The Denomination’s Position
There are variations in traditional Seventh-day Adventist thinking regarding the sealing, but there is a common thread. Most agree that the mark of the beast, or what we typically refer to as the Sunday laws, are to be enforced under penalty of death (Revelation 13: 14 -18). This will cause a unprecedented shaking in the church which will purge the unconverted, leaving the faithful to receive the latter rain or outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These spirit-filled devoted followers will then call a large company out from the other churches. When the Gospel or Third Angel’s message is preached throughout the world, then probation will close and the plagues begin to fall. It is during this dreadful time that God’s precious people will endure “the time of trouble such as never was”(Daniel 12:1) ignited by fiery persecution from former brethren, family members and the world at large. It will eventually culminate in a death decree threatening the lives of the faithful, saying that at a certain time they must be killed. This time of dreadful anguish is referred to as Jacob’s Time of trouble.(Jeremiah 30:7,8). However, as promised, the righteous are saved by Divine intervention which culminates in the second return of Christ.
Again, there are variations of this scenario, but most agree that there is one sealing period and one close of probation.
The Rod’s Position
The Rod’s position is that there are two probations—one for the church and the other for the world, hence, two sealing periods and two groups to be sealed. It is summarized as follows:
--That the 144,000 are sealed before the mark of the beast or Sunday laws.
--The close of this sealing of the 144,000 marks the close of probation for Seventh-day Adventists
--This sealing will culminate in a slaughter of the unfaithful in the church leaving only 144,000 living saints in its ranks.
– Just before this judgment or slaughter, God’s people will endure Jacob’s time of trouble but will be delivered at the time that God purifies the church.
--The remaining 144,000, filled with the Holy Spirit, will then go out to gather in a great multitude from the other churches and the world at large. This time is termed the loud cry or the “time of trouble such as never was.” (Daniel 12:1).
--When all of God’s people have been called out of Babylon (the world) then probation will close and the plagues will begin to fall.
--At the close of the plagues, Jesus will return in the clouds to take His children to heaven.
You can readily see the difference between the two eschatological scenarios. However, we ask you to give it a fair hearing. You will see that it is all based on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Remember, “we have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn.”
Time will not permit, in this section, to include the study of Jacob’s trouble and the time of trouble such as never was in this section. We will have to discuss that in another section. Our primary object here is to show that there are two sealing periods, two groups to be sealed, and hence, two probations and two judgments. To do this we will have look at the subject from various angles from Scripture. Here again, time and space will not permit a full-scale study of each aspect, neither can we study all of them. The fact is that the vast majority of the studies, which easily numbers more than a hundred, reveal this duality. In other words, just about every Rod Bible study teaches, explicitly or otherwise, two sealings, two probations and two judgments. Thus we are forced to limit the evidence.
The Harvest Proves It
We have already seen that the Harvest of Matthew 13 reveals that the separation of the wheat and tares takes place before the general close of probation and the second coming. It won’t be necessary to repeat the study here, but we can review it again to refresh the reader. (For details please see Section 5). We discovered that the field is the church in the world. According to verses 30, the harvest begins with the separation in the field (the church) by first removing the tares (unconverted–verse 38). We also discovered that the separation could not be the second coming of Christ in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:16) because the harvest takes place in the “end of the world”or latter days and is the last part of probationary time. (Jeremiah 8:20).
To quickly illustrate this fact again, we ask the reader to remember Matthew 13: 40, 41, and compare it with Matthew 24: 30,31. Matthew 13:40, 41, tells us clearly that Christ will send His angels into the church to remove or “gather” the wicked “out of His kingdom” (the church), whereas in Matthew 24:31—which is the second coming—He sends his angels to gather His “elect” from the world and takes them to glory. Obviously, there must be two sealings, two companies, two probations and two judgments! “Judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
Isaiah Proves It
For behold the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. Isaiah 66:15, 16.
This coming is generally accepted to be the second coming of Christ in the clouds of glory. However, a close study of this passage reveals that it cannot be. Notice that verse 16 (KJV) uses the word “plead”— which can only take place during probationary time. There will be no pleading at the second return of our Lord—probation would have been closed by that time. This fact is further borne out when we continue with the passage. Verses 19 tells us:
And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul and Lud, that draw the bow, to tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the gentiles.
Escape from what? The only thing to escape from in the chapter is the judgment in verses 15, 16. But notice that those who escape or survive this judgment are not taken to heaven (at least not yet) but sent as missionaries to the world to preach the gospel—to “declare” His “glory” among the “gentiles.” Friends, this cannot be the second coming! No one will preach the gospel after Jesus returns to the earth! Neither could this be His first coming to earth, because he came then as a babe, not with chariots like a whirlwind! Furthermore, he did not slay anyone as mentioned in verse 16. It could not be the “coming” after the millennium, since, again, probation would have already been closed and the gospel preached long before the millennium! Brothers and sisters, this is clear!
If you’re thinking that this is not in chronological order, then we have to look again at verse 19. It says plainly, “and I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that “escape of them.” The question is, escape from what? Again, we must state that the only thing in the chapter for them to escape from is the judgment in verses 15, 16. So it is in chronological order.
Here again we see the dual probation. In other words, while probation is closed for one class who are slain (verse 16) it is still open for other because He is still pleading (verse 16). In fact, the servant of the Lord tells us that:
“The time of God’s destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have had no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart is touched; His hand is still stretched out to save, while the door is closed to those who would not enter.”
Revelation Seven and Ezekiel Nine Prove It
In the book, Testimonies to Ministers, page 445, God’s servant makes this comment.
“This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. John also had been a witness of this most startling revelation.
Why is this statement important? A study of the context reveal that she is expounding on Revelation seven which speaks of the sealing of the 144,000. Time will not permit us to explore the subject in full, but there is one aspect of this important chapter that we need to focus on. (For more details, please write for information).
Now according to Revelation seven verses 1 - 4 (please read at your leisure), four angels are holding four winds. Then an angel comes from the east and commands that no hurting should begin until the sealing of the 144,000 is completed.
Four is used in Scripture to reveal something of a worldwide or global scope—like the four points of the compass—north, south, east, and west. Winds we know are figurative of strife and trouble. The nature of the trouble, however, is determined by the context. For example, in Daniel 7:2, the Scriptures record that four winds blew upon the sea and four great beasts (kingdoms–Daniel 7:17) came up out the turbulence. The winds in this context clearly represent “the terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdoms have attained to power.” So winds do represent strife. In this case, wars–nations against nations fighting for dominance.
In Revelation chapter seven, however, the context is different. There the four winds are held back because, if let loose and God’s people are not ready, they will be harmed. (Verse 2). Therefore, the winds here must represent a different kind of strife–not nations against nations trying to gain territory or dominance, but a trouble that will harm God’s people. Wars among the nations of course, do not specifically hurt God’s church. Furthermore, we have always had wars and strife among the nations yet we know that the winds are still being held and God’s people are not yet sealed. Not only that, wars of themselves do not threaten God’s church. However, if the nations should enforce a religious decree against the church, that certainly would be detrimental to God’s people.
So what global trouble are we expecting that could seriously threaten the church? The only such trouble is the image or mark of the beast. (See Revelation 13: 14 - 18). This is verified by Ellen White:
“The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that have the mark of the beast. We came near having this realized in California a shot time since; but this was only the threatening of the blowing of the four winds. . . .That will be a decisive time for God’s children, a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. Now is our opportunity to work.”
Thus we see that the sealing of God’s people, the 144,000, takes place before the mark of the beast decree or the blowing of the four winds. Since the mark of the beast decree or the Sunday laws are imminent, it shows that the sealing is going on right now. But when is the enforcement of the image of the beast (Sunday laws) to begin?
“The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it will be the great test for the people of God. . . ”
When we put everything together it means that the 144,000 are to be sealed before the image of the beast (four winds) and it is before the final close of probation. And according to the reference we looked at earlier, the Sunday laws or mark of the beast is the same as the “time of trouble such as never was” (Daniel 12:1). Thus, again, the 144,000 are sealed before the time of trouble!
Now, according to Inspiration, this sealing of the 144,000 (servants of God) is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. The only chapter in the entire book of Ezekiel that speaks of a sealing is chapter nine. So the sealing of the 144,000 is also recorded in Ezekiel nine. According to Volume 3 of the Testimonies, Ellen White plainly applies the sealing of the 144,000 in Ezekiel nine to the closing work for the church—not the world. She put it this way:
“The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. . .Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God. . . .This is forcibly set forth by the prophet’s illustration of the last work under the figure of the men each having a slaughter weapon in his hand.”
In other words, as soon as the 144,000 are sealed, the work for (not of) the church closes! Then, remember that the 144,000 were sealed from “Israel” (the church ). Therefore, it means that both the sealing and the slaughter in Ezekiel nine is to take place in the church before the Sunday laws or mark of the beast.
But what will the 144,000 do during this time of trouble? Or what shall they do during the enforcement of the Sunday laws? According to Sister White, God revealed to her what is to take place during this time, and it is in perfect harmony with the Bible.
“I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. . . .The commencement of that time of trouble, here mentioned, does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary.”
Clearly the 144,000, God’s people, will proclaim the gospel filled with the Holy Spirit during the time of trouble, and that time of trouble is before the plagues begin to fall! What does this all mean? It reveals that there are two sealings, two groups, and two judgments! The 144,000 are sealed before the winds (Sunday laws) but during the Sunday laws (blowing of the winds) they go and proclaim “the Sabbath more fully.” Therefore, the 144,000 are sealed first from the church, while the remainder of God’s children are sealed from the other churches who have not yet embraced the Sabbath.
The Great Multitude–The Second Fruits of the Harvest
John pointed out that after he heard the 144,000 sealed he looked and saw a great Multitude from every nation and people. This has to be the group that the 144,000 will call out from Babylon—those who have not yet kept the Sabbath. There are many ways of proving this, but again, time and space will not permit a full study of this topic. However, you can write us for full details on this subject. However, there is one aspect of this topic that is germane to our discussion. We can say that the 144,000 are called the “first fruits” (Revelation 14:4). This definitely implies that there is a second class or second fruits. So, again, they must be the group that Ellen White referred to who will be gathered by the saints filled with the Holy Ghost.
Remember, also, that Isaiah (chapter 66) told us that those who escape the judgment of Christ (verses 16, 19) were sent to the nations to preach the gospel.
Clear it is, there must be two groups to be sealed. Hence, there must be two probations and two judgments!
There Are Two Sealing Reports
The First Report
“And behold.” says Ezekiel, “the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter saying, I have done as Thou has commanded me.” Ezekiel 9:11.
According to this passage, the sealing or marking angel reported to Jesus that he had sealed those in the church (Jerusalem, Judah, My Sanctuary) who had been sighing and crying (reforming) for the abominations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Verse 4). That is, the angel had been told to seal only those who felt “grieved over their own spiritual declension,” and mourned “over the sins of others” after which, our Lord instructed the other five angels with slaughtering weapons to slay those who had not sighed and cried.
But the prophecy does not stop there. After the report by the sealing angel in Ezekiel 9:11, something of great significance takes place in chapter ten.
“Then I looked, and, behold in the firmament that was above the heads of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And He spake unto the man clothed with linen [the sealing angel], and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight.” Ezekiel 10:1,2.
The Second Report
The second report is found in Early Writings under the chapter, entitled, “The Third Message Closed.”
I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven. An angel with a writer’s inkhorn [the sealing angel] by his side returned from the earth and reported to Jesus that his work was done, and the saints had been numbered and sealed. Then I saw Jesus, who had been ministering before the ark containing the ten commandments, throw down the censer. He raised His hands, and with a loud voice said, “It is done.” And all the angelic host laid off their crowns as Jesus made the solemn declaration, “He that is unjust, let him unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Every case had been decided for life or death.
Comparing the Two Reports
At first glance you may or may not have seen the distinct differences between the two accounts, so we need to analyze them more closely.
1st Report–Ezekiel Nine
2nd Report–Early Writings
Christ was seen on earth– verse 3
Christ was in heaven before the ark–p. 279
The sealing angel reported on earth–verse 11
The sealing angel reported in heaven–p. 279
After the report, he scattered fire over the city (church). Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1 -3).
After the report, Christ threw down the censer–not fire–ending His mediatorial work. Probation closes for all.
Clearly, there are two sealings by the same angel—one for the church and another for the world. The first report tells us that the angel sealed the 144,000, while the second report tells us he sealed the great multitude. (See Revelation 7:9, Isaiah 66:19 and Early Writings p. 33, 85). After the first report, those left in the church—the 144,000, receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to go out and preach the gospel with power to call the remainder of God’s people out of Babylon. The second report reveals that all of God’s people have been gathered into his pure church, and thus Christ’s mediatorial work closed.
Dealing With the Objection of Great Controversy, p. 656
In the last section we promised that we would discuss The Great Controversy, p. 656 and explain its apparent contradiction with the Rod’s message.
The difficulty comes about because Mrs. White mentions the angels of Ezekiel nine in the time of the plagues. All the reader has to keep in mind is that the angels of Ezekiel nine do not cease their work after the church is purified! They continue their work of judgment up to the second coming of our Lord. Also remember that judgement begins at the church (1 Pet. 4:17) but ends in the world! Let us not forget that Inspiration told us that: “Here we see that the church--the Lord’s sanctuary was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God.” If the church is first, then the world must be second----last! The Rod words it this way:
When all the saints shall come out of Babylon into the church, then the work of the man with the writer's inkhorn shall cease and probation will close (See `Early Writings," p. 279.) Therefore, the activity of the five men with the slaughter weapons shall continue, and their work and shall cease when Christ comes to take His saints, for it is they who have charge of the city--church.
And when the judgment of God as foretold in Ezekiel 9 commences in the church, it will continue on to the world.
Furthermore, one cannot ignore Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 266, 267, and vol. 5, p. 211,which clearly apply the slaughter of Ezekiel nine to the Seventh-day Adventist Church—not the world.
Remember too, that The Great Controversy was written to target non-Seventh-day Adventists; unlike the Testimonies for the Church that addresses the church specifically. So, then, the “weight of evidence” overwhelmingly point to two sealings, two groups, two probations, and two judgments.
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