Rev. 20:12, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and ANOTHER BOOK was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE: and the dead were JUDGED out of those things which were written in THE BOOKS, according to their works.”
Origin of the Book of Life
In many ancient societies, records of extensive genealogical and registration of citizens were kept for different purposes. An example here is when Nehemiah was rebuilding Jerusalem after they returned from the Babylonian captivity.
And so we read in Neh. 7:
5, “And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be RECKONED BY GENEALOGY. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein…
63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name.
64 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.”
Now you see the effect of names written down genealogically for Israel, that certain children of Habaiah, Koz, Barzillai could not be admitted into the priesthood because their names were not found in the records.
But on the other hand we are told in;
Neh.12: 22, “The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.
23 The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.”
They have their names genealogically in the records, and so they could function as priests.But the others were denied.
It is said that, “Those Israelites who returned from the Babylonian captivity were enrolled by families in a great book kept for that purpose. The names in this roll were supposed to constitute the new Israel, the nation which was henceforth a spiritual community, a church and a kingdom in one.”
“But, when they got home, them whom they left behind who were not taken into captivity have mingled themselves with the people and pagans worship around them exhibiting poor moral quality as compared to their kinsmen who were carried away into Babylon..
Psalm 137 is one of the Psalms that illustrated their strict adherence to the faith, even in a foreign land as they would not dare joke with their God when they say;
Ps 137:1, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion
4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?”
This was the reason why they were so particular about the names in the book in order to separate those they left behind who have corrupted themselves and those who returned from captivity with true and pure religion.
So these ones refused to worship with or include in their fellowship those the left behind, and so set up what is called Synagogues worshipping under trees.
And those who had intermixed with foreign peoples, and degraded the service of God by heathen rites were left worshipping in the Temples.
This is why you see Jesus both preach in the Temple and in the Synagogue.
“Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing,” (John 18:20) KJV.
So now this pure-worship-set -of-people stands for the true worship and the City of God, and the Book of Life representing those who came from Babylon.
Therefore, this provides a good deal of the imagery of primitive Christianity, particularly now in the book of Revelation.
This is why the name Babylon became synonymous with the spirit of the world and now the Book of Life a metaphor signifying those who were included in the Church of Jesus Christ seen as the returnees.
To be continued…