The Book of Life

By Dr.Debra Franklin

Eschatology is a branch of theology that is concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul of all mankind (Miriam- Webster, 2021) and all religious belief systems have a last judgment, final judgment, judgment day or doomsday scenario. We will look briefly at Christian, Islamic, Catholicism and Judaism eschatology.  Then we will discuss the Hebrew view on Judgment and the “Book of Life ” and what it takes to stay in YHWH Elohim’s righteousness.  

Christian’s eschatology teaches that every person will face a Final Judgement. If you wish to escape a final sentence to the “Lake of Fire”, except Jesus Christ as Judge (John 5:22).  To avoid this judgement, a person must accept him as God’s son by faith. Also, the deliberate and purposeful violation of Gods will lead one into the Lake of Fire. In the end, Matthew 25:46 teaches the unrighteous will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Compelling Truth, 2021).  There also is a view that every person who is not found in the “Book of Life” will also be thrown into the “Lake of Fire’ Revelation 20:11-15, (Faithlife, 2021). Initially one must accept Jesus Christ as the son of God to avoid the “Lake of Fire” and now your name must be found in the Book of Life, which seems eerily similar too or perhaps  copied from several verses in the Holy scriptures (Old Testament) written centuries prior to the New Testament’s Book of Life scenario.

According to Islamic eschatology, the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyāmah) is believed to be God’s final assessment of humanity. The sequence of events is the annihilation of all creatures and the resurrection of the body and the judgment of all sentient creatures. It will be a time when everyone will be shown his or her deeds and actions with justice. The belief in Judgement Day is a fundamental tenet of faith by Muslims. It is one of six articles of their faith. The trials and tribulations associated with Judgment Day are detailed in both the Quran and the Hadith (Wikipedia, 2021).  It is believed that there will be a resurrection of the dead of Muslims and non- Muslims alike.  Also at that time, all will be judged according to their deeds and actions by God. 

The belief in the Last Judgment is held firmly in Catholicism.  According to Christian eschatology, immediately upon death, each person goes through a particular judgment, and depending on one’s behavior on earth, that individual will go to heaven, purgatory, or hell.  Those in purgatory will always reach heaven but those in hell will be there eternally (Wikipedia 2021). Hell is a place in the spiritual realm of evil and eternal suffering. It is depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth, where the wicked are punished after death (Dictionary 2021). At the time of the Last Judgment, Christ will come in all his glory with all the angels and one’s deeds will be laid bare before him (Wikipedia, 2021). In Catholicism, the just as well as the unjust will be judged according to their deeds here on earth. The righteous will to go to heaven, individuals sent to purgatory will ultimately be sent to heaven. Finally, the unjust and the unrighteous will be sent to hell, where they will have eternal pain and suffering as a result of their wickedness. In the Last Judgment it speaks of Christ coming in all his glory which is remarkably similar to Daniel 7: 9-10. It speaks of the Ancient of Days coming in all His glory with 10,000 angels to judge humanity. Here again this was told by Daniel centuries before the Christ narrative or story was told.

In Judaism, beliefs vary about a Last Day of Judgment for all mankind. Some rabbis hold that there will be such a day following the resurrection of the dead. Others hold that this accounting and judgment happens when one dies. Still others hold that the last judgment only applies to the gentiles and not the Jewish people (Wikipedia, 2021). Jewish eschatology is concerned with events that will happen in the end of days. This includes the ingathering of the exiled diaspora, the coming of a Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. However, not all Jews follow this sequence of events. In Judaism, the end times are usually called the “end of days” (aḥarit ha-yamim, אחרית הימים), a phrase that appears several times in the old testament Bible. Ashkenazi Jews do not have a cohesive or specific view on the final judgement. You have the Hellenistic, Medieval and modern views that reflect their diversity.  Perhaps, another reason why they cannot come to a consensus is because they are not the original Jews or Hebrew Israelites. Ashkenazi or European Jews are descendants of the Kharza’s they are not the true Hebrew Israelites but converted to this way of life in the eighth century, and consider themselves the original Hebrews. Read the book “The Thirteen Tribes” by Arthur Koestler.  African Americans and all African that were scattered to the four corners of the earth are the true Hebrew Israelites.

All religious belief systems have a last judgment of some sort. Christian eschatology teaches every person will face final judgement, and if you wish to escape the Lake of Fire you must 1. Except Jesus Christ as judge and God’s son 2. Not violating the will of God 3. Not committing sin, which is immoral and evil behavior. In Islam, the annihilation of all creatures and the resurrection of the body and the judgment of all sentiment creatures will be judged according to their deeds and actions. Catholicism teaches, immediately upon death, each person goes through a particular judgment, and depending on one’s behavior on earth, that person could go to heaven, purgatory or hell. Also, one’s deeds and actions will be brought before Christ and judged. Finally, Jewish eschatology is concerned with what happens at the end of days. Ashkenazi Jews do not have a cohesive or specific view on the final judgment.  Events that may happen include exiled diaspora, Jewish messiah, afterlife and resurrection of the dead.

Christianity, Islam, Catholicism and Judaism all have views on their final judgment. In reviewing each of their eschatology, they do have some things in common such as a resurrection and judgment by a higher power. Also, the righteous will have eternal glory, whereas the unrighteous receive some form of punishment.  

What does eschatology look like for Hebrew Israelites, God’s Chosen people. First as Hebrew Israelites, there is the fundamental belief in one God. “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord” Deuteronomy 6:4. Other scriptures that attest to the oneness of Yah include “I am the first and last; and beside me there is no other God” (Isaiah 44:6-8), “I am the Lord and there is none else beside me” (Isaiah 45:6-8). The worship of any other deity is considered idolatrous and an abomination and goes against the very essence of being a Hebrew.  Another important factor of being a Hebrew is the adherence to YHWH Elohim (Lord, God) holy commandments. “The whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12: 9-12).  These coveted precepts were to teach Israel and ultimately mankind how to dwell together in peace and harmony (Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:14-16, Isaiah 56: 1-7).  YHWH promised Israel land, wealth, peace, prosperity and good health. Unfortunately, we began to worship other deities and failed to keep Yah (God) holy commandments. This resulted in the loss of our land (Israel), culture, identity and language and we were ultimately taken into slavery and experienced other crimes against humanity (Deuteronomy 28: 15-68, Jeremiah 16:10-13, Daniel 9:3-19) However, the Most High Yah stated if Israel gave up idolatry and return to the belief in one God and  keep the holy commandments, He would again return back to his chosen people and restore Israel too their former glory (Zephaniah 2) and this would guarantee ones name to be written in the Book of Life. 

When the final judgment occurs, all whose names are written in the Book of Life shall be saved. According to Daniel, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who has charge of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such has never has been since there was a nation till that time, but at that time your people shall be saved, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt…. but to you O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end” (12:1-4). The Book of Life is mentioned again in Daniel 7:9-10 “While I looked, thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat, whose garment was as white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool; but his throne was like a fiery flame, its wheels like burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands ministered to Him, they sat in judgement, and the books were opened”. Here in both accounts the Book is mentioned those whose were written in the Book of Life would be saved.

Moses knew about the Book of Life. This book was written by God in eternity. It contains the names of those whom God chose to receive eternal life. Everyone listed in the Book will be saved. When the people of Israel sinned, Moses said to God, “‘But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”  “The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book’” (Exod. 32:32–33). In the book of Malachi 3: 16-18 Those who feared the Lord and listened and heard him were placed in the book of remembrance and they shall be mine says the Lord. There are other references to the Book of Life in Psalm 56:8 “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in your Book”.  Also in Psalm 69:27-28 we read, “Add iniquity unto their iniquity and let them not come into thy righteousness”. “Let them be blotted out of the Book of the Living” Psalm 69:27-28. 

The Book of Life is especially important in Hebrew eschatology. It is important to have one’s name written in the Book of Life for the final judgment to be administered by the heavenly host and YHWH Eloheim. Let us truly do the will of Yah and keep his holy commandments. Also remember, there is only one God, one Savior, and one Redeemer, whose name is YHWH Elohim so on that final day of judgment, your name will be found written in the Book of Life. HalleluYah Amen.