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REVELATION 4-6
SEGMENT II
page 1

Segment II

The Secret Contents of the Book of Life

The Seven Seals

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” (Revelation 5:1-4)

 

Too many students of apocalyptic prophecy skip over the pivotal importance of the book that was sealed with seven seals, because they do not understand why the book is necessary. It is as though the seven seals are more important than the contents of the book itself. Actually, the contents of the book have much more significance than the seals securing the book. The exalted purpose of the book gives the seven seals their importance! God wrote a complete history of life before life occurred and sealed it because He did not want anyone to know what He foreknew. Many Christians do not understand how this book resolves an enormous problem for God. The throne scene described in Revelation 4-6 highlights the fact that sin is a very serious problem in God’s universe. The scene also demonstrates that God has a plan to prevent sin from rising again within His universe. Once you understand the issues involved with sin from Heaven’s perspective, the story of the seven seals will make a lot of sense just as it reads in the Bible.

 

The Lamb’s Book of Life

 

It is important to remember that before sin began, God solved the sin problem! He solved the sin problem by writing a complete history of life in a book. Then, He sealed it with seven seals. The following texts prove in the three steps that the book sealed with seven seals is appropriately called the Book of Life.

 

1.      First, John mentions the Book of Life six times in Revelation, and he distinguishes the Book of Life from other books that are in Heaven. (Revelation 3:5; 20:12) Daniel also makes a distinction between “books, plural and “the Book [of Life],” singular. (Daniel 7:9,10; 12:1) After Jesus (the Lamb) was found worthy to receive the book having seven seals in Revelation 5, John refers to the book with a possessive noun. He calls it, “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27) or “the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb.” (Revelation 13:8) In other words, after the Lamb received the book with seven seals from the right hand of the Father, the Lamb possessed “the Book of Life.”

 

2.      Second, the Book of Life, unlike the other books of record in Heaven, remains sealed until the end of the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:12) This is a critical point. The Book of Life is not opened or used during the judgment of human beings. Human beings will be judged according to their actions and choices that are recorded in the book of deeds. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Daniel 7:9, 10; Malachi 3:16; Revelation 20:12)  When Abel was born to Adam and Eve, his life’s record was recorded in the book of deeds “in real time,” just as it happened. The books of deeds were opened in 1844 and, most likely, Abel’s record was the first to be examined since he was the first to die. (Daniel 7:10; 8:14) On the other hand, the Book of Life is not opened until the end of the millennium. (Revelation 20:12) According to the Bible, the Book of Life is opened once – at the end of the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:12) The chronology of the seals indicates the Book of Life is the book sealed with seven seals.

 

3.      Third, we know the book with seven seals is the Book of Life because of its contents. Even though no one knows the specifics found within the book sealed with seven seals (Revelation 5:3), we do know about the contents! Notice the 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) This verse speaks volumes. Many Christians read this verse and think the Book of Life contains only the names of the saved.  They interpret the title to mean the “Book of [Eternal] Life.” The Bible does not confer this meaning on the book even though the people who will receive eternal life will be found in the book. The book of Life includes the life’s record of everyone who was given life from God. Every person was originally entered into His book because God foreknew who would receive the gift of life from the beginning. Our choices and actions were prerecorded in God’s book before we had the privilege of living. (See Psalm 139:16.) Naturally, the question rises, “Why was every life prerecorded only to have the names of the wicked blotted out before we were created?” On the basis of perfect foreknowledge, God wrote out a complete history of life before life was created and then He “blotted out” the names of the people who would choose rebellion. He did not blot out their record of life; He simply blotted out their names.

 

Blotted Out?

 

Perhaps a little background information about “blotting out” names will be helpful. In ancient times, the tribes of Israel kept very accurate records of their family tree. We find two excellent examples of this in the Bible. In Matthew 1, the linage of Jesus is traced back to Abraham. In Luke 3, the lineage of Jesus is traced back to Adam. It was the custom in those days, to enter the names of the offspring in the official records of the nation because tribal lineage was very important. The land of Canaan was divided according to the size and lineage of each tribe. (Joshua 14:5) Temple responsibilities and duties among the priests were determined by lineage. (Exodus 40; Numbers 4) Even more, God said, “No one born of a forbidden marriage nor of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.” (Deuteronomy 23:2) Whenever an Israelite defiantly violated the law, depending upon the offense, God commanded that person to be “cut off” from his people or put to death. If a person was “cut off” from his nation, his name was blotted out of the tribal rolls. Erasures were not possible. The written evidence of that life could not be removed. However, the name was blotted out with an inkblot so that the identity of the wicked person could not be known. This imagery helps us explain two important points. First, God wrote out a complete history of life and He included everyone in the record who would receive eternal life. Then, He blotted out the names of those who would refuse to submit to the Holy Spirit. Second, if this information were “leaked” prematurely, God would have a difficult time proving that He did not predestine some people to eternal death and some to eternal life before they were created. So, the book was sealed – seven times.

My life and your life are recorded in the Book of Life. Because God foreknew who would choose eternal life and who would choose rebellion. He has determined that no one could have access to this information (that is, information indicating who would be saved and lost) until sin’s drama has been completed. Therefore, He perfectly sealed the book of life with seven seals and put it in Heaven’s vault. Keep this thought in mind: The Book of Life remains 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 life or death on the basis of God’s foreknowledge. We are judged according to our deeds. (Revelation 22:12) Our deeds are recorded as they transpire. Angels chronicle our daily actions in the book of deeds. (See Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 20:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14 and Malachi 3:16.)

 

God Proves Three Things

 

God wrote out a complete history of life before life began to prove three things at the end of sin’s drama. First, He will prove that every being was granted the power of choice. Second, He will prove that He did not manipulate our freedom of choice. In other words by prerecording the lives of everyone in the Book of Life, God can show at the appointed time that even though He foreknew who would rebel and who would submit to His authority, He did not treat anyone unfairly, God’s love will not allow Him to treat one rebellious child unfairly. Third, the Book of Life will exonerate God from the charges of unrighteousness. When the Book of Life is opened at the end of the thousand years, everyone will see the contents of the Book of Life are identical to the book of deeds. In other words, God will prove to the universe that He foreknew the outcome of every life before life was granted to the first being. God will prove that He foreknew the rise of sin, and that He was willing to die for sinners from the beginning if they were not defiant sinners. God will prove that He not only gave life to His creatures, but also gave the power of choice to them so they could rebel against Him if they wanted. He will prove that Jesus was willing to cease to exist for the rest of eternity in order to save sinners. This is God’s humility and love – a love that goes beyond finite comprehension.

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