The book of Revelation starts with a depiction of God the Father, sitting on His throne with a book (scroll) in His hands, and it ends with Him opening a set of books.
We are drawing very near to the end of the Revelation Revisited series and so before I explain the significance of the books of Revelation 20:12, I once again need to present a glimpse of the big picture. Actually, the part of Revelation we are currently looking at, Chapter 20, provides an excellent basis for doing just that.
John provides a graphic portrayal of a mighty angel seizing Satan and binding him for 1,000 years. The thousand years stands as a symbol for the long period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The devil was effectively bound when Jesus died and rose again from the grave. From that moment onward Satan’s authority was stripped from him and he lost the right to control the lives of all who follow Jesus and are born again of His spirit.
This is the period of great tribulation and great revival the book of Revelation points us to in passages such as 7:14 and 11:1-14.
When Jesus comes again it is to reward His disciples and to judge all others. This event is portrayed in Revelation as the opening of books, and another book which Revelation 20:12 describes as ‘the book of life’. God will judge all people, saved and unsaved alike, by what is in the record of our lives. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’.
Here is how I imagine it will be. You will stand before the great throne of God and He will open the record of your life. As He does so, you will see, in vivid holographic reality, everything you have ever done, spoken or even thought.
As you review your life in the awesome presence of Almighty God you will realise with clarity that there is nothing in the records that merit your acceptance by Him and your continuing existence with Him. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This is so hard for us to own now, but we will see it so clearly then. But then The Lord will open another record, the Book of Life, and search for your name. This ‘book’ is written in blood, the blood of the Saviour, and if your name is inscribed in it then, despite your lack of earned merit, you will be deemed acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. The entry in the book is made when you repent of self-serving rebellion against God, confess this to Him, cry out to Him for mercy, acknowledge that in Jesus Christ alone can you have eternal life, and then receive the rebirth of your spirit as a gift of grace received by faith.