THE MAN WHO WALKED WITH GOD
By D. M. PANTON, M. A.
Enoch, the morning star of the world, is a model for us today of extraordinary value as the great prototype of all rapture. For Enoch was, like ourselves, a Gentile; his was the age which saw the birth of scientific invention in the world;* he lived in an epoch of rapidly deepening wickedness, and 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 emphasizes, "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 enforced upon us 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 complete obscurity he rose into heaven. How profoundly suggestive! "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith" - His hidden diamonds - "to be [R, V.] 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.
[* Jabal as founder of commerce, Tubal-Cain of manufacture, and Jubal of art (Gen. 4: 20-22), were the dawn of to-day’s mighty meridian: the early world held in it, even to the rapt saint, a mirror of our far vaster age. Enoch’s removal meant decades before the Flood makes sure (by type) the escape of all latter-day Enochs from approaching judgments, by secret rapture like his. "He was not found" (Heb. 11: 5) - thus his disappearance was known; but that he was sought for on earth reveals that his removal had been secret.]
Most significantly, it is the Apostle who writes the preface to 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 swims into our ken like a fresh star. Rapture is peculiarly linked with testimony to our 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 also will keep thee from that hour which is to come upon the whole world" (Rev. 3: 10). Of all the saints of Hebrews Eleven, Enoch alone was translated; and of Enoch, alone of them all, is Second Advent testimony recorded: so much so that the Holy Spirit says that it was to men of our dispensation, four thousand years before it opened, that Enoch spoke: "to these Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied" (Jude 14); and so riveted together is a Second Advent mouth and life with rapture, that lo, Enoch himself became the bodily proof of his own testimony. "He was not, for God TOOK him" (Gen. 5: 24). So our Lord makes the removal to turn on watchfulness for His return. "One is taken, and one is left. Watch therefore" (Matt. 24: 41).
The Spirit reveals a second ground of Enoch’s translation. "By FAITH Enoch was translated that he should not see death" (Heb. 11: 5). The faith which is so emphasized throughout Hebrews Eleven, 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 levelled by marching priests; actual resurrections from the dead; kingdoms subdued, promises obtained, and mouths of lions stopped, the power of fire quenched: - all these were the operations of something far beyond saving faith. Therefore we 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. 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."* The reason for his rapture is lodged in the pleasure he gave God before it occurred. For Enoch was rapt when all the patriarchs except two - Adam was dead, and Noah not yet born - were still on earth, and remained so. It was not faith that he would be translated, for it is nowhere said that God revealed to him that he would be removed without death, nor, since the event had never before occurred, could he have imagined it; but faith which made him well-pleasing to God whereby he was translated: the faith which pleased God lay not so much in the creed, as nestled in the heart of a sanctified life, a root of the full bloom which God plucked. 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.**
[* "It was God’s purpose to deliver him from the power of death AS A REWARD of his faith in the living God: his deliverance was a manifold reward of the faith" (Delitzsch). For the coming removal which Enoch’s rapture pictured falls, not in ‘this day’ of grace, but in ‘that day’ of justice: it is the very first event in the dawn of the day of recompense according to works.
[** It is also true, however, that while the Epistle to the Hebrews stresses only the rewarding nature of the removal, as the main practical point for us, it is probable that Enoch, like Elijah, is being reserved, by his extraordinarily exceptional experience, for a tremendous destiny in the drama of the end.]
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 life of devotion: so that the Old Testament phrase is, - "Enoch walked with God" (Gen. 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 cometh to God must believe that He is a rewarder [‘a renderer of reward’: Alford] of them that 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 extraordinary 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: 31); "Behold, I come quickly, and my REWARD is with me, to render to each according as his WORK is" (Rev. 22: 12). Had not God designed to do Enoch special honour, it had been easy to deliver him from the coming tribulation by ordinary death, as He did Methuselah. It has been said that the utmost reach some Christians attain is that they are pardoned criminals: Enoch is one of the few men in the Bible against whom no sin is recorded. "In all ages it has been universally acknowledged that no higher honour was ever publicly bestowed on any man on earth than that bestowed on Enoch and Elijah, an exalted honour evidently given to illustrate the unalterable principle that God remarkably honours those who are specially honouring to God" (Cornwall).*
[* "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 (Rev. 3: 10) be made good to us" (W. Maude). The Revised translation of Luke 21: 36 has the exact moral import of the Authorized; for it is obvious that we do not ‘watch and make supplication to prevail’ by having been regenerated, but by prayerful vigilance after conversion. "Making supplication at every season to prevail" is much more than regeneration, the work of a moment. One scholar’s translation is very suggestive: "Take heed to yourselves in case your hearts get overpowered by dissipation and drunkenness, and worldly anxieties, and so that day catches you suddenly as a trap: from hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these dangers to come, and in standing before the Son of Man." Stier thus sums up the consequences of the prayerful vigil: “‘To stand before the Son of Man’: first of all, to stand as one escaped from the judgment, saved from the wrath and judgment: but then, at the same time, as the highest and last thing of which we can be made or thought worthy, as heirs of His Kingdom to stand before Him for ever."
now all concentrates on the walk with God: "Enoch WALKED
with God" (Gen. 5: 24).
This expression occurs only twice in the Bible: of Enoch, type of the heavenly
deliverance, before the Flood; and of Noah, type of the Jewish escape, through
the Flood: and it is recorded once of Noah (Gen. 6:
9), but of Enoch twice (Gen. 5: 22, 24),
the latter alone being named and expounded in the New Testament; for the
heavenly calling involves a double intimacy with God, and involves the Church
alone. For both
[* The studied vagueness of the standard presented - simply ‘pleasing God’ - is full of instruction. God conceals the date of the Advent so that we may be always watchful, and He conceals the standard of holiness for rapture so that we may always be striving. It is the manifest wisdom of Deity. None can know till he hears the call. So the Scriptural believer holds exactly the language of Paul: "Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended; but I press on toward the goal unto the prize" (Phil. 3: 13).]