ezekiel 9. In other words, it may be termed a double seal.
Ezekiel 9 Is Not A Sabbath Seal
This sealing of the 144,000 is not a Sabbath seal. However, those who are sealed must be Sabbath keepers. It is a seal, or mark, that separates the two classes in the church, and those who are sealed, or marked are not marked because they keep Sabbath only, but because they sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done in the church. So both the sealing and the slaughter are in God's church, and not in Babylon, or in the world. It is only in Jerusalem, and Judah, the house of Israel (the church). "Judah" in Ezek. 9:9 refers to those in office, for Judah occupied the office of the Levites after the tribe of Levi was carried away. There is not a thought about the world or the ungodly. When the marking (sealing) is finished, the five men with the slaughter weapons begin with the ancient men which were before the house, meaning the guardians of the spiritual interest of the people. See Volume 3, pages 266, 267, and Volume 5, pages 210-212.
We quote Volume 5, page 211: "The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God's power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment." Volume 3, page 265: "But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins.'
So the subject of the 144,000, with its interrelated subjects coming into clear, harmonious focus, shows that the eleventh-hour call for laborers in the Lord's vineyard is now in progress, and that now is the time to "strive with all the power God has given us to be among the 144,000." -- The Review and Herald, Mar. 9, 1905.