Enoch and Rapture


 THREE texts, the only ones relating to him, clearly bring before us three special aspects of Enoch’s saintly character, namely; (1) His faith—“by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death” (Heb. xi, 5). (2) His walk—“Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him“ (Gen. v, 24). (3) His testimony—“Enoch prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh“ (Jude 14). And these several points are all closely connected. Enoch’s faith was the root alike of his holy walk and his fearless testimony. For “without faith it is impossible“ either to “please God“ or to serve Him: for “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him“ (Heb. xi, 6). “And this,” says the disciple whom Jesus loved, “is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith“ (I John v, 4). Gloriously, as we may see, did Enoch’s faith overcome the world. It overcame the love of the world, and thus resulted in his walking with God. For “whosoever will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God “ (James iv, 4). And, moreover, it overcame the fear of the world, else assuredly the world had never heard his prophecy of coming judgment. Surely it required strong faith to deliver such a testimony as his to an ungodly and deriding generation; but this was the victory which in Enoch’s case, as in so many others, overcame the fear of the world as well as the love of it, even his faith.

Now Enoch is a type of the living and waiting saints at the close of this dispensation in the wonderful circumstance of his translation; and there are three lines of thought suggested by the translation of Enoch which I desire briefly to take up as developing its typical significance.

(1) The character of the man was as peculiar as his destiny. It may perhaps be deemed fanciful, yet I cannot help regarding the reserve with which Enoch is spoken of in Scripture, the utter lack of detail regarding his life and the remarkable events contained therein, as intended to suggest the idea that, as a rule, those who shall be deemed worthy to escape the great tribulation to come upon the world, and to have part in the first translation, will not be men and women occupying a prominent position before the world—not the leaders of the religious parties and champions of religious sects—not those whose names are most highly honoured and whose services are most widely known; but rather such as faithfully discharging what may be called home duties, “wearing the white flower of a blameless life” in days of abounding iniquity and deepening apostasy, loving the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure heart fervently, and, as the very evidence of it, loving also His appearing, shall possess a special meetness, though seen perhaps only by the eye of heaven, to be taken by God even as Enoch was taken, because they have walked with Him in this life even as Enoch walked.

Be this as it may, it is at least certain that without some special readiness none shall attain to this very special reward. In this instance, as in every other, the eternal law shall be found to hold good, that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” And as it was not without a previous testimony that he pleased God that Enoch was translated that he should not see death, even so shall it be at the end of this dispensation. As one writer has pertinently asked, “Have we any ground from Scripture to expect that any of God’s children, now or hereafter, shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air—without their having been previously and pre-eminently sanctified by the Spirit of the Lord in order to render them meet for such an exalted honour?

“In all ages,” he observes, “it has been universally acknowledged, that no higher honour was ever publicly bestowed on any man on earth than that which was bestowed on Enoch, the seventh from Adam, and on Elijah, both of whom were translated without dying; and that bestowed on the apostle Paul, who was caught up to the third heaven, and afterwards returned to earth. Now, this exalted honour was evidently given to illustrate and exemplify the unalterable principle of the divine government—which honours remarkably those who are specially honouring God, as it is written, ‘them that honour me, I will honour.’ For surely God never yet bestowed distinguished honour on any one who was not, at the time of that bestowment, singularly honouring the Lord.

What then, for example, is the revealed character and history of the seventh from Adam, who was caught up to heaven without seeing death? We read that previously ‘Enoch walked with God’ for three hundred years; and that in this most holy state God took him. And, again, that ‘before his translation he had this testimony,’ as the special reason for that most singular honour—that ‘he please God.’ Now, we are surely warranted to conclude that Enoch was the ordained prototype or pattern of those blessed ones who shall be caught up to meet him in the air.

If Enoch, Elijah and Paul were then the distinguished patterns of those who shall thus be honoured when Christ shall come again in glory, let the question be now faithfully answered. Is there such a vivid resemblance between these ancient, most holy saints, and the members of the Church of god generally at this day, that we may reasonably expect the speedy bestowment on them of a similar—yea, even a still greater honour? If not—if it be lamentably the reverse—if multitudes of the members of Christian Churches at the present day resemble the Laodiceans of old, neither cold nor hot; if the love of many has indeed ‘waxed cold,’ can we possibly imagine, with our Lord’s awful and most threatening denunciations of the ‘Laodicean’ church before us, that the Righteous Judge, who bestowed the highest distinction on Enoch and Elijah he ever vouchsafed to any in this world, as a special mark of his approbation of their illustrious, persevering holiness, breasting, as they did, a flood of ungodliness—can we conceive that He will actually bestow the same wondrous honour on those who are manifestly dishonouring Himby their spiritual poverty, sleep, slothfulness, selfishness, and nakedness?” (Cornwall).

2. Enoch alone was translated, though others in a state of salvation were living at the time. That fearful process of moral and social corruption which came to the full at the era of the deluge, “when few, that is eight persons, were saved by water,” although it had in fact attained an advanced stage even at the time of Enoch’s translation, was by no means so universal as at the later period; and we may therefore reasonably conclude that the number of the children of God then living must have been considerably larger.Indeed, “by applying the elementary rules of arithmetic to data contained in the fifth chapter of Genesis, it will be found that when Enoch was translated, all the patriarchs therein mentioned were alive, with the exception of Adam and Noah, the former of whom died fifty-seven years before, and the latter was not born till sixty-nine years after that event.” We are, then, clearly warranted in asserting that though Enoch was the only individual then living who was deemed worthy of the signal honour of translation, he was by no means the only individual then living in a state of grace. And as it was in Enoch’s day, even so shall it be in the day of that coming rapture of Christ’s waiting saints, of which his translation was so significant a type. In fact I have no doubt that Dr. Seiss is quite correct when he says “I have no idea that a very large portion of mankind, or even of the professing Church, will be thus taken. The first translation, if I may so speak, will embrace only the select few, who ‘watch and pray always,’ that they ‘may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man’ (Luke xxi, 36). ‘In that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Luke xvii, 34, 36). The idea is that the great body of the Church even will be “left.” And this assumption of the saints to immortality, which may occur any of these passing days or nights, and certainly is to be devoutly awaited as very near, is the first signal act by which the great period of the consummation is to be introduced.

One word more and I may conclude. In the three bright aspects of Enoch’s character, presented to us in Scripture, and to which I briefly referred at the commencement of these remarks—his faith, his walk, his testimony; we surely have indicated to us the three great wants of the Church in these last days, and the three special graces, in our personal possession of which we may recognize the divine earnests of our meetness to participate, should we be alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, in that promised, glorious exemption from the common lot of fallen humanity, of which Enoch’s translation was so beautiful a type. Not without Enoch’s FAITH, let us rest assured, shall we be deemed worthy of an Enoch-like translation. Not without Enoch’s WALK shall we be found in the position of those wise and ready virgins who go in with the Bridegroom to the wedding. Not without a word of TESTIMONY, similar to Enoch’s, concerning the coming of the King to Judge, shall the precious promise to the Philadelphian Church be made good to us (Rev, iii, 10).But if these things be indeed in us, and abound, then may we, in a well-grounded confidence, and with most blessed self-application, take up the poet’s language and say:—

There comes a moaning and a sighing,
There comes the death-clod’s heavy fall,
A thousand agonies of dying—
But I shall be above them all.

From The Dawn Magazine Vol. 1 no. 11, Feb. 14, 1925, p. 510