At Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people greet each other by saying, “L’Shana tovah tikatevu,” meaning “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.” What is this Book of Life?
Belonging to God
The Book of Life is found in both the Old and New Testaments. The first reference to this Book appears in Exodus 32. Following the Israelites’ sin of making the golden calf idol, Moses stated, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lᴏʀᴅ; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin” (v. 30). He then returned to the Lord, appealing for God to forgive them, saying, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written” (v. 32).
From the idea of being recorded in God’s book of the living (or the righteous) comes the sense of belonging to God’s eternal Kingdom or possessing eternal life.
This Book that God has written appears in Psalms 56:8; 69:28; 139:16; and Daniel 12:1. It concerns both physical life and spiritual life. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology explains: “In ancient cities the names of citizens were recorded in a register until their death; then their names were marked out of the book of the living. This same idea appears in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32, 33; Isaiah 4:3). From the idea of being recorded in God’s book of the living (or the righteous) comes the sense of belonging to God’s eternal kingdom or possessing eternal life.”
Daniel 12:1 states, “And at that time, your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.” In A Commentary on Daniel, Dr. Leon Wood wrote, “The book here is best taken to be ‘the book of life,’ God’s record of those who are justified in His sight (Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12).”
Most New Testament references to the Book of Life appear in Revelation (3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 15; 22:19), along with one reference in Philippians (4:3). As the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains, “The metaphor (of the book) may be based on family lists, though the common idea of books of destiny may also have played a role (Psalm 56:8). In the New Testament the idea of the book of life expresses assurance of salvation (2 Timothy 2:19). The book is that of the crucified Lamb (Revelation 13:8). God’s eternal purpose lies behind His reconciling work; hence the names are not to be erased (3:8).”
At the Great White Throne Judgment (20:11–15), two types of books are mentioned: “books” and the Book of Life. The “books” contain all the works, both good and bad, for each person standing before God. However, the Book of Life determines each person’s eternal destiny: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (v. 15).
When we place our faith in Him and His saving work, our names are inscribed in His book, securing our salvation forever.
This book is also called “the Book of Life of the Lamb,” as it refers to those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. When we place our faith in Him and His saving work, our names are inscribed in His book, securing our salvation forever.
In her beautiful hymn “Is My Name Written There?” Mary Ann Kidder wrote,
Lord, my sins they are many, like the sands of the sea,
But Thy blood, O my Savior, is sufficient for me;
For Thy promise is written in bright letters that glow,
“Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them like snow.”
Is My name written there,
On the page white and fair?
In the Book of Thy Kingdom
Is My name written there?
She concludes with powerful affirmation,
Yes, my name’s written there,
On the page white and fair;
In the Book of Thy Kingdom,
Yes, my name’s written there!
Thank God each one of us can have that same assurance she expresses, as we remember the apostle John’s words: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).