We shall now consider the Lord's description of fallen Laodicea. We observe that He makes no charge of heresy or immorality against it, as He had against Thyatira. It is not said that Satan’s throne was there, as it was in Pergamos. Neither are we told that a Nicolai tan, a Balaam, or a Jezebel was tolerated in Laodicea, as in some churches. So far as we know it was respectable, orderly, orthodox, organised, and busily engaged in Christian service (“thy works”, v. 15). Yet such was the state of Laodicea that He who in the epistle to Ephesus threatened to “remove” the lampstand “out of its place”, was about to spue it out of His mouth” In both of these epistles (the first and the last) lies a lesson every assembly should solemnly lay to heart. We may be most correct outwardly, while in such a state inwardly as to merit the strongest censure of Him “whose eyes are as a flame of fire.”
The state of Laodicea is described as “lukewarm.” “Thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot” (v. 16). To be lukewarm means not merely to be half-hearted, though this certainly is the sign of a backslidden condition, as many a neglected prayer-meeting testifies. The figure used seems rather to be that of hot and cold liquid being mixed in the same utensil. It is neither the coldness of death as in Sardis, nor the hot glow of love as in Philadelphia. It is a professed affection for Christ mingled with a love for the world that crucified Him. This, being neither one thing nor the other, was indifference to the Lord. That this was so was manifested in two ways. First, she extolled herself and not Him, saying, “I am rich . . . have need of nothing”—language almost identical with that of corrupt Babylon : “I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (ch. 18. 7). Next, in her self-sufficiency and independence she callously shut Him outside her door, so that He was no longer owned as Lord in what professed to be His own house. Thus the Church’s downdrift, which began with an assembly grown cold (2. 4), ends with an assembly grown Christless (3. 20).
This, however, was not all. In addition to indifference and independence there was proud self-esteem. “I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Such was the boast of Laodicea. It was the expression of complacency and conceit. We may be sure she had numerical strength, material wealth, fine buildings, cultured preachers, and attractive services. She needed nothing more, and felt proud satisfaction in her state and progress. O how we should guard against this spirit. It is the same which prompted another to boast, “Is not this great Babylon which I have built!” and we know his end. “There is none of the assemblies like our own,” said one brother. “Ours is a rich assembly”, said another with an air of pride. One trembles to hear such bragging. It is the language of fallen Laodicea.
Laodicea, however, was completely self-deceived, as we have seen, and nothing can be so tragic as self-deception in the things of God. She was glorying in her prosperity, and while the very words were upon her lips the Lord said, “Thou knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (v. 17, R.V.). Yea, in the very moment of her boasting He warned, “I am about to spue thee out of My mouth” (J.N.D.). There was nothing to afford Him pleasure in Laodicea. The word “Ephesus” (2. 1) means “desirable”, and how desirable the Church had been to Him! How He had longed to behold in her the Spirit’s graces ! At the beginning there had been much to satisfy His loving desire, but now at the end in Laodicea there is alas a state most distasteful and disgusting to Him. It ^s reminiscent of Israel’s condition in Isaiah 1. There the people were paying every outward respect to the traditional forms of worship, but faith and true devotion were entirely absent. To God the whole thing was an empty and vain show, the hypocrisy of which He could no longer bear. “Bring no more vain oblations,” He said, “incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them” (vv. 13, 14).
Now, as we have seen,, Laodiceanism is a marked feature of the closing days of Church history. It is therefore an ever present danger with all of us, both as individuals and assemblies. To rise above its stagnating influence is not easy, and so far as the masses are concerned it will deepen into a night, dark with unbelief and apostasy. May God's Spirit awaken all our hearts, beloved. How fearfully disappointing it would be if, while we are complacently priding ourselves in our position, and perhaps passing judgment upon others, the Lord should be about to spue us out of His mouth! Therefore let us learn to fear God, to judge our own hearts, and to guard against the earliest step of soul departure—the leaving of our first love (2. 4). If as assemblies we have not the power and presence of the risen, living Christ in evidence amongst us, then, as Spurgeon said, “It were better to shut the churches, to nail up the doors, to put a black cross on each of them, and to cry, ‘God have mercy on us\” Brethren, “the time is short." Already the Judge is at the door. Some will be “caught UP"; some will be “spued OUT", and the issues will be eternal.
Thank God, no matter how dark the age may become, it is still possible for the individual to “overcome" (v. 21). Boaz is an example of one who did so in the days of the Judges. Naomi represents the “chastened" backslider who “repents" (v. 19) and is restored. Samson too knew a measure of recovery, was an overcomer at his end, and is named amongst the illustrious of faith on God's great scroll of honour in Hebrews chapter 11.
May we hearken to the gracious “counsel" of our Beloved (v. 18). It is surely precious to notice that though the Church so early left her first love (2. 4), His love remains deathless and changeless to the very end. It has known no fluctuation all down the centuries, and here in what represents the last stage of the Church's earthly pilgrimage it is as fresh as ever—“As many as I love I rebuke and chasten" (v. 19). May we warm our poor hearts at its flame and experience the present joy of communion with Him (v. 20).
JUST as there was an interlude of special significance to the believing remnant and saved nations of earth, in chapter 7, between the sixth and seventh seals, so here there is an instructive digression between the sixth and seventh trumpets. This parenthesis serves a treble purpose, and we may state it as follows :—
First. Preparing the Prophet of Patmos for his further task of recording the facts of the Great Tribulation from a new angle—“Thou must prophesy again” (10. 11).
Second. Presenting the ministry and martyrdom of God’s special witnesses of that period in Jerusalem.
Third. Proclaiming the wind-up of the mystery of God, in the subjugation of evil and the establishment of righteousness, by earth’s rightful King.
Let readers think of chapters 6-11 of this great prophecy as a wide landscape view of Tribulation conditions. Then when the scroll is reversed (compare 5. 1 “written . . on the back” with 10. 11, “Thou must prophesy again”), we have the same period outlined in an album of “Close-ups”, containing characters, kingdoms and systems where details can be studied in greater detail; (that is, in chapters 12-19) and in other relations.
John’s preparation consists in a renewed vision of the Son of Man and in his eating of “the little book.” Almost every phrase of these opening verses of chapter 10 recalls chapter 1. 13-16 and identifies “the Mighty Angel” as our Lord Jesus Christ. He holds “the little book” open, which no doubt contains the facts John must further record as opposed to the message of “the seven Thunders”, which must remain sealed and unknown. The attitude of Christ is that of possessive right and power. He stands with His right foot on the sea and His left upon the earth and utters His voice as only the Lion of the tribe of Judah can. This vision of “the Possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14. 22), “the Governor of the nations” (Psalm 22. 28), and the rightful Heir (Luke 20. 14; Psalm 2. 6-8), is accompanied with a command to John to seal up the message of “the Seven Thunders”, while the Lord of Creation declares that there shall be “delay no longer” (R.V.). This means an almost immediate conclusion to “the mystery of God.” God has ever been pleased to share His secrets with His own and this is no exception. To quote the instructive words of another, “ The mystery of God' is, I believe, that for thousands of years He has not taken His great power here. He has allowed evil and lawless men to continue their course and to gratify their lusts and ambitions. People have even questioned whether there is a God, when they have seen great evils allowed to go unchecked. There has been in men’s account a long delay in bringing to light publicly the principles of God’s Government.” When the seventh trumpet sounds it will become manifest that God, far from being an uninterested spectator, has been a mighty Restrainer and Controller in the affairs of men, and that with amazing grace and long suffering has been working towards that supreme and sovereign purpose which is the heading up of all things in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1. 10). In this ultimate of the inscrutable wisdom of God, evil will be dethroned and righteousness exalted, and what is inherent in the character of God will have public and universal exhibition.
The next stage in John’s preparation for further prophecy was the consumption of “the little book.” This proves sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly. Freshly revealed truth has ever a sweetness, but its digestion in relation to its practical outworking can be very different. Those who share God’s secrets are bound to share God’s feelings relative to His essential dealings with men. While we rejoice to know the mind of God, we grieve to see its solemn accompaniments.
This long parenthesis continues in chapter eleven, where conditions in Israel at this critical juncture in their history are in view. The nation though mainly corrupt and deceived by Anti-Christ will have a worshipping and witnessing remnant among them, as suggested by the measuring of the Temple and Altar and them that worship therein (11. 1). In symbolic language the Lord’s apprehension of what is of Himself and loyal to Himself is made known. All who come under the “measuring line” of His loving knowledge can be assured of the protection of His mighty power and a privileged place in His final purposes. Though Jerusalem can be denominated “Sodom and Egypt” (11. 5), yet there is a people there who are the objects of God’s knowing and tender care, for that is the thought that ever associates with God’s measurements (cf. Zechariah 2. 1-5).
A unique and Spirit-empowered form of testimony is to be upheld during the second half of the week of Tribulation. This will centre in two remarkable figures, whose preaching will distress the earth-dwellers, during the twelve hundred and sixty days of their mission. They are called both Witnesses and Prophets and their testimony is Spirit-empowered, as verse 4 taken in conjunction with Zechariah 4 indicates. Their likeness to Moses and Elijah appears in their ability to control the clouds and smite the earth with plagues. Then, like servants of God in all ages, they will be immortal till their work is done. It is only “when they shall have finished their testimony” that “the Beast” shall overcome and kill them. God will have a vehicle of testimony even in this darkest period of human history and will by supernatural means confirm His character and claims to the apostate nation of Israel.
The fiendish glee of the Earth-dwellers over the death of the two Witnesses will be short-lived, for just over three and a half days after, God intervenes with resurrection power and they are transported in “the cloud” (no doubt the glory cloud of the Tabernacle and the Temple), into Heaven. This act of divine power, accompanied by a devastating earthquake, will bring terror to the hearts of the surviving Jews in Jerusalem, and cause an unwilling acknowledgement of the God of Heaven (v. 13). Here we have reached the end of the second woe, and the third is introduced in the sounding of the seventh and final Trumpet (v. 15).
The momentous happenings of the period are now to be wound up in the deliverance of earth from the usurping and despotic control of Satan and his minions, by the assumption of government by its rightful King. In the third and last woe Christ is seen avenging Himself (v. 18) of His enemies and distributing honours amongst those who will share the regal glories of the Sovereign Lord. It is a fitting occasion for the Heavenly spectators, the twenty four elders, to act in characteristic fashion and bow in adoring worship and intelligent praise. The Church is thus seen presenting thanks to her Almighty, Eternal and Triumphant Lord, as He closes “the hour of trial” and opens “the golden age.”
In the seals and trumpets the whole week of Daniel 9. 27 has been traced until the arrival on earth a second time of the Son of Man. Those who have grasped this point of view will be prepared to examine in the next section of the prophecy the minutiae of the second half of the week, upon which the Spirit of God now turns the spotlight of Inspiration. John is to “prophesy AGAIN CONCERNING peoples and nations and many kings" (10. 11, see R.V. and N. Translation).
I was not so favoured as some of my readers in being born of Christian parents, who could teach me my need and God’s way of salvation. But I am thankful to say that although my parents were unconverted, and utter strangers to the New Birth, they were both very religious and God-fearing, so far as their light took them. This being so, I was sent very early in life to Sunday School and Church; and on reaching the age of fourteen years, and being able to repeat the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, as well as display a good knowledge of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, I was confirmed and received into the full fellowship of the Episcopal Church. As most people are aware, all members of this communion are taught that when they were baptized as babies they were, by that ordinance, made members of Christ and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. So I went on, never dreaming that there was anything further needed to secure a place in Heaven.
On reaching the age of 22 years I left home and went to Dublin, having joined the Royal Irish Constabulary; and it was while I was in training there that I first heard the truth as to man’s ruin and God’s glorious remedy clearly set forth. I can honestly say I was thoroughly awakened to see my need and danger in that (my first) Gospel meeting. Although it is now over 62 years ago, I distinctly recall saying in my heart: “I’m all wrong for eternity.” So greatly was I disturbed that T remained behind to have a talk with the preacher, but I did not get saved that evening nor for some time after that.
My training ended, I was sent to Co. Armagh, and later to Co. Donegal. Here again God spoke loudly to me, this time through a comrade who arrived in the station about the same time as myself, and who had been saved in Co. Monaghan before joining the police. Soon after our arrival there, he and I went to meetings held some miles distant, and there I became deeply concerned about my soul. Coming back to Barracks on my fourth night of attendance, I went straight to my room, fell on bended knees at my bedside, and cried to God out of a breaking heart to reveal His salvation to me. My cry was heard and answered immediately, for as I knelt there He revived within my mind a verse of Scripture I had learned when only a little boy, and which had lain latent all those years, to be used of God when I so much needed it. Isaiah 53. 5 is the verse to which I refer: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed/’ Through these words I saw by simple faith that Christ had, in infinite love, borne the judgment due to my sin and guilt, and I was enabled then and there to rest on the blessed fact, so beautifully expressed in the verse :
“Payment God will not twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand
And then again at mine.”
This, the greatest event in my life, took place on the 14th of April, 1899—a night I shall never forget through all Eternity.
My dear reader, have you had any such experience to which your mind goes back as you read these words? If not, I tell you in love to your soul, you have never set foot on the way to heaven. If you see your need, why defer the matter? Why not come as a poor lost sinner this very day and rest your soul on Christ and His finished work on Calvary?
I joyfully add that through writing, and sending to them Gospel literature, I was used of God in leading both my parents and my five brothers to Christ. Now they are all in Heaven, where shortly I shall meet them. Then together we shall magnify the grace that met and saved us from an Eternity of woe, to enjoy an Eternity of unspeakable bliss and glory.
(To be followed in next number by the Conversion story of Mr. Campbell's son, Mr. Wm. J. Campbell).
A-MILLENNIALISM! What is A-Millennialism? Some perhaps have never before heard the name. Like Pre-Millennialism and Post-Millennialism, it is an eschatological term. That is to say, it has to do with the last or final things in God’s dealings with man. Pre-Millennialism is the teaching that Christ will return to earth prior to its thousand years of bliss; Post-Millennialism, that He will not return until the end of that age; but A-Millennialism is the teaching that there will be no earthly Millennium at all.
As is well known, those who belong to the first of these three schools of thought are divided into two groups. Some believe that the Church will not be caught up to be with the Lord until after the Great Tribulation which must precede Christ’s earthly reign. Others, including the present writer, hold that the Church’s translation will take place before the commencement of that awful period, called in Scripture “the time of Jacob’s (not the Church’s) trouble” (Jer. 30. 7). Both groups, however, adhere to the common faith that the Second Advent will be pre-millennial.
Post-Millennialists, on the other hand, teach that the Second Advent will not take place until after the thousand years of peace, and that that age will be introduced through Gospel preaching, Social reform, and International Peace Treaties. In other words, the world will gradually become so Christianized that the Millennium will at last be realized, after which Christ will come again. Post-Millennialists therefore do not believe in the imminent return of the Lord. To a large extent, however, this doctrine has had its day. World conditions—the increase of crime, violence and immorality have shattered its once rosy hopes. “Post-Millennialism is no longer an issue in theology.” The disillusionment of the Second World War and its aftermath brought about its collapse.
With this brief introduction, we turn to A-Millennialism. It is to be feared that not infrequently to-day it is mistaken for what is generally called “the Tribulation Theory”—the teaching that the Church will pass through the Great Tribulation, already referred to. We have no sympathy whatsoever with this latter view. At the same time it must be conceded that it numbers many godly and scholarly men amongst its adherents in the past and present, and that while to a large extent it robs the Church of the joy of that “blessed hope,” it is thoroughly pre-millennial in its outlook. The teaching of A-Millennialism is quite distinct from it, contains more serious error, and must not on any account be confused with it.
We propose somewhat briefly to examine this doctrine under the following heads :
1. THE BASIS OF A-MILLENNIALISM.
A-Millennialists belong to what is known as the Allegorical School of interpretation. In accordance with the principles of this school, some of the plainest passages of Scripture, which any unbiased reader would understand in a literal sense, are so spiritualized that their meaning is entirely distorted, if not completely lost. It is true, the Bible contains allegories and symbols and certain passages are intended to be taken figuratively. No Scripture, however, should be so interpreted except where the inspiring Spirit has made it perfectly obvious that it should be treated in that manner. “Therefore,” says Dr. D. L. Cooper, “take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the context clearly indicate otherwise.” It is just here that A-Millennialism fails. One of “the major errors of A-Millennialism is that it fails to keep faith with the basic Protestant principle of interpretation, namely, that the literal sense is primary. Only where the Scripture itself indicates may we take refuge in a symbolical solution of any problem of exegesis.” (Dr. A. Skevington Wood, F.R., Hist. S., in “The Prophetic Witness”).
Many instances of this process of spiritualizing could be cited. For the present a slight reference to one will manifest how unwarranted it is. This has to do with the carefully furnished measurements of the City of God and its glorious Temple in Ezekiel 40-48. The A-Millennialists reduce these “explicitly detailed specifications to vague symbolism. Anything that reads less like symbolism could scarcely be found in the whole of Scripture. And what these severely practical measurements could possibly symbolise defeats even the most resourceful allegorist” (Dr. A. S. Wood).
One feature which has down the years manifested the utter weakness and unreliability of their system has been the multiplicity of diverse interpretations propagated upon certain Scriptures. There are several A-Millennial views upon Ezek. 40-48, and Dr. J. F. Walvoord speaks of having “personally examined some fifty of their historical interpretations of Revelation.” It seems that each teacher has interpreted according to his own whim and fancy. Then when an interpretation has proved untenable, another has with ease been adopted and propounded in its stead. Not infrequently these are contradictory the one to the other. Of the fifty which Dr. Walvoord examined, he states that not one of them would be accepted by an intelligent person to-day. The handling of Holy Scripture in such a haphazard manner is, to say the least, most disappointing and unsatisfactory. It brings the study of prophecy into disrepute, and can only bewilder and stumble the simple reader of the Word.
As might be expected, many of these views have been anything but sane and sober. One writer understands Job's three friends to represent the heretics; his seven sons, the apostles; his flock of sheep, the people of God; and “his hump-backed camels, the depraved Gentiles” (Cited by Dr. G. B. Stanton, in “Kept From The Hour”). Aquinas, writing upon Rev. 20, taught that “As seven mystically implies universality, so thousand implies perfection whether in good or evil.” Auberlen believed that “thousand symbolizes that the world is perfectly leavened and pervaded by the Divine : since thousand is ten, the number of the world, raised to the third power, three being the number of God” (A. R. Fausset, in “The Portable Commentary”); while another would make the thousand years symbolize “Potentiated ecumenicity.” These allegorizers are guilty, not only of interpretating Scripture in a light and trifling manner, but of actually changing its plain and sensible meaning. If God does really mean one thousand years in Rev. 20, “how else”, as Dr. Stanton asks, “would He, or how else could He, write it?” Do men not fear that solemn warning against “taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy”? (Rev. 22. 19). The Bible is the holy, Spirit-breathed Word of the living God, and he will not be held guiltless who in any way tampers with, or whittles away, the significance of its divine utterances.
As to their system of interpretation, one wonders why, if such passages as Matt. 24; Luke 21; and Acts 6. 1-10 are to be spiritualized, Christ did not say so to His disciples. Considering their ignorance was He not morally responsible to warn them against giving to His words a literal significance, if a symbolical one was intended? “It is incredible that God should in the most important matters, affecting the interests and the happiness of man and nearly touching His own veracity, clothe them in words, which, if not true to their obvious and common sense, would deceive the pious and God-fearing of many ages” (Peters, cited by Dr. J. D. Pentecost in “Things to Come”). Or are certain prophecies to be understood literally, while others which to us seem just as literal are to be accorded a figurative connotation? And if certain prophetic passages are to be understood thus, are we not free to interpret doctrinal and historical passages in the same manner? Surely we must try to be consistent. Yet to take this liberty would reduce many Scriptures to the ridiculous, and make havoc of the faith. How then, if we do not adhere to “the basic Protestant principle of interpretation,” are we to know where to draw the line between the literal and the symbolical? Dr. Stanton relates W. E. Blackstone’s account of a conversation between a clergyman and a Jew, which is to the point here. “Taking a New Testament and opening it at Luke 1. 32, the Jew asked : ‘Do you believe that what is here written shall be literally accomplished—The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father, David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever’? ‘I do not’, answered the clergyman, ‘but rather take it to be figurative language, descriptive of Christ’s spiritual reign over the Church.’ ‘Then’, replied the Jew, ‘neither do I believe literally the words preceding, which say that this Son of David should be born of a virgin, but take them to be merely a figurative manner of describing the remarkable character for purity of him who is the subject of the prophecy’.”
The Jew. of course, had the better of the argument. We most assuredly believe that this and other prophecies of the humiliation and sufferings of Christ were literally fulfilled at His first Advent, and we have no reason in the wide world to believe that the prophecies of His coming rule and glory will be fulfilled in any other manner.
Leading in prayer in the assembly is an important matter, and it is essential that it be done in a simple, Scriptural, and spiritual way. Let us outline some important points concerning this subject as we find them in the Word of God.
The MEN (not the women) should lead in prayer (1 Timothy 2. 8). This passage refers to our conduct in the local assembly (see 1 Tim. 3. 15). It is also clear that all the brethren are free to do this. Later references in the epistle give us the duties of elders and deacons, but it is nowhere suggested that these are to do all the praying and all the preaching (see 1 Cor. 14. 26). So it is important that all the brethren be clear as to their responsibilities in this respect.
When praying, the brother should use the plural first personal pronoun, i.e. he should not say “I”, “me” and “my”, but “we”, “us” and “our.” In this respect we should study the model prayer that our Lord taught His disciples (Matt. 6. 9-13). The reason for this is that he is not praying simply for himself, or on his own behalf, but as the “spokesman” or representative of the assembly. For the same reason
Public prayer should be audible. In 1 Cor. 14. 16 Paul mentions that praying in an unknown tongue in the assembly is unprofitable for “how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest?” The same argument applies to inaudible prayer. God can and does hear it, but the rest of the assembly should also be able to hear it, so that they can intelligently endorse it by saying, “Amen.” (So be it!).
It should be brief. “God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few” (Eccles. 5. 2). Read Acts 4. 24-30 for a model assembly prayer. The longest prayers in the Bible—that of Solomon at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8. 22-53) and of our Lord on the way to the garden (John 17)—can both be read in a few minutes. And since Scripture teaches that all the brethren are at liberty to pray, prayers should be of such length as to give time for every one to take part.
It should not be repetitive (Matt. 6. 7-8). God does not hear us for our “much speaking.” Requests should be clearly stated.
May the Lord help each one of us to take these things to heart, so that our prayers in the assembly will conform to the pattern laid down by the Lord Himself.
HIS TIMES AND TESTIMONY Gen. 5. 18-24; Heb. 11. 5; Jude 14, 15.
By J. A. Ronald, Canada.
ENOCH’S life of 365 years was perhaps the shortest of his time. Although there are but few verses recording it, it was most outstanding. We shall consider :
HIS TIMES : He was “the seventh from Adam” (Jude 14) and this brings him near the end of the Antediluvian Age, a time without law and filled with violence (Gen. 6. 11). It would be a trying time for the man of God, in the midst of giants or mighty men, “men of a name.” Gen. 11. 4 tells of another time after the flood, when again the cry was “let us make us a name,” proving the evil of the natural heart. It is little wonder that the word “ungodly” is found four times in one sentence, describing the men of Enoch’s day and telling of the sad drift from Adam and his being made God-like. We gather from Genesis 4 that Cain’s descendants tried to forget the murder of Abel, and to improve the world by building, art and science. Is this not like another generation who, with the guilt of the blood of Another at their door, are trying to improve the world? They may have the name of the Saviour tagged to their evil deeds, but hatred to His own is in their hearts. As with Enoch, the ‘Dedicated’ one, our is to be a simple path of separation from the world (John 17. 14).
HIS CONVERSION : It would seem that his conversion came at the birth of his son, Methuselah. How often God has spoken at death ! but here He speaks at a birth. We read that “Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years.” When he was 65, a son was born into his home and a change was wrought in his soul. He came to God, “believing that He is’5 God (Heb. 11. 6). All around, men lived as if there were no God and no judgment to come, but this birth brought about a complete change in Enoch’s outlook. Approaching judgment must have been revealed to him, since he named his son Methuselah, “his death will bring it.” Thus thoughts of sin and judgment to come must have awakened him, before peace with God, revealed by a changed walk, was known in his heart.
HIS WALK : His walk was a result of his faith, and it became the habit of life. It was not by fits and starts that he walked with God, but habitually and for 300 years. Not in
sinless Eden did he thus walk, but in a defiled scene where sin and Satan ruled. His was a path of separation, not to himself, but to his God, so his was not a lonely path. The result of it was the testimony that “he pleased God”, the very same as that borne to the Son of God from above (Matt. 3. 17). Is not this within the reach of every one to-day?—1 Thess. 4. 1; Rom. 12. 1. Truly, nothing greater could be attained, and this, mark you, was amidst family cares that pressed upon him and demanded his attention. How illuminating is this brief record! Enoch must have weighed matters well and concluded : 'No matter what others say or do, it will pay to seek God’s presence and to bring Him into every department of my life.’ Have we weighed this matter, made the same start, and continued in it? Or have we turned aside after wealth, honour and ease? It is a costly path, yet great is the present and future reward!
HIS PREACHING (Jude 15) : Only after a faithful walk can one effectively speak such weighty words. He believed that God is, and that a great reckoning faced every man : a reward for the godly, and an inevitable day of judgment for the sinner. What faithfulness is seen in Enoch’s pressing home to the unsaved their condition in the so frequent reminders of their “ungodly” speech, deeds, and heart, which were demanding this fast approaching judgment! No great revival resulted, yet it was Heaven’s warning to a guilty world. Oh, for more of such faithfulness to-day, ere the clouds of judgment burst!
HIS TRANSLATION : The only recorded unusual event between the slaying of Abel and the flood of Noah’s day is this most interesting event, and what a picture it is! The only recorded miraculous event between the cross and the judgment is our Lord’s coming for the Church. “By faith Enoch was translated”, tells of an expected event. In other words, he was not looking for death but for this translation, and therefore was living in the light of it. Like Elijah, he must have had a knowledge of God’s purposes for him. And have not we the same to-day? This darkening scene but tells of what so soon must take place, and if wrath is nearing for the ungodly, then so is His coming for His own. May this glorious truth grip our hearts anew, and may our watchword be, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
THE sense of the Divine Presence, which reveals sin, also prevents it When Joseph was in the crisis of awful temptation his answer to the siren voice of the tempter was an obvious sign of his habit of thinking of God. He had evidently learned that great truth, “Thou, God, seest me!” (Gen. 16. 13). He practised the presence of God, and it was natural to say with himself, “How can I do this great thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39. 9).
What a security in the hour of temptation, however sudden, overwhelming, and otherwise irresistible, is the thought, the conviction, the consciousness, “Thou, God, seest me. I can go nowhere without Thy Presence.”