“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Enoch (Tom Edwards)
Sometimes it is just brief statements made about some individuals in the Bible that indicate their faith and devotion toward God — but that which can also give much encouragement to us in our own relationship with the Lord.
One such individual that the Bible says little about, but of whom we can infer had been a godly man, is seen in Genesis 5:18-24, along with a most unusual statement that is made about him. It tells of a man named Enoch who at 65 became the father of Methuselah (who in living to be 969 years of age is the oldest recorded human in the Bible). But though that was unique for Enoch to have a son that lived to such a great age, yet there is something even more special brought to our attention. For while Enoch’s life of 365 years was 604 years shorter than his son Methuselah’s, yet there is something more important than the number of years one lives. Rather, it is how one lives those years. And Enoch lived his the right way! For the Bible declares that Enoch “walked with God” — a phrase which indicates that Enoch believed in God, obeyed the Lord, and had obtained His favor. This also ties in with what the Hebrew writer says about Enoch: “…he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:5,6).
But when did Enoch live, and what was it like in his day? Was it a time in which the world would be a challenge to his faith — a time in which ungodliness seemed to prevail?
Based on the genealogy in Genesis 5, Enoch was born 622 years, and in the seventh generation, after God created Adam. And since Enoch was on earth for 365 years, 308 of those years were while that first man Adam was still living! I wonder if they ever met? If they ever talked? Wouldn’t that be interesting to meet and communicate with Adam and find out how it had been for him and Eve in the garden of Eden and of their relationship with God before the fall and their being driven out of the garden? So soon sin had entered this world — not even the very first couple had kept from transgression!
Enoch lived 300 years after Methuselah was born. When Methuselah was 187, he became the father of Lamech. Enoch was then 252. When Lamech was 182, he became the father of Noah — 69 years after Enoch left this world.
But consider Genesis 6:1,2: “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.”
Some view these “sons of God” as being the descendants of Adam and Eve’s third son Seth and of a godly lineage, while the “daughters of men” pertains to those descending from Cain and characterized with corruption.
According to the Pulpit Commentary, the phrase in Genesis 6:1, “And it came to pass,” is “Literally, it was; not in immediate sequence to the preceding chapter, but as some earlier point in the antediluvian period; perhaps about the time of Enoch (corresponding to that of Lamech the Cainite)…”
But regardless of how the world was in Enoch’s day, he strove to live in harmony with God, to be pleasing to Him, and to maintain that relationship.
And here is a most unusual thing we read of him. After mentioning that “Enoch walked with God,” the writer then goes on to say, “and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). The Hebrew writer elucidates on this when saying, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb. 11:5).
God can do the impossible (cf. Matt. 19:26). We are reminded of another case, too, in which the Lord took one up who had not died first. In knowing that the Lord would soon be taking Elijah away, Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to be upon him. Elijah then said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). While they journeyed on, talking along the way, “…there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out…And he saw Elijah no more” (vv. 11,12).
This idea of being caught up (or supernaturally transported) by the Spirit is also mentioned in 2 Kings 2:16. In not knowing where Elijah had been taken, the sons of the prophets, who had now recognized that the spirit of Elijah was on Elisha, had come to him with the desire to search for Elijah. For they said, “perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.”
For another instance, Obadiah had been “over the household” of Ahab; but being one who “feared the LORD greatly,” he hid 100 prophets of the Lord and provided for them. For Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, had been killing the prophets. Obadiah had then run into Elijah who wanted his whereabouts to be made known to Ahab by Obadiah. But Obadiah expressed his concern: “It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth” (1 Kings 18:12).
Another example is that of Philip. Though not taken from the earth, yet notice that after he had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch “…the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him… But Philip found himself at Azotus…” ( Acts 8:39,40). Though this Grecian term is found just once in the Bible, its Hebrew form of “Ashdod,” one of the five chief Philistine cities, is mentioned 19 times in the Old Testament (NASB) and 21 times in the KJV. But notice again that Philip was “snatched…away” by the Spirit. The same Greek word (harpazo) for that phrase is also used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which says, “Then we who are alive and remain will be CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (emphasis mine).
Paul also speaks of being “CAUGHT UP to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2), though he didn’t know if it happened “in the body” or “out of the body.” But that he “was CAUGHT UP into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (v. 4, emphases mine). Again, “caught up” is from “harpazo.”
There are also some instances, while Christ was on earth, that appear to have been a miraculous transporting from one place to the next. In John 6, for instance, there was a strong wind while the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and “had rowed about three or four miles” (v. 19). While in the process, they saw Jesus walking on the sea toward them and were initially frightened. Mark’s account mentions that when “He got into the boat with them…the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished” (Mark 6:51). So there they were in the Sea of Galilee, which is about 13 miles from its farthest points north to south, and 7 miles across at its widest points in the north; and, as we saw, they had rowed only about “three or four miles” — and now with no wind to drive them along. But notice what John brings out about this: “…He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid. So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and IMMEDIATELY the boat was at the land to which they were going” (Jn. 6:21, emphasis mine).
When Jesus appeared to His apostles again, following His resurrection, the account says, “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (Jn. 20:26). This appears to have been a miraculous entrance by the Lord. But even if not in this instance, it does not take away from His ability to do that.
When we think of Enoch being “taken up so that he would not see death” (Heb. 11:5), perhaps this reminds us of what we saw earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 of how that “we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”
Though Paul is focusing on the Christians — whether living or deceased — in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, yet all of us (whether Christians or not) will be caught up to give an account of ourselves to the Lord. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Enoch also knew of the Lord’s coming in judgment upon the ungodly and prophesied of it (cf. Jude 1:14,15). Enoch had faith in God, was wise to obey Him, and made himself ready for that great day of reckoning — and may the same also and always be true for each of us!
(All Scriptures from the NASB.)
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST<b/ig>
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)