“Then 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 granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads’ ” (Revelation 7:2-3).
If you went to the grocery store and purchased a food item and found out that the seal was broken, would you still eat the contents of it? Most of us would think twice about this. It is important to us that the seal be maintained because it assures us that the food is safe to eat.
There are a number of passages in the Bible which speak about Christians as having been sealed by God. Paul wrote, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Furthermore, he writes, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Finally, Paul warns, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). While I may not understand everything there is to know about this “sealing” of me by God, the Scriptures do teach that: (1) this is for the purposes of a “guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:22), (2) lasts until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and (3) involves the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
As the opening passage above describes, we read about angels being told to withhold the harm by which they would again strike those on the earth until the servants of God were sealed (Revelation 7:2-3). These events occur as the seven seals of a scroll were being opened by the Lamb of God (i.e. Jesus, Revelation 5:5-14). Following the opening of the first 6 seals of this scroll, various judgments befall those on the earth (Revelation 6:1-17). However, before the 7th and final seal is opened an angel ascends from the east having the “seal of God” and saying that no more harm should occur until “we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads” (Revelation 7:4).
The book of Revelation is highly symbolic in nature. It was designed to be this way as the opening verses of the book reads: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1). It is filled with symbolic language by which God “signified” the things which would shortly take place and how these things would affect His people.
What does this sealing of the servants of God described in the book of Revelation mean for us today? God was making sure His people were properly protected before this punishment would be inflicted at the opening of the 7th seal (Revelation 8:1). God still exerts this care for His people (1 Peter 5:7). Although we will face our shares of trials in this life (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-4), God will not give us more than our faith can bear (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13). Reading about the sealing of God’s servants reminds me to rejoice that God has sealed me with the Holy Spirit as the “guarantee” until the “day of redemption”. It is in comfort to me to know that having saved me from my sins, God wants to keep me saved until the day Christ comes to take me home!
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).