Posted in Ordinary Time, tagged abyss, child of God, Christ, faith, John, love, mark of the beast, revelation, seal, seal of God, seal of ownership, tribulation, trust on February 19, 2012 |
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The locust attack from the Abyss comes after the sounding of the 5th trumpet. The first four are equally devastating, from “hail & fire mixed with blood” to a huge blazing meteoric object as big as a mountain to comet-like star (or person?) that turns water to Wormword and a consuming darkness to follow. Not a good time to be hanging out on Earth.
They [the locusts from the "shaft of the Abyss"] were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Of course, no one really knows what any of these images or trumpet blasts really mean. It could be representative of things to come, things that have already happened, or things happening now. I do think it’s a little amusing to read the various interpretations that specifically write with great sounding authority. But really, these are just ideas and “plausible” explanations. I don’t really believe anyone today has the inside track on these symbols and images.
And yet, I am intrigued by the idea of the seal of God. This, too, has many interpretations, some believe it’s an actual mark on a person’s forehead while others claim it’s a mark of obedience to the laws and words of God in the mind. Some view it as the antithesis to the “mark of the beast” which is described in some detail in Revelation 13.
But here’s all that matters to me: the seal of God is a mark of ownership. No one (and I believe this wholeheartedly) can “earn” the seal of God. It’s a gift. It’s a grace.
I have that. Now. Whether I will suffer or not suffer in some time of trial and tribulation, I don’t know. But I know I am God’s own, a follower of the Christ, in communion with the Holy Spirit within. There is no 666, no barcode, no QR code, no tattoo, no other mark that will change the God-mark on my heart. Amen. So be it.
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Posted in Ordinary Time, tagged authenticity, Bride of Christ, covennt, Ephesians, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Paul, seal, transparency on October 13, 2010 |
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Lots of different seals crop up in a life, from Easter seals that signify a contribution to a worthy cause to government seals that confirm the truth of a document. Where does this one fit in?
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit . . .
When my husband and I adopted our children, one of the requirements was that every page of our dossier had to have a notary seal, a county seal to confirm the notary seal, and finally a state seal to confirm the notary seal. A bit of redundancy to say the least. (And, somewhat costly I might add. Why the local governments feel it necessary to charge up to $5 for a seal really irks me. Particularly when foreign governments are already gouging prospective adoptive parents.)
But this is a different kind of seal, this Holy Spirit seal. This one speaks to a completion as well as a promise. This seals says I am a believer, a follower of the Christ whose sacrifice I accept as mysteriously having the power to forgive my sins irrespective of time (yesterday, today and forever). The seal also represents the promise of my response to the transaction. I am marked to continue in the faith. I agree to work with the inner Spirit and to allow that Spirit to direct my life.
The Church (that includes me as individual) is referenced as the bride of Christ [Revelation 21:9-10] . This makes perfect sense to me. The seal is a representation of a contract, a marriage, if you will. This marriage is also referred to as “becoming ONE.” [Matthew 19:4-6] In marriages we have both the legal contract (the license or pre-nuptial agreement) and the symbolic seals like the rings, the kiss, the sharing of “bread’ (cake). All of these are visible signs of our promises.
What is the Holy Spirit’s visible sign? How do we recognize the seal . . . in ourselvces or in others?
Some people mistakenly think it’s the wearing of religious icons or jewelry. Some think it’s the show-up rate at a church while others think it’s that 10% tithe.
Personally, I think the mark is within. It’s engraved on the heart and is revealede through the eyes. The more transparent and authentic we are, the more visible the mark of the seal.
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If you’re wondering, there are lots and lots of blog posts about the “seal of apostleship.” Go figure. What’s the appeal of the seal? Authority and proof.
I Corinthians 9:2
Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Ever since we were little kids and got sticky stars pasted onto our attendance sheets or report cards, we have understood the power of the “seal.” This was the symbol of a job well done, of success, of completion. It didn’t stop with childhood, we are still getting seals. Look at any diploma or plaque. Don’t they carry the same power and authority? I always check the doctor’s office walls for his/her credentials. (Of course, I’m not sure what I would do if I couldn’t find the requisite diploma or it was from the Internet School of Medicine.)
When my husband and I were in the adoption process, we had to jump through a zillion hoops to get the right seals on the right pieces of paper for our home study: a seal from the county to verify that our notary was legitimate and then another seal from the state to verify that the county verified the notary (and so on) . . . for every piece of paper (at a cost of $5 per page – those gold sticky stars must get more expensive as they get bigger).
Paul’s seal is not a star or a “good job” sticker. Paul’s seal is the people whose lives were touched in a meaningful way. Paul worked among the people in Corinth, told his story, shared his faith, and people’s lives were changed. His seal was the fruit of his labor. That’s all. So simple.
Can I be content with that seal as well?
Several years ago, out of the blue, I got an email from a young woman who had been one of my students in a series of acting classes I taught in Indianapolis back in the 80’s (age hint). She was contacting me to let me know that she had become a theater professor and that it was my influence, my time with her, my teaching, that made her decide on this profession. She wanted to thank me. That was lovely. That was a seal.
When we truly touch a life and that touch makes a difference, what else is really needed?
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