Jehovah Brings ‘Sealing’ of His Chosen Ones to a Close
THE apostle Paul wrote to his spirit-begotten brothers: “The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.”—Rom. 8:16, 17.
How is this ‘bearing witness’ done? “Our spirit,” that is, the dominant attitude of these spirit-begotten Christians, is molded by God’s holy spirit so that they come to know what relationship with God they have. But it is not done in some altogether mysterious way. God’s Word, his dealing with the Christian congregation, the “food at the proper time” through the “faithful and discreet slave,” the enlightenment that our brothers help us to get and the clear view of God’s purposes along with the fulfillment of prophecy, all unite with the operation of God’s holy spirit, in this ‘bearing witness.’
THE FINAL ‘SEALING’
One of the Bible passages bearing on God’s activity toward his anointed ones on earth at this time is Revelation 7:1-8. There, the angels holding back the destructive winds of the “great tribulation” are told not to loose them until the 144,000 spiritual Israelites are “sealed” in their foreheads. (Matt. 24:21) What is this ‘sealing’? Some have understood it to mean that, during the spiritual “harvest,” which is “the conclusion of the system of things,” the selection of spiritual brothers of the Messiah Jesus will go on until the last year, day, hour and minute before the “four winds” begin to blow on the earth. Is this the correct understanding? No. Why not?—Matt. 13:39, 40.
Well, the ‘sealing’ here referred to does not mean the initial sealing of the 144,000, as if all of these, particularly all those yet remaining on earth, had not yet been sealed. The apostle Paul shows that this initial sealing takes place at the time of selection of an individual for the heavenly inheritance. He says to his spiritual brothers: “By means of [Christ] also, after you believed, you were sealed with the promised holy spirit.”—Eph. 1:13.
Some of the ‘remnant,’ therefore, were sealed in this initial sense before the angel was sent forth with the “seal of the living God.” The sealing that the angel does is a final sealing, a determination of the permanence of the initial sealing, so that “all [spiritual] Israel” is saved, the complete number of the 144,000 making the calling and choosing of themselves sure. (Rom. 11:26; 2 Pet. 1:10) Nearly all of these, if not all, were already sealed many years ago with the initial sealing. While it is true that some, before the sealing is permanent, may prove unfaithful and so others have to be sealed, there is no general ingathering of disciples being initially sealed at this late date. If those spiritual Israelites are to prove themselves true to God’s purpose for them, it is unlikely that God would initially seal new ones of this body of heavenly heirs at the ‘last minute.’
How can you personally examine yourself if this matter is a question in your mind?
First, you should examine your view of what it means to be sealed for the heavenly inheritance. Do you view being one of God’s anointed spiritual Israelites as giving special status in the Christian congregation, entitling you to greater respect than would be the case if you were one of the “great crowd” of those awaiting an earthly inheritance? Do you feel it will give you deeper knowledge? Do you believe you will receive special revelations or understanding of prophecies, and so forth? You may feel a keen desire to enjoy such things. Perhaps you are successful in placing Bible literature, in conducting Bible studies, in answering Bible questions, in giving Bible talks. You may be full of zeal, making rapid progress, living an exemplary theocratic life. Perhaps all of this is so. Yet these would not be the things on which one should build the idea that one is qualified for the heavenly Kingdom assignment. Why not? Because both anointed spiritual Israelites and “other sheep” have God’s favor, and both must live lives in harmony with God’s will.
Samson and many other persons in pre-Pentecostal days were filled with zeal and understanding. God’s spirit was upon them and, as a result, they were able to accomplish many supernatural feats. Yet none of such “so great a cloud” of faithful ones were of the heavenly class.—Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14; compare Exodus 35:30, 31; 1 Samuel 10:6; 16:13; Ezekiel 2:2; Hebrews 11:32-38; 12:1.
Then you might review your background and characteristics. Are you taking an emotional approach to the question? One who was in a false religion that held out heaven as the only hope—particularly one of the more emotional “fundamentalist” religions—may be swayed by emotion and past views. Have you, before coming to a knowledge of the truth, used narcotics or psychedelic drugs? Have you been on medication that affects the mind and emotions? Have you had to undergo psychiatric treatment for emotional or mental disturbances? While these things would not necessarily rule out the receiving of the heavenly call, in the case of a repentant, converted, baptized disciple they are factors that should be seriously considered.
Some have said that they undergo great inward disturbances, a few even saying that their receiving of the heavenly hope created within them a ‘real fight.’ Some have said that they first fought against it. Others, that for a while they lost all hope—that God had taken away their erstwhile earthly hope for a while and then finally had given them the heavenly hope. Such a procedure would be contrary to God’s way of dealing, for one cannot serve God pleasingly without hope of reward. (Heb. 11:6) There is no uncertainty about this. Faith is not uncertain, but confident, convinced.
A simple illustration may help: Biologists say that what determines the sex of a child is the microscopic difference of one of the forty-six chromosomes in the fertilized egg. This egg or ovum, fertilized by the male sperm cell, contains twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. One pair determines sex. This pair can be composed of two “x” chromosomes or of an “x” and a “y” chromosome (the “y” chromosome being shorter). If the cell contains two “x” chromosomes, the child is a girl; if an “x” and a “y” chromosome, the child is a boy. This very minute difference triggers, in the growth of the child, all the vast differences that result between the male and female.
Now, we know that no one has to tell a normal person whether he or she is a man or a woman. This difference, created and arranged by Jehovah, at first extremely small, results in the wide difference in makeup of the man and the woman. The man’s heart and mind tend toward masculine things, such as mechanics, construction, and so forth; while the woman loves to dwell on feminine desires, such as home, clothing, decoration and the like. Neither can fully explain to the other his or her exact thinking, reasoning and feeling about matters. It is of God.
Similarly with the spirit-begotten “little flock” and the “other sheep.” The apostle Peter says to his spirit-begotten brothers: “You have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible reproductive seed, through the word of the living and enduring God.” (1 Pet. 1:23) If God can, by the difference of one microscopic chromosome, bring about an amazingly different way of thinking and desire, just as surely he can impart the heavenly hope, way of thinking, desire and goal or drive to those whom he selects according to his will. By his spirit and Word he can implant that “seed” that makes the individual a “new creation,” with corresponding heavenly hopes. (2 Cor. 5:17) Even in a human body God places the members according to what he sees the body needs.—1 Cor. 12:18.
Consequently, those of the anointed Kingdom heirs are happy that they are chosen for so great a service and reward, just as a normal man is glad that he is a man and as a woman is glad that she is a woman. Each person is what God made him. The man or the woman does not have to be encouraged to ‘find his or her place’ among the sexes. It is God-ordained and cannot be changed, nor does the individual need anyone else to determine what he or she is.—Rom. 9:16.
Accordingly, it is not necessary, or good, when studying or talking with persons new in knowledge of the Bible truth, to suggest they should personally try to decide or determine whether they are recipients of the heavenly ‘calling’ or have an earthly hope. If not called to the heavenly calling, they are obviously of the earthly class. If ever there is to be any change, this should be left to God to determine and to inform them in his due time.
At this time the dominant thrust of God’s message is, not for people to be members of Christ’s heavenly “bride.” Rather, the Bible says: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’” This invitation is now the call to people of the nations, to live in an earthly paradise through which “water of life” will freely flow, bringing forth trees producing symbolic fruitage and leafage “for the curing of the nations.”—Rev. 22:1, 2, 17.
WHAT TRULY ANOINTED ONES WILL DO
What will those truly of the anointed spiritual Israelites now be doing? They will set themselves vigorously to caring for the Kingdom interests, ministering to the “other sheep.” It would not be caring for the present Kingdom interests for those of the anointed class to separate themselves to have regular sessions to ‘talk of their heavenly hope.’ That which they discuss should be the things that upbuild and make for peace and unity in all the congregation. This will help the “other sheep” and will help the anointed ones themselves equally. Thus both classes will make up “one flock.” (John 10:16) The spiritual “food at the proper time” is what is to be feasted upon by all alike. This food will nourish the inner hope of both the anointed sealed ones and the “other sheep.”—Matt. 24:45-47.
This point about separation is mentioned because, in some instances, persons professing to be newly anointed have tended to isolate themselves, or to form a separate group. This works toward disunity and has actually brought about division in the congregation in a number of cases.—Prov. 18:1.
Those who are called to the heavenly inheritance with Jesus Christ acknowledge, when asked about it, that they are indeed receivers of this calling. At the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal each year they demonstrate that they have this heavenly hope by partaking of the emblems served. But they do not constantly advertise this fact. They do not self-importantly call attention to it so as to keep everyone in the congregation continually aware of it. They do not expect preferential treatment. Rather, they are busy in the manner described by the apostle John: “Everyone who has this hope set upon him purifies himself just as that one is pure.”—1 John 3:3.
At 2 Peter 1:5-11, this apostle points out how the spiritual brothers of Christ will be occupied, working to produce the fruits of the spirit “to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves.” This requires “lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”—Eph. 4:1-3.
As to elders and other members of the congregation, they should not try to determine the position of a recently baptized one who feels he or she has the heavenly calling. It is not for them to criticize such a one for the hope he claims to have. It is not something over which to argue. The requirements placed on an anointed one may be discussed to help the individual to get the clearest possible Scriptural picture. And the one professing to be of the anointed class should be appreciative of the attempts to assist him. But, after all is said and done, it is God who makes the selection and it is between the individual and God as to where he stands. Such persons should be treated as all others in the congregation should be, with love, understanding and cooperation as all ‘work together with God and Christ.’—Col. 3:12-17; 2 Cor. 6:1.
At this late date in the outworking of Jehovah’s purposes toward the Christian congregation, it is clear that the emphasis is not on the general call of disciples to the heavenly inheritance. The primary thing now is to serve God whole-souled, giving attention to our Christian integrity and the work of gathering the “other sheep.” No one should let his personal feeling toward his own status or that of another create an issue in the congregation. It is essential in this strenuous “time of the end” for all to be united in love, which is the “perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:14.