The first mention of the “Book of Life” is in Exodus 32:31-33 and the thread weaves throughout the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) into the New Testament.
I have found much analysis in teachings on if the “Book of Life” in the Hebrew Scriptures is the same as the “Lamb’s Book of Life” in the New Testament, and furthermore if the “Book of Life” is the same as the “Book of the Living” mentioned in Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT). As a side-note on that Psalm 69 verse, some translations say the “Book of the Living” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT) and others say “Book of Life” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT.)
In analysis of what God says in the entirety of Scripture, this is what I learned. The “Book of Life”, the “Book of the Living” and the “Lamb’s Book of Life” all refer to the same book. This book lists all of God’s heirs and their inheritance, eternal inheritance. The names of God’s elect were written in the “Book of Life” from the foundation of the world. Even before we were born, God’s elect were written in the Book.
So how can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” If you want to first analyze this Book of Life concept further, please remain on this page. Thank you!
What does it mean to be elect? The “elect of God” is irrespective of national origin, religion, race. While Jews as a “nation”, the “collective group” are God’s “chosen people” we as a collective group were chosen for particular purposes. As a nation and group we do receive unique divine protection, however that is separate from being chosen for salvation in the eternal sense.
Jewish religious teachings do teach the concept of sin and the “Book of Life”, especially during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, focusing mainly on “missing the mark” and practical steps to take to make amends to any people affected. The teaching continues that if amends is made with a sincere heart, the sin is forgiven by God.
In Judaism, being inscribed or erased from the “Book of Life” is taught to be an annual event; inscribed, not inscribed, inscribed, not inscribed… over and over and over again. The focus is more on life on earth in the here and now.
Modern Judaism in general does not teach that mankind is born sinful, separated from God. There are no teachings on what a person would need to be saved from, or to. Little focus on the afterlife; heaven or hell, and what forgiveness from God results in other than blessings on earth.
Although, in Orthodox Judaism and in examining the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) we do find: We are made from dust (Genesis 2:7), and to dust we will return to an eternal destiny (Genesis 3:19.) Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken, some for eternal life [heaven], and some for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence [hell] (Daniel 12:2.)
So, back to the elect. Those are the people whom God has chosen, predestined to salvation (deliverance from destruction.) God loves all of His creation and we see tremendous evidence of that in the Bible. However, we also see God’s hatred of evil. We also see instances where God raises up an evil leader or an evil doer for purposes that are not exactly apparent to the people afflicted at the time, but as we see the complete scene unfold in the Bible, we read about how it brings about a bigger picture of good, and displays God’s goodness, love, mercy, glory (Pharaoh is one prime example.)
We always have to remember, this world is God’s, not ours. God is sovereign, which means in complete control of every aspect of everything. Regardless of what we see with our natural eyes, God does have a plan and a purpose, and it is truly all detailed in the Bible.
Psalm 65:5 Tanakh [65:4 OT] “Happy is the man whom Thou choosest, and bringest near, that he may dwell in Thy courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, the holy place of Thy temple!” And Psalm 139, in depth details the sovereignty of God and His foreknowledge of us. We also see from David in this passage, a man who desires to be in God’s will, a man who has been given that desire from His maker, a man who we can glean from this psalm, would be found among God’s elect.
God is the main character and focus in this love story through the huge, continuous thread of 66 books describing who God is, what God created and why, as well as showing God meeting us where we are at; rebellious, sinful, failing, guilty, striving yet never reaching. God meets us with His rescue, His salvation, His favor, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
The Bible tells us of the perfect standard that God is, as well as the realization that we will never be able to reach that perfection. No matter how good we “behave”, there is always something in what we do, or in our motive, that is not “perfect”.
However, every book in the Bible, right from Genesis on, is love-filled, mercy-filled, grace-filled, as it contains His Gospel (Besorah, Good News) message. The deeper this message seeps and sinks into us, the more we will reflect just who God designed us to reflect, Him!
What does it mean when we read God “chose us”? Looking at a tangible example, let us go to 1 Samuel 17:40. “And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his scrip; (“scrip”is a pouch) and his sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistine.”
Was there any willingness of the stones to be “chosen”? Did the stones move in a certain way, respond to David’s looking at them in a certain way? Of course not. The choice of which stones to select was completely David’s decision based on those that best suited his purpose, we might say a “sovereign” choice.
The way David chose those stones is exactly the way God chose Israel out of all other nations, and exactly the same way God chose specific individuals for salvation, by His grace, in His sovereignty, for His purposes, not by anything a person said or did.
Yes, we are flesh and blood human beings, not lifeless stones, however, what is the scriptural definition of our hearts before salvation? Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Interesting comparison.
Salvation, being written in the Book of Life, cannot be lost, a child of God’s name can never be blotted out, because it is never about us, it is always about God and what He did. One to whom God has given the new heart and spirit described in Ezekiel 36 will persevere to the very end.
The scriptures talking of erasing, or blotting out of a name in the Book is the same concept as Hosea 8 and Matthew 7:15-23. Not everyone who believes they are in the “Book of Life” or who says they are, truly is. Their fruits (their outward words, actions, behaviors) are the best indicators, of the reality of their situation.
Let us look at the various scriptures describing “The Book of Life” and analyze. Exodus 32:31-33 “And now, if You forgive their sin But if not, erase me now from Your book, which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, him I will erase from My book!'” And it shall come to pass that every survivor shall be in Zion, and everyone who is left, in Jerusalem; “holy” shall be said of him, everyone inscribed for life in Jerusalem.”
In Exodus 32 all these people are worshipping the golden calf. Moses wants to be the offering of atonement for them, God says no, He has it taken care of. “Whoever has sinned I will blot”. It is not a whoever sinned now I will now blot. It is a general reassurance to David, look I’ve got this. Not all who say they are Mine, or who believe they are Mine, are truly Mine. They are not all in the Book of Life.
Malachi 3:16-18 “Then the God-fearing men spoke to one another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared the Lord and for those who valued His name highly. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, for that day when I make a treasure. And I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. And you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who has not served Him.”
Psalm 40:7-9 Tanakh (Psalm 40:6-8 OT) “Sacrifice and meal-offering Thou hast no delight in; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said I: ‘Lo, I am come with the roll of a book which is prescribed for me I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is in my inmost parts.”
Psalm 40 tells us that there is nothing God requires us to do to be written in the Book of Life. His elect are already written in, and we are drawn by God, to God, when He gives us that revelation (opens our ears). When that occurs, the rest of what is stated here is the natural outflow.
Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT) “Add iniquity unto their iniquity; and let them not come into Thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”
David in Psalm 69 is speaking of his adversaries, people whose fruits do not match someone who is truly a child of God. “You will know them by your fruits.” So when David says “May they be erased from the book of life and may they not be inscribed with the righteous”, David is speaking out of the pain and frustration of what he is dealing with from these people. Meanwhile they never were in the Book to begin with.
Daniel 12:1-2 “Now at that time, Michael, the great prince, who stands over the children of your people, will be silent, and it will be a time of distress that never was since a nation existed until that time, and at that time, your people will escape, everyone who is found inscribed in the book. And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.”
Daniel 12 is a graphic Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) description that there is an eternal existence, as well as a description of the book that is sealed until the end, not opened each year with God standing by holding a pencil and eraser.
Philippians 4:3 “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Revelation 13:7-9 “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. “
Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. “
Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. “
Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. “
Revelation 22:19 “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
How can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” Thank you!