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Enoch's Translation

THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR

Message title: Enoch’s Translation, Hebrews 11:5,6
Broadcast date: October 24, 2021 (No. 4112)
Radio speaker: Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma, Pittsburgh PRC

Dear radio friends,

 

Enoch lived about half way through the pre-flood period of time.  Jude teaches us in his letter that Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam.  This places him at about the same time as the evil Lamech of Cain’s line.  In his sin Lamech married two wives, murdered a young man, and then gave birth to three wicked sons, Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain.  This means that the righteous Enoch lived in a world that was developing rapidly in sin.  Not only had the wicked become powerful and predominant in the world, but many in the line of the church had defected to join hands with the wicked.  It was not unlike the world today.  The wicked are strong and the righteous are weak.  The wicked of this world in their enmity against those who live in faith are becoming the more antagonistic.  Further, many within the church have defected to join hands with the world.  They may have retained the name church,as did many in the world before the Flood, but they have joined hands with the wicked in their world and life view.

        Enoch was called by God to live during this time of the history of the world prior to the Flood.  We know how difficult it can be to live in godliness in a world that is filled with ungodliness.  We also know the pressure that is put on believers from without and even from within the church world.  Well, Enoch was one of those believers who walked with God, we are told in the Genesis account.  He walked by faith and in that way becomes for us an example that the writer to the Hebrews deemed worthy of listing in this chapter.  We read concerning Enoch in Hebrews 11:5, 6, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him:  for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.  But without faith it is impossible to please him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  We consider this today.

        The lives of very few believers prior to the Flood are explained in the Bible.  In fact, not much is said about Enoch.  We do learn, however, that Enoch was born in the line of Seth, whom God gave Adam and Eve to replace Abel.  In Genesis 5 we find the names of those who belonged to this line.  Enoch is mentioned only briefly there.  In Genesis 5:23, 24 we read of him, “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:  And Enoch walked with God:  and he was not; for God took him.”  That is all that is written of him.  But this one man truly is an outstanding example of how others too who lived in the first world believed.  Enoch was not the only believer.  He stands out only because Enoch was a prophet or preacher.  We learn in Jude:14, that Enoch prophesied to the world of the coming judgment.

        The writer to the Hebrews has much to say about this man of faith therefore.

Enoch’s Translation

I.    His Godly Testimony

        God’s Word explains at the end of verse 6 that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  This implies, of course, that Enoch diligently sought after God in his life.  Genesis 5 explains this action on Enoch’s part as “walking with God.”  Enoch walked with God.  That says something about the life and conduct of this man of God.  The expression “walked with God” does not imply that God and Enoch took long walks together, but it certainly does imply friendship.  We walk with our friends.  That Enoch walked with God points to the truth that he stood in a relationship of love and communion with God—a covenant relationship.  Enoch’s walk or life in this world was motivated by a love for God.  This means that Enoch was the object of God’s grace. God had saved Enoch and by His Spirit regenerated him.  As a result, Enoch knew God and feared God.  He desired to be near God and to experience His love and favor.  God, in turn, dwelt with Enoch, making him to know and experience His love and favor.  He dwelt in intimate fellowship with this man.  Enoch did not live in doubt of God’s blessings on him.  Enoch was a child of the promises God had given His people.  He knew that he was seen of God in the sacrifice of that Promised One who was to come and deliver from sin.  He believed that God was with him and was his God.  These were the inner motivations of his heart.  And the result of these motivations was that he walked with God.  Enoch’s faith revealed itself in conduct therefore.

        He sought after God—diligently.  He lived the same way as we do in this present world in the home, workplace, and society in general.  But his walk was according to God’s precepts.  He believed in God.  That faith revealed itself in his works.  His life was substantially different from the wicked around him.  He represented God’s cause in this world.  The way he conducted himself in his home in raising his children or dealing with his wife was radically different from what the world felt should be done.  He followed the will of God diligently by seeking after God’s approval in what he did.  He desired above all else to please God, not himself, in the way he lived.  In other words, people of God, he lived as a believer and as such is an example to you and me in the way we ought to walk in this life.  Everything we said of Enoch ought to characterize us.  We too must walk with God.  We must represent to others the cause of His kingdom.  We must walk according to His precepts and Word.  We must seek to please God.  We must do this because we are believers!  Our faith is what must motivate us in our lives.  And that faith must produce the works of righteousness that set us apart from the ungodly of this world. 

        Let us take note of Enoch’s faith.  We read of it in verse 6.  There we learn that he that comes to God must believe, first of all, that He is.  Enoch by faith came to God.  He was drawn to God.  This, in itself, implies a work of God’s grace in Enoch’s heart.  The same is true of every person who is drawn to God.  Jesus explains in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:  and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Not everyone is able to come to Jesus or to God.  Only those in whom God works through the Spirit will come to Him. God must draw us to Himself.  To come to God by faith as Enoch did is a gift of God.  When God works faith in a person’s heart, the first truth he believes is that God is—that He exists.  Oh, it is true, every man knows there is a God.  But faith loves and fears this great God of heaven and earth.  Faith clings to this God.  The believer is assured that this God is his Father for Jesus’ sake, who loves him and dwells with him.  Such was the faith of Enoch.  Such is our faith.

        Then, we learn in our text that added to this knowledge of God is the assurance that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  God rewards those who diligently seek him, that is, strive with diligence to walk in His ways.  This is why we read of Enoch that before God translated him he had this testimony from God that he pleased God.  God was pleased with him.  Why?  Because by God’s grace Enoch diligently sought after God in his life.  God rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Faith is the confidence that those who seek to walk in covenant communion with God, those who desire to walk in His ways, those who diligently seek to know God’s will for them, those who fear God, will be rewarded!  This is why faith shapes and molds the life of a child of God in this world.  Faith clings to the truth that those who diligently seek God will be given the reward of heaven.  When we walk in those works that He has ordained for us from eternity and in which we are created in Christ Jesus, God is pleased with us.  A believer seeks to please God by abiding in His ways.

        But let us not forget what our text explains to us:  “without faith it is impossible to please God!”  Diligently seeking God is only the fruit or the result of a true and living faith.  The works we do gain us nothing in themselves.  They are useless in themselves in earning God’s favor.  We may not be as the Pharisees, who believed that by a mere outward performance of what may seem good we merit something in God’s eyes.  Even those works that flow out of a true faith merit nothing in God’s sight.  They merely are evidence of the faith that is in us—a faith that itself pleases God.  The reward we receive therefore is only a reward of grace.  We walk with God only when He works such behavior in us by His grace.  Our reward therefore is given us freely by God’s grace through faith—a faith that draws us to the merits of our Savior. 

        Such is the very character of faith.  Faith binds us together with Jesus Christ.  Faith itself is not a work.  It is impossible to please God without faith because faith is that which binds us to Christ and His merits—those merits found in the salvation He has earned for us.  By faith we are righteous.  By faith we are holy.  It comes down to this:  it is impossible to please God without Christ working within us.  Through the Spirit of Christ in us we believe.  Such faith brings forth fruits of righteousness.  We are rewarded according to those fruits.  So, where does the credit go?  To Christ who works in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure!  So yes, faith is confidence that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  God is pleased with us when we seek Him.  Enoch believed that and lived with that confidence.

II.  His Sudden Translation

        But how did all of this lead to his translation?  Was Enoch so godly a man that God simply decided to take him to heaven without seeing death?  Were not there others who walked with God in their lives too?  Why Enoch?  The answer to this question is not easy to ascertain from our text.  But the few words, “and was not found” in verse 5 of Hebrews 11gives us an idea of what happened to this man of God.  Evidently men were looking for Enoch, or better, hunting for him.  From Jude 14, 15 we learn that Enoch was a prophet.  He prophesied concerning the coming destruction of the world.  He preached of the coming judgment.  By doing so he condemned the world for its sin and unbelief.  The majority of the world had become ungodly and rejected God.  There was no longer any fear of God.  They trampled underfoot the commandments of God.  They despised God’s people.  They openly spoke against God and His people.  The wicked had become antagonistic—even to the point that they persecuted God’s people.  Society no longer accepted a man who walked with God.  Enoch’s life was a testimony against the wicked.  His godliness rubbed against their ungodliness.  But more, Enoch spoke out against the sins that had overcome the wicked.  He warned them that if they did not change their ways God would come in His wrath and destroy this earth.  For that reason men sought to kill Enoch.  But they could not find him.

        In this way the life and times of Enoch are more than an example to us, people of God.  They are a picture of the times we face before Christ’s second coming.  The days of Enoch are so similar to the perilous times that confront the church of Jesus Christ today.  God’s Word warns the church of Christ that in the last days perilous times shall come for the church.  Unbelieving men and women seek to cast away the cords of God’s commandments from them.  Many do not know His commandments, much less live them.  Our society and the people in it have become ungodly—they do not fear God anymore.  The people of our own land have become antagonistic toward the church.  Even the false church has turned its eyes against the faithful church of Jesus Christ.  Some very vocal politicians accuse the true church and its stands against the immorality and violence of our day of bigotry and hate.  The Bible is no longer held in high esteem.  The objective truth of God’s Word is challenged by the relativism that has overtaken our world.  What will become of the church whose preachers, on the basis of Scripture, warn the world of its wickedness?  What will become of her preachers? Our world has become ripe for judgment.  The end is coming in which God will in His wrath destroy this universe and the wicked in it.  This is the warning given by the church.  Yet, the wicked will not hear it.

        They did not listen to Enoch either.  Instead, men sought him to kill him—but he could not be found.  The reason they could not find him lay in the fact that God translated Enoch.  This term is used three times here in Hebrews 11:5.  Enoch did not die.  God translated Enoch “that he should not see death.”  Translated.  He was transferred by God from one place to another.  He was brought by God from earth and into the realm of heaven without dying.  Now, the Bible teaches us that flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven.  It was not possible for Enoch to be transferred by God directly into heaven with a flesh and blood body.  The word translate literally means changed.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was changed from the earthly into the heavenly.  In some miraculous way his earthly body was changed into a spiritual heavenly body able to possess the glory of heaven.  As he walked with God on earth, he now walked with God in the real sense of the word in heaven.

        This is what is going to happen to those who are yet alive when Jesus Christ returns at the end of time.  I Corinthians 15:51, 52 teaches us that when Christ returns to earth there will be yet alive a number of His people.  Not every one of God’s people will have died.  What will happen to these few believers when Christ comes?  They will not see death.  They shall be changed, Paul writes.  The earthly body will suddenly be changed from corruptible into incorruptible, and the mortal shall be changed into immortality.  This is what happened to Enoch.  This happened to one other man during the course of Old Testament history:  Elijah, who was taken into heaven in a chariot of fire.  Until the end of time this will never happen again.  Then we will one last time see with our eyes this amazing miracle.  Enoch had a very short life.  He lived on earth only 365 years.  That was short in comparison to those who lived to be in their 800s and 900s.  But we must understand what lay behind this translation.

III. His Gracious Reward

        We learn at the beginning of verse 5 of our text that “by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.”  Enoch was translated by faith.  Faith did not translate Enoch.  It was not the means used by God to translate him.  But, because Enoch being saved by grace walked in the way of faith, God chose to deliver him from his enemies without seeing death.  Enoch was a man of God.  He walked with God in close communion.  He diligently sought after God in his life.  All this, of course, because God had saved him.  In this way of faith God chose to take him into glory without seeing death.  In that faith Enoch looked to God as his protector and shield.  What David writes in Psalm 3:1-3 was no doubt the prayer of Enoch:  “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.  Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.  But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” 

        This prayer of faith must be ours too, fellow believers, as we walk in a wicked world.  We need not fear.  In fear we look to God.  It may seem as if our enemies have the victory over us. It certainly must have looked that way to Enoch.  Many rise up against Christ and His church in this world.  But Enoch believed that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  Enoch was confident of that.  He was convicted of that!  He walked among the wicked with that confidence, that faith.  Then we read that God translated him. 

        Through that translation Enoch received his reward.  Without seeing death he received his eternal reward in heaven.  That same reward awaits all those who fear God and diligently seek Him in this world.  It may come to us by means of death.  We may have to die to receive it.  But it awaits us in heaven.  It may even be that some of us may not see death but will be translated as was Enoch when Christ comes again.  We do not know what God has in store for us in the future.  But we believe!  We believe that God is and that He rewards those who walk in the faith of Enoch.  We will not fear though ten thousands of people set themselves round about.  God is our shield and the lifter up of our heads.  That is the conviction of those who believe.  Of that, Enoch is a godly witness. 

        Do we have this testimony of God, that we please Him?  Through the work of our Savior within us we believe.  By that faith we please God!  Truly, God lifts up our heads in confidence.  We can lay ourselves down and sleep knowing that God keeps us in safety.

Bruinsma, Wilbur

Rev. Wilbur G. Bruinsma (Wife: Mary)

Ordained: October 1978

Pastorates: Faith, Jenison, MI - 1978; Missionary to Jamaica - 1984; First, Holland, MI - 1989; Kalamazoo, MI - 1996; Eastern Home Missionary - 2006; Pittsburgh PRC - 2016.

Website: www.prcpittsburgh.org/

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