- Ellen White wrote: “The sign, or seal, of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath...” —8T 117 (1904).
Is the seal of God really Sabbath observance?
- The Bible is very clear in what it says about God’s Seal:
- “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)
- “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)
The seal of God shows authentic ownership, and evidence that we are His. He has approved of us as His children.
- Similar to believers, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, was the sign or seal of approval God gave to Christ at His baptism and on the mount of Transfiguration. ‘For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval“ (John 6:27)
- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
- Again this is very clear—we are sealed by, and with the Holy Spirit, designated for the day of redemption, or the second coming of Christ, when He takes us to be with Him, forever.
- Nowhere the new covenant records anything written or hinting that the seal of God that assures our salvation is dependent on Sabbath observance. It’s actually foolish to believe that you can be sealed with the Spirit by observing the law.
- ‘You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? .. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse‘ (Gal 3:1-25)
- The Holy Spirit cannot be earned through observance of any law or neither can it purchased or bought (Acts 8:18-30)
- This is hugely important and should be restated: as scriptures teach here, any human effort to keep the law, including Sabbath keeping, cannot account for our identity of salvation with God or by being identified with His seal.
- A common SDA answer or spin on this is that the Sabbath is kept in a love response to God and as a remembrance of His creation. This may be sincere, but if it is truly a love response to God, it would not be required (as SDA doctrine and Ellen White teach) and could not qualify as a sign or seal; it would be a gift of praise and only that.
- Now let’s look at the terms “sign” versus “seal”. SDA’s have used these terms interchangeably to spin their proof texts to support the Sabbath-Seal of God doctrine. However, the original term for “seal” (Hebrew, chotham: Greek, sphragis) is never translated “sign” in the Bible. The original term for “sign” (Hebrew, oth; Greek, semeion) is never translated “seal”.
- Romans 4:11 says Abraham ‘received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised’. Note carefully, the “sign” is one thing and a “seal” is something completely different!
- According to Paul, Romans 4:11 tells us that Abraham was identified with God (the righteous one or sealed as righteous), because of what he believed by faith before he had the sign of circumcision! Circumcision was only an external sign that he was already sealed by God. The argument that Paul is making in Romans 4 is that circumcision could not have had anything to do with His justification because he was justified [had seal of righteousness by faith] thirteen years before he was circumcised [had the sign of circumcision]. Even if “Sign” and “Seal” were to be used interchangeably, the fact remains that there is no new testament confirmation that the Sabbath is a seal in anyway. It’s the Holy Spirit who is the seal, who does the sealing, and who identifies us as belonging to God (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Not Sabbath keeping.
Is the Sabbath still a “sign” between God and His People?
- Under the old covenant agreements, several SIGNS were instituted.
Circumcision ‘shall be a sign of the covenant..for an everlasting covenant’ (Gen. 17:9-14);
Passover, ‘shall be a sign…for your generations.. forever’ (Ex:12:13-14);
‘Speak to the Sons of Israel…observe my Sabbaths, for this is a sign…forever’ (Ex:31:13,17).
- Notice Sabbaths are plural which means it includes all Sabbaths (weekly, monthly, yearly).
- Also, the Sabbaths as a “sign” was given to the children of Israel. Seventh-day Adventists claim that they are “spiritual Israel”. If so, then why do they not also practice the other “eternal signs” of obedience between Israel and God? How inconsistent!
- Is the Seal of God found in the Ten Commandments?
- Isaiah 8:6 reads: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law (torah) among my disciples“
- Adventists teach that the word “law” refers to the Ten Commandments which is sealed on people upon observance of it based upon the above verse. In reality, the word “law” means the Torah, which refers to the first five books of the Bible. In the Torah, there are 613 laws which the Israelites were expected to follow. The new covenant is clear Christians are not required to keep all the laws of the Torah. Hence, this verse has nothing to do with the Seal of God in the new covenant.
- If the Lord’s name, title, and dominion appear in a Bible verse, is that passage the Seal of God?
- Just because a Bible verse mentions the name (YHWH), title (Elohim or Adonay) and dominion of God does not mean that verse is describing the “Seal of God”.
- For example, using SDA logic, one could argue that the Torah is the “Seal of God” because it contains this verse:
‘Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is’ (Deut. 10:14)
- Or one could claim that the prophetic writings of Isaiah or Jeremiah are the “Seal of God” using SDA logic: (Isa. 37:16; Jer. 32:17). Look at all of the other Bible verses that mention God’s name (God), His title (Lord), and His dominion (heaven and earth): Gen. 14:22, Gen. 24:3, Deut. 3:24, Deut. 4:39, Deut. 10:14, Jos. 2:11, 1 Ki. 8:23, 2 Ki. 9:15.
- Just because God’s name, title, and dominion appear within a Bible verse does not prove that passage has any particular connection with the “Seal of God”.
- Not once in the New Testament is the Sabbath ever referred to as a sign or a seal for Christians. Just as the Lord’s supper celebration replaced the Jewish Passover celebration, so has the Holy Spirit replaced the Sabbath as the “sign” or evidence that a person is one of God’s chosen people. If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, the New Testament teaches the seal of Christianity is the Holy Spirit, not the Sabbath.
- What about God’s first seventh day? On that first seventh day, God entered into a STATE of rest or ceasing due to His creative work being completed on the previous six days. The first six days had creative “work” that was demarcated by an “evening and morning”, but the seventh day “rest” did not have a demarcation of “evening and morning”. God’s rest was open for Adam and Eve to enter from that seventh day onwards, and even today “a promise remains of entering His rest” for Christians (Hebrews 4:1). If there is any example to follow from God’s rest in Genesis, it is that we must enter that state of rest, (because God only ceased once).
After that first seventh day, God did not restart a “work for six days and rest on the seventh” cycle for man to follow. He ceased from His creative work once and for all. Therefore, His state of rest on that first seventh day continued from that seventh day onwards. God did not say to Adam and Eve. Now you folks, every time a seventh day rolls around, you also rest. There is no such command for man to rest on every seventh day in Genesis. The ritual Seventh day Sabbath which the Lord “gave” to Israel for the first time (Exodus 16:29) was only a “shadow” of God’s original rest (Colossians 2:16-17).
Jesus himself compared Sabbath to a ritual ceremonial law. Mainstream Jews to this day believe Sabbath is the only ritual law in the Ten commandments. Paul himself taught in Colossians 2:16-17: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by a Sabbath day”. Jesus nor Paul taught the new testament church that the Sabbath is a seal. See: Sabbath.
- One may enjoy the Sabbath or even feast days if he or she wishes, but if one is to remain true to the Scriptures and not the teachings of man, he or she must separate “Sabbath keeping” from the “seal of being identified with God and His people. This is the teaching of God’s word.
- Will SDA’s listen, or will they continue in pride with the teachings of man?
The Bible, mainstream Jews, early Christians, and many Reformers, show that the Sabbath was a ritual ceremonial law that is not binding on Christians.
Martin Luther taught the validity of the moral law of the old covenant but saw Sabbath as ceremonial. “Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath day; for it teaches that since the gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of the old law can be omitted” (Article 28, The Augsburg Confession(1530)).
John Calvin wrote “First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest…there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ (Col. 2:17), Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God” ([From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].
Mainstream Judaism: “Shabbath is the most important RITUAL observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments” (Source: Judaism 101: Shabbat (jewfaq.org)).
Roman Catholic’s understood the same. “The sabbath command is the only one of the Ten Commandments which can be altered in any way, because only it is a part of the ceremonial law. This is taught by the Roman Catechism issued after the Council of Trent” (Source: https://www.catholic.com/qa/did-jesus-alter-the-commandment-about-observing-the-sabbath
John Milton wrote: “With regard to the doctrine of those who consider the decalogue as a code of universal morality, I am at a loss to understand how such an opinion should ever have prevailed; these commandments being evidently nothing more than a summary of the whole Mosaic law as the fourth is of the whole ceremonial law; which therefore can contain nothing applicable to the gospel worship.” Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chap. 7.
John Bunyan writes: “The seventh day Sabbath, therefore, was not from paradise, nor from nature, nor from the fathers, but from the wilderness and from Sinai.” Complete Works, page 895.
Sabbath is not a moral law, but a ritual ceremonial law
See our chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, commentaries on the book of Daniel, Revelation & Genesis for a deeper understanding of the Sabbath.
- God’s Great Moral Law Is Unchangeable
- Catholic Church Changed The Sabbath?
- What Law Are Christians Under?
- Christ Did Not Come To Abolish the Law?
- Do You Only Keep 9 Commandments?
- Sunday Worship Is Not Pagan
- No Sabbath Keeping in Acts
- Sabbath Is A Ritual Law, Not Moral
- New & Old Covenant Examined
- Does Isaiah 66 Support Sabbath?
- Creation Seventh Day is Sanctified
- God’s Rest is not the Jewish Sabbath
- History of First Day
- Why the First Day or Lord’s day?
- SANCTUARY TRUTH
- STATE OF THE DEAD
- Origins of Futurism and Preterism
- Truth about the Year-Day Principle
- This Generation will not pass away – Matt 24
- Zechariah 14:1-21 – Is it about the earthly Jerusalem or New Jerusalem
- Zechariah 13:1-9 Who is the shepherd who is struck?
- Zechariah 12:1-14 – Is it Yahweh who is pierced?
- Micah 5:1-15 – Will the Messiah come from Bethlehem?
- Isaiah 9:1-7 Is the child about the Messiah or Hezekiah?
- Isaiah 7:14: Is it really about Jesus or someone else?
- Isaiah 53:1-12: Israel or Messiah?
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Amen! I am sharing your article with a group of former SDA’s I belong to!
Thanks for your posting!
I hope you will soon realized that the opposite of what you are explaining here is the truth.
I chose to have no argument against you believing that the Holy Spirit is the seal of God because it is what you believe as of now, but I will do pray that as soon as possible through the grace of our God he will engraved in our hearts and minds the truth about the seal of God.
Where does the Bible say that the Sabbath is a seal of God? Where did Jesus or the apostles say that the Sabbath is a seal, and not observing Sabbath will lead to the mark of the beast? Do you observe the Sabbath properly according to Sabbath instructions specified in the Old Testament to Israel in the Law?
I enjoyed reading and its very true as there are so many preacher who preached based on human convictions… Instructions from God is in the Bible and let along bible interpret bible and not other books..
Anton from PNG
I appreciate your commitment to derive truth from Scripture alone. I agree that the seal is the Holy Spirit. I also believe that the Holy Spirit sets genuine believers apart by guiding them into truth. As for the possibility of connecting the Sabbath to the seal of Revelation: What about Romans 4:11? It mentions “seal” (same Greek word as Rev. 7) as synonymous with “sign”? In context, Abraham’s obedience to follow God’s commands as a sign of their relationship was a seal of “righteousness by faith.” Abraham’s obedience didn’t earn him righteousness, but his faith in Christ was demonstrated by that obedience. What differentiates the Sabbath from other “signs” between God and Israel is that the Sabbath is part of the Decalogue, God’s moral law, and is based in Creation thereby clearly predating any relation to the ceremonial law of Moses. The Sabbath is therefore best viewed a sign between God and man, including the Israelites.
Why are my comments not showing up? If you are screening them, that is dishonest.
Thanks for stopping by my friend.
You assume that Abraham and other Gentiles who lived long before the Law of Moses was given to Israel kept the Sabbath. That is a huge assumption. In terms of explicit statements of Scripture, it is never said that anyone kept the Sabbath before the Red Sea exodus. There is no command for observing a Sabbath day nor is there a condemnation for not observing it before Ex. 16. There are, however, several Scriptures that affirm that the Sabbath was indeed given to Israel alone. Deut.5:15 – “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.Therefore keep the Sabbath day.” Neh.9:13 – “You came down also upon Mt. Sinai…and made known to them the holy Sabbath.” Ezek.20:12 – “Moreover, also I gave them my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them.” How can a sign that distinguished the Jews from the the rest of the world be also a sign that identifies with all nations? Not so!
God’s rest in Genesis is unique
God rested (ceased) on the seventh day because of His Creative work in the previous six days was finished in Genesis, and He continued to cease/rest from His Creative work since that seventh day on wards. That REST of God was a STATE, and not about a day; that seventh day had no boundaries of “evening and morning” unlike the previous six days. Just as God ceased, we are told to cease from our works not just the seventh but continuously, daily- that’s what Hebrew 4 says. God did not begin a cycle of six creative works and rest after that first unboundaried seventh day. He ceased. Hence, that Genesis rest of God is God’s rest, not ours. The way it becomes Christian’s rest is stated here: Hebrew 4 invites Christians to enter that STATE of REST, TODAY, not seventh day or first day. God’s rest on that seventh day was not the Sabbath in the Decalogue, though the Sabbath of the decalogue was patterned after what God did in Genesis; similarly, not just for man or beast, but the land was to experience similar rest after God’s pattern in Genesis.
Yes, the Sabbath was part of the Decalogue, but the Decalogue is part of the Law of Moses or the law that was part of the ‘tablets of the covenant’ and also part of the “book of the covenant”; which was placed in the ‘ark of the covenant’, which was the entire covenant that God made with Israel that included this entire law of Sabbath, decalogue, many other laws. Hebrews 8 & 9 and many other places say that covenant is now obsolete.
Think about this. The Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Exodus 31), but Abraham was given a different sign. If the Sabbath marked the people of God from all nations as distinctively God’s, couldn’t it just as easily mark Abraham as distinctively belonging to God? Besides, even if Abraham observed the Sabbath or circumcision, none of these rituals apply to Christians under new covenant (Col. 2:16,17).
Could you have a read of the following posts that may touch on your questions:
Hi Stephen, I would encourage you to reflect on Gen. 2:1-3. I would also recommend that you read “The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day” by Sigve K Tonstad. You are assuming that “the seventh day” is the only part of the 4th commandment done away with, even though you cannot point to a single verse which challenges the seventh day or a single verse recommending the first day as a Sabbath substitute. If you are simply doing away with the 4th commandment then you are essentially antinomian. I would encourage you to take a fresh look at the Sabbath.
Gen 2:1-3 has no command for man to observe a Sabbath. It is God’s rest, not man’s. God ceased once. We enter that rest today according to Hebrews 4, just like Adam did from that seventh day onwards.
Seventh-day was enjoined on the Jews in Exodus 16 and later into the covenant. You are confusing God’s rest with man’s rest. Besides, the sabbath of the ten commandments is a ceremonial law – the only ritual law in the Ten. This is what the mainstream Jews believe. Jesus taught so. Early churhc fathers beleived so. So did Luther and Calvin. Sabbath was part of the Old covenant which had 613 commandments including the ten commandments We are not under the old covenant, but we are under a new covenant, where all of God’s moral principles have been restated (but not ceremonial laws like the Sabbath, feasts, circumcision etc), and the law in the new covenant goes beyond a written code. Finally i agree with you sunday is not Sabbath day, nor holy, nor Sabbath was transferred to Sunday. Sunday Sabbatariansim is an error! Why dont you read Appendix 1 and 2 of my revelation commenatry and see the evidence for what I have stated above? see:
I was an SDA for over 15 years. I am well aware where you are coming from. I defended the Sabbath for many years. When I read Scriptures verse-by-verse I came to a different conclusion. I encourage you to do the same.
Thank you I love reading your blog about Sabbath, But I have a concern. Can you explain which commandment subsists this verse declaring that we will be judged in?
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
Thank you for your question.
Ecclesiastes appears to be talking about a future judgment (probably the one we will experience before the judgement seat of Christ in Revelation 20:12). We will be judged for how we live, and it goes beyond a written set of laws:
Ecc. 9:11 says “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And FOLLOW the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. YET know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things”
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad
Now “His commandments: in Ecc. 12. 1. Now does it say that these are the ten commandments, no more, no less? No, some assumes this, for they have no proof of it. The commandments in Ecc 12 are anything God has commanded on any subject.
Solomon, a king of Israel wrote this to Israel, 1,000 years before Christ. Did the decalogue cover the whole duty of a man then? Was it not a duty to keep the feasts, offer sacrifices, be circumcised and a hundred other things about which the ten commandments are silent? Certainly it was. Then they did not cover the whole duty of man, and this text is misapplied by sects like the Adventists. Nor does the decalogue cover all the duty of man now, nor a tithe of it.
Where does it require us to visit the sick, the poor, the widow and orphans, to be sober, patient, and loving? Nowhere. It is clear, then, that the commandments here spoken of which did cover all man’s duty, embraces all that God had commanded on all subjects, moral, civil, or religious. Many do not observe the 613 commands in the Torah (and probably could not even name them nor observe even the majority of the moral commands)!
Adam was commanded not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but we are not. We have other commandments.
Abraham, and Israel were commanded to observe circumcision, but we are not.
Weekly, monthly, yearly sabbaths are not commanded to us. These are ceremonial laws.
Ten Commandments are part of the Law of Moses. We are not under that constitution, but under the law of Christ.
We will be judged by the laws that are commanded under the new covenant, but it goes beyond that. We will be judge by how we lived in line with the gospel which goes beyond a checklist of laws.
See my commentary for details on the law: https://reachingadventistschristiansandothers.com/revelation-commentary/
Hope this helps!
Hello just to ask a question i haven’t that long come to Jesus and struggle with sin i try to learn more and turn from it but i get worried i grieve spirit by it what should i do?