The Books of Life
Vol: 27 Issue: 22 Friday, September 22, 2017
Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. It is the most solemn and somber day on the Jewish calendar. Even many Jews who do not regularly observe other Jewish feast days make an exception for Yom Kippur. The Jews call it ‘judgment day’.
Jews practice repentance, say prayers, and give charity to obtain God’s forgiveness for the sins of the previous year. Yom Kippur is the culmination of a process that began a month earlier, during the Hebrew month of Elal. It follows Rosh Hashanah and the New Year’s activities.
The ten days from the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) are known as the Ten Days of Awe, or Ten Days of Repentance, offering Jews a chance for spiritual renewal and repentance before the Day of Atonement. During the afternoon prayers on the day before Yom Kippur, a viddui, or confessional, is said. It is repeated during Yom Kippur.
Observant Jews fast for twenty-five hours before breaking their fast with a festive meal. After the meal, two candles are blessed and then lit. There is no more eating or drinking. A series of prayers is said.
Until the Destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70, the focal point of Yom Kippur involved the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies. The high priest sacrificed a bullock as a sin offering for himself and for his house. (Leviticus 16:6)
After filling his censer with live coals from the altar, he entered the holy of holies where he placed incense on the coals. Next, he took some of the blood which was taken from the slain bullock and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:13) and also on the ground in front of the mercy seat, providing atonement for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:14-15).
Then he sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering for the people. Some of this blood was then also taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled there on behalf of the people (Leviticus 16:11-15). Next, the high priest took another goat (called the “scapegoat”), laid his hands on its head, and confessed over it the sins of Israel.
After the confession, the scapegoat was released it into the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:8,10). The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside of the city and subsequently burned; the day finally concluded with some additional sacrifices.
According to Jewish custom, three books are opened on the Feast of Trumpets: the Book of Life for the righteous, the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and the Book of Life those for in-between.
If a man is deemed righteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the righteous at the Feast of Trumpets. If a man is unrighteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and he will not survive the year.
If a man is deemed in-between, judgment is delayed for ten days from the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of the Day of Atonement. It is during that period of time that a man is given opportunity to repent before the book is closed and his destiny sealed.
It is important to remember that rituals of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were ordained by God and recorded in Scripture. And Scripture was written for all men, in all times.
Even Scripture addressed to a particular group, like the Jews. And, through the Holy Spirit, all Scripture illuminates and reveals God’s purposes and plans as relevant to all men of all ages.
Examined closely, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rituals constitute a prefiguration of the Church Age, its conclusion, and reveal the ultimate purpose of the Tribulation Period.
Jesus, who had no sin to bear or confess, became the ‘scapegoat’ upon which our sins were carried away into the ‘wilderness’. The names of those who trust to His completed work are already written into the Book of Life.
Then there are those who are ‘in between’. It is for those Jews and Gentiles that are slated to go through the Tribulation Period to have one last opportunity to repent before the books are closed and their destinies are forever sealed.
There are only four types of created, sentient, spiritual beings identified in the Bible. First, there are the angels, both elect and fallen.
Secondly, there are the Gentiles, which is the spiritual state of unregenerate, fallen man. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a third spiritual creation is introduced, the children of Israel, out of whom came the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fourth spiritual creation was created by Jesus Christ Personally.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
A Christian is an entirely unique spiritual creation, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It is a one-way spiritual metamorphosis. The old creation no longer exists.
A Christian can no more turn himself back into the Jew or Gentile he had been before regeneration than a butterfly can turn himself back into a caterpillar.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
The Tribulation’s purpose is to give Jews and Gentiles one final opportunity to repent of their ways, trust Jesus for their salvation and be transformed into the new creation before the Books are closed on them forever.
Note several things. First, our scapegoat, upon Whom all our sins were carried away and our names were written into the Book of Life.
Second, the penning of our names into the Book at salvation is part of our transformation into a new spiritual creation. Like a caterpillar into a butterfly, a Christian’s spiritual transformation is permanent.
One cannot, by an act of his own will, revert back to his old spiritual form, whether Jew or Gentile, anymore than one can become an angel. All four are distinct and different from one another.
Third, the Tribulation Period is the ‘time of Jacob’s Trouble’ — a last chance for Jews and Gentiles to turn to Christ and be saved. All three books are open. Those who enter into the Tribulation are those whose names are currently written into the Book of ‘In-Between’ — unregenerate Jews and Gentiles.
One can accept Jesus and have one’s name written into the Book of Life, as the Bible says the Tribulation saints and martyrs will do.
It is also a time during which one can write his name into the Book of Unrighteousness by accepting the Mark of the Beast.
The Church, having already been written into the Book of Life, has no role to play in the Tribulation Period. The Bible says that God will ‘seal’ 12,000 of each of the 12 tribes of Israel as His chosen evangelists during the Tribulation (Revelation 7) who will carry on the work the Church does during the Church Age.
We find then, a number of truths confirmed. First, our eternal security. One cannot revert back to his or her previous spiritual state, since, at regeneration, the old man no longer exists to revert back TO.
Instead, “he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Second, it is obvious that the Church has no role to play during the Tribulation. The task of the Church is given to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
Third, the Tribulation Period is the time when the Book of ‘In-Between’ is opened. Rosh Hashanah is the Feast of the Trumpets, and the feast concludes with the blowing of the last trumpet.
After Rosh Hashanah, there is a ten-day period during which one has an opportunity to have his name registered in the Book of Life before the Day of Atonement when the Books are closed for the Day of Atonement.
The Body of Christ is already recorded in the Book of Life. All our sins were atoned for before the last trumpet sounded. To the Church, all the Books are already closed. We don’t belong. A pretribulation Rapture isn’t a ‘great escape’ for the Church, it is an utter necessity to the Plan of God moving forward.
Without a pre-trib Rapture, the purpose of the Tribulation Period reverts from a final opportunity to write one’s name in the appropriate Book to a period of indiscriminate judgment inflicted on a trusting Church, who by virtual of irreversible spiritual transformation, cannot possibly benefit from the ‘last chance’ period between the ‘last trump’ and the Day of Atonement on the plains of Megiddo at the Second Coming.
In fact, if one moves the ‘last trump’ into the middle or to the end of the Tribulation, it no longer has an discernible purpose apart from punishing the inhabitants of the earth indiscriminately.
Think of it this way. If the purpose of the Tribulation is to punish the wicked, it seems like a case of overkill, since the wicked are already slated for eternal punishment. On this side of the Tribulation, God doesn’t punish evildoers on earth.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”
If God reserves punishment for the wicked until eternity on this side of the Tribulation Period, why would He design a seven year period that, apart from a last chance at redemption, constitutes a special, dual punishment for one wicked generation out of all generations in human history?
Bottom line: Salvation is an eternal condition that begins at that point when one trusts Jesus. Once becoming a new spiritual creature, the old one no longer exists to revert back to, even if one were so inclined.
Those who are saved are written in the Book of Life. Those in the Book of Life have no further need of a last opportunity at atonement during the Tribulation Period.
The work of the Church during the Tribulation Period is carried on by Jewish evangelists chosen and sealed by God for that purpose.
The Church has no purpose assigned to it during the Tribulation, apart from being martyred, which makes Paul’s admonition to ‘comfort one another with these words’ [of the Rapture] somewhat meaningless.
Without a period between the last trumpet and the Day of Atonement, there is no opportunity offered for those whose name is written in the ‘Book of In Between’ to choose either the Book of Life or the Book of the Unrighteous.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet SHALL sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)
The ‘mystery’ must happen first, before the Tribulation can begin. And NOW, Paul’s admonition finds a context:
“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 5:18)
Featured Commentary: Remembering Nabeel Qureshi ~Alf Cengia