Monday, February 4, 2013

Enoch's Vision of Heavenly Glory

Genesis 5:21-23 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of MethuSelah, and he had other sons and daughters. 22So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 23Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Meet the man who walked with God
Some 50 or so times in scripture we find reference to the concept of "walking with God".  The first time we find reference to man walking with the Lord is in Genesis 5:21.  Enoch was part of the redemptive bloodline that ran from Adam to Noah.  In Genesis 5 we see a total of 1656 years, with Enoch in comparison being the youngest (a mere 365 years of age when the Lord took him away).  In those ten generations that stretched from Adam to Noah, Enoch was without the question the brightest star in that constellation of pre-flood patriarchs.1  Enoch and only one other man in scripture, Elijah, left this world without tasting the pain of death.  Enoch's walk with God was so unique, so close, that God saw fit to take him, "translate him" out of this world and into heavenly bliss. 

Enoch may had seen the coming flood
One Bible trivia question that many will want to know the answer to is: "who was the oldest man in the Bible?" Answer: Methusaleh.  Enoch's wife (unnamed) had his son when Enoch was 65 years age.  The name and facts about Methusaleh suggest that Enoch would had seen the coming world-wide flood of Noah.2  To have possible seen the coming flood of Noah almost a millennium in advance must had been a frightening thing for Enoch. 

Were not told in scripture why Enoch started walking with God right after Methusaleh's birth, but my hunch is that this possible prophetic glimpse of the deluge that was to wipe out virtually every formm of life permantly altered Enoch's life.  I find it equally interesting that Enoch's name in the Hebrew means "dedicated one", and thats exactly how he lived out the remaining three centuries of his life before being wisked away by the Lord. 

Enoch definitely saw the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ's soon return
Enoch's life is surrounded by surprise and mystery.  Like a flash of lightening, he appears on the stage of world history in Genesis 5, only to be wisked away once again.  We see not mention of him (except in genealogical listings) until we arrive at the little book of Jude.  Jude 14-15  "It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

This two verse statement is remarkable, in that Enoch, in prophetic vision, saw history's two greatest events: one that forever altered this world near the beginning of history, and Christ's return which will mark the tail end of human history.  For the remainder of today's blog, I just want to list in a series of bullet points Enoch's vision of heavenly glory as recorded here in Jude 14-15.  The glories of heaven seen by prophets and apostles in the Bible have several themes in common.  What was it that Enoch saw in his vision of heavenly glory? Furthermore, what is the take away for you and I today dear reader? Note these thoughts....

1. God's Word is the sole basis for describing Heaven's glories
Jude notes that Enoch "prophesied, saying".  Many, Many times in the Bible we see the phrase: "thus says the Lord' to indicate God speaking through a prophet or apostle.  In Amos 3:7 we discover that God's will is not known save through his prophets.  Any attempt to describe the unseen glory of heaven apart from the Word of God will lead to wrong thinking about Heaven.  Scripture alone is divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16); without error (Proverbs 30:4-5) and completely trustworthy. 

2. God the Son is the central focus of Heaven's glories
Jude next tells us the central focus of Enoch's visions and prophecies: "Behold the Lord came..".  God the Son is the commanding figure of Heaven.  I find it interesting in Jude's text that to Enoch, the Lord is not coming, but rather "came".  Why "came?" from God the Father's perspective, which sees the end from the beginning, everything, including Christ's return, is a done deal.  Time and time again, as you view the Bible's portrayals of heaven, God, not man, is the central focus.  Heaven is a God saturated, Christ exalting place. 

3. God's saints are included in Heavenly glory
Saints are living Christians who are living for Jesus now and preparing for eternity in Heaven.  Jude's use of the word translated "saints" is the Greek word that we could just as easily translate "holy ones".  I believe the reason the Holy Ghost led Jude to choose this word is that in other contexts, "holy ones" could either refer to angelic beings or human believers who are with the Lord now and will return with Him in glorified bodies.3   Heaven's glorious truth includes the people of God, since it is there that they will be joined with their Lord and be made like Him. (1 John 3:1-3)

1 Abel was no doubt a godly man, however he was martyred and did not live for centuries for us to determine how he would had fared under testing and trial. Noah was godly as well, without peer in his day. However we find Noah after the flood becoming caught up in an episode of drunkenness (he of course is still regarded a hero of faith in Hebrews 11). 

2 First, Methusaleh's name in the Hebrew means "in the year it was sent". That otherwise strange meaning would find its meaning when the flood came. Secondly, Methusaleh's age of 969 years, other than making him the oldest man who ever lived, also had his final year on earth ending the year of the worldwide flood!

3 Certainly we see references to God in His glory being accompanied by angels who are called His "holy ones". (Deuteronomy 33:2) Christ too, as the Eternal Son of God, will return to earth in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38) However this phrase "holy ones" more often than not refers to the human saints who have died in the Lord and are returing with Him in their glorified resurrection bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 3:13) I personally think there is enough leeway in the usage of this word to include both the angelic hosts protecting the resurrected saints as both accompany Jesus in His return.