14-5 The Book of Life
Jesus will return to earth for judgement with His Angels, as we are told in His parables concerning the judgement. In the parable of the wheat and tares the point is made that the Angels do not just come to gather the harvest, but also to separate the wheat from the tares. Thus it would seem that the actual process of judgement will be largely associated with the Angels. We are told in 1 Thess. 4:17 that "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up. . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air". The clouds must be the clouds of Angels with which Jesus returns, and may even represent the figurative "air" in which we meet Him first of all, as if He is manifested through the Angels which He sends to gather us to judgement (although it is quite possible to take the 'air' literally too). The elohim under the Old Covenant were the judges, ruling over different numbers of God's people and judging them, referring them up to more senior elohim and finally to Moses (6). Similarly, at the judgement it may be that we are judged by our guardian Angel- ideally suited to discuss our lives with us- and then referred to Christ Himself. Daniel 10:9-11 describes in parabolic form the judgement, with Daniel representing the saints, rising from the grave (as he rose from "deep sleep" on the ground) in great fear and sense of unworthiness, but being comforted by the Angel with news of how pleasing we have been to them ("O Daniel, a man greatly beloved"). This again indicates that the Angels will have a large part to play in the judgement.
The Book of Life
When Christ opens the books of His people (Rev. 20:12; as if each saint has a book written about him recording his life), He does this through discussing with our guardian the details of our life. Perhaps the Angels with have literal books with them; we pointed out earlier that the Angels do seem to use their facility for reading and writing.
Mal. 3:16 describes the acceptable attitude of the minority after the restoration from Babylon in the midst of the general apathy to the work of fully restoring the Kingdom that Malachi, Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai decried. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him (i. e. in His presence- the Angels) for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name". Note the numerous examples of Angelic language in Malachi 3, not least in the allusions to the wilderness Angel. This "book" (singular) therefore contains a record of our individual works, or good words in the Malachi context. There are other indications that the book contains a record of our individual works and ways: "The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Rev. 20:12). "I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life" (Phil. 4:3). Notice how being in the book of life is associated with certain works committed by those in it. This "book of life" was written from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8), although it contains the records of our individual works. "The works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3)- the works and actions that comprise each saint were finished from the beginning, written by the Angels in God's book. The statement in Gen. 1:31 that at the end of the natural creation "God saw everything that He had made. . " may imply that He saw then everything He would ever make- "the works were finished from the foundation (creation?) of the world". Notice again how the unfathomable system of predestination and foreknowledge is in the hands of the Angels.
The Angel wrote the book initially- Moses pleaded with the Angel on Sinai in Ex. 32:32 "Blot me, I pray thee, out of Thy book (of life), which Thou hast written" (from the foundation of the world). Heb. 12:23 implies the same "The general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are enrolled in Heaven. . the spirits of just men made perfect". We have seen earlier that these "spirits" are the guardian Angels of the righteous. These Angels enrolled the names of the responsible at the beginning of the world, but they are capable of removal from the book. It is as if God informed the Angels of all those they would be dealing with during human history, and they subsequently have kept a record of the works of each of them as they guide them through life. Ps. 56:8 may explain things a bit more: "Thou tellest my wanderings (through life); put Thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?", as if to imply that David knew that God had a record of what he was presently going through "in Thy book" already, but wanted the Angel to make a special note of it now: "put Thou my tears into Thy bottle", which seems to be equated with "Thy book".
If the Angels write the book of life, then it is to be expected that references to "blotting out" also refer to the Angels:
- Num. 5:23 "The priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water". The priests represented the Angels as the whole Law was a "pattern of things in the Heavens". They are both called 'Elohim' at times; see also Mal. 2:7. The priest writing the curses in a book recalled the Angels pronouncing the curses on Israel, and having the capacity to blot out their sins.
- Dt. 9:14 "Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under Heaven (the Angels?): and I will make of thee (Moses) a nation mightier and greater that they". This was the Angel talking, seeing that He later altered His purpose concerning this.
- Dt. 29:20 "All the curses that are written in this book (of life- by the Angel) shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under Heaven".
- Neh. 4:5 "Let not their sin be blotted out from before Thee"- both good and bad works are written in the book of life.
- Ps. 51:1,9 "Have mercy upon me. . according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions". Mercies and truth are often references to the promises to Abraham- to bless his seed with forgiveness of sins (Acts 3:25,26). The Angels made these promises, and were therefore the ones to blot out the sins in fulfilment of them. "Hide Thy face (presence- an Angelic title) from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities".
- Col. 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances. . . spoiling principalities and powers". If "blotting out" has an Angelic reference here, we have further proof that one group of Angels blotted out the Law.
- Rev. 3:5 "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life"; is this the Angel who was identified with Jesus speaking? ("The Spirit" Angel, "one like the son of man"- not the Son of man Himself).
Angels And The Rejected
The ministering of judgement on the unworthy will no doubt be supervised by an (the?) Angel of evil, in the same way that it appears an Angel of evil ministered the curses of the Law: "The Lord shall separate (Hebrew: sever) him (the disobedient man) out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the words of the covenant" (Dt. 29:21). In the same way the Angels "sever the wicked from among the just" (Mt. 13:49) at the judgement. "They shall drive him (the rejected) from light into darkness, and chase him out of the world" (Job 18:18). Who else can the "they" be but the Angels at the judgement seat? Lk. 12:48 also implies that a group of beings will require an account of an individual at judgement day: "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more". The Angels at judgement would equate with the "men" of this passage. The use of the word "require" in this context leads us back earlier in the same chapter: "Thou fool (the rejected), this night thy soul shall be required of thee"- as if to some extent the judgement starts to take place at death, when the Angel starts to consider our lives. The 'requiring' process begins then, so that when the individual is resurrected the Angels know what to "require of" him. Is this part of the answer to the statement that "after death the judgement" (Heb. 9:27)? "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31) may well refer to this Angelic punishment, as the hands of God is Angelic language, and "the living God" may well carry the idea in Hebrew of 'God of the living ones', i. e. the Angel-cherubim.