This afternoon at services there was a fascinating sermon about a subject I think about from time to time, namely the Book of Life . In looking at the verses that dealt with the Book of Life, under its various names, there was a lot to ponder over. The Book of Life is itself one of the most mysterious artifacts of the Bible, something that various authors of the Bible like Moses show an awareness of but one that is revealed in the pages of scripture itself only in short cameo appearances. How was it that Moses and others knew about the Book of Life to the degree where they simply took its operation more or less as a given? Since those answers are unknown, and to a great deal unknowable, I would like to turn my attention to something that is greatly important, related to the Book of Life and its practical operation, and something that we actually can get a better glimpse of from scripture.
What I propose we do today is to take a look at all of the passages in the Bible that deal with something being blotted out. There are twenty verses in the Bible that have that particular phrase, and they set a certain context that will allow us to see what needs to be blotted out in our lives. Without any further ado, here are all of the verses in the New King James Version of the Bible that show something being blotted out:
Exodus 17:14: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.””
Exodus 32:31-33: “Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.”
Deuteronomy 9:14: “Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.”
Deuteronomy 25:6: “And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 25:19-20: “Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget. The Lord would not spare him; for then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven.”
2 Kings 14:27: “And the Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.”
Nehemiah 4:5: “Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.”
Psalm 9:5: “You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.”
Psalm 51:1: “[ A Prayer of Repentance ] [ To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. ] Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.”
Psalm 51:9: “Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.”
Psalm 69:28: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, And not be written with the righteous.”
Psalm 109:13-14: “Let his posterity be cut off, And in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord, And let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.”
Isaiah 43:25: ““I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.”
Isaiah 44:22: “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Jeremiah 18:23: “Yet, Lord, You know all their counsel Which is against me, to slay me. Provide no atonement for their iniquity, Nor blot out their sin from Your sight; But let them be overthrown before You. Deal thus with them In the time of Your anger.”
Acts 3:19: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
Revelation 3:5: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Before looking at the patterns that we can see from these mentions of blotting out, perhaps it would first be worth noting what it means to blot something out in the first place, as it is something that a writer like myself might take for granted. In the English, blotting out has one of two meanings generally, either to cover or block something so that it can no longer be seen, like someone does on Facebook when they no longer want to see you or anything that even mentions your name, or to put a painful memory out of one’s mind, which is generally what will lead someone to blot your name out on Facebook or some other place. What words are used in the Bible for this unpleasant phenomenon? The main Hebrew word for blot out is H4229, machah, which has as its meanings to rub, to erase, to blot out, to destroy, to abolish. These are not things one wants to have happen to you. In the Greek, the term is G1813, or exaleipho, which means to obliterate, to rub out, erase, smear, wipe away. Again, these are things we want done to our sins and blunders, and not to ourselves.
Yet the Bible consistently refers to two things being blotted out–our transgressions and ourselves. Sometimes the two concepts, as in Psalm 109:13-14 and Exodus 32, the two concepts are directly juxtaposed, where the biblical author comes face to face with the reality that either our sins are to be blotted out or that will happen to us. Under such circumstances, we might look for a third way that does not require either full repentance or our own destruction in eternal judgment that removes any memory of us from the earth. The Bible gives us no such third option. There is the chance of levirate marriage to raise up the name of a godly person so that his name is not blotted out, but there is no chance that the Bible gives to avoid either our sins or we ourselves being blotted out. Given that stark choice between the two, we all have some choices to make when it comes to God, as there is only one way to eternal life, and that is having our sins and faults being wiped away so that they do not exist.
Yet that presents believers with a difficult dilemma. How is it that we blot out the iniquities that others have committed against us, so that they no longer burden our own heart and mind and create a sense of distance and enmity between ourselves and others? To be sure, we have little influence on others when it comes to wiping our own sins away, but we ought to have more influence when it comes to releasing others from the burden of guilt for their sins against us? Even if we no longer desire vengeance against those who have wronged us, how do we act so that those deeds and words may not haunt us in our nightmarish sleep, or make it difficult for us to get along with those we would want to be close to? As is often the case when looking at scripture, this is the sort of subject that gives us many questions and few answers, even as it impresses upon us the seriousness of what we are about.
 See, for example: