In 1982, the United States constructed a wall memorial in Washington, D.C. called the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which lists the names of all the soldiers who were killed or became missing in action during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). This monument reminds me of a book referred to in the Bible as the Book of Life. Here are my thoughts on this.
No other memorial I know has stirred up so much public sentiment as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Many people from around the world arrive at it and come away from it quiet in reverence, deep in thought and often in tears. This wall of remembrance has caused (and still causes) a tremendous release of emotion from many who visit it. Many come to the wall to remember, to reflect, to honor and to learn. What they are reminded most is the human cost of the war – and of all wars.
The Vietnam war was a very unpopular and costly war, not only monetarily, but in terms of human lives, national pride and national morale for the US. Its results were disappointing for the country. But finally, years after it ended, the nation’s fallen soldiers of that war were honored for the world to see. Because of this wall, the US, more than before, has acknowledged the sacrifice of its soldiers and the pain of their families and comrades.
Yet, this war memorial is still a wall. A wall is much like a fence that separates areas, rooms, terrains, neighbors, and countries. In this case, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a wall which, to me, separates the living from the dead.
The Book of Life mentioned in the Bible, however, is also a collection of names. It is a list of names of those who lived since the days of Adam and Eve to the present day and beyond. It is a book that will cause much jubilation and celebration when at last it is opened. When will that occur? Answer: After Jesus Christ returns to this earth to rule the nations as King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:15-16)
For Christians and all who believe in God, the Book of Life is cause for joy. Why? For the simple reason it shows us how God does not, and will not, forget those who have been called by Him, who have loved Him, and have been faithful to Him.
All of God’s people have their names written in this book. The saints mentioned in Hebrews 11:4-40, have been considered by Bible students and teachers as being in a hall of fame of some kind, but I see them as listed in the Book of Life. The names mentioned in this passage are: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and Caleb (both implied), Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel.
Others are mentioned here but are unnamed. Those saints not named are described as being:
“..tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”
(Hebrews 11:35-40, New King James)
This Book of Life represents the cries of many saints and martyrs:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
This book has a lot to do about justice.
Comparisons Between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Book of Life
1) The Vietnam Wall monument is a memorial of what soldiers have sacrificed for their country.
2) The wall memorial was built to show the American people that their service has not been forgotten.
The Book of Life exists to show all believers that God has not forgotten them.
3) The wall memorial displays names of people who physically fought and died under dangerous conditions.
The Book of Life is about those who spiritually fought under dark and evil conditions.
4) The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is displayed before the nation for the benefit of the families and friends – providing them closure and a sense of rest and peace.
The Book of Life is displayed before God the Father – providing His people commencement of an abundant life of rest and peace.
5) The Vietnam Wall Memorial is a witness to all peoples of the world – including America’s enemies.
The Book of Life is a witness to all the hosts in the universe – including the spirit enemies of God.
6) The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a testimony of death.
The Book of Life is a testimony of life.
7) The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is man’s attempt to create immortality of its warriors.
The Book of Life is God’s creation of immortality to His servants.
8) The wall behind the names of the soldiers represent death.
The pages of the Book of Life behind the names of the saints represent life.
My Speculations about the Book of Life
1) Many of the names in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (and in other memorials of other wars as well) are already in the Book of Life. Many of these soldiers were believers in God and came from God-fearing backgrounds. They were believers in God, Christ and country. Also, many in the list who were not believers at first may have repented as they were fighting and dying in battle.
2) Our given names that we use for ourselves today are differently written in the Book of Life. Why do I say this? Well look at the Bible record:
a. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (Genesis 17:1-5).
b. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:22-29).
c. Simon Peter’s name was changed to Cephas.
d. The Apostle Paul changed from using his Hebrew name, Saul, to the Roman and gentile name, Paul (Acts 13:9).
e. The “Lord God”, “the Word”, and “the I AM”, (names of Jesus Christ before He was born) were changed to Jesus.
f. We Christians will be given a new name. (Revelation 2:17).
3) The thief on the cross who was crucified next to Jesus Christ and who believed in Him, has his name written in the Book of Life. Why do I say this? Well, as I previously stated in my speculation No. 1, where just as many of the soldiers may have repented in their last moments of life, so in the last moments of his life, the thief repented and Christ forgave him. Grace was given to him (Luke 23:39-43). Praise be the God of salvation!
4) All of the unborn, aborted children have their names (given to them for the first time) written in the Book of Life. These were never given a chance to fight for their lives. Praise be the Giver of life!
5) All those born with autism, mental deficiencies and psychological handicaps have their names written in the Book of Life. They were never given insight. May the Giver of all knowledge and wisdom be praised!
6) All children who have ever been abused and murdered have their names written in the Book of Life. They were defenseless in the battle against evil. The Kingdom of God belongs to them! (Matthew 19:14)
Other Names for the Book of Life
If I were asked what other names or titles would I give to the Book of Life, these would be some of my suggestions:
1) The Book of Grace
2) The Book of Praise
3) The Book of Love
4) The Book of the Faithful
5) The Book of Mercy
6) The Book of the Born Again
7) The Book of Justice
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial represents the sincere intention by the United States of honoring its fallen dead and immortalizing their names for all to see. It is understandably a monument of great history and a means of consolation and comfort to all who were influenced by these soldiers and staff.
And at the same time, I thank and praise God who is the author of a Book of Life – a book of hope and a ticket to a wonderful future life.