Copyright © 1975, 20021
Faith is the substance that cements us to all the promises of God, the sweet bond of union that assures to us our abiding in the love of the Father. Faith leads us on to eventual triumph. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). God has appointed the way whereby we may obtain all of His promises: it is the way of faith. The Lord Jesus once said to a man of a doubting heart, “Believe! All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
Faith is the arm of the electric trolley-bus that, pressing upon the overhead wires, brings the power down. Faith is Franklin’s kite soaring up into the heavens, conveying the awful power of the lightning to earth. Faith is Moses’ arms stretched up to God, assuring victory for Israel. Faith reaches far up into the invisible and brings down the almighty resources of God. Paul is on a sinking ship, the hold awash, the timbers starting,3 all masts long gone by the board; but up goes Paul’s right arm of faith and, holding on with the other to the stump of a jury mast, he says, “Sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God” (Acts 27:25). No one on the ship could drown after that.
What boundless resources are at the disposal of faith—“the unsearchable riches of Christ,” as Paul calls them in Ephesians 3:8. Those riches include:
- riches of power: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18);
- riches of wealth: “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 2:8);
- riches of boundless supply: “My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
There is nothing beyond the reach of faith.
Faith does not consider the possibility of defeat. The devil cannot win even one battle, for Christ achieved everlasting victory on Calvary. Good Mr. Feeble-mind, of the Pilgrim’s Progress, was taken by giant Slay-good, and although the giant had him in his clutches and was preparing to pick his bones, yet even Mr. Feeble-mind still believed that somehow all would be well. He said, upon his rescue,
I believed I should come out alive again, for I have heard that no pilgrim that is taken captive by violent hands, if he keeps heart-whole towards His Master, is by the law of providence to die by the hand of the enemy.
Faith knows that guardian angels are always closer than the hosts of Midian,4 and that because the Head, in Heaven, is seated upon the throne of the universe, then the body, the Church, is joined with Him there (Ephesians 2:6).
Introducing Enoch and His Era
There is to be a final triumph of faith, and we shall close this book with the Lord’s great encouragement and solemn warning given to us in the example of Enoch. “By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God had translated him; for before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch is the Lord’s earliest example of triumphant faith. The Bible record is, “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam. Jude says:
- And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints,
- to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
- Jude 14-15
Enoch knew Adam well; he knew him for three hundred and eight years, for Adam died only about fifty years before Enoch’s translation. Adam lived for nine hundred and thirty years (Genesis 5:5), and he was six hundred and twenty-two years old when Enoch was born. Adam knew Methuselah, the living example of God’s grace, the man who lived to the greatest age of any man, and who died as his name had indicated, just before the judgment of the universal Deluge. Adam also saw Lamech, who was Noah’s father. Adam used to listen to Enoch’s prophecies, and knew very much more about them than we do. He heard Enoch give the only authentic word, quoted above, that has come down to us. It is the only genuine prophecy of Enoch, borrowed to give the apocryphal book of Enoch the stamp of authenticity; but the Holy Spirit has preserved it for us in the inspired letter of Jude. Enoch had, from Adam, a first-hand account of the Garden of Eden; and he learned as much about the Creation as Adam knew. He often listened to Adam describing the glories of the Garden, and must have shed sympathetic tears as he heard about the tragedy of the Fall.
In Enoch’s days and during the last days of Adam, things were drawing to a climax. Whenever judgment is impending, two things happen: God seeks to revive His people; and the evil one brings a strange apathy over humanity. No one seems to care anymore about the future. What were the conditions of Enoch’s days? There was some knowledge of what, in God’s sight, constituted morality. It was inherited from Adam, and conscience testified to it. But there was no check on moral conduct, for everyone, except the very few righteous, took each other’s conduct as the standard. It was a permissive society! The original revelation was drawing out thinner and thinner as the years went by. It had become attenuated by the increasing distances as the human race spread out. Nevertheless, no one doubted special creation; no one doubted the existence of God. No one believed in the theory of organic evolution, that is, that life had come by chance. The idea had not yet been invented. All knew that life had originated in the sole Author of life—God.
Everyone except a very, very few, the righteous, accepted the doctrine of uniformitarianism, that is, that there had been and would continue to be an essential uniformity of cause and effect concerning the physical history of the world since creation; so no cataclysm could occur. Of course, very shortly their theory was in for a rude shock; but it was a nice, comfortable doctrine to excuse sin and lull the conscience, until it was suddenly shattered. No one doubted that God was somewhere, but they guessed that He had left the earth and was no longer concerned with it. He had gotten it going, but then He had left it to look after itself. After all, one had only to look up and see the great revolving macrocosm of the universe (and eyes were sharper and the atmosphere clearer then) to know that He had quite enough to concern Himself with up there, so they said, “Make the best of things. Do as you like. Have a good time. Enjoy yourself!”
The Lord had withdrawn Himself; He would not be present amid the deeds of blood and lust and crime. Once He had walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Even after sin had entered into the world, He was still present. Men knew the place where He could be found, for Cain had talked with Him until he “went out from the presence of the Lord” (Genesis 4:16). By the time of Enos, the grandson of Adam, there was no place where He could be found; “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
Spiritualism was rife in those days, but not the kind that satisfies the much lower intelligence of many today. They did not hold hands in darkened rooms or play with luminous paint, ouija boards, or toy trumpets; the evil spirit intelligences of today have matched themselves to the degeneracy of modern minds. Openly and unashamedly, in those days, people held communication with spirit beings. They had been used to angels as messengers of God. All knew of the cherubim who with flaming sword guarded for a time the tree of life, until God removed it (Genesis 3:24).
Now, in their rebellion, men welcomed the fallen intelligences, the friends of Lucifer, which assumed physical form and had intercourse with earth’s women, who in those early days were exceedingly fair of form; and children were born to them, giants and mighty men, men of renown (Genesis 6:4). Every nation has its myths and legends of giants and heroes. The Greeks, who especially preserved and tabulated these things, are a fair example of the whole. The Titans, the Centimanni, and the Cyclops are specimens of the giants, as are also Anak (Numbers 13:22,28,33), Og (Deuteronomy 3:1-4,10-13), and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), mentioned in the Bible, who came later. Perseus, the slayer of the Gorgon Medusa, was the son of the father of the gods, Zeus, and the earth maiden Danae. Hercules, renowned for his strength, was the son of Zeus and the woman Alcmene. The gods of the Greeks and Romans were uninhibited libertines, as their numerous children by earth women, whom they raped freely, testify. What to fallen man was a wonder and an action to admire and copy, to the Most Holy One and His few worshippers on earth was a most awful and shameful thing. God shut up these offending angelic beings in Tartarus,5 as revealed by Peter (2 Peter 2:4) and also by Jude (verse 6), and bound them with everlasting chains against the Judgment Day.6
Wherever man had gone, violence had gone with him. “The earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13). Murder had become a matter of amusement and of entertainment, of boasting and pride, as the speech of Lamech to his two wives reveals (Genesis 4:23,24).
“All flesh had corrupted its way” (Genesis 6:12); that is, all living things were becoming perverted from the original purpose of God. At the lowest end of the scale of creation, beneficent bacteria had become malignant germs of disease; insects having the gift of a sharp instrument useful for many purposes, such as the piercing of the bark of a tree in order to lay an egg in the incision, began to use it in attack, venomously, to sting and to cause harm. Winged flies, made to exhibit their grace and beauty, degenerated into repulsive spreaders of disease; others, formed to nourish their bodies upon the sap of plants, began to suck blood; and so upward in the ascending order of nature, as herbivorous animals became carnivores, and by reason of the amazing virility of those earliest times, developed teeth adapted to their new diet. At the head of the animal kingdom, its fallen god, man, was now producing demi-celestials, giants, and monsters.
Bigamy, leading eventually to polygamy and the inevitable subjugation of woman as the possession of the man, had begun. Lamech, of the line of Cain, had two wives, Adah and Zillah (Genesis 4:19-24). Man, more physically powerful than but not mentally superior to woman, was leading the universal trend of rule by force and violence, as opposed to rule by justice and law; so woman was becoming man’s slave and thing. In the beginning it was not so. There was an equality between Adam and Eve. Eve was Adam’s helpmeet (the word in Genesis 2:18 means partner) and by reason of her sin and the Fall, the Lord God said, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). But in Christ all is restored: the wife is again restored to liberty (but not independence), and husband and wife are one as partners again (1 Peter 3:7; Galatians 3:28).
Saving From and Through Tribulation
It was at this time, and under these conditions, that God prepared Enoch for translation. The reader who has followed closely the preceding brief outline of the conditions of the earth prior to the Noachian7 Deluge, will have seen that very similar conditions obtain at the present day. It was during this time that the Lord God, who had led Enoch to walk by faith with Him through this evil scene, prepared him for his final triumph—rapture.
Jesus said, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). How did the Lord deal with His people then? That is exactly how He will deal with them now. Enoch He saved from the tribulation of the Deluge by rapturing him; Noah and his family He saved through, but not from, that tribulation. The wicked suffered fully in the Deluge tribulation. God gave Enoch the opportunity to qualify for translation, and Enoch walked by faith with God and fulfilled it. The very words of the Lord Jesus concerning the judgments which would overtake the world before His coming, and the promise of escape to the watchful ones, equally applied to the generation before the Flood: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Enoch alone was found worthy to escape, and he was raptured well before the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.
Two Kinds of Tribulation
There are two kinds of tribulation that can beset mankind; one is caused by the wrath of man, and the other, far more awful, is a manifestation of the wrath of God. Both of these are mentioned and differentiated in the first chapter of the second letter of Paul to the church at Thessalonica. He speaks first of the necessity and the subsequent reward of enduring with patience the wrath of man.
- We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure,
- Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5
This is tribulation caused by the wrath and malice of man, inspired by the evil one who hates the people of God. The Lord has not promised to protect His people from such suffering, and has often allowed them to endure it. Then Paul goes on to speak of divine judgments:
- Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
- and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
- in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.…
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8
From this series of judgments, culminating in the descent of the Lord Jesus from Glory, God would save His people. Notice that it is the “righteous judgment of God” (verse 5) that the Church should endure that tribulation through persecution that refines it; this has been the lot of the Church from its earliest days. It is also “a righteous thing with God” (verse 6) that tribulation should be recompensed to them who have caused the Church to suffer. The Church is the body, the Lord Jesus is the Head; so just as He endured suffering by the assaults of men, so must the Church—for body and Head are all one. But all judgment has been committed to the Son (John 5:22), and the most awful anger is the wrath of the Lamb, far more terrible than the wrath of the lion, the devil.
It is impossible that the Church should endure that final manifestation of destructive wrath; could He punish His own body? There must be a way of escape for the Church. The Lord always makes provision for His people; but He makes a difference between them. Those who wholly follow the Lord are saved from His judgments. They are not present when the vials of His wrath are poured out. Those who are not utterly consecrated are saved in the judgments; they are present, but not hurt by them.
Examples of Through and From
Consider these examples:
Israel and Jethro
When God would punish the Egyptians and execute judgment upon all the gods of Egypt, then His people, being present, saw all of His awful works and were in much fear, but were kept safely in the Land of Goshen. Israel in great trembling was taken dry-shod through the sea that was soon to break over the heads of Pharaoh and his hosts, to their utter destruction. Then Israel, in safety, on the very borders of that destroying sea, sang the triumph song of Moses. Yet, at the same time, Jethro, the priest of Midian, who had never lived in luxurious Egypt but had been content to serve his God in the desert, was living in peace and safety with his family, far from the sight and sound of judgment.
Lot and Abraham
When God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the heavens, He saved just Lot and as many of his family as would listen to him (Genesis 19:1-17); and they all, trembling and afraid, fled to Zoar which He specially spared (at Lot’s request) to be a refuge for him (verses 18-23). Lot did not walk with God in faith, and he could not believe the word of God that he was safe in Zoar, so he fled to the mountains (verse 30).
Meanwhile, the man of faith who lived apart from that wicked, sinful world—Abraham, the friend of God—knew, by revelation, the purposes of God, and talked with Him of His judgments. Abraham was in perfect peace and confidence, far from the presence of destruction, while Lot was fleeing in terror. Both were righteous men, but one was sanctified to God, lived apart from the world, and had a pure heart toward God; the other did not. “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord” (Genesis 19:27), and shortly afterward he received the gift of a son, Isaac, by miraculous birth; while at the same time, Lot, made drunk, was living incestuously with his unbelieving daughters, who gave birth to children of the flesh, Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:30-38), whose descendants became the enemies of the heirs of Abraham, the man of consecration and faith.
Noah and Enoch
It is significant that Enoch was raptured away from the place of judgment, but Noah was present with his family through that most awful time, tossed upon waves thousands of feet high, shut in with squealing, barking, roaring, malodorous (there were two skunks in the ark), frightened animals, but safe; just as Israel was safe and Lot was safe. But there had been a better way. Israel’s sin of unbelief was revealed during their pilgrimage in the desert. Lot’s sin we have referred to. Noah’s lack of complete consecration was shown, like Lot’s, by the sin of drunkenness and subsequent display of the flesh (Genesis 9:20-21).
The Siege of Jerusalem, 70 a.d.
Consider that when the time of judgment came to Jerusalem, those Christians who had sacrificed all in utter consecration to the Lord and who had obeyed His word, going out into all the world to preach the Gospel, were far away when the destroying armies of Rome were beginning to encircle the city. The fate of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 was so awful that the graphic pen of Josephus8 can give us only some faint glimpse of the horrors of that time. Within Jerusalem, clinging sentimentally to the doomed city, bound by tradition, by position, by religion, by friendly but unchristian neighbours, were Christians, truly in the Lord’s body. He made provision for them as He had promised (Mark 13:14); the Roman armies, strangely under the control of Divine providence, drew back for a short time, enabling the Christians to flee in safety to Pella, in the mountains. Once again the Lord saved His people from His wrath, as He had Noah, Lot and Israel, though they were in the very midst of judgment; but He saved Enoch, Abraham, and Jethro from even the presence of His wrath.
Enoch’s Preparation for Rapture
We must now look at the life of Enoch and see how he was prepared for rapture, and so escaped the presence of the judgment. He did not qualify apart from the grace of God. It is one thing to attempt to be pure and holy by the effort of the flesh, which is impossible; it is quite another thing to be pure and holy by faith, through grace, and by an obedient ear to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. God would not call us to be holy if it were not possible. It is unbelief in the heart which attempts to repudiate this truth.
This triumph of faith is not by means of a final act of faith, but it is the culmination of the walk of faith with God. One cannot walk with God except by invitation. The Lord Jesus called His disciples individually to walk with Him. He said to each one, “Come, follow Me!”—and each one who was willing arose and followed Him. This following Him in discipleship is neither mechanical in its thinking nor automatic in its action. One can refuse to follow Him. The will must respond to the grace which has extended the call. The Lord Jesus gave exactly the same call to the rich young ruler, who refused it. “Then Jesus…said to him, ‘Come, take up the cross and follow Me.’ And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved…” (Mark 10:21,22). The call of Christ is evidenced by an internal desire to follow Him. The enemy reacts by inciting the fear of all the dangers and unpleasant things that will result from the call. Grace makes the will free to decide, and the human will—not compulsive Divine pressure—gives the deciding choice. The Almighty God could, but does not, turn stones into the children of Abraham (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8). All of His children will be with Him in heaven by free choice, not because they were subject to an irresistible and inescapable destiny. For this reason, the Lord Jesus Christ in the day of judgment will justly punish those who could have followed but would not, and will reward those who could have turned back but did not.
We must take up our cross if we would walk with God, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). The way of the cross may be the way of sorrow, but it is also the way of joy. The antonym of joy is not sorrow, but misery; sorrow and joy are compatible. Sorrow is one of the wisest of God’s teachers.
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chattered all the way,
Nor left me ought the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she,
But oh! the things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.9
When the rich, young ruler refused the Lord’s call to take up his cross and follow, he went away full of grief. If he had followed Jesus, he would have been full of joy. When Peter took his own advice and pitied himself (marginal reading, Matthew 16:22), denying his Lord and refusing his cross, he wept bitterly. Satan offers to us a primrose path of our own will and pleasure, but it leads to deepest misery. Jesus offers the cross, a denial of our own will, and a narrow way, and it is the way of ever-increasing and everlasting joy.
God called Enoch to walk with Him, “and Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22,24). God called Enoch to speak on his behalf, putting an unpopular word into his mouth, as He did later with Moses and the child Samuel. Because Enoch was willing to speak the word, God anointed him with the Holy Spirit, making him a prophet of the Most High God. “Enoch,” says Jude, “prophesied” (verse 14). This was not easy; what was he saying? “The God whom you think is far off and gone away forever, leaving the earth to go on its own way, is coming back again!” “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” (verse 14). Enoch did not know the when, but he knew the fact that the Lord was returning to earth; and when He returns, said Enoch, He is going to judge you all and execute judgment upon all you ungodly sinners. It was a very dangerous and most unpopular thing to preach, because in those days the earth was filled with violence. Enoch’s faith was an obedient faith without regard to the consequences; his great concern was not, “Is it popular? but “Is it true?” and “Does God want me to say it?”
Think of the faith of Enoch. “By faith Enoch was translated” (Hebrews 11:5), which means that he was raptured, caught up. Do not commit the popular error of thinking that he was caught up because he had faith in his own rapture. Many have faith in the doctrine of the rapture, a human believe-ism, produced by fervent speeches and exciting books on prophecy; but this will not produce anything except eventual disappointment. It is faith in God that qualifies. Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). It was not an act of faith, single and alone, that Enoch (and later, Abraham) had, but an attitude of heart, believing God all the time.
Abraham believed God as a continual experience, always, about everything. This was the faith that was imputed to him for righteousness, not his believing God for a certain thing on a special occasion. Enoch so believed God that without hesitation, without fear of the consequences to himself, he spoke the Lord’s word. He prophesied according to the proportion of faith that he had, which, Paul declares, is the way of truth (Romans 12:6). This is the mark of the true prophet; we wish that there were more such. Today is the day of the pseudo-prophet who by many is considered authentic if he can gush in a string of Bible texts and pleasant promises over simple, genuine, but gullible souls, the rhapsody often being slanted to his own advantage. “The Lord is coming with ten thousands of His saints,” said Enoch. This required considerable faith to announce. How many saints had lived from the beginning until then? How many were living when he said it? How many saints did God find to put into the ark? Only eight—and some of these do not seem to have been exceptional characters; one thinks of Ham (Genesis 9:20-24).
The character of Enoch qualified him for rapture, and this must be our character, too. He walked with God, every day; he did not have a sabbath-day religion. Every step and every action was with one motive—to please God. The present-day equivalent is the admonition, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:17). It must be emphasized that this does not mean that one must tag the name “Jesus” to every action and bring the name “Jesus” into every sentence; but that every word and action must proceed from the indwelling Jesus and be done with one, sole motive—to please God the Father. Only that which is of the Son pleases the Father, and did so in the beginning, ages of ages before ever the human name “Jesus” was adopted by the Logos, when He became incarnate in man, late in time. “This is My beloved Son,” said the Father, “in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). He ever has been the Father’s Beloved, and ever will be. The Father ever has been well pleased with the Son, and ever will be, and we have been adopted “to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).
- Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth;
- And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2:10-11
It is in the name of Jesus that every knee shall bow. The Greek preposition is en, translated at in the King James Authorized Version of the Bible. The Greek word en has a much deeper significance than is given in this translation. It has the sense of “being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest and continuance” (Bullinger).10 The Holy Spirit is speaking here of a voluntary bowing the knee to the Lordship of the Son. God is not interested in compelling the bowing of the knees of rebels when their hearts are still alien to Him; that would be but a manifestation of His ability to crush opposition. Impenitent rebels who have refused Christ will have their part in the lake of fire.
Paul says: “I give you to understand… that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3); the only lauding of the Son that the Father desires from humanity is a glad and voluntary acknowledgment of His Lordship, in love rising from the heart. This alone, coming from those who once were rebels, aliens, and strangers, but who are now reconciled to God through the blood of His Son, gives glory to God the Father.
The most amazing miracle and manifestation of divine grace that ever has been or could be was the Incarnation, which was the gift by the Father of His Son, and the Son’s voluntary descent to the earth that He had once created, becoming visible in the actual person of a man. This was not a theophany (that is, God assuming merely the appearance of a human being, as He did, for example, to Abraham,11 but a real and literal putting on of human nature in its completeness of body, soul, and spirit. When He did this, He took a common and familiar Jewish name, Yeshua (Joshua), known more familiarly to us in its Greek form of Jesus; then, ascending to the Father after His resurrection, He ascended as the Divine-man—God forever compounded with the humanity that He had glorified. He was the first man to enter into the true Holy of Holies, the presence of the Father, so that He was the leader of many who, like Him, should be conceived and born of the Holy Spirit and brought as sons into the Glory. No man, not even Enoch or Elijah, had entered that holy place, the immediate presence of God; for as Jesus said, “No man hath ascended up to [the] Heaven” (John 3:13). Enoch and Elijah had been taken up into the heavens and then had waited with all of the other saints in Paradise, in Sheol (Greek: Hades), until the coming of the Deliverer. After the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, a new name was known in Heaven. The Logos, the Eternal One, Son of the Father, had glorified the name Jesus, and all the angels of God bowed low before a human name.
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess Him King of glory now:
’Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call Him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.
At His voice, creation sprang at once to sight—
All the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
Thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
All the heavenly Orders, in their great array.
Humbled for a season, to receive a Name
From the lips of sinners unto whom He came;
Faithfully He bore it, spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious, when from death He passed.
Bore it up triumphant with its human light
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.12
Enoch had a good testimony—“for before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). That is the only kind of testimony that is worth anything—one that pleases God. If Enoch had been running a used car lot, his utter truthfulness about the models he was showing would have pleased God. If Enoch had been a lawyer, his selfless interest in justice and in the welfare of the innocent would have pleased God. If Enoch had been an employer of labour, his payment of a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work, and his deep interest and concern for the good of his workers and their families would have pleased God. If Enoch had been an employee, his honest day’s work and freedom from pilfering his employer’s property would have pleased God—and so on. This is the practical overcoming life that before rapture (note very specially this word before) qualifies the Christian for it. All arguments that justify sin in the Christian are against Scripture and are the product of the carnal mind. The Bible agrees with the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints, but knows nothing about a doctrine of the final perseverance of sinners. Enoch did what Adam had once done in Eden: he walked and talked with God. Amos tells us that “two cannot walk together unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3). Enoch agreed with God about everything; his attitude was “not my will but thine be done.” He agreed with God in holiness; he agreed with God in truth. He had the character of God, which is godliness; how indignant he was with ungodliness. He said that God was coming “to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 15). For Enoch loved God, and to those who love God, all thought and action contrary to Him is utterly abhorrent.
Enoch’s Triumph: The Final Triumph of Faith
So Enoch triumphed—“he was not… for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). He was caught up, seen no more on the earth. He vanished. He disappeared. He became one of the waiting saints, one of the tens of thousands who, coming with their Lord, will welcome the New Covenant Enochs, those fully consecrated to God like him, who in that Great Day will join the Lord and all that holy company in the air.
When the Lord spoke of His return and emphasized that the condition of the times would be just as they were in the days of Noah, He made it clear that there would be division. The first division would be between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked would continue in their carelessness and sinning as they did in antediluvian13 times “until the day Noah entered into the ark…and the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:37-39).
The Lord then reveals a second division. He proceeds to say, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left,” and so with the two grinding at the mill and the two asleep in bed. To whom is He speaking? He is speaking to His disciples, for He says, “Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). If there is no difference between the watchful and the unwatchful, then why does He give such a constant and insistent repetition of the call to watch? It is confirmed in the parable of the wise and unwise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). They are all virgins. The Lord calls none but His own virgins; the unregenerate are not called virgins by the Lord Jesus Christ. The watching virgins go in to the Bridegroom’s house, to a prolonged time of feasting, for that was the marriage custom when the Lord was upon the earth. The unwise virgins are not shut out into outer darkness; but neither are they brought in to the marriage feast, which is the “marriage supper of the Lamb.”
Again, the Lord concludes with the solemn warning, “Watch therefore!” Why were the foolish virgins not invited in? It was not because they did not have a reserve of oil, but because they were not watching. If their minds had been set to watch until He came, they would have made provision for it by having a reserve vessel of oil. This is equivalent to our trusting the Lord to continue to renew us with ever-successive infillings of the Holy Spirit, rising up in overflowing measure from that well of living water, the abiding Holy Spirit within. This alone enables the lover of Jesus to watch with and for Him. The wise virgins are the Enochs of the latter days, and, in another figure, they are the firstfruits of the wheat harvest that the Son of God shall reap. (See Revelation 14, especially verse 4.) All of the wheat represents His own; but the firstfruits are gathered before the general harvest. In the days of the Old Covenant, God ordained that, before the harvest was gathered, first “ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord” (Leviticus 23:9-11). The first ripe, the very best, was lifted up to the Lord, typifying the bridal saints, the ones who are the undefiled virgins “which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.…In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” These are “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4-5). After these are caught up, there follows the general harvest, gathered with a sharp sickle by the Son of Man crowned with a golden crown (verses 14-16).
The same truth is given in another figure in Revelation 12—a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, crowned with stars, is delivered of a “man child, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron,” and is “caught up unto God and to His throne.” Whatever other interpretations of these scriptures there may be, they enshrine the same principle of a selection from the selection. Some are caught away from tribulation to come, while others are saved by passing through tribulation, like the woman who was “given two wings of a great eagle, that she could fly to the wilderness” from the wrath of the dragon, and be there preserved by God. This truth is made unequivocally clear by the Lord Jesus who said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
So Enoch “was not found, for God had translated him,” which means that they looked for him but could not find him. Who looked for him? Not the people of the world, but the people of God. Who looked for Elijah when he was raptured? Not the king of Israel, nor his corrupt court, nor the people he reigned over, but the “sons of the prophets” (2 Kings 2:16-18). Who will look for the Enochs raptured before the tribulation of God’s judgments upon the earth? It will not be the people of this world, but the people of God, the Noahs, the Shems, the Hams, the Japheths, and the sons of the prophets. The highly seasoned, journalistic accounts of the frantic concern of the populace at the sudden disappearance of the saints at the second coming of the Lord Jesus exists only in imagination. It is of the category of fiction. There is no suggestion of any such panic mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
This is the final triumph of faith—to be raptured, to be forever with the Lord, to share His millennial reign. The Lord’s steward had watched in diligence and was found faithful. But what of those saints who have already passed on and who were in Christ, really in Christ, not in word only, but in deed and in truth, who before their decease walked with God in holiness? What has the Scripture to say of these? It says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection… they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). God makes a difference between the holy and the righteous, as He does between the unjust and the filthy; for the time is shortly coming when it will be too late to qualify, and the Lord will say, “He that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). When Paul was on earth, he longed that he might qualify for this first resurrection:
- That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
- in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
- Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on…
- I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude.…
- Philippians 3:10-12,14-15 nasb
Here we say farewell, with a word of loving advice. Even if you are unconvinced of the truth of this final triumph of faith and its glorious reward, will you nevertheless ask for constant grace that you may be like Enoch for Jesus’s sake? Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. He has drawn you to Himself. Then, without a thought for the gift of a celestial crown or even of reward for the faithful, but just because He is your Beloved, live so as to please Him, for “in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
Then the end: Thy Church completed,
All Thy chosen gathered in,
With their King in glory seated,
Satan bound, and banished sin;
Gone forever parting, weeping,
Hunger, sorrow, death, and pain.
Lo! her watch Thy Church is keeping;
Come, Lord Jesus, come to reign!14
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Chapter image created by Jim Kerwin using a photo by Julentto Photography on Unsplash.com: https://unsplash.com/@julensan09. ↩
- Starting, in this context, is what structural parts do when they in this context, is what structural parts do when they work loose from position or fastening. ↩
- The allusion is to the enemy army in the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7). ↩
- Editor’s Note on Tartarus: Pastor Gutteridge brings out the word actually used by Peter in the Greek text. The words normally translated as hell in the New Testament are either Hades (the place of the departed dead awaiting judgment) or Gehenna (the place of eternal punishment). In 2 Peter 2:4 only, we encounter the Greek verb tartaro, which means literally “to cast into Tartarus.” In the understanding of ancient (non-Biblical) Greek writers, Tartarus was the place into which the ancient race of the Titans had been cast and imprisoned by the Olympian gods. Though it seems strange at first glance that Peter would employ a place-name taken from Greek mythology, his word choice was consistent with the Septuagint (LXX), that is, the Greek translation of the Old Testament available in his day. In that translation, the phrase “valley of the Rephaim” is rendered “valley of the Titans” in 2 Samuel 5:18,22. A similar translation is also found in at least one other passage, from the Apocrypha (Judith 16:7), where reference is made to “the sons of the Titans.” Peter undoubtedly discerned the echo of truth in the ancient Greek stories regarding God’s punishment of these fallen angels. ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge considers the imprisonment of these fallen angels from a unique viewpoint his article entitled The Black Hole. ↩
- Noachian: of or relating to the patriarch Noah ↩
- Flavius Josephus (37-100 a.d.), born Joseph ben Matthias, was a Jewish eyewitness of the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. His account can be found in his Wars of the Jews, Books 4-7. ↩
- Robert Browning Hamilton, in the poem Along the Road ↩
- The quote is from Ethelbert William Bullinger’s copiously annotated work, The Companion Bible. The note on Philippians 2:10 about the preposition “at” (page 1776) refers the reader to Appendix 104, item 8 (“viii”), where the quote Pastor Gutteridge uses is to be found (appendix page 149). Pastor Gutteridge frequently recommended The Companion Bible. ↩
- As in Genesis 18. The subject of theophanies is pursued further on the Finest of the Wheat site in the article entitled Who Was the Angel of the Lord?. ↩
- Caroline M. Noel, from the hymn At the Name of Jesus ↩
- Antediluvian: of or relating to the period before the Flood related in Genesis 6-8 ↩
- Henry Downton, from the hymn Lord, Her Watch Thy Church Is Keeping ↩