August 8, 2022

Mercy Extended

In Genesis 5, the lives of a father and son are summarized in a genealogy that reads like an obituary column. We might wonder how there could be anything in an Old Testament obituary that would help us get to Heaven. However, God often uses symbolic types and shadows from the Old Testament to speak to our day, and that is what we find here.

The record of the son reveals that he was the world’s oldest man, living nearly a millennium. His obituary reads, “And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech: and Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died” (verses 25-27). There was a secret to Methuselah’s long life. God had a reason for letting him live so long. To discover the secret, we must examine the life of his father, Enoch.     

Enoch walked with God

We are told in this account, “Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters” (verses 21-22). One thing to note in this statement is that the verb “lived” changed after the birth of Methuselah. At first, Enoch “lived” sixty-five years—he was just living. But after Methuselah was born, he “walked” with God. Enoch went from just living to walking with God. This does not mean he went strolling down the street hand in hand with God. No, Enoch had determined that he would live in harmony with God’s known will.

Today, there are some who say we cannot walk with God because we cannot be perfect. However, if our sins have been forgiven and we are intent on following God, He will keep us, and that is perfect enough! Hallelujah! May God help us to go from merely living to walking with Him as Enoch did.

Periodically, people take inventory of their lives. Many do this at the beginning of a new year. They consider their successes and failures and try to make a new start in different areas. In the Apostolic Faith, we tend to take a spiritual inventory during camp meetings. This is a good practice, but it doesn’t have to wait until camp meeting. Anytime the Word of God goes forth is a good time to examine our lives, renew our consecrations, and make certain we are walking in God’s will.

A mystery is solved

According to this account in Genesis, Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. Then when he was just three hundred and sixty-five years of age—not very old compared to the men of that day—the narrative of his life abruptly ended. This summary of his life tells us nothing more about Enoch except, “He was not; for God took him” (verse 24). It does not say how that happened or where Enoch went. The Old Testament writer leaves it right there. However, for further understanding of what took place we find the writer of the Book of Hebrews filling in the gaps. He said, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him” (Hebrews 11:5). The word translated can be defined as “changed, taken, removed,” and even “raptured.”

Though the word raptured does not appear in Scripture, this concept was spoken of by Paul in reference to the Lord’s Second Coming. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 he said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This event will take place. It was foreshadowed by the translation of Enoch. Just as Enoch was taken by God before the Great Flood, the Church will be “caught up” and removed from this world to escape the coming judgment of God.

Paul spoke of the Rapture of the Church again in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. He said, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” In this passage, Paul said he was revealing a mystery, and I believe Enoch’s disappearance was a mystery at the time it happened. Perhaps his family waited for him to come home that evening, and the hour grew later and later. They may have worried he had been robbed and left by a roadside somewhere. Maybe they called together friends and formed a search party. After a while, they would have given up the search. Maybe they never knew exactly what happened, but God gave inspiration to the New Testament writer to let us know what took place. Enoch did not just disappear and die in the mountains, but he was translated. God took him!

The secret to Methuselah’s long life

More insight into the life of Enoch can be gained from Jude 14-15, which states, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Enoch was a preacher, and he prophesied about the coming of the Lord.

In his ministry, he may also have spoken of the coming of the Great Flood. We know that God later revealed this to Noah, and it is possible that Enoch, as a prophet of God, knew of it too. Whether he knew or not, at the birth of his son, he gave the child a name of prophetic significance. In the Hebrew language, Methuselah means “his death shall send.” Seemingly, this was a sign from God that at the death of Methuselah, He would send judgment as that is what happened.

How would we have lived our lives if we were Enoch or Noah and knew that God’s judgment was coming soon to all the world? Well, it is not far off today. Hopefully, we live with a sense of urgency to share the Gospel message, pray for the souls of the lost, and draw closer to God. That is how Enoch lived. Praise God! Day by Day, he walked with the Lord.

God is longsuffering, and that is the secret to Methuselah’s long life. Not only did he live his natural lifespan, but God extended his life to beyond what anyone had ever lived. This was an extension of love and compassion toward all those who lived in the days of Noah. God saw the wickedness of man and the handwriting of judgment was on the wall. Yet, He held back the flood waters, telling Noah, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). By the mercy of God, man was given another one hundred and twenty years. Then Methuselah died, and in that very year, God sent the flood waters to destroy all the earth.

We are thankful for the mercy of God. The Apostle Peter said He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants to see all men saved and He continues to extend mercy today. Isn’t God good? I believe we have already come to the end of the Gentile age, and God is waiting, holding back judgment. All the prophetic signs pointing to the Return of Christ and the start of the tribulation period have been fulfilled. When Jesus spoke of the end times in Luke 21, He gave the parable of the fig tree concerning the Jewish nation. Then He said, “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (verse 13). The Jewish people returned to their homeland in 1948, and in 1967, they regained the city of Jerusalem. The prophecies concerning the nation of Israel are complete. We are on mercy’s ground, living on borrowed time!

A Day of Grace

Though we are living in a day of grace, just as in Noah’s time, it will not last forever. When Noah entered the ark, God shut the door, and the day of grace was ended. For one hundred and twenty years, God had extended mercy. During that time, Noah was a preacher of righteousness, warning people of the coming flood and destruction, but no one except his own family believed.

The people of that time had never seen rain—the ground was watered by a mist. There were probably many who scoffed and said it would never happen. There are many today who believe the Rapture is a myth and the tribulation will not take place. However, the rain did fall, and I imagine there were many banging on the door of the ark asking to be let in. No doubt there were many prayers that went up during the storm. Many people pray when they are in trouble, but for those of Noah’s day, it was too late. God had shut the door and the day of opportunity for that age had ended.

The door of this age will soon be closed as well. We want to make certain we have repented of our sins and are walking in harmony with God’s will. When the last trump sounds, we want to be among those who are caught up to meet Jesus in the air. 

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