“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
Before sin began, the Father knew that sin would rise in Heaven and on Earth. Because the Father is a God of love, He created a sophisticated plan to resolve the sin problem, once for all eternity, so that the curse of sin could not contaminate His house again. His plan included writing a complete history of life in a book. Then, He sealed the book with seven seals to keep prying eyes from seeing His foreknowledge. Many people are surprised to learn that the book sealed with seven seals is actually called “the Book of Life.” The following three steps will demonstrate that the book sealed up with seven seals is the Book of Life.
- John mentioned the Book of Life six times in Revelation and he distinguished the Book of Life from other books that are in Heaven. (Revelation 3:5; 20:12) Daniel also made a distinction between “books” and “the Book [of Life].” (Daniel 7:9,10; 12:1) Daniel also mentioned “the Book of Truth” (Daniel 10:21) which, I believe, is another name for the Book of Life.
Since the title, “Book of Truth” is only mentioned once in the Bible, my speculation is based on the following logic: Only the Father has foreknowledge. He wrote a perfect history of life before life was created and sealed it with seven seals. Therefore, when the Father sent Gabriel to tell Daniel about the future, Gabriel brought information from the Book of Life which the Father had revealed to Gabriel. Gabriel referred to the Book of Life as the Book of Truth because truth means, “nothing missing.” Finally, Gabriel did not deliver the prophecies God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) and to Daniel (Daniel 2, 7 and 8). Instead, the Holy Spirit gave these prophecies through visions. Therefore, it appears that the Father (who alone has foreknowledge) revealed the future to the Holy Spirit as He did to Gabriel. This much is certain: After the Lamb was found worthy to receive the book having seven seals as described in Revelation 5, John referred to the book with a possessive noun, calling it, “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27) or “the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb.” (Revelation 13:8) The Lamb received only the book sealed with seven seals and since John referred to it as “the Lamb’s Book of Life,” we can conclude the Book of Life was sealed with seven seals.
- The Book of Life is unlike the books of records that the angel’s maintain. The Book of Life remains sealed until the end of the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:12) The Book of Life is never opened or used when Jesus judges human beings. Since Jesus judges human beings according to their thoughts, motives, words, and actions, He uses the books of records which documents our choices in real time. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Daniel 7:9,10; Malachi 3:16; Revelation 20:12) When God created Adam and Eve, the angels recorded their thoughts, motives, words, and deeds in real time for as long as they lived. I understand the books of records were opened in 1844 and it is possible that Jesus examined Abel’s record first since he was the first person to die. (Daniel 7:10; 8:14) The Book of Life was not opened in 1844. According to the Bible, the Book of Life is only opened once, at the end of the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:12)
- Third, we know that the book sealed with seven seals is the Book of Life because of the sensitive contents of the Book of Life. If everyone knew in advance who would be saved and who would be destroyed, the Father could never escape the charge of divine fraud. An all-knowing God who created children bound for annihilation could not be called a God of love. Even though no one but the Father knows the specifics in the book (Revelation 5:3), the Bible reveals the Father’s purpose for the book as well as its contents.
Notice this Bible verse: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) Many Christians read this verse and assume the Book of Life contains only the names of the saved. They are partially correct when they interpret the title of the book to mean the “Book of Eternal Life.” While the Book of Life does contain the names of people who will receive eternal life, it also includes the record of each person’s life whom God gives the gift of life. The Father’s book includes everyone and it describes the thoughts, motives, words, and deeds of all living beings. God entered the name and record of each person who will receive the gift of life. God recorded each person’s actions and choices in His book before anyone had the privilege of living. (See Psalms 139:16.) Even though the Father foreknew who would be saved and who would not, He did not blot out anyone’s record of life. Instead, He simply blotted out the name of each wicked person.
Names Blotted Out
A little background information about the practice of “blotting out” names in record books may be helpful. In Bible times, God required the nation of Israel to keep very accurate records on family trees. Every Jew knew his tribal origin. We find many examples of this in the Bible. These accurate records allowed the lineage of Jesus to be traced to Abraham. In Luke 3, Jesus’ lineage was traced to Adam. In the days of Jesus, it was the custom to enter the names of the offspring in the nation’s official records because tribal lineage was important. When Rome destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Rome destroyed all of Israel’s records. So, today there is no possible way to prove if a person is in fact, a biological Jew or which tribe he may belong.
God divided the land of Canaan according to the size and lineage of each tribe. (Numbers 26:53,54; Joshua 14:5) Interestingly, God designed polygamy as a method to keep a family name alive. “If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 25:5,6) Tribal lineage also determined temple responsibilities and duties among the priests. (Exodus 40; Numbers 4) Even more, those born through intermarriage were to be entered in tribal rolls. God said, “No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.” (Deuteronomy 23:2)
Notice David’s words regarding evil men; especially consider the nature and importance of being “cut off” or “blotted out” from God’s people:
“O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. Appoint an evil man to oppose him; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the Lord, that He may cut off the memory of them from the Earth. For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted. He loved to pronounce a curse – may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing– may it be far from him.” (Psalms 109:1-17)
If an Israelite committed an unpardonable offense, God commanded that certain offenders be “cut off” from His people. In some cases, they had to be put to death. When such a person was “cut off” from his family and nation, his name was blotted out of the tribal rolls. The scribes could not erase information on velum or parchment because they wrote these records of lineage, births, marriages, and deaths in ink. Moreover, a rebellious person might have had offspring and tribal lineage was a historical fact that could not be changed. However, the name could be blotted out with an ink blot so that the succeeding generations would not know the identity of the wicked person.
This crude but ancient practice helps to explain how God represented His actions to John. When the Father wrote out a complete history of life, He included everyone in His book that would receive life. If the Father had omitted the records of those who would be destroyed, His book would have been incomplete and worse, the books of records (the records made by angels in real time) would have information in them not included in the Book of Life. It is imperative that the Book of Life and the books of records are identical at the end of sin’s drama. The Father must prove that everyone had free will and the freedom to act according to free will and that He foreknew what everyone would choose to do. However, under no circumstances would the Father interfere with the exercise of anyone’s free will. Therefore, after the drama with sin is completed, it is important that the Father’s book is found to be identical with everything recorded (in real time) in the books of records for all eternity. Every life is a thread in the tapestry of history because all of us are Adam and Eve’s created offspring and are related to each other. Therefore, the Father only blotted out the names of those who would refuse to submit to the Holy Spirit, but He left the record of every life intact for all eternity.
The sins of the saints will not be available forever to review after the Book of Life is opened and sin’s problem has been resolved. God gives each person who follows the directives of the Holy Spirit and receives eternal life, the “righteousness of Christ” on judgment day. Christ created the record of His righteousness when He came to Earth. His life’s record as a human being shows that He overcame every temptation and never sinned. Christ gives this perfect record of His righteousness to every repentant sinner when we are judged. Christ’s righteousness will “cover” every sinner’s record eternally and as far as I can tell, this is the only cover-up in recorded history that has the Father’s approval. If there should be any future quibbling about this amazing gift, do not forget that billions of angels and 24 elders were eye witnesses when Jesus chose to bestow His righteousness on each sinner.
Remember, the Book of Life also has a record of the lives of angels. Because God foreknew who would choose eternal life and who would choose rebellion, He determined that no one should have access to His foreknowledge until sin’s drama has been completed. This is why He perfectly sealed the Book of Life with seven seals and put it in Heaven’s vault. The Book of Life will remain sealed until the 1,000 years are ended. The Book of Life has nothing to do with the judgment of mankind. Humanity is not judged or predestined to eternal life or death on the basis of God’s foreknowledge. We are judged according to the angel’s records of our words, thoughts, and deeds which are recorded as they transpire. (Revelation 22:12) Special angels chronicle our daily actions in the books of deeds. (See Daniel 7:9,10; Revelation 20:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14 and Malachi 3:16.)
The Book of Life
Several Bible writers mention the Book of Life even though it is not always called by that name. Notice this conversation between the Lord and Moses: “ ‘But now, please forgive their sin [of Israel] but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.’ ” (Exodus 32:32,33, insertion mine) Moses begged God to forgive Israel or blot his name out of the book that God had written! God responded by saying that whoever has sinned against Him would be blotted out. Some Christians have concluded that this text shows the Book [of Life] is a dynamic recording, that is, names are added and blotted out as needed. However, we know God wrote the Book of Life and sealed it with seven seals before He created the world. (Revelation 17:8) We also have learned that our eternal destiny has nothing to do with the Book of Life. Jesus determines the eternal destiny of dead people when he reviews the books of record which show motives, thoughts, words, and actions. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14)
The Lord’s response to Moses provides an assurance that the wicked were blotted out of the book even before God gave them life! Moses knew God had already completed the book! Notice the past-perfect tense: “then blot me out of the book you have written.” Therefore, we need to understand God’s response to Moses within a past-perfect context. In effect, the Lord’s statement means, “When I wrote the Book of Life, I blotted out the names of those who would sin against me.” This approach to Exodus 32:32 aligns with a statement in Revelation concerning the Antichrist’s appearing during the great tribulation: “The inhabitants of the Earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast.” (Revelation 17:8)
This text shows the Book of Life was written from the creation of the world and shows the Father foreknew who will worship the beast and who will not. Even though God foreknows what we will do, the choice is ours to make! This is free will with the freedom God gives to everyone. Because God gives us the power of choice, we are responsible for our choices and actions. If we were mere robots, we would not have free will, any moral obligation, or responsibility.
King David knew about the Book of Life. He wrote, “May they [the wicked] be blotted out of the Book of Life and not be listed with the righteous.” (Psalms 69:28, insertion mine) King David knew that God wrote his entire life record in the Book of Life long before he was born. David wrote, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalms 139:16) Jesus alluded to the Book of Life when He said to His disciples, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.” (Luke 10:20) Paul mentions the Book of Life saying: “Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:3)
While different Bible writers mention the Book of Life, God only showed John that it was sealed with seven seals. The Book of Life is an important topic because at God’s appointed time, the seventh seal will be broken and God will reveal the contents of the book. The information inside the book will exonerate the Father eternally of all charges that He uses His foreknowledge and omnipotence to manipulate and control His subjects. Only the Father knows the specifics He wrote in the book, but we can determine that it contains a prerecorded history of life. When the Father wrote the book, He blotted out the names of those who will be lost. This highly sensitive information explains why the book had to be sealed seven times. After all Heaven found the Lamb worthy to receive this book from the Father in 1798, John referred to it as “the Lamb’s Book of Life.”