ENOCH

by Reverend D. M. Panton

(Eminent British theologian of the 19th and early 20th century)


   Now Enoch, the morning star of the world, is a model for us today of extraordinary value, and is, in God's design, the great prototype of all rapture. For Enoch was, like ourselves, a Gentile; his was the epoch which saw the birth of scientific invention in the world; he lived in an age of rapidly deepening wickedness when the earth was filled with violence; his feet stood on the brink of a judgment that was to sweep the whole earth; he was, as the Holy Ghost emphasized, "the seventh from Adam" (Jude 14) - that is, a type of all who, after six thousand years of sin, shall share the Sabbatic Rest; his deliverance, the first of its kind in the history of the world, as ours will be the last - was by a sudden and supernatural removal, through a gateway into heaven that has only twice been opened since, and then only to distinguished saints; and his is the only rapture in the Bible enjoined by the Holy Spirit as a model for us. So also the very setting of his record is luminous with spiritual light. For we know absolutely nothing of the physical facts of his life: not a single outstanding event in it is recorded: out of profound obscurity he leapt into heaven. How profoundly suggestive! "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chose the poor of this world, rich in faith" - His hidden diamonds - "to be heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love Him?" (James 2:5). The church knows nothing of her brightest stars, for she moves beneath the range of their heavenly orbits.

   Most significantly, it is the Apostle who writes the preface of the Apocalyptic Judgments - Jude - who most stresses Enoch's testimony, and reveals it as exclusively a Second Advent testimony. Enoch prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all" (Jude 14 ) - upon Jew and Gentile, Church and world. Here a new truth comes into view like a fresh star. Rapture is peculiarly linked with testimony to the Lord's return; this was Enoch's express and exclusive recorded witness. So our Lord's word to the Philadelphian Angel runs thus: "Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from that hour which is to come upon the whole world" (Revelation 3:10).

   Of all the saints of Hebrews 11, Enoch alone was translated; and of Enoch alone is Second Advent testimony recorded. So much so that the Holy Spirit says that it was to men of our dispensation that he spoke: "to those Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied" (Jude 14). So riveted together is a Second Advent witness and life with rapture, that lo, Enoch himself became the bodily proof of his own testimony. "He was not, for God TOOK him" (Genesis 5:24). "One is taken, and one is left. Watch, therefore" (Matthew 24:41).

   The Spirit reveals a second ground of Enoch's translation. "By FAITH Enoch was translated that he should not see death" (Hebrews 11:5). The faith which is so enormously emphasized throughout Hebrews 11, while it necessarily assumes saving faith, is never only saving faith, but a faith far vaster and more potent. Abraham and Sarah begetting Isaac in extreme old age; Moses renouncing the Egyptian palace; Jericho leveled by marching priests; actual resurrections from the dead; kingdoms subdued, promises obtained, the mouths of lions stopped, the power of fire quenched: all these were the operations of something far beyond saving faith. Therefore see the tremendous truth. The faith for translation, so far from being merely the faith for salvation, is ranked by the Holy Spirit among the great achievements of the world. "The Scripture shows that this translation was a proof of the Divine love towards Enoch, by connecting it immediately with his pious and upright life" (Calvin). And so, alone among all these patriarchs, it is Enoch's experience of rapture that is seized upon by the Holy Spirit to emphasize reward: "for BEFORE his translation he hath had witness borne to him that he had been well pleasing unto God; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is a rewarder." For Enoch was rapt when all the patriarchs except two (Adam was dead, and Noah not yet born) were still on earth, yet he was the only one taken. "Enoch's translation was a testimony to the whole world of God's approval of his conduct" (John A. James). Enoch held nine hundred or a thousand years of life on earth, with corruption at the end of it, as nothing compared to a sudden heaven. He ceased upon the noontide of his life: to the youngest of all the patriarchs, for abandoning this life, God has given five thousand years in a better world.

   So the Holy Ghost now draws a general lesson of the utmost practical and prophetic importance to us: that the pleasure given to God by the rapt is not the mere act of conversion, but a whole life of devotion: so that the Old Testament phrase is, "Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:24), in continuous well-pleasing; it was his walk which produced his removal. He changed his place but not his company. For "without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto Him:" that is, whichever phrase we choose - he "pleased" God, or he "walked" with God - both imply faith, and continuous faith: "for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder [a renderer of reward] of them that diligently seek after Him." "God removed him in so unusual a manner from the earth that all might know how dear he was to the heart of God" (Calvin). To a life of extraordinary merit God granted an extraordinary reward; he became Enoch the immortalized because he had been Enoch the sanctified; the very name 'Enoch', with the pregnant significance of Bible names, means "dedicated, consecrated, separated." So our Lord says, "Watch ye and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape" (Luke 21:36): "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to each according as his work is: (Revelation 22:12). "Not without Enoch's faith, let us rest assured, shall we be deemed worthy of an Enoch-like translation. Not without Enoch's walk shall we be found among the wise and ready virgins. Not without Enoch's testimony concerning the coming of the King and Judge shall the precious promise to the Philadelphian Church (Revelation 3:10) be made good to us" (W. Maude).

   So now all concentrates on the walk with God - "Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:24). This expression occurs only twice in the Bible: of Enoch, type of the heavenly deliverance; and of Noah, type of the Jewish escape: and it is recorded once of Noah (Genesis 6:9), but of Enoch twice (Genesis 5:22, 24); for the heavenly calling involves a double intimacy with God. "He was a walker with God, and the course of his conversation was holy and upright; which was the reason for his translation, a high honour which was bestowed upon him" (Dr. Gill). None will escape from the coming judgments save those who walk with God. There is an exquisite beauty about the phrase discernible only to a sensitive spiritual vision: it implies close intimacy and unbroken communion; an agreement of mind and purpose, a union of heart and soul, a sympathy of sentiment and affection. It means a lonely life: Enoch walked with God when all men were walking contrary to God: nothing in the world is more valuable than the ability to walk alone, for it is the supreme prerequisite for walking with God. The man who walks with God becomes exceedingly sensitive to criticisms of Christ, and exceedingly sensitive to the inevitableness of judgment (Jude 15). The universal ungodliness obsessed Enoch like a nightmare (Jude 15), exactly as it did Elijah (Romans 11:3). It is most remarkable that the only two men ever rapt before Christ were each distinguished for extreme loneliness, and for fearless testimony in an age of dominant wickedness; that is, the man who stands alone for right is the man whom God delights to honor. It is an extraordinary comfort that Enoch's sole recorded distinction is his Godliness: no administrator like Moses, or warrior like David, or statesman like Daniel; no here of splendid exploit, or world-shaking achievement; the great prototype of all rapture was simply an ordinary man filled with extraordinary Godliness; a morning star flooded with the light of the still unrisen Sun. The law in the natural realm - that like attracts like - rules also in the spiritual; heaven attracts the heavenly; until, in the set design of God, acting upon ever-deepening heavenliness of character the mighty magnet suddenly works (Mark 4:29), and the Enochs are gone!

   I asked God to let me die when the light of the Advent dies out of my heart and life. The earth is flying from under us as though we were traveling in an express train; nothing now matters but the things that make for holiness and for God.

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