• Rossendale Circuit

From The Kitchen Window - Seals

Words by David Hollows

Seals


How is your signature?

Is yours a flourish which might include an image or design, a solid and standard one which is easy to read or an eligible scratch across the surface?

Do you have the same signature for all the documents you sign; cheques, invoices and legal documents or do you have a different signature according to the document you sign?


In the world of technology, the number of people who use the same password every time is unbelievable as the technology companies recommend that we change our passwords regularly and have different passwords for different situations; for example, a certain password for on-line banking which is different to the one you use with your click-and-collect account.


One of the surprising outcomes of the Coronavirus situation is the huge number of people across the world that use a finger print to verify collection of food aid or medical supplies as they are unable to write. The same procedure applies when participating in political elections. For those of you who may have ventured into the world of researching your family history during the lockdowns, you may have been surprised to discover the number of marriage certificates where one or both partners have placed a cross in the names section on the certificate as they have not been able to write their name, even into the late nineteenth century.


Seals and signatures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Before the age of the signature, seals were used mainly by the educated and important. A monarch would use a ring as their seal in a lump of wax at the end of the document, for example, the seal in the Royal Charter for a market in Rochdale is spectacular (and still is on view in the town hall) Heraldic designs were another form of seal representing the families and in jousting tournaments, the winning knight’s silk cloth would be handed to the beautiful maiden as a seal of his love and affection. Rings are exchanged during the marriage ceremony as a seal of the promises made as are the signatures of the witnesses to the marriage.

Brands have been used as seals for centuries. A farmer will use a certain colour on the wool to denote his sheep, in the American mid west, cows were branded with a certain seal again to show possession and prisoners during the Second World War were sealed with a serial number on their arm.

For many, fashion is a signature statement about who they are and the trademark of brands such as Adidas and Nike are seals of recognition of value and reputation.


In the Christian faith, the sign of the cross during infant baptism is the seal that the child is now a member of God’s family and belongs to Him and in the Song of Songs (written by Solomon) we read these words:


Place me like a seal over your heart, like the seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. (Song of Songs chapter 8 verse 6).


‘I don’t have any fear of death ... if it’s necessary I don’t mind dying for this cause.’ says Hwa Young, a Chinese evangelist working with North Korean women who have escaped, or been trafficked, to north east China. While her job is a dangerous one, she sees God’s love growing in the hearts of the women she is helping, and knows that God is at work. His love is a seal, a marker.’


Photo by Mélanie THESE via Unsplash


In the Bible there are several examples where the seal of God is a major factor. In the Noah narrative, God’s promise never to flood the earth again is sealed by the rainbow (Genesis chapter 9).

God’s presence during the Exodus both from Egypt and in the wilderness is sealed with the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night (Exodus chapter 13). During the years of wandering in the desert, God would seal His presence either on the mountain top or in the tent of Meeting with a cloud (Exodus chapter 20) However, the (Shekinah) glory of God sealed His presence in the temple built by Solomon (1 kings chapter 8).

The seal that Samson was a special person was in his hair (Judges chapter 13) and the oil of anointing was a seal of approval for kingship when Samuel anointed both Saul and David to the role (1 Samuel chapters 10 and 16).

The distinct appearance and lifestyle of John the Baptist was his seal from God (Mark chapter 1) and when God spoke over Jesus at His baptism (Luke chapter 3) and at the transfiguration (Mark chapter 9) this was to seal not only God’s approval on Jesus but to certify the distinct nature of Jesus. This was later to be identified by the crown of thorns as the seal of the status of Jesus as criminal yet king (John chapter 19) At Pentecost the tongues of fire above the heads of the disciples were the seal of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2) Similarly the love Mary had for Jesus was sealed by her act of pouring expensive perfume over His head and feet prior to wiping them with her hair (John chapter 12).

In the final book of the Bible, we read of the seven seals which Jesus will break as part of the final judgement of all people on earth (Revelation chapter 6) yet we find more comforting words written by Paul who explains that we are ‘ stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit’ (Ephesians chapter 1 verse 13) Just as we seal the envelope in which there is our message, so God seals His Holy Spirit within us.


So, are you ‘sealed with the Holy Spirit’?

How are you doing as God’s signature here on earth?


Worth a thought!


You may find the following prayer helpful:

God of all creation and all peoples everywhere, fill us, we pray, with your Spirit so that we will open our ears to hear you speak to us and know your leading, open our eyes to see the human need around us and to be your blessing to those you place into our lives and send us on our way, sealed with your love and grace to serve you in this your world on your behalf. In the name of Jesus, we pray.


Amen


God bless you


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