There’s always been a lot of debate on how the end times play out. Smart people on multiple sides of a debate on what in Scripture is to be taken literally and what should be understood figuratively. Views on where we are in the historical timeline painted in the Bible and of how we are to understand the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
So, as I read through Revelation 20 this morning I am, at first, preoccupied with the “thousand years.” As I encounter the “thousand years” six times at the beginning of the chapter, I find myself asking myself, “Self, literal or figurative? Has come? Is come? Or, yet to come?” (Maybe instead of asking myself I should be asking my Teacher, the Spirit who illuminates such mysteries).
But then the “thousand years” are supplanted by two sets of books. And it’s on these that I really start to chew down.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 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 20:12-15 ESV)
I just got a Facebook notice that I have been so-and-so’s friend for 11 years and up flashes a brief montage of stuff FB had on file for how we had interacted. Eleven years! . . . and they can bring up and put on display, in a moment, stuff I had forgotten long ago. If technology and social media tells us anything it’s that the divine books that exist which have recorded all that we’ve done, aren’t that too far fetched. But more importantly, it reminds us, who wants to be judged according to what they’ve done? Who wants to stand before a holy, holy, holy God and air the dirty laundry we all know exists? Sure, might be some “good” stuff, but who can’t recall some of the stuff you never want to see the light of day?
Two-thirds of my threescore+ years have been lived as a believer. You’d think that maybe that might skew the what-I’ve-done scales enough to be favorably considered before the throne. Uh . . . no! Not the way it works. Any defilement, is too much defilement when it comes to heaven’s holiness. Besides, if I’m honest, there’s more than enough in my redeemed life which has required repentance and fresh forgiveness to disqualify me from God’s perfect presence, if my good works on earth were the basis for my right standing in heaven. So, no thank you . . . don’t wanna rely on that first set of books for my eternal destination.
But the other book — the book of life — that’s my hope.
For the other book is founded on the story of Another’s good works. Jesus, the Son of God, having come to earth as a baby that He might live on earth to die as the once for all atoning sacrifice for all the stuff recorded in the first set of books. His finished work on the cross, the only work I can boast in.
And in that other book is my name. The name of a sinner saved by grace. The name of a righteous person because I was declared righteous through faith. The name of a child of God, adopted on the merit of the One who was ready, willing, and able to call me brother. My name written in the book of life, making the first set of books a moot point. For, stamped over whatever is recorded of my life in those books, are the words: Paid in Full; Redeemed; Reconciled; Adopted; A New Creation!
Praise God for the other book! The book of life. The book with my name written in it. Not because of any merit on my part, but because of Sovereign grace on His. Not because of what I’ve done, but only because of what He has done. Not for my glory, but for His glory, and His alone.
Thank you, Lord!