MAY THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE ALWAYS ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT OH LORD MY STRENGH AND MY REDEEMER.
"And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Revelation vii. 2.
The John of Revelations is a Christian man named John, not St. John, who says that God sent him the visions of the last terrible days and in particular the great tribulation which is to come, the like of which has not been seen since the beginning of the world. In this coming tribulation, there was to be a final assault by every evil power and a final devastation of the earth. It is to play their part in this devastation that the winds are waiting: but for a little while, they are being held back by the angels.
Before this time of terror and devastation comes, the faithful are to be sealed with the seal of God in order that they may survive it. It is not that they are to be exempt from it but that they are to be brought safely through it.
This vision of John’s is expressed in ideas about the world which were current at the time in which John wrote, A.D. 95. The earth is square, flat and at its four corners are four angles waiting to let loose the winds of destruction. It was the belief of the ancient people that the winds which came from due North, South, East and West were all favourable winds, but the winds which blew diagonally across the earth were harmful. That is why the angels are at the corners of the earth, they are about to let loose the winds which blow diagonally.
The angels are told by the angle with the seal of the living God to restrain the winds until the work of sealing the faithful has been completed.
Now the Jews of that period did not know what we know today about the weather, atmospheric conditions, variations in temperature, land and mountain configurations and how these cause certain things to happen.
And modern science has disproved the idea of four angels controlling the winds or that diagonal winds are bad winds. Today we also know that the world is not square although people still talk about travelling to the four corners of the earth. Ferdinand Magellan proved the world was round in A.D. 1519 when he sailed around the world. Actually he died before he completed the journey but one of his ships and a small number of his crew did return home.
What we can take away from John’s revelation is that the faithful who have the seal of God will pass through the tribulation and have everlasting life. There are a few obvious questions we need to address; ‘What is this seal of God and how can we get it?’ and ‘What is this tribulation and how do we pass through it?’ Simply stated the seal of god is described as something on the foreheads of the faithful. This seal is connected to two things; it is connected with baptism, which is often described as a sealing. When a priest baptizes someone, “I baptize thee In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” he then makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person whom he has baptized sealing that person as one of God’s faithful. In St. Mark’s gospel chapter 16 we are told Jesus said to His disciples “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” It is not the water of baptism or the Priest’s signing of the cross on the forehead that saves, it is God’s grace accepted through faith in Christ that gives us the Seal of God allowing us to pass through the tribulation and enter into heaven.
The seal is also connected to Christians possessing the Holy Spirit. Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus had promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to give them strength and wisdom to spread the gospel throughout the world (Acts 1:8). Christians were marked by the seal of the Spirit, which enabled them to have the wisdom and strength to cope with life in a way beyond the reach or achievement of others.
Today, 2,000 years later, believers in Jesus are still filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot live the Christian life without his help. We call on him whenever we need strength or guidance.
So, What is this tribulation and How do we pass through it.
We are told that Jesus “suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven”. It is our belief that Jesus ascended into Hell and there his faith was once again tested. Although no one knows for certain this could be the tribulation John talks about in his revelation. The idea being that we will all face one final test of our faith in Jesus before passing through death to life everlasting in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus died on the cross to save us sinners and in doing so he gave us the opportunity for everlasting life. No one is marked in advance as chosen as some would have you believe, even if they have been sealed. When our judgment day comes our faith will be tested based on our love of God and our neighbors. Only then will we be able to pass into God’s heavenly kingdom. On this day we remember all the saints that have gone before us and the example they have set by their life and doctrine.
Let us pray;
O God the King of Saints, we praise and magnify thy holy Name for all thy servants who have finished their course in thy faith and fear; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, and for all other thy righteous servants; and we beseech thee that, encouraged by their example, strengthened by their fellowship, and aided by their prayers, we may attain unto everlasting life; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ out Lord.
And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power and dominion as is most justly due this day; world without end. AMEN