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Book Three of Three
Being with Him
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death". Hebrews 11:5.
Patriarchs & Prophets 82
"For nearly a thousand years Adam lived among men, a witness to the results of his sin. Faithfully [in repentance] he sought to stem the tide of evil. He had been commanded to instruct his posterity in the way of the Lord, and he carefully treasured what God had revealed to him, and repeated it to succeeding generations. To his children and childrens children, to the ninth generation, he described his and Eves holy and happy estate in Paradise, and repeated the history of his fall [willful disobedience], telling them of the sufferings by which God had taught him the necessity of strict adherence to His Law, and explaining to them the merciful provisions for their salvation. Yet there were but few who gave heed to his words. Often he was met with bitter reproaches for the sin that had brought such woe upon his posterity."
"Adams life was one of sorrow, humility and contrition. When he left Eden, the thought that he must die thrilled him with horror. He was first made acquainted with the reality of death in the human family when Cain, his first-born son, became the murderer of his brother. Filled with the keenest remorse for his own sin, and doubly bereaved in the death of Abel and the rejection of Cain, Adam was bowed down with anguish [and began to give way to depression]. He witnessed the widespreading corruption that was finally to cause the destruction of the world by a flood, and though the sentence of death pronounced upon him by his Maker had at first appeared terrible, yet after beholding for nearly a thousand years the results of sin, he [like so many since] felt that it was merciful of God to bring to an end a life of suffering and sorrow."
But in this thought he misunderstood his God terribly, for it is Satan who has "the power of death". Hebrews 2:14. When Jesus faced this death in the wilderness of temptation, in Gethsemane, and on the cross, He cried to His Father for help and even sweated blood in His agony. Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:39-44; Mark 15:33-34.
It is in an effort to set the record straight that these words are written, for the darkness that shrouds the world at the present time is a misapprehension of the character of God. Isaiah 60:1-2. He is our "Father" and He loves us and wants us to have an "everlasting life", not one interrupted by a time in the grave. John 3:16. To this end He has given us a "gift".
Read on to know more about it.
How to keep it!
Jesus said, "Your fathers did eat bread in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever". John 6:49-51.
"The wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD". Romans 6:23.
The power of resurrection
The apostle Paul began his important letter to the Christians at Rome with the words, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God... concerning His son Jesus Christ our LORD... declared to be the Son of God with power... by the resurrection from the dead". Romans 1:1-4.
He wrote this because as well as raising Himself from the dead, Jesus had shaken the prison-house of His enemy to its foundations and robbed him of some of his spoils by bringing up a company of the sleeping dead as a fresh trophy of His victory. Isaiah 61:1. It is written, "When He ascended up on high [after Calvary], He led [or took with Him] a multitude of captives, and gave gifts to men". Ephesians 4:8 margin.
When Christ was laid in the grave, Satan had triumphed. He dared to hope that the Saviour would not be able take up His life again. He claimed the LORD's body and set his guard about the tomb, seeking to hold Christ a prisoner like all the others. He was bitterly angry when his angels fled at the approach of the heavenly messenger, and when he saw Christ come forth in triumph he realised that unless he repented his kingdom would have an end, and he must finally die himself. But he would not change his resolve.
When the voice of the mighty angel was heard at Christ's tomb, saying, "Your Father calls You", the Saviour of humanity came forth from the grave by the life that was in Himself, the life of God.
Now was proved the truth of His words, "I lay down My life that I might take it again... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again". John 10:17-18. Now was fulfilled the prophecy He had spoken to the priests and rulers, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up". John 2:19. These words could be spoken only by the Deity, for only He who is one with God could say such things, and now His action proved their truthfulness and His ability.
As He had done at Lazarus' tomb, Jesus proclaimed in triumph as He stood outside the sepulchre of Joseph, "I am the resurrection, and the life", and called forth the multitude. John 11:25. The earthquake at His death had opened their graves and when He arose that Sunday morning, they came with Him. They were those who, over the ages, had been co-labourers together with Him and who, at the cost of their lives, had borne testimony to the truth. Now they were to be witnesses again for Him who had raised them from the dead.
It is recorded for us, "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain [two] from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many". Matthew 27:50-53.
During His ministry, Jesus had also called some of the recent dead back to life. He had resurrected the ruler's daughter soon after her last breath, the son of the widow of Nain as he was being carried to his grave, and then Lazarus after four days in the tomb. Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:43-45. However, these were not clothed with immortality or taken to heaven after they were raised, and they were still subject to death. But those who came forth from the grave at Christ's resurrection were called to everlasting life and ascended with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave.
"These", Christ might have said, "are no longer the captives of Satan, I have redeemed them. I have brought them from the grave as the first fruits of My power, to be with Me where I am, nevermore to see death or experience sorrow".
These risen saints bore witness in Jerusalem to the truth of the words, "Your dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise". Their resurrection was an illustration of the fulfillment of the prophecy, "Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust: for your dew is as the dew of the herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead". Isaiah 26:19.
The next resurrection
The voice that cried from the cross, "It is finished", was heard among the dead. It pierced the walls of the sepulchres and summoned the sleepers to arise. Thus it will be when the voice of Christ shall be heard from the sky at His second advent. That voice will again penetrate the graves and unbar the tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. This is the message we have been given:
"I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, concerning them which are asleep [in death], that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus [in His memory] will [He as] God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [or precede] them which are asleep."
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words". 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
At the Saviour's resurrection only a few of the righteous answered the call from their dusty beds. However, at His second coming all the dead shall hear His voice and the blast of the trumpet, and all the righteous who are still in their tombs shall come forth to glorious, immortal life, including many who were in their graves at the time of His resurrection. [Check this out]. Then the same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come.
Why does He have to wait until then?
Why could He not resurrect all the righteous 2,000 years ago?
Because they did not all choose to answer.
Like the wave-sheaf of old, this special resurrection on that Sunday morning was a sample and an assurance of the final resurrection of all the righteous dead at Christ's second coming.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ [and the martyrs] the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming". 1 Corinthians 15:22-23.
The last enemy
It is also written of Him, "He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death". 1 Corinthians 15:25-26.
Thus since the events of Calvary the Christian message has been clear and forceful - Christ has conquered death! But not yet?
This is the message that has been announced for 2,000 years:
"Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."
"But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be you steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord". 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
Yet the life that is in Him can be the means of defeating the death which is in the creature, for it is written, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death". Romans 8:2.
I repeat, Why does He have to wait until the second coming?
If we are not all to sleep, why wait?
Why is this a "mystery"?
It is a mystery because His victory over this "wage" of sin has not been as fully understood as it could have been. Some of the very early followers of God saw it in its entirety, but this knowledge has since been successfully clouded in the minds of the majority by our adversary. Therefore God had to make the sorrowful statement that death will not now be totally overthrown until the end of time, for as we have just read, it is written that it is the "last" enemy to go.
The first to understand (and believe)
However, it is recorded of Enoch, "the seventh from Adam" (and the first to escape death), that he dwelt sixty-five years in this world and was then blessed with a son. After that he walked three hundred years more with God.
"And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and fathered Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah three hundred years, and fathered [other] sons and daughters".
He was one of a holy line, the preservers of the true faith, the ancestors of the promised "Seed" and one who exhibited an exceptionally strong faith. Genesis 3:15. It is also said of him that "Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him". Genesis 5:24. What does this mean? Why was this?
Notwithstanding the wickedness of the pre-flood world, that age was not, as has often been supposed, an era of ignorance and the barbarism of the stoneage. That came much later. The people had the opportunity of reaching a high standard of moral and intellectual attainment by following in the steps of their father Adam. Compared to modern human beings they possessed great physical and mental strength and their advantages for acquiring both religious and scientific knowledge were unrivalled. [Comment].
It is also a mistake to suppose that because they lived to a great age that their minds matured later than modern humanity, for their mental powers were early developed. Those who cherished a respect for God and lived in harmony with His will continued to increase in knowledge and wisdom throughout their long lives. In the centuries before the flood they multiplied and scattered all over the world.
They also had something special in that they had among them for hundreds of years he who was formed in God's image, whom the Creator Himself pronounced "very good". Genesis 1:31. This man had been instructed by God in all the wisdom pertaining to the material world, and to its meaning, and he did not lose this in his leap into sin. He had been able to "name" every other creature when God brought them before him and thus show its place in the scheme of things. "And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name of it", we are told. Genesis 2:19.
Adam had learned from his Creator the history of the creation. He himself witnessed the events of nine centuries and he imparted his knowledge to his descendants. They were without books, having no need of written records. With their great physical and mental vigour they had strong memories, able to grasp and to retain that which was communicated to them and in turn transmit it practically unimpaired to their posterity. For hundreds of years there were seven generations living upon the earth at the same time, having the opportunity of consulting together and profiting each individual by the knowledge and experience of the group.
All the world thus had opportunity to receive instruction from Adam, while those who followed the LORD had Christ and the loyal angels for their teachers. Genesis 3:8. They also had a silent witness to the truth, the garden of God, which for so many centuries remained among them. Genesis 3:24. No wonder that Enoch, his son and his great-grandson stand out as messengers for God in that holy line. It was at the cherubim-guarded gate of Paradise that the glory of God was most fully revealed, and to this spot came the first worshippers. Here their altars were erected and their offerings presented. It was here that Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices and here that God communicated directly with them. Genesis 4:3-4. It was here that Enoch began to realise that the angelic guard was for man's benefit, to save curious and idle sinners from being killed in their quest for the tree of life. He began to understand the nature of Divinity.
By the third generation a very definite line was being drawn between those who followed God's advice and those who ignored it. We are told, "And to Seth, to him also there was born a son, and he called his name Enos: then began men to call themselves by the name of the LORD". Genesis 4:26 margin.
During his earlier years Enoch, like many others, had loved and respected God and kept His commandments. He had often gone to the gates of the garden since he had learned from Adam the dark story of the choice of sin, and thought about Gods plan for humanity. He accepted the cheering message of God's grace as seen in the advice given to Cain, but unlike him, he relied upon the Redeemer-to-come as his ever-present Saviour. "The LORD said to Cain, Why are you wrath [or indignant]? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door [of your heart and causes your problem]. And [yet] subject to you shall be his desire and you shall rule over him [if you accept My power]". Genesis 4:6-7.
From the lips of the old man Adam Enoch had heard of the warning and promise given to Satan. God had said to the devil, If you go on in this way, "It [your anger] shall bruise your head, and you shall [only] bruise His heel". Genesis 3:15. Thus he knew that when the Saviour finally appeared "in the likeness of men" and began His ministry of grace, Satan could but bruise His "heel", while by enduring every act of humiliation and suffering Christ would appear to bruise the "head" of His adversary. Philippians 2:7.
When Christ hung in agony upon the cross at Calvary, while evil spirits rejoiced and evil men reviled, then indeed His "heel" was bruised by Satan. But that very act was crushing the devil's "head", for it rebounded upon him!
The Son of God did not fight him with physical weapons, nor with spiritual ones, for He does not fight as so many of His creatures do. He merely allowed the result of Satan's actions to come upon him because this was his desire! However, in carrying out his enmity to Christ until He hung upon a cross, with wounded, bruised body and broken heart, Lucifer completely uprooted himself from the affections of the universe. They saw at last the depths to which he had plummeted, and the intense and unprovoked hatred he had towards his Creator and Friend.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brothers and sisters is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time". Revelation 12:10-12.
It was then seen that God had denied Himself in His Son, and that Satan's charge was false.
But Satan did not kill Jesus Christ, for He did not die of crucifixion!
He died from the weight of the sins He was carrying for us. All Satan could do was bruise His "heel", thereby making it difficult, but not impossible, for Him to carry out His plans for the redemption of this world.
But Christ was the only Christian who needed to die!
The love of a Father
All this Enoch saw "by faith" early in his life, but after the birth of his first-born son he reached an even higher experience and was drawn into a closer relationship with God. He saw himself as he really was in God's eyes and began more fully to comprehend his obligations and responsibilities as a son of God. As he saw his child's love for its father, its simple trust in his protection; and as he felt the deep yearning tenderness of his own heart for his first-born son, he learned a precious lesson of the wonderful love of God to men in the gift of His Son, and the confidence with which the children of God may repose in their heavenly Father.
The infinite, unfathomable love of this new-found Father shown through the gift of Christ became the subject of his meditations and prayers day and night, and with all the fervour of his soul he sought to reveal that love to the people among whom he dwelt. "By faith" he walked with his Saviour Jesus, (for there is no other) Comment, and he had this testimony, "that he pleased God". Hebrews 11:5. Unlike most Christians, his faith grew stronger, his love became more ardent with the lapse of the centuries as he walked and talked with Jesus Christ his Redeemer and Saviour and experienced His saving power every day. Then, because he desired intensely to share his blessings with other people the future was opened up to him in vision and he was shown all the major events of the Christian history-to-be, including the last great judgment day.
He was able to appreciate that scene more than most because he had a clearer understanding of the character of God. One of the New Testament writers said of him and his prophecies,
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands 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.
Here Enoch tells us quite definitely that on that day the Saviour will still be trying desperately to "convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed", for He is not willing that any should perish at any time! John 3:16. To a non-fighter and non-accuser there is no point in trying to convince unless there is a way out, and this is what He wants them to see, even on that day, even though they have continually turned down all His efforts in the past! For He is a Saviour, and a Saviour only. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He has nothing new to offer, for in the event of Calvary He showed that He was willing to give ALL, there was nothing in reserve, but He must still try.
"For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live you". Ezekiel 18:32.
"Say unto them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?" Ezekiel 33:11.
But, even with all that evidence in front of them, not one will change his or her mind! Such is the terrible hold sin has!
"His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be held with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray". Proverbs 5:22-23.
"But there is hope for every one; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." [But] if the love of God is not appreciated, and does not become an abiding principle in the hard heart to soften and subdue the soul, we are utterly lost. The Lord has no reserve power with which to influence man. He can give no greater manifestation of his love than that which he has given. Heaven's richest gift has been freely offered for your acceptance. If the exhibition of the love of Jesus does not melt and subdue your heart, by what means can you be reached? Has the love of Christ failed to bring forth an earnest response of love and gratitude? Then let it not remain in this condition of hardness another day. Open your heart, and receive Christ, the best gift of heaven. Let not cruel unbelief lead you to refuse the heaven-sent gift. Let not Christ say of you, "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." RH 20 Dec 1892.
Enoch's walk with God was not in a trance or a vision, but in all the duties of his daily life. Luke 9:23. He did not become a hermit, shutting himself off from the world, for he had a work to do for God in the world. In the family and in his business with others, as a husband and a father, a friend, a citizen, he was the steadfast, unwavering servant of the LORD. His heart and will were in harmony with God's will, for "can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3. This holy walk was continued and developed for three hundred years while the world became progressively more and more wicked!
There are few professed Christians who would not be far more earnest and devoted if they knew that they had but a short time to live, or that the coming of the Christ was about to take place. Enoch's faith, however, waxed the stronger, his love became the more ardent, with the lapse of the centuries, and with the knowledge that redemption would be a long time in the future.
But distressed by the increasing wickedness of the ungodly of his generations, and fearing that their infidelity might lessen his reverence for God, Enoch eventually avoided constant association with such people unless he could be of use to them. He spent much time in solitude giving himself to meditation and prayer. Thus he waited before the LORD, seeking a clearer knowledge of His will, that he might perform it.
However, he had been much troubled concerning the dead. It seemed to him that the righteous and the wicked were going to the dust together, and that this would be their end. At first he could not see the life beyond the grave, which is not surprising considering that most men and women have had to wait till Christ's resurrection to comprehend this truth. But the wonderful promises of the gospel eventually lifted his eyes to see the light. So in prophetic vision he was instructed more fully concerning the death of Christ, and was shown His second coming in glory, attended by all the holy angels, to ransom His people from the grave. He also saw the corrupt state of the world when Christ should appear, so similar to his own - and he realised that unless there was a decided change in the attitude of the followers of God, there would be in that day as there was in his, a boastful, presumptuous, self-willed generation, denying the only God and the LORD Jesus Christ, trampling upon the law of God and despising the atonement. 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
So he changed his attitude.
A change of behaviour
As he saw the righteous crowned with glory and honour, and the wicked refusing to come into friendship with the LORD and then being destroyed in a fire entirely of their own making, he became very concerned for the sinners whom he could reach. Revelation 20:15.
Like his Saviour, the thought of their end upset him so much that he lived up to his name and became a "teacher" of righteousness, making known to the people what God had revealed to him. Those who respected the LORD sought out this holy man, to share his instruction and prayers. But he laboured publicly also, bearing God's messages to all who would hear the words of warning. His labours were not restricted to the Sethites, as the church of God was called at that time, but in the land where Cain had sought to flee from the divine Presence, the prophet of God also made known the wonderful scenes that had passed before his vision. Thus he gave his "trumpet" call. Isaiah 58:1; Leviticus 23:23-25.
The wickedness of the race had reached such a height that destruction was pronounced against them, but this warning did not stop them. Sadly, we are told, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that the whole imagination, with the purposes and desires of the heart, was only evil continually". Genesis 6:5 margin. As year after year passed, deeper and deeper grew the tide of human guilt, darker and darker gathered the clouds of divine judgment. Yet Enoch, the witness of faith, held on his way, warning, pleading, entreating, striving to turn back the tide of guilt and to stay the sure result of their behaviour. Though his warnings were disregarded by a sinful, pleasure-loving people, he had the testimony that his Saviour approved of his efforts, and he continued to battle faithfully against the prevailing evil, until God answered his prayer and removed him from a world of sin to train for a higher work.
The men of that generation mocked the folly of him who sought not to gather gold or silver or to build up possessions here. But Enoch's heart was upon eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. Hebrews 11:10-16. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion. Isaiah 6:1-4. His mind, his heart, his conversation, were in heaven. The greater the existing iniquity, the more earnest was his longing that they might come to see the home prepared for them by God. John 14:1-3. While still on earth, he dwelt, by faith, in the realms of light and then one day he was called there.
The prophet of God
It was the Spirit of Christ that spoke through Enoch for "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His". Romans 8:9. As a prophet he knew the meaning of the words, "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow". 1 Peter 111 NKJ.
Although most of the prophets seem to have remained in ignorance of the deeper meanings of their messages, Enoch pursued his to the end and found it! He eventually understood what the words, "I am the resurrection AND THE LIFE", meant. John 11:25.
He also experienced the truth of the words of Jesus that "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". Matthew 5:8. For three hundred years he sought purity of mind that he might be in harmony with heaven and its precepts. For three hundred years he walked with God and yet day by day he longed for a still closer union. Such is the effect of true love. Nearer and nearer came the communion until, his work on this earth finished for the moment, "God took him" to Himself. Genesis 5:24. He had been standing at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest. Now the portals opened, the walk with God so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of Eden into the city of God, the first from among men to realise the fullness of the grace of God. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death [or any separation from God]". Hebrews 11:5.
This event did not happen quietly. His loss was felt on earth. The voice that had been heard day after day in warning and instruction was missed. There were some, both of the righteous and the wicked, who witnessed his departure and hoping that he might have been conveyed to some one of the places of his retirement, those who loved him made a diligent search, as afterward the sons of the prophets searched for Elijah, but without avail. They eventually reported that he was not anywhere on earth, for "God had taken him". 2 Kings 2:16-18.
By the translation of Enoch from earthliness into heavenliness the LORD designed to teach an important lesson. There was danger that men and women would yield to discouragement because of the fearful results of Adam's sin, the death and decay that they could see all around them. But through the experience of Enoch, His faithful friend and follower, God was able to declare that "He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him". In this action He showed what He would like to do for all those who keep His commandments.
Through Enoch's example men and women were taught that it is possible to obey the law of God. That even while living in the midst of the sinful and corrupt, it is possible, by the grace of God, to resist temptation and become pure and holy enough to walk in to heaven instead of waiting for a resurrection. What an example he left for the boy Christ Jesus! And for us!
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation". Psalm 24:3-5.
Enoch lived a life of such close communion with his Saviour that death was not able to get near him, for God is life! Although he was "a man of like passions such as we are", he learned to stay so close to his Saviour that Satan could not tempt him into sin or separation in any way from his God. James 5:17. Therefore sin did "not have dominion over him" for he was "under grace", as the Word of God promises. Romans 6:14. No sin - no wages!
The purpose of it
The message preached by Enoch's life and his translation to heaven were convincing arguments to all who lived in his time. Unfortunately, in his day not many were willing to listen to him any more than they are today. But his son and his great-grandson believed and used his experience as an example of what the Christian should aspire to, even though they themselves did not reach it. But to his fellow men Methuselah must certainly have seemed headed for it for he lived the longest of all humans, unfortunately giving up the very year of the flood. Noah was the one who bridged the gap between the two worlds. It is no accident that they were the two longest lived of all men who lived on both sides of the flood. But this pinnacle of faith was soon shattered and the Christians lapsed into the ways of the world, most of them intermarrying with refusers of the gift, following their ways and ultimately, suffering their end. Genesis 6:1-2.
However, since the collapse of that world in the flood, as the years of men and women have decreased and their physical strength diminished, so their mental capabilities have lessened until today we are but pygmies compared to those people. There are people who now apply themselves to study during periods of from twenty to fifty years and the world is filled with admiration for their attainments, but how limited are those achievements in comparison with those of men whose mental and physical powers were developing for centuries!
Thus we have the sad state that today professed Christians expect to die! And sometimes they desire it! This has been the greatest deception ever exercised upon the human race by God's enemy!
Never see death
In fact, many will still strongly resist the belief that it is possible not to die, because of their earthliness, although we have not only the experience of the patriarch Enoch before the flood, but also the record of one other after that time. Many are not willing to do "greater things" than their LORD, even though He asked it of them. John 14:12. He also said, "Verily, verily, I say to you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death", but few want to believe Him on this point. John 8:51.
Enoch's experience was matched much later by another successful Christian, Elijah, and these two are the correct representatives of what all the Christian race might have been through faith in Jesus Christ, if they had chosen to be. Sinlessly perfect in God's eyes and translated without seeing death when they were ready and their work complete!
How can this be?
The "way" of it
Paul wrote to the Corinthian people and set before them a picture.
"Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me", he said, "for I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused [or engaged] you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ". 2 Corinthians 11:1-2.
By this he meant that they should regard
themselves as "engaged" to Christ and look
forward to the consummation of it, keeping themselves pure until
that time. Christians are to see two parts to a marriage. The
first, an "engagement" period, should mean to
the lover of Christ the beginning of the marriage, an attitude
which is to continue until the wedding ceremony,
and we should know that we have the protection of a "Husband" from that initial moment onwards. This protection is of such value that in His righteousness we can be considered as "perfect" through His "comeliness", and under that umbrella we can practice using His righteousness until we are redeemed and reach the final ceremony of the marriage.
It is written of the "engagement",
"I swore to you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became Mine."
"Then washed I you with water; yes, I thoroughly washed away your [birth] blood from you, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered work, and shod you with badgers' skin, and I girded you about with fine linen, and I covered you with silk. I decked you also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon your hands, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel on your forehead, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head."
"Thus were you decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; you ate fine flour, and honey, and oil: and you were exceeding beautiful, and you prospered into a kingdom. And your renown went forth among the heathen for your beauty: for it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon you, says the Lord GOD". Ezekiel 16:8-14.
What a precious gift this state is! Virgin, and engaged to be married.
But so easy to give away! Like its physical representation, it is so often given away as a "proof" of love before marriage in "the back seat of a car", Revelation 6:9; discarded in a drunken moment when we are deluded by a doctrine of the devil, Revelation 17:2; abandoned in a careless minute when we are at ease and turned away from God, Numbers 25:1; or thrown away at an insignificant time, not having any value in our eyes, Jeremiah 3:9. Even tragically lost in an accidental "all the way" contact when we did not mean to! Matthew 27:3-4. There are so many ways to lose that which should be for Someone special at a special time.
It can even be wasted as the result of peer pressure, Leviticus 20:4-5. In a meaningless bout of passion, Ezekiel 16:28-29. Or given away as a result of a loss of self-esteem, Ezekiel 16:33.
Worst of all, it can be given to a loved one before the marriage commitment is made, as so many young people do today.
So few understand that so much of the joy of having it comes from the pleasure the other person can feel when it is given to them. It is a gift that cannot be given by any other, a special and unique gift that our God appreciates as only He can, and He will wait for it because given at the right moment it is emotionally satisfying like nothing else in the universe.
Speaking of the priests in His temple He said, "Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away [i.e. divorced]: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before. And [thus] they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane [or earthly], and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean". Ezekiel 44:22-23. Even this little picture was there for us to see.
He would have us to understand that the only safeguard for a human being against losing control of his or her emotions and jumping into sin is to stay close to Jesus Christ as LORD Protector and Teacher while ever we possess sinful human nature.
True love is the only controller.
"My people ask counsel at their stocks [wooden idols], and their staff declares to them: for the spirit of whoredom has caused them to err, and they have gone whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow of it is good [because it feels good]: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. [But] I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves [or yourselves] are separated with whores, and they [or you] sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that does not understand shall fall". Hosea 4:12-14.
John also wrote, "My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not", but, "If any man [do] sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". 1 John 2:1.
God declares, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge", then goes on, "Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you". Hosea 4:6. But it is not just for lack of knowledge that we perish. We will not be condemned because we do not know the way, the truth, and the life. The truth that has reached our understanding, the light that has shone upon our mind, that has not been cherished and which we have neglected, or refused to be led by, is what will condemn us. John 3:17-20. [Comment].
Ignorance is no excuse
We may separate from Him and sin against our fellow beings, then repent and be forgiven and cleansed, and still be translated, for John also wrote, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". 1 John 1:9. We do one thing and He does two!
However, if we do not confess our sins because we are ignorant of them, then we must accept the "wages" of them, which is death.
It is written,
"And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not [or is not aware of it], yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. [Then, when he does become aware of it, he is to confess it,] and he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance in which he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he has certainly trespassed against the LORD". Leviticus 5:17-19.
Thus we incur the penalty if we remain in ignorance. Why? [Comment].
The untranslatable sin
But we may not sin against God and be translated even if we confess this sin with true repentance, for translation demands what are called "virgins", and that requires that we stay consciously faithful to our fiancée. It is written of the ones to be translated at the second coming,
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes. These were redeemed from among men [not the grave], being the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God". Revelation 14:4-5.
To knowingly follow another god, and that is what we have to do to deliberately sin in the "holy things" of the LORD, is to sin against our heavenly Husband and cease to be "virgin".
Do not mis-understand this.
When we knowingly sin against God and separate from Him we can still be forgiven and cleansed if we have true repentance, but we will choose to undergo the experience of death before redemption because of that separation, as Moses found out. Deuteronomy 34:5-7. [Comment]. We would no longer be conscious "virgins"!
To stay alive for translation means to stay faithful to the God of life all our Christian lives!
The "way" of death
When we fail to do this, even at the end of a very strong and faithful life after the event, then Jesus will have to say to us as He had to say to Moses,
"Because you believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them... Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shall you be gathered to your people". Numbers 20:12; 31:1-2.
Some months later Moses called the people together and spoke these words to all Israel. "And he said to them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day. I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD has said to me, You shall not go over this Jordan". Deuteronomy 31:1-2. He said this and meant it, but we are also told in another place, "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated". Deuteronomy 34:7. He was not old and infirm because of his age. He was not dying. In fact, he was just the opposite from his close connection with his LORD. But now he was discouraged and downhearted because of his great sin in taking the glory to himself, and he therefore accepted the word of the LORD not realising that this was his own choice!
Like Peter, so many centuries later, not fully realising the character of his Father, he expected to be punished and therefore went without protest when the LORD said, "Behold, the days approach that you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation [the 1st apartment], that I may give him a charge". Deuteronomy 32:14. In this manner we are told that he did not die suddenly, but over a period of time he became like a tired old warrior, laid down at his LORD's command (rather, the acceptance of his desire) and gave up the ghost.
But it was really his own choice because his experiment in sin had "unmanned" or "de-virginised" him.
This experience of separation from "Life" is explained very simply and lovingly in the following passage of Scripture which sets out Hosea's reconciliation with his erring wife.
"Then said the LORD to me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend [who is now ready to return to you], yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and a half homer of barley:"
"And I said to her, You shall abide for me [but not with me] many days; you shall not play the harlot, and you shall not be for another man: so will I also be for you."
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice [to trust in], and without an image [to worship]; and without an ephod [for a priest to wear], and without teraphim [small clay fertility gods]. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days". Hosea 3:1-5.
This same passage in the Amplified Bible is even clearer.
"Then said the LORD to me, Go again, love (the same) woman (Gomer) who is beloved of a paramour and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins (used in the sacrificial feasts in idol worship). So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley (the price of a[n old] slave). And I said to her, You shall be (betrothed) to me for many days; you shall not play the harlot and you shall not belong to another man".
But we should see in this story that it was Gomer's request for the delay, not Hosea's. Like his LORD he would have taken her back immediately for he loved her desperately. But although she had been rescued from her slavery and seen the love of her husband, Gomer needed time to make the adjustment. Although her lord allured her into the wilderness [a place of solitude] and pleaded there with her, and spoke "comfortably to her". Although he gave her "vineyards... and the valley of Achor for a door of hope", and a chance to "sing there, as in the days of her youth [or early in her marriage]", and the time would come that she would call him "Ishi [or husband]" again, it required a delay on her part. Hosea 2:14-16.
A careful reading of the story reveals a terrible fall from love and grace and a consequent degradation of spirit and body until God had to say, "I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face. In their affliction they will seek Me early". Hosea 5:15. For He knew that one day, like the prodigal son, she (and the erring Christians), will come to their senses and say,
"Come, let us return to the LORD: for He has torn and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and the former rain to the earth". Hosea 6:1-3.
Then they will actually "believe" the Lord of Life and accept "life". Then they will hear the call of resurrection and come from their dusty beds.
The prodigal was met by his father who saw him "when he was yet a great way off", and he "fell on his neck and kissed him". Luke 15:20. It was the son who protested that he was not worthy. "I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight", he said, "and am no more worthy to be called your son". Luke 15:21. The Father's response was to call for the "best robe", a ring and shoes, and kill the fatted calf. Luke 15:22-23. Contrary to most people's misunderstanding, there is no suggestion that there would have to be a period of time when the son proved himself to the father at the father's command - no period of probation was required. And as Jesus tells us, that is what His Father is like.
But if we choose to ignore the pleading of the Holy Spirit and commit such a great crime - a crime so much greater than normal that it is recorded in four distinct ways on a separate tablet of the Ten Commandments - then it becomes impossible even for God to recover our innocence.
He may forgive, but He cannot immediately repair such an action and translate us, because we will not want Him to.
This is the exceeding sinfulness of sin! Romans 7:13.
When Peter was forgiven by Jesus for having betrayed Him three times on the night before the crucifixion, he could not forgive himself. When told by Jesus that he would also be crucified he was bitterly ashamed to share in that experience and when the time came he asked to crucified upside down! John 21:18-19. [Comment].
The Law of God
Our gift to Him
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make any graven image to bow down to or serve.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exodus 20:1-11 (condensed).
It will be our choice that separates us from Him for a time - never His!
The emotional shock and the shame of it will cause such a reaction in us that it will take even Him quite an effort to reset our minds into the correct perspective, and He will require the quiet of the grave to do this.
Although the Scriptures rightly say, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything", it is obvious that they must be able to hear the voice of God when He calls them from their graves, just as Enoch and Elijah have proved that we do not automatically have to die. Ecclesiastes 9:5. "Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust", are the words of Jesus. Isaiah 26:19. This shows that there is some communication between the minds of He who is Life and they who are dead. They are only "dead" to the things of the universe, not to the mind of God, and will be able to exercise their choice on that day.
The two tablets
The second tablet of the Ten Commandments sets out the "normal" sins of humans, those which we practice against our fellow beings, just as the first stone lays out the charges of God our "Husband".
The Law of God
Our gift to our fellows
5. Honour your father and your mother.
6. You shall not kill.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness.
10. You shall not covet anything of your neighbour's.
Exodus 20:12-17 (condensed).
It is relatively easy for God to bring us to the point of repentance even for deliberate sins against our fellow beings because we can see and appreciate their pain. It is much more difficult for Him when we sin knowingly against Him. Those sins are so soul-destroying that although God can cleanse us from them, He cannot translate us.
However, in the law He sets out the ways in which a person can be forgiven and cleansed after an unconscious trespass in "the holy things of the LORD".
There it is written,
"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then [when he is aware of it] he shall bring for his trespass to the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with your estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he has done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part to this, and give it to the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him". Leviticus 5:14-16.
We may bring the Sacrifice
we may make Amends for the harm
and we may pay a Fine as a penalty
and then we may be forgiven and cleansed because we did not know.
However, He goes on to say,
"And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance in which he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he has certainly trespassed against the LORD". Leviticus 5:17-19.
And He will pay the price.
But both of these statements are for sins of ignorance.
Sins against our fellows
The next chapter in Leviticus does mention sins of knowledge, high-handed, violent sins committed by professed Christians, but they are all those which we do to our fellow humans. Lying to our neighbour about items held in trust, false business dealings, robbery by violence etc. are dealt with there.
"And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie to his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbour; or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely;"
"In any of all these that a man does, sinning therein, then it shall be, because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or all that about which he has sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more to this, and give it to him to whom it appertains, in the day of his trespass offering."
"And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest: And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he has done in trespassing therein". Leviticus 6:1-7.
It is not that we cannot be forgiven for known and deliberate sins against each other, for these verses tell us that we can, but we need to understand the terrible effects of committing sins against the holiness of God. Jesus said that there is no sin which cannot be forgiven, and in this He covered even knowingly despising God's "holy things". He said,
"Wherefore I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come". Matthew 12:31-32.
What then is the unpardonable sin?
Even those who have spoken against Jesus Himself, calling Him Beelzebub the prince of devils, not discerning His divine character, may receive forgiveness, for through the work of the Holy Spirit they can be brought to see their error and repent. But he or she who rejects the wooing of the Spirit and thinks of Him as an enemy is placing himself or herself where repentance and faith cannot come to him or her, for when His guidance is rejected in this manner there is no more that God can do for that person. This is refusing to be brought to repentance at all - this is persistently refusing to listen to the call of the Spirit.
It is not God that blinds our eyes or hardens our hearts. On the contrary, He is always sending us light to correct our errors and to lead us in safe paths, as the ancient/s knew very well. Job 33:14-24. It is by the rejection of that light that our eyes are blinded and our hearts hardened. Often the process is gradual and almost imperceptible, but it is none the less definite and unpardonable. [Comment].
The "death" sin
But this is not the same as deliberately sinning against God in His "holy things", and then being so sorry for His heartache that we refuse to be consoled.
Jesus said, "There is no sin which cannot be forgiven" - and He meant it. But the results of some sins carry on after they are forgiven, and this is the case with known sins against the "holy things" of God. To commit such a transgression requires that some part of the mind be so horribly out of harmony with God that it will necessitate a period in the grave to remedy it. This is what Gomer was like when she left Hosea.
But no one can be thus cut off from God before the truth has been brought home to the mind and the conscience, and it has been rejected. [Comment].
Like every father He warns and tries to guide us in the right path so that we can have peace of mind and pureness of body, but like most children, we do not often appreciate this advice! He who reads every heart and tries every motive will leave none who desire a knowledge of the truth to be deceived as to the issues of the controversy. Every one will have sufficient light to make his or her decision intelligently and if they have to be rescued by a resurrection they will be satisfied with their position.
To refuse to listen to the Holy Spirit in this matter is to separate from God and die, thereby requiring resurrection.
Remain a "virgin" - or give it up - the choice is yours.
Either way you can be saved and redeemed for He loves you and wants you. On the other hand, Jesus will receive greater satisfaction from His gift of translation if we treasure it for Him. Would you like that? Then follow Him "wherever He leads you", never turning to the right or the left, remaining without fault in His eyes, and without self-condemnation, for this is your reasonable service, and your "gift". Revelation 14:4. In the Corinthian games the last few strides of the contestants were made with agonising effort to keep up and even increase the speed. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. [Comment]. So the Christian, as he or she nears the goal, will press onward with even more zeal and determination than at the beginning. Philippians 3:13-14.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
for whoever desires to save his life [by himself] will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it [through Me]".
Matthew 16:24-25 NKJ
"He who loves his life will lose it,
and he who hates his life [or does not think only of himself] in this world
will keep it for eternal life.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me;
and where I am, there My servant will be also".
John 12:25-26 NKJ
To ancient SDA's ............. To "What's New?"