The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast
Hiking in the woods is a popular Sabbath activity for many Seventh-day Adventists. It is a wholesome, and generally safe, family activity. There is always the danger, however, of getting lost in the forest. Adventurer Joshua Chiedu writes, “the trail can be wet and slippery, the sun might be scorching, a wild animal might attack, and bad weather can spring up all of a sudden.” He then lists 10 things to do in case you lose your way.
Some are just common sense: don’t panic, use your senses of sight and smell to try and remember your way back, and prepare well ahead of time for just such a contingency by bringing emergency provisions. His list includes two very practical ways to get your bearings so you can make your way home.
One way is to, if possible, get higher. Climb a mountain or a tree to get above the confusion of the trees blocking your view and see the larger terrain—essentially, to see the forest above the trees. From there you can possibly determine which direction to go. Choose a landmark to go toward, then, from there, look for another landmark, and so on.
Another practical step is to simply retrace your steps as best as possible, looking for familiar landmarks until you locate the spot where you veered off of the trail.
Jesus warned of the danger of taking the wrong path on the way toward the kingdom. Jesus said that the right path is narrow, but many will take a wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). The message of the book of Revelation reveals that there are only two paths in life: one leads to the seal of God and the assurance of salvation; the other, wide path, culminates in receiving the mark of the beast and suffering eternal destruction.
Jesus wouldn’t bother to warn us of this danger unless there was a remedy for those who find themselves on the wrong path. Sometimes finding one’s way back to God is similar to finding your way out of the woods.
Get higher. It’s easy to get confused about spiritual things with all of the social and political upheaval going on all around us. Sometimes the best thing to do is turn off the distractions right in front of us and search higher—look for the big picture God gives us in Scripture and pray for guidance to cut through the confusion. There is truth, and it’s found in God’s word (John 17:17). That truth will lead us to Jesus as our only hope of salvation. Jesus alone is the narrow path (John 14:6).
Retrace your steps. We often know, if we’re honest with ourselves, where we veered from God’s path. That’s the place to return to so we can follow Christ’s route to heaven. The good news is that, if you discover you’re going in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.
Connecting: Have you ever been lost in the woods (or in a city)? How did you find your way home?
Sharing: Revelation 13:1-10 outlines a description of the beast power. How important is it for us to be able to identify the beast?
- We must accurately identify the beast so we won’t be fooled into receiving the beast’s mark
- It’s more important to understand that our salvation is found in Jesus alone; then we’ll be able to identify any counterfeit message
- We need to learn everything we can about the mark of the beast and the seal of God; we can’t make an informed decision without complete and accurate data
- It’s all too confusing—the gospel message is supposed to be simple enough for a child to understand it
- By beholding we become changed; it’s better to behold Jesus than to spend too much time looking at the devil
Applying: How do you know if someone is trying to lead you down a wrong spiritual path? What are some ways you can keep from being fooled? Can you actually help such a person see their error and turn to the right course?
Valuing: Do you feel that you have an adequate understanding of the issues involved in identifying the seal of God and the mark of the beast? Are you confident that you can avoid being fooled by the devil? If you’d like to know more, you can begin by studying the current Sabbath School lesson and next week’s lesson also. You can also ask your pastor or a trusted friend for deeper study materials that they recommend.
~ Chuck Burkeen