Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
God’s Seal or the Beast’s Mark?
Genesis 17:9–11; Exodus 31:13, 17; Revelation 13:17; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Hebrews 4:9, 10
June 16, 2018
Are you really who you say you are? That’s the focus of a new office within a U.S. government agency, which oversees immigration applications. The office will work to identify Americans “who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.” The director indicates that several dozen lawyers are being hired to work with immigration officers to review “cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalization.”1
A couple years ago, it was discovered that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had criminal records “had not been uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security database that is used to check immigrants’ identities.” At the same time, more than 800 immigrants who had been deported under one identity came back and became U.S. citizens under another identity.
In this week’s Sabbath School lesson, the focus on identifying those who are God’s people and those who are not happens on the basis of a seal or a mark. The Old Testament speaks of two signs that identify God’s people. Circumcision was a sign given by the Lord to Abraham for every male child (Genesis 17:10). Paul later emphasized the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29) as represented by baptism (1 Corinthians 7:19).
The second sign for identifying the people of God is the Sabbath. “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:12). Though outward circumcision was no longer necessary, the New Testament clearly teaches the continued validity of the Ten Commandments of which the Sabbath is a part (see Revelation 14:12).
Satan is in the business of deceiving and the best form of deception is to mix truth with error and offer teachings and practices that “appear” authentic, but are fake. Such is the case with the worship of God. The beast power that opposed God thought to “change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25), and the focus of his work was on the fourth commandment.
The ultimate test of heavenly citizenship has nothing to do with race, gender, education, wealth, age, or disabilities. It is revealed in absolute loyalty to the King of heaven in worshiping on the Sabbath and not to the socio-religious powers of the world.