Thursday, August 18, 2005


The Lamb's Book of Life

Most Christians are aware of the Lamb’s Book of Life, as mentioned in Revelation 21:27, “Nothing impure will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” It is the subject of many songs that help us rejoice that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20).

The concept of the book of life seems to be based on the commonly used citizenship register of a town. When someone was born, the name was written down, and when someone died, the name was erased or blotted out. This would be similar to a membership list in a church or other organization. The book of life would record those currently alive.

Jeremiah 4:3 says, “They will be holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.” Psalm 87:4-6 seems to indicate that God’s book is divided by nationality (as Don Richardson has suggested), “The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: This one was born in Zion.”

Names can be blotted out of God’s book because of sin and rebellion (perhaps at their death). God threatens to blot out names of covenant breakers (Deuteronomy 29:20), and saints pray for their enemies to be blotted out (Psalm 69:28 and 109:13). Moses offered to have his own name blotted out in place of others (Exodus 32:32-33). Jeremiah 17:13 suggests that unfaithful Israelites are written among the living, but not permanently, “Those who turn away will be written in the dust.”

Faithful believers, written in the book of life, receive God’s protection during their lifetimes. See 2 Kings 14:27, “Since the LORD didn’t say he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he rescued them by the hand of Jereboam.” Those in the book of life will be able to escape the deception others will succumb to, according to Revelation 13:8, “All those not written in the book of life will worship the beast,” and Revelation 17:8, “Those not in the book of life will be astonished when they see the beast.” Other believers are asked to rally to the aid of those in God’s book. See Philippians 4:3, “Help those women whose names are in the book of life.”

Those who believe to eternal life will not have their names removed at their physical death, but will remain on the list as living citizens for all eternity. Daniel 12:1, “Your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered.” Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes I will never blot out of the book of life.” Perhaps the best known reference is Revelation 20:11-15, “ . . . The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Keep reading with your eyes open.

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