Genesis 4 and 5.
Chapter 4. Here at once we see the amazing difference between the two seeds—the holy one hated and murdered, and the wicked his murderer. We are all aware that the fullest display of this hostility of the wicked towards the righteous and the holy is beheld in the Cross of the Son of God, and again in the rejection of the Holy Ghost by the world now. For through that blessed Spirit Christ is formed in us; and as the new life is developed in us, so it is opposed still and rejected (Rom. 8:36).
Of the seed of Cain there are many on the list whose names are identical with or similar to the sons of God (professing) in the next chapter. Compare chap. 4:17, 18, with those whose names we find in chap. 5. It is the same still. The greatest haters of God in the world have, many of them, been those who once promised fair. But especially, as in chap. 5, there seems a sort of climax reached in what is recorded of Enoch, and of his holy walk; so, conversely, here we have a hellish climax reached in what is recorded of the lust, and murder, and scornful infidelity of Lamech, the descendant of Cain. For the patience of God ripens the saint and the sinner both.
Chapter 5. Here we have traced for us the line of the other seed. But whilst in chap. 4 Cain’s seed are beheld busy, making this world their home, and as comfortable and as refined as, with skill in all arts, and the production of all sweet sounds, they can render it; albeit the blood of Abel, being left unavenged, was itself a witness of the curse resting on it: here, on the contrary, in chap. 5, we have, indeed, the other seed mentioned, though without any record of their doings. Notwithstanding that their lifetime extended over several centuries, little is told us of them beyond that they lived, begat a family, and died. Surely this very silence is most telling. Nowadays, with the world’s heroes, three volumes are required for the narrative of one who lived till seventy years; here three verses suffice for the account of one who lived seven or nine hundred! As if Cain’s descendants made up all the world’s history! But as to this other seed, it is implied that earth was not their home. The patriarchal funeral bell, “And he died,” “And he died,” tolls eight times in this brief chapter. None of them reach quite up to a thousand years. For this we find is reserved for man on earth in millennial times. And hence we see that, even from the beginning, God had the end in view. Moreover, as we read that Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, whilst the flood was upon the earth in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, therefore Lamech lived within five years of that flood. Further, since we read that Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, whilst Lamech begat Noah when he was a hundred eighty and two years old, and therefore when Lamech had six hundred years more to live, it follows that Methuselah died in the very year that the flood took place. How very nigh Scripture goes towards contradicting itself, and yet without its actually doing this! Surely nothing but the truth, revealed by the Spirit of God, preserved the inspired writer here from inaccuracy of statement.
Above I have remarked that the patriarchal funeral bell is heard to toll eight times in this chapter, and that all of these, from Adam to Lamech, eventually passed away hence. But there is one bright exception made in the mode in which this was done. Enoch is taken to heaven ere the deluge came; although whilst he prophesied of the Lord’s advent, he may have eyed the deluge impending as the precursor of a still more awful judgment now so near (Jude 14 and 15). On the other hand, Noah passes quite through the deluge. Thus these two men, of each of whom it is recorded that he walked with God—as if it were one on each arm—these become a designed type of God’s two callings: of the one now being made, which is the heavenly calling, and to be closed by the rapture of the entire Church into the immediate presence of her Lord; the other, God’s earthly call in the future of a remnant of Israel, and of a multitude that no man can number out of all nations,3 who will be kept for the appearing of Christ safely through the great tribulation presently to set in. Now this walking with God, of which here we read recorded of Enoch, denotes on God’s part, complacency, and on Enoch’s part, ease and peace. Likewise in Ephesians, clear directions are afforded to us as to the heavenly character of our present walk, in view of the sure prospect of soon being called up on high.
Here, then, is our Hope set before us in figure. Like Enoch, we are to disappear from this world’s scene. We may be somewhat missed, but should be less desired. Like our Master, for all our service in it we reap only its hate and its contempt. It will be known that we have gone, and where, for the Beast will, when, he has risen to power, turn into scorn the whole thing (Rev. 13:6); also many professors will, when it is too late, implore the Lord to open unto them (Luke 13:25). The living saints, those here at any period ere He returns, are they who are constantly represented in Scripture as those who may be caught away. For the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout of triumph and of joy. The Holy Ghost, who is only down here for a season, and in consequence of Christ’s supreme exaltation there, in order that He may whisper to those with listening ears of all that hidden glory of the Lord, will at once lift the entire Church into the divine presence. His own know His voice now, and will recognize His signal then. They are drawn close together by His wondrous story of the love of the uncreated Son of God, and in their gathering themselves together closely around Himself, are being thus formed into a Body and a Bride, and are at last gathered home unto Himself present still in their midst, as when down yonder in the world. Then they believed in His presence, and tasted somewhat of its sweetness; now He is visible before their very eyes—He Who for them hung in agony on the Cross. He has thus come on the road to meet us because He loves us so much, and because on us His heart is set. His prayer had proved the reality of His love; His Cross had gauged its depth. He did not come for Enoch; nor does He come when a believer dies. Then that saint departed to be with Him. But He comes for the Church—for us altogether, those whose bodies were held in the tomb, and for those who were like caged doves in those bodies of humiliation when He came. It is the will of God that all of us shall be glorified together; and until that time has arrived, we are sealed as God’s own, and have the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. We are not of the world any more than, nay, not so much as, were those patriarchs mentioned in this chapter; for not only are we called with a heavenly calling, but more, we are the Church of the living God. We have perfect peace now through His finished work; we see Him representing us before our God, and we have this Holy Spirit already with us. In all these things our blessing very far exceeds that of these early saints.
As to times and seasons, we know nothing, nor indeed do we wish to know. It is designed as a proof of His confiding love to us, that He has not made us acquainted with the time of His arrival. No loving wife would like the implication that she could not be trusted to be ready, with the hand on the latch, for her husband at any time. Besides which, this keeps us on the look-out from day to day, which pleases Him very much. This He tells us over and over again, as in Luke 12:37. But though the time be hidden, still surely we must be conscious that the end of the Church’s course here has been nearly reached. And what a view this opens to us! At any moment, the very next for aught we know, and we may be gone, at once and right up into His immediate presence; God Himself, the very next moment, engaged in the act of presenting us faultless before Him with exceeding joy. Here we may be at one moment in our daily avocations, and, or ever we are aware all this work of God’s fully accomplished.
True, much has to be done down here before the Lord can appear to the world. So the world ripened further for judgment after Enoch was taken home, until the two parties of religious and irreligious, both unsaved, became amalgamated. The very word “I will destroy,” was not heard, nor a single timber of the ark placed with one other, until a long period subsequent to Enoch’s translation. But this is not so material to us. Our home is a heavenly one. We are not looking for the day, nor yet for the appearance of the Sun of Righteousness, but for the Morning Star, which shines for a while anterior to the day, and which those who are up betimes and watching, only see. Whilst the Old Testament is closed with a reference to the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, conversely the Lord Jesus, in the New, speaks of Himself as the Morning Star. This distinction of itself reveals the difference of our calling from Israel’s. Yea more, whilst Malachi speaks of Israel treading the wicked under the soles of their feet, the Church, whose home is above the stars, is destined under its divine Archangel Michael to hurl Satan and his host from heaven (Rev. 12.) All this goes to show how in quite another sphere is our place and portion than on this earth. No, here we are pilgrims and strangers. And until we have left it, earth’s ripening in wickedness, and next its judgment and blessing, are delayed. The Holy Ghost Himself, who is our heavenly guide and companion, hinders the development of the man of sin and the full display of man’s apostacy (2 Thess. 2.) Satan needs not twenty centuries to produce this coming man. But he has to wait till God’s purposes concerning us, and our calling, and our training, and our chastening here below are all completed.
It is not said here that Enoch ascended into Heaven, nor do we find anywhere else that our rapture is so termed. This is only fully true of Christ’s own path to His pristine home, denoting as it does majesty and stateliness in the mode of His departure. Enoch was “taken.” “We are to be caught up,” or rapt away by the Spirit as Philip was, only in our case to our home and to our God and Father and to the Lord Jesus. Some object to the word “rapture,” but it is the very word used in the Greek to describe this thing. For rapture is properly a Latin word formed by metathesis from this word here. Thus we only keep close to Scripture in so speaking.
3 In my Lecture on Rev. 7 I have proved the amazing difference of the two classes of Jew and Gentile there from the Church of God.