Lamb's Book of Life
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52. Lamb's Book of Life
Revelation 13.8-10

"All the earth's inhabitants will worship the beast - all whose names were not written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb slain from the world's creation. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, they will go. If anyone is to die with the sword, they will die. This fact calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God's people." (Revelation 13.8-10)✞

Names Written

Open BookThe Book of Revelation frequently mentions the Lamb's Book of Life. Revelation 13.8 has the phrase "Written in the Lamb's book of life, slain from the world's creation." This verse may mean "the Lamb's book of life written from the world's creation" or even "the book of life belonging to the slain Lamb." A parallel passage in Revelation 17.8 reads, "the earth's inhabitants whose names are written in the book of life from the world's creation." Saint Paul also writes in Ephesians 1.4a, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Amazingly, God chooses us even before the formation of the world. God chooses his own before the beginning of time, and nothing in life or death, in time or eternity, nothing that the Devil or the Roman Empire can ever do can pluck Christians from his hand nor remove them from the Lamb's Book of Life. Those names not written in "the Book of Life" are given over to the beast. It is perhaps a parallel to the practice in ancient times of rulers keeping registers of citizens of their realms. When a man died or lost his rights as a citizen is his name removed. "The Lamb's Book of Life" is the register of those who belong to God through Jesus Christ.

God's Predestined Will

Lamb of GodJesus Christ's death on the cross is God's predestined will before the foundation of the world. This passage in Revelation 13 speaks of this fact. Predestination is the doctrine that God wills all events. Destiny is often set opposite to the free will of humans to do as they wish. However, these two sides often seem to be in conflict and contrary to God's omniscience or all-knowing nature. Revelation 13.10 describes the predestined will of God, saying, "If anyone is to go into captivity, they will go. If anyone is to die with the sword, they will die." Some manuscripts write, "If anyone is to be killed" as "If anyone kills." This law seems to exemplify the Old Testament principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but Jesus repudiates that idea in Matthew 5.38-39 saying, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." This passage seems to be closely related to another saying in Exodus 21.23, "But if it is unclear who was to blame, then you shall pay life for life, an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." This passage has the same impact as Jeremiah 15.2, which reads, "And if they ask you, 'Where shall we go?' tell them, 'This is what the Lord says, "Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity."'"

Chosen Before The Creation

Saint Peter speaks of Jesus' sacrificial death in 1 Peter 1.20a as "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but revealed in these last times for your sake." Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and this is the predestined will of God. The Jews hold the traditional belief that the Archangel Michael is formed before the world's foundation to be the predestined mediator between Israel and God. The Jews also think that Moses is created before the creation of the Universe to have a similar function. There would, therefore, be nothing unfamiliar in Jewish thought in saying that Jesus was before the creation of the world as the predestined will of God to be the Redeemer of humankind.

Free Will

Jesus Arms WideThe controversy between predestination and free will engaged the church over the centuries. Many devout men and women died for their cause on either side. In Reformation times in the Sixteenth Century, John Calvin (1509-1564), the French theologian and reformer in Switzerland, led the "predestination argument debate." Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch Theologian, presented the "free will argument." It asked, "Is all we do God's predestined will, or do we make our own choices?" The question then arises, "can we genuinely choose between one belief and another?" Each argument is only part of the truth, for as we talk and read about free will and choice, we also believe as Christians in God's predestined will. We are both Calvinists and Arminians simultaneously, and that is OK even if it is somewhat difficult for our small minds!

God's Balloon String

Colored BalloonsIf we imagine God's balloon string and humans within the balloon, we have a picture of the relationship between the Deity and human beings. The balance between Calvinism and Arminianism is the balance of a child holding a balloon on a string. In this concept, if God is a child holding a balloon string and we are within that balloon, it is right to say that we have some choices within that confined space to move, but God ultimately determines the way we will go. The balloon's direction and speed are determined entirely by the one who holds and pulls the string. You have numerous choices in your life decisions, yet God predetermines the overall direction. Calvinism has been the Church of England's underlying belief since the Protestant Reformation, of which it was a part.

The Unholy Trinity

Unholy TrinityThe unholy Trinity in Revelation comprises three evil beasts, the dragon, the earth beast, and the sea beast. These stand in opposition to the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The term "Trinity" comes from "triad," meaning "threefold," and defines God as three persons together. The Devil compels the inhabitants of the earth to worship the beast. The dragon's two accomplices are "the beast out of the sea" and "the beast out of the earth." The power given to the unholy trinity is limited to a short time by God, and even then, God will still be in control. "The Lamb slain from the world's creation" may mean "written from the world's creation in the slain Lamb's book of life." In essence, "three persons in one God," though distinct from one another, are of one substance. Jesus commands his disciples in Matthew 28.19, "baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Great Persecution

Spiritual GrowthIn the great persecution times, John sees believers exercise patient endurance and faithfulness under this unholy trinity. Tough times that Christians face are also spiritual growth opportunities. The beast has a fatal wound, which some early Christians believed indicated Nero, the Roman Emperor from 37-68 AD who had returned to life. He was ruthless and relentlessly persecuted Christians and the Christian Church. He was responsible for many thousands of innocent people's deaths and martyrdom. Nero committed suicide on the 9th June, 68 AD, and died from a self-inflicted stab wound in the throat, hence the fatal injury's significance!

Patient Endurance

Prison BarsChristians are required to submit to God's will with patient endurance, even if that includes inevitable captivity or death. "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go." There is an unavoidable inevitability of imprisonment or death. Even the time of our death cannot change if that is the will of God. Because we know that God will do his will in the end, then all we have to do is be patient and keep the faith even through captivity or death. Endurance is not a passive but a very assertive reaction. We are not fatalists, but God will fill us with the hope that whatever comes, he will overrule on our behalf.

"Lamb's Book Life"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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