Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6)
Occasionally I will buy or be given a product that is ensconced in seemingly impenetrable plastic and cardboard packaging. I’ll wrestle with it a little bit, but I have a low frustration tolerance for this sort of thing. Thankfully, my husband or daughter will notice, and being individuals with stronger mechanical skills, they will rescue me and extricate the object from its hard shell.
Whoever decided to package it that way wanted to insure it got to the designated recipient clean, whole, without signs of tampering. I find this analogous to the way in which Christ-followers have been sealed by God–authenticated, protected, and marked with no expiration date.
When the Bible was written, it was customary to use a seal, made of clay or wax, to close a letter or official document. It would often be marked with an insignia of the sender pressed into the wax by a ring or stamp. References to a seal are found in Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Song of Solomon, and all the Major Prophets. Usually a sealed document contained an official order by an important ruler, or a written covenant between two parties. If a document was sealed in this way, it indicated authenticity and the full authority of the sender and signatory. The seal protected the document from being violated by someone other than the intended recipient.
In the New Testament, the concept and imagery of the seal is used quite a few times. Jesus proclaimed that those who belong to him have been sealed by God. The seal indicates that the believer has the unconditional guarantee of eternal life (Jn 6:27). The seal tells the world that an individual has received the testimony of God and believes it to be true (Jn 3:33). The seal marks those who belong to him.
Paul refers to the sign of circumcision given to Abraham as a “seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all them that believe…” (Rom 4:11). Circumcision was the outward sign, the seal with God’s insignia, signifying that God had already rewarded the inward faith of Abraham.
A similar idea is conveyed in 2 Corinthians and Ephesians. But rather than an outward sign on the body, the seal is the “holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13), an “earnest of the Spirit” in the heart (2 Cor 1:22). The Spirit given to the believer serves as a down-payment on the promise of eternal life. What an amazing truth!
This is a better sign of our covenant with God than any engagement ring or physical mark could be. The Spirit that seals also imparts and infuses the believer with holy fire and supernatural power! He anoints us for ministry, strengthens us in our trials, inspires us in our praise and worship, leads us to his truth, and protects us from our enemies.
What a privilege it is to carry this seal of God upon our hearts! The Holy Spirit within testifies that we have been bought and paid for by the perfect blood of Jesus Christ. We are his beloved, authentically and eternally joined to him by covenant.
No one can break in and wreck us without our permission. We are enclosed and surrounded by heaven’s perfect packaging.