Volume 12

Enoch And Translation

F. E. Raven

Page: 433

My thought is to say a few words in regard of Enoch. One may, without any great stretch of imagination, speak of Enoch as typical of the church. The prominent point that comes out in connection with Enoch is translation; and that is a truth which properly belongs to the church. It is not a truth in connection with Israel. The truth in connection with Israel is that death will be swallowed up in victory; but the church, like Enoch, is waiting for translation. The first intimation of translation is in Enoch. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death". He was not to pass through death. It was to be shown how completely God would triumph over death; so the church as waiting for Christ does not pass through death. The Lord refers, I think, to this in @John:5; He says, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will". He does not, as to Himself, speak there of raising, but of quickening. The same thought comes out in @1Corinthians:15"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive"; the apostle does not say raised. "Every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming". They will be quickened. I might quote other passages to the same effect; what is peculiar to the church is the expectation of translation at the coming of the Lord.

It is remarkable that before the flood you get the first principles of the world to come. They came out by faith. Men accepted light from God; that is what faith always means. The principle came out in Abel of acceptance through sacrifice, and that is, so

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to speak, the foundation of the world to come. In the existing world, man, as God made him, stood in innocence; in the world to come the first principle is acceptance through sacrifice. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous". He obtained acceptance with God through sacrifice and that is the basis of the world to come. The righteousness of God has been declared in the sacrifice of Christ, and on the ground of sacrifice man is accepted. Abel will have his portion in the world to come.

The same truth comes out afterwards in Abraham, but it was first witnessed in Abel.

In Enoch we get, as we have seen, the principle of translation, which makes him typical of the church, which has its place in connection with the world to come. The church is the heavenly city; the city of heavenly rule. It comes down "out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious"; and the nations of the earth walk in the light of it. Of course while the Lord tarries His people die; that is true in general, but the expectation of the church is properly the rapture.

You get this thought brought out in @Philippians:3, in which it says we look for the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour from heaven, who shall change these bodies of humiliation that they may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory.

It has been said sometimes that the parables of the Lord and in general the truth of the New Testament do not contemplate things going on beyond the lifetime of those addressed.

In the parable of the ten virgins, the same virgins who went forth are awakened in view of the bridegroom coming. The way in which things are presented in Scripture does not give the idea that a long period is contemplated; it may be long or short, but what is

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contemplated is, that the saints are here in the expectation of the coming of the Lord and not of death.

I think Enoch had faith as to his translation. What I mean is that God gave him light about it. Man could not have faith if God did not give him light, man cannot originate faith: if a man believes, he believes because God has given him light as to things. It is stated in commenting on Enoch, "Without faith it is impossible to please him". If you do not accept light from God it is impossible to please Him. Light may be presented to people and not accepted, but they cannot please God without it. Faith is the first principle as to pleasing God; we believe "that he is", we do not arrive at it by reasoning. God has been pleased to make Himself known, and therefore it is by faith we reach the result that God "is"; that is, He exists, and is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Those are the first principles of faith. I might say one word further, and that is, God's reward is not connected with this world; He brings in His reward outside of the world. Enoch was translated, and so it is in regard to the church. I do not expect any reward from God in connection with this course of the world. Moses got no reward in connection with this world. He died without entering the promised land, but "he had respect unto the recompense of the reward". God's reward comes in outside of the world. God does not come in to make a man distinguished in this world, but He has a reward for the man that seeks Him. I think that is our position; we believe that God is; and that God is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. God has pleasure in being sought of man, and will reward those that seek Him. That is a first principle of God's dealings in grace with men.

Now Enoch walked with God. That is a simple thing and you can understand what it means; his

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mind was in accord with God. Scripture raises the question, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" He was agreed with God. I have read the prophecy of Enoch, which is recorded in Jude, and I think you will see the point of agreement with God. It was in this that Enoch felt the world would not do for God, and therefore he prophesied of the coming of the Lord to execute judgment. He felt what soon was evidenced in the flood, that the world would not do for God. The world was obnoxious to God and hence it was that God interfered in judgment. But Enoch prophesied not of the flood, but of the coming of the Lord with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon the ungodly. That prophecy has never been fulfilled. But it was felt in that early day that the world was obnoxious to God. If we are agreed in mind with God we feel that the world is contrary to God. Then you must walk with God or you cannot expect God to walk with you. The path of many people down here is a tortuous one; a tortuous path will not suit God at all. God does not vary, He goes on and we must walk with Him; we cannot expect God to put any sanction upon our crooked ways, if you walk with God your ways must be straight, because God's ways are always straight. He always goes straight before Him; there is nothing crooked or deviating in His ways. His ways are righteous ways, and you must walk with God according to them. "Enoch walked with God". He walked with God in righteousness, and the effect of it was that he prophesied of the coming of the Lord. Now that is the path of the church.

We have become the servants of righteousness and God has indicated the path to us. God has not only in grace declared His righteousness in the gospel, but also has declared His path for us; and that is set forth, in a sense, in baptism. Baptism has great importance in the significance of it. I think God indicates in it

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His path for the saints, and we have to come to it. We are buried with Christ by baptism unto death, that we might be hid from the world and sin. Hence if you find a christian seeking to be conspicuous in the world, he is not walking with God, he has not come back to the truth of his baptism; I think people have to take that into account.

It has been said in regard to the Lord Jesus that His path in this world was a path of activity in obscurity, and that is very much the path in which the christian is called to walk with God. It was in measure fulfilled in Enoch, and I think our testimony is the testimony of Enoch. The more faithful we are, the more we shall be disposed to bear testimony that the Lord is coming with ten thousands of His saints. Christ is at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour, but is not always to continue there; He is coming again. There is grace for man in the meantime through the gospel, but the church bears testimony to the coming of the Lord in judgment, because it is in accord with God's mind.

We come now to another point in regard to Enoch, and that is "before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God". The same is in principle true as to the church, it is for His pleasure. If you refer to @Philippians:2:12 - 16, you will see that God effects what is for His pleasure. Enoch before his translation pleased God, and the fact is that God translates what pleases Him; Enoch pleased God, and God translated him. So, too, the church is here for God's pleasure and hence God translates it. In the meantime He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is a wonderful thought that God should have pleasure in anything in the midst of a sinful world; but God has wrought that there may be that which is for His pleasure. Enoch was not, as a man, more for God's pleasure than anybody else, but God wrought in Enoch that he might be for God's pleasure

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and hence God translated him. It is virtually God saying, 'I will dispense altogether with the judgment of death, and will take that man'. God foresaw that death would be annulled in Christ's death, and therefore translated Enoch. Now death has been annulled -- He "death by dying slew", and God says, I will produce that upon earth that shall be for My pleasure, and will translate what pleases Me. That is the course which God has taken in regard to the church: "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure".

It is an extraordinary thing that we can be here for God's pleasure. You see the idea of it coming out in the passage I referred to: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation". A generation blameless, and harmless, here in the world, not doing great things, but "sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation"; like Enoch and Noah, "among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life".

I understand it to indicate entire separation from the spirit of things around us, that in the midst of it we may be shining as lights in the light of God, at the same time holding forth the word of life.

It is like what Christ was in the world; He was of God, God's Son, and God's servant, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, shining as light in the world, holding forth the word of life. That is the true place for the church. God has wrought that there may be a generation of Him, and according to Him, which pleases Him, and has given us the marks of that generation, and we ought to be exercised to answer to it. It is God that worketh in you that you may be in accord with Him, to do of His good pleasure.

A point is that the apostle might have his joy in

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the saints. I think the apostle ought to have his joy in us. The apostle has passed away long ago, but I think that he is to have joy in us. If we are answering to the mind of God at all, it is in a sense through the work of the apostle, for he has, through suffering, given us the mind of God about the saints, and if we answer to that mind it will be for rejoicing to the apostle in the day of Christ, that he had not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. I can scarcely bring anything more important before you than the thought that God will have here when Christ comes that which is blameless and harmless, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. He will have that here for His pleasure. All that He works is for His pleasure, and nothing else is. The truth of Enoch has come to pass in the church; that is, we walk with God, and please God, for God worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.

The Philippians in measure answered to the mind of the apostle. It is noticeable that they were an obscure company. They were not like the Corinthians who were of some account in the world. Most here would remember the circumstances under which the apostle went to Philippi. He was called there by the vision of the man of Macedonia, who said, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us", and when he went there it resulted only in the conversion of the Philippian jailor and the enlightenment of a few women.

Another thing is that they were a poor company, but a liberal company. It is remarkable that these two things should go together. On the other hand, the Corinthians were more or less a wealthy company, but not a liberal company. The apostle speaks of the great poverty of the Philippians and of the riches of their liberality; the fact was it was the result of Christ's work in them. It was God working in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure. There

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were little differences among individuals and an object of the apostle's writing was to soothe these that they might complete his joy. They had communicated to him and thus made manifest their fellowship with him in the gospel. The apostle appeals to them, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love,, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy", and to fulfil his joy was to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure, and then he tells them what was according to the pleasure of God so that they might be ready for translation. It is a great thing that the church should be here practically in suitability for presentation. Scripture does not talk exactly of death and resurrection as the christian's expectation, but gives the idea of presentation. Christ "loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing". We take the thought of that in, and believe what Christ is going to do; we should desire to be without spot or wrinkle; we should be anxious to answer to the mind of Christ, to be suitable for presentation when Christ comes.

But the apostle speaks of another class and he speaks in strong terms; he refers to many who were enemies of the cross of Christ. They minded earthly things, "Whose end is destruction", because there was nothing of divine life in them, "who mind earthly things". What I understand by this is the working of unsubdued flesh, hence it is they were the enemies of the cross of Christ. If a christian allows the flesh to rule, it is evident that so far that man is an enemy of the cross of Christ. "They that are of the Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts"; unsubdued flesh puts you in the position of an enemy

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of the cross of Christ; that is, an enemy of the teaching of the cross.

In contrast with that the apostle says, "Our conversation is in heaven". We are not in heaven. An American in England would say, 'My citizenship is in America', and it means that his associations and links are in America; and so in regard to the christian, our associations and living links are in heaven.

The apostle says to the Colossians, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth, for ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God". I think, in the presence of that, you can understand that our interests are in heaven, and the bearing of that on me here is that I am a stranger and pilgrim on earth, not in accord with the course of things down here, from the fact that my associations are in heaven. I am in accord with God, and seeking here to be for His pleasure, conscious that my associations are where He is, and when I get to heaven I shall not be a stranger there. In one sense I shall, but in another not, because I shall find a welcome there; it is wonderful that when we get to heaven we shall be welcomed.

The result of our citizenship being in heaven is that "we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ". That is as Saviour of the body. He is sitting now at the right hand of God, and that is the proof and evidence that His offering work is done; there is no more to be done, therefore Christ, as Priest, sits, but the moment He rises it is to exercise His great power by which He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. All power is in the hand of Christ; the first movement of that power is toward the saints who are here; that is, the church. He will change these bodies of humiliation that they may be fashioned like unto His body of

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glory, according to the power whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

It has been a comfort to me to think that when I set eyes on Christ I shall be like Him to see Him. It is not that I see Him to be like Him, but I am made like Him, in order that I might see Him. In the meantime it is our expectation and faith. God has given us that faith. We are not looking to die. We are looking for translation, for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven as Saviour, not as Judge, but as Saviour, for "as he is so are we in this world". The saints are here for the pleasure of God; if they answer to the work of God in them, they are practically for His pleasure; and because they are for His pleasure, God will translate them when the moment comes.

You will remember the word of the Lord Jesus to Martha in @John:11"I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die". That is, that when He comes out in that way, as the resurrection and the life, those who are here will never die. We look for the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour to bring us into complete conformity to Himself. God has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and that is to be brought about even in regard to our bodies, so that we might be fitted for those courts above into which Christ is going to conduct His people. He will receive His people to Himself, that where He is there they may be also.

Now I think we get this in type in Enoch.

One word about Noah. He presents another principle, that is, that God will preserve His earthly people through judgment. Noah is a type of man coming out on to a regenerated earth; thus before and in the flood you get the foundation principles of the world to come. That is acceptance through sacrifice, the translation of the church, and the preservation

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of the earthly people when God interferes in the way of judgment.

It is remarkable that God should have given that light in large measure before the judgment of the flood came on the world. Moral confusion had entered, and hence God interfered in bringing in the flood, and the world in a sense began again in connection with those whom God had preserved through the judgment.

It will be the same in the future. The Lord will come with ten thousands of His saints, and the elect of God will be preserved in that day for the regenerated earth, but our portion is set forth in Enoch, and it is a great thing to see what comes out in him. The world lost sight of him. They did not know what had become of him, and if we are true to our baptism, when we are taken, the world will not miss us very much. If, on the other hand, you seek to be conspicuous, it is possible that when we are taken the world may miss you. The true place for the christian is that of a follower of Christ, and that is in obscurity; you will be conspicuous enough when the Lord comes.