Book of Life
The book of Life mentioned in Revelation contains several exciting stories and one story reveals that the Father wrote a book before angels and human beings were created. Because the Father knows everything (omniscient), He wrote a complete history of sin’s drama (this includes everyone’s thoughts, words, and actions). God wrote this history to resolve problems He knew would come later. After He completed the book containing future history, He sealed it by affixing seven seals on it. Then, He put the book in a safe place.
“When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalms 139:15-17, italics mine)
(To keep this overview as simple and short as possible, Bible texts and supporting arguments are kept to a minimum in this chapter. They will be provided in the rest of this book.)
Millions of people have heard about the seven seals of Revelation, but very few of them know about the book that God sealed with seven seals! Obviously, the contents of this book are much more important than the seals which keep the book closed. Of course, the seven seals are very important and breaking each seal goes hand-in-hand with the book, but we first should focus on the nature and content of the book.
A History of Life Before Creation
The Father has infinite wisdom and the Bible reveals that He is deliberate and purposeful in everything He does. I have found four reasons why He wrote a complete history of life before life was created.
First, the Father foreknew that sin would arrive first in Heaven and then on Earth. He foreknew that after angels and human beings were created, His biggest problem would be to prevent a third outbreak of sin and to justify why His “sudden death” law exists. (After sin’s drama is over, the Father will enforce an eternal law that says “a sinner will die the very day he sins.”) He had to develop a system that would prevent sin from occurring again in a universe with beings exercising free will.
Second, the Father foreknew He would be at the center of a great controversy among the angels in Heaven and the people on Earth. He knew a third of the holy angels would become suspicious and hate Him, ultimately choosing someone else to be their lord and master. The Father foresaw the suffering, pain, death, and agony which would accompany the curse of sin on Earth. Since He is the omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, He knew that He would be blamed for the rise of sin. When the Father sealed the book before creation, He set a date when the entire universe will see the contents of the book. At the end of a 1,000 year millennium, after the seventh seal is broken, the book’s contents will astonish everyone. Ultimately, the information within the book will exonerate the Father and vindicate His actions.
Third, the Father wrote this book and sealed it because He cannot afford to reveal what He knew until the right time. If anyone reads the book before that appointed time, the Father could never prove that He is a God of love and allows His children to exercise free will. Moreover, He could never exonerate Himself from Lucifer’s sophisticated accusations and lies. Do not underestimate Lucifer’s crafty intelligence. The devil concocted many clever lies to malign the Father before He forced Lucifer from Heaven and the slander was so effective that even one third of the holy angels believed it! These angels had sinless natures. They were not inherently rebellious toward God before their disaffection. They had been joyful and happy in Heaven until Lucifer caused them to doubt God’s integrity. Because the Father foreknew that He could only defend Himself after sin had fully matured, he did not answer the questions the devil’s lies produced. Instead, because He foreknew the events that would occur in Heaven and on Earth, He wrote down everything that would happen. He sealed the book with seven seals, knowing that the sensitive information contained in the book would eventually exonerate Him.
Finally, the Father chose to write a “prerecorded history book” because He foresaw a peculiar problem. As Almighty God, His infinite ways are unlike the finite ways of His children. He has infinite wisdom, foreknowledge, and unlimited power. Therefore, He knows today what His children will understand ten thousand years later. God’s infinite powers make Him incomprehensible and His subjects will never understand at a particular time what He is doing. Living in the presence of an eternal and infinite God, a God who cannot be understood, is only possible through love and faith. God’s children have to trust and obey Him even when they do not understand Him. They have to believe that He is always righteous, fair, and loving without regard for the circumstances. This is what faith in God means.
Suppose the Father sets up a really wonderful experience for His children that will take 10,000 years to unfold. Let us assume that 10,000 years later, His children finally reach a point where they understand His original purpose. The only way His subjects can adore and worship Him during 10,000 years of mystery is through faith and love. This is why He wants us to study Him and His ways, because the more we know about Him the greater our faith and confidence in Him will be. Faith in God, when viewed in reverse, always makes sense. Our infinite Father (a being who lives in unapproachable light, whose finite subjects can never completely understand Him) chose to write a book so that one day, He could explain Himself so completely that finite beings would never question his motives or great love again.
The Father is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing), but He would take His own life before using any of these powers to manipulate or control His subjects. With the evidence from His book, He will prove that He can be trusted to be a God of love. He gives His subjects freedom to exercise free will. Of course, free will does not mean that God has no laws. On the contrary, His subjects can choose to obey or disobey His laws which are the product of infinite wisdom. At the appointed time, the seventh seal on the book will be broken. A changeless and eternal God will demonstrate for all eternity that He can be trusted to keep an infinite distance between His foreknowledge and His omnipotence. This infinite distance means that He will not use either power for personal advantage. Instead, He will only use these powers to ensure that righteousness and truth are forever exalted. This concept may seem simple, but there is far more to this matter than meets the eye. It is one of the most profound stories in the Bible.
A Book Sealed with Seven Seals
The angels who live in God’s presence and human beings who walk by faith with Him study the Father’s actions closely, so He does nothing without careful forethought. He is constantly dropping clues so that those wanting to know Him can know more about Him. Those who do not care to know much about Him are not offended by His clues. The Father is the king of courtesy and respect. He respects our choices. If someone does not want to know or love Him, God will not endlessly pester that person. The Father can be present or absent within any heart. The owner of the heart has a choice.
One clue which the Father has given to us is the number seven. It is no accident there are seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven heads which are seven mountains and seven kings, seven angels, and seven bowls in the book of Revelation. There are also seven days in a week, as well as a cycle of seven years and a week of seven years in the Jubilee Calendar. Jesus spoke seven times on the cross, there are seven colors in the rainbow, and there are seven continents. It appears that the number seven indicates full-fill-ment, as in perfect completion. If we add the years in genealogical Bible records, beginning with Adam and Eve, continuing through the reigns of the kings in Bible history, and including the eighteen prophetic time periods announced in Daniel and Revelation, the Bible describes seven millenniums for the duration of sin’s drama on Earth!
If we apply the idea of “full-fill-ment” to the seven seals, two ideas quickly emerge. First, the Father perfectly sealed His book to ensure the contents are revealed when the day for which the book was written arrives. Second, the Father deliberately put seven seals on His book because the breaking of each seal is part of a seven-step process that will be completed on the day of His exoneration. I believe the breaking of each seal is associated with a stunning process called “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The Book of Life Contains Sensitive Information
Every government and many corporations on Earth create “top secret” information. Every adult knows that prematurely releasing sensitive information can have unintended or negative consequences. Because the Father is all knowing, He foreknew that Lucifer and his followers would rebel and they would be expelled from Heaven. He also foreknew the details surrounding the fall of Adam and Eve that Cain would kill Abel, and that Jesus would suffer and die on the cross. He even foreknew the names and actions of the religious leaders and soldiers who participated in Jesus’ death. Of course, all of these things are included in His book, as well as the motives, thoughts, words, and actions of each person involved. There is information in the book that requires the utmost security and this explains why He physically sealed the book with seven seals. Looking at the end of sin’s drama, the Father foreknew who would be saved from the penalty for sin and who would not. He foreknew the creation of angels and human beings, along with their eternal destinies before they were created. The Father wrote each being’s outcome in His book. Because His history book will endure as a testimony for all eternity to come, the Father blotted out the names of those who will be destroyed by fire at the end of the 1,000 years.
Given the sensitive nature of such information, if the book was exposed prematurely or fell into the hands of His adversaries, the Father could never escape taunts of predestination, ridicule, and condemnation. Throughout eternity the charge would be repeated, “God is not a God of love.” His own children would claim He predestined certain angels and human beings to be saved and others to be destroyed. They would say He even wrote down the results before life was created! His adversaries would claim He is condemned by His own words maintaining He is a God that owns and manipulates His subjects according to His free will and His subjects do not have free will or any say about their destiny.
The Father has implemented a plan to end these allegations and exonerate Himself from any hint of manipulation. First, He wrote a book, sealed it seven times, and put it away. Then, when the angels were first created, He assigned certain angels to serve as recording angels with special “camcorders” to record life in real time. Each recording angel records a life from beginning to end including our motives, thoughts, words, and actions. They miss nothing. The Father, with complete integrity, predetermined that the records of the recording angels would be used to judge the eternal destiny of human beings. The book sealed with seven seals is not opened or used to judge human beings.
The Great White Throne Judgment
The Bible teaches that Jesus has been appointed to judge sinners. “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) When each person’s case comes before Jesus, He will see and review everything the recording angels recorded: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 14:12)
At the end of the 1,000 years, the Holy City will come down from Heaven and settle on Earth. The saints (who were taken to Heaven at the Second Coming) will descend with the Holy City as it comes down from Heaven and the wicked will be resurrected so that everyone who has ever lived on Earth will be present. The wicked will stand outside and the saints will be inside the Holy City. Billions of people and all of the angels (including Lucifer and his followers) will be in attendance. Jesus will sit on a high and glorious white throne that shines brighter than the Sun.
After everyone has been gathered, Jesus will stand and a hush will fall over this innumerable host. Solemnity and sobriety will be in the atmosphere as a glorious Jesus is about to take action.
Jesus will call for the recordings made by the recording angels (the books of records). These books will be opened and suddenly, everyone (angels and human beings) will see a vivid panorama. Each being will see a movie of his own life and observe his motives, thoughts, words, and actions as they happened. Each being will also see his responses to the voice of God in his heart. Was there habitual submission or rebellion? As the movie continues, each being will see the plan of salvation. The wicked angels will see God’s patience and grace He extended to them before they reached the point of no return in their rebellion. Every human will see what the Father did to save repentant sinners. Everyone will see Jesus’ birth, ministry, suffering, and death when He came to Earth. Everyone will be overwhelmed with God’s love for sinners. Finally, Jesus will inform each angel and human being about his eternal destiny. Each person will actually see the moment that Jesus examined his life prior to the second coming and determined his destiny. They will either see the joy that followed for those that were declared righteous or the sorrow that overtook Jesus and Heaven’s host for those who could not be saved. At the end of this panoramic presentation, everyone (angels and humans alike) will fall to the ground before Jesus:
“‘By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’ ’ All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.” (Isaiah 45:23-25)
The righteous will fall on their faces before Jesus, completely amazed that He saved them. They realize they do not deserve the gift of eternal life or even the lowest place in the kingdom. They are overwhelmed by Jesus’ selfless sacrifice and the gift of His righteousness. Each person exclaims, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb of God who took away my sin. My salvation belongs to you, the Lamb who was slain for me.”
The wicked will also fall on their faces before Jesus, recognizing His judgment is righteous and true. The evidence is impeccable, the record is true; it cannot be twisted or distorted. Jesus has treated them with generosity, offered them life and given them every opportunity. They realize their rebellion against the Holy Spirit was their own doing and they accept Jesus’ judgment. They are sorry for who they are, but realize they cannot change the person they have become and they own the penalty for their sins.
Jesus Breaks the Seventh Seal
After the “This is Your Life” movie has ended, Jesus will tell the innumerable host to stand. He has something everyone must see. Jesus turns to a table and lifts “The Book of Life.” The book has one remaining seal on it. After Jesus tells everyone about the origin and nature of the book, He opens the seventh and final seal. Another movie begins and it will last about 30 minutes. Everyone silently gazes at the sky and sees the contents of the book! It is identical in every way to the books of the records made by the recording angels. Even more amazing, everyone sees the names of angels and human beings which were blotted out of the book, even before angels and human beings were created!
Each wicked angel and human being will find his life perfectly recorded in the Book of Life. However, each wicked being will find his name missing and each righteous being will find his sins covered by the righteous life of Jesus! What a stunning revelation! Amazingly, the Father foreknew who would end up inside the Holy City and outside the Holy City before angels and human beings were created.
Here are three facts that can be distilled from this once-in-an-eternity moment:
First, the Father can prove that He foreknew everything about everybody before any life was created. Identical histories, one written before history began and the other written in real time, prove this fact.
Second, because identical histories exist in writing, the Father is exonerated from the accusation that He uses omniscience and omnipotence to manipulate the eternal destiny of His subjects. He foreknew the rise of sin as well as each individual’s motives, thoughts, words, and actions, but He has given everyone free will and freedom to exercise this free will. He even paid the price for sin so that every repentant sinner would have eternal life! Therefore, each person’s choice has made him a participant in one of two groups standing before the throne, saved or doomed. After seeing the movie of their lives, everybody confesses that their position inside or outside the Holy City was a result of personal choice. Each person has already admitted to Jesus that he was carefully and thoughtfully judged in righteousness and in truth. Everyone has confessed that Jesus took into account everything possible and he has been more than fair. The wicked stand outside the Holy City because they responded to the Holy Spirit’s voice with rebellion and the righteous stand inside the Holy City because they responded to the Holy Spirit’s voice with submission.
Third, it is important to understand that the Father does not judge anyone, that is, He does not determine the eternal destiny of anyone. The Father has appointed Jesus to be the judge of mankind because first, Jesus has walked in our shoes. He knows what life as a human being is like on Earth and the Father has ordained that human beings are to be judged by a peer. This is both righteous and fair. Second, the Father has not permitted Jesus to know what is written in “The Book of Life.” As our judge, Jesus has to examine each person’s record on its own merit. The Father ordained that Jesus had to judge the record of each person’s life before millions of watching angels (intelligent, reasoning witnesses). The Father did this because He wants the holy angels to see just how deliberate, careful, and generous Jesus is in judging every case. Remember, these angels will live with the Father and Jesus throughout eternity. Therefore, if trust, faith, and love for God is to endure forever, the Father and Jesus must act in open and transparent ways. Not even the slightest hint of inappropriate behavior can be found in God’s ways or the knowledge will fester into a third rebellion.
In closing, think about this: If Jesus had foreknowledge and knew what the Father had written in “The Book of Life” about each being’s eternal destiny and the outcome of His judgment perfectly aligned with the book sealed with seven seals, intelligent angels and human beings would quickly see through the ruse. Heaven would be a conspiracy if this happened. The Father and Son would be seen as co-conspirators, one merely defending the other. If the Father and Jesus judged angels and human beings according to foreknowledge, then the claim that God’s subjects have free will is a cruel joke. The Father would be condemned by His own words and Jesus would be found to be a co-conspirator, merely keeping the Father on the throne. If that were true, the devil and his followers would have been right to rebel against Jesus and the Father.
God, the Father, put this amazing story in the book of Revelation so that all who are preparing to spend eternity with the Godhead can appreciate what they have done to redeem human beings. God is about to act and those who know the reasons for His actions will be prepared when the remaining seals are opened.