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Archive for the ‘Adam and Eve’ Category

Enoch, the Instructed One. 

Before the advent of organized religious systems.  Before Judaism or Christianity.  Before the books of Deuteronomy and Romans.  Before the 23rd Psalm.  Before the glorious visions of Isaiah.  Before the transcendent revelation of John.  Before the Cross.  Before all this, there lived a man who “walked with God” in a hostile environment; the first of his kind on the face of the earth and a prototype of all who would ever walk with God in the generations to follow him.

How did he do it?  On what basis did Enoch find the grace to walk with God? What “Bible” did he read?  What did his faith rest on? What sort of revelation was working within him that enabled him to transcend the curse of separation and death?

In the Bible, names are often very telling concerning a person’s character.  The essence of who they are can often be derived from their name; for to the Hebrew way of thinking, one’s name is a telling indicator of one’s nature and character, or perhaps a prophetic statement concerning the times in which they lived.  This is, of course, why God places such great emphasis on His own name, and why we are warned not to take His “name” (His nature and character, the identification of all that He is) in vain.

In the case of Enoch, his name is most telling concerning his life and nature.  “Chanowk,” as his name is given in Hebrew, means “initiated.”   It comes from a root word, “chanak,” which means “to narrow.”  Figuratively, “chanak” means “to initiate or discipline.”  In the King James Bible, this word is also translated as “dedicate or train up.”  Enoch has also been translated as “experienced, founder, centralizer, teacher, instructor, initiator, fixer.”

Interestingly, the root word “chanak” is related to a similar root word, “chanaq,” meaning “to be narrow” and carrying with it the connotation of being throttled, strangled or choking to death, as in hanging.  I believe that in this broad spectrum of meanings, there is much revelation to be gleaned concerning Enoch, who is a type of Christ.

Enoch was an instructed one, an initiated one.  We might say that he was the first disciple–the first man on earth to wholeheartedly embrace the discipline of the Lord.

Altogether, Enoch had about 300 years to spend with his great-great-great-great grandfather Adam.   He was 308 years old when Adam died—and at the time of Adam’s death, he had already been “walking with God” for 243 years.

Imagine!  In Enoch’s day, there was no record yet of anyone dying of old age or illness.  Other than the murder of Abel, which must have been utterly horrifying beyond all imagination, there is no record of anyone else dying–though there must have been others who preceded Adam in death– certainly Abel, perhaps Eve and possibly others.  (Since the Bible does not record the lifespans of the family line of Cain, or even mention anything about Adam’s other sons and daughters we cannot say for sure whether they had the same length of life enjoyed by the righteous line of Seth).  At any rate, Adam was the oldest man on earth, the “living link” back to the garden, the one who had firsthand stories of what it was like to live in Paradise, the Head of all the human families of earth, the one great patriarch that every person on earth looked to.

Adam; the one who had been fashioned from the dust of the earth by God Himself.  Adam, who had never existed as an embryo in the physical womb of a woman.  Adam, who had once spoken face to face with God, who had named the animals, who had experienced deathless creation.   Adam, the only one who remembered what life was like before toil and labor.  Adam, unique among men!

In the loss of Adam, a holy and sacred mourning fell upon his descendants, and perhaps none more than Enoch.  A pall was cast over the world. A chill; a primal wail shuddered through their soul as the conclusion of the curse stared at them in the lifeless face and sightless eyes of their grandfather.   He had not been murdered, as Abel had.  He had simply….ceased to live. Like an uprooted tree, he had finally just dried up. What a horror! Adam’s death prophesied to them all—this is the way you also will go.  You also will exhale your final breath, your body also will become stiff and cold.  It too, will be buried in dust.  And so will your children after you, and their children.  Here is the fate of us all.  The shocking and terrible conclusion of our brief sojourn on earth was now abundantly clear:  All shall end in dust.

Oh, the sorrow that must have flooded the hearts of his descendants when he exhaled his final breath—the same breath that first flowed into his lungs from the mouth of God Himself.  (Think of it!)  Gone now, was Adam’s sacred breath, the gift of God.  But where did the breath go?  And where indeed was the soul of Adam?  Like the voice of God a thousand years earlier in the garden, Adam’s children cried out in agony:  “Adam, where are you?” 

Adam, though your body lies in dust, is there any hope for you to rise again?

 Is there any hope for us?

Enoch’s grief was not like the others’ however–it was more profound.  When Enoch wept, it was not just for the fate of Adam’s children, but for the sorrow of God Himself.  And of all the mourners at Adam’s burial, it was Enoch alone who saw and heard God Himself grieving in the midst of them, God grieving for His firstborn son;  God, weeping in the midst of His own offspring, a Stranger to them.  Of all the mourners who wailed and threw dust on their heads, of all those who sought to comfort each other, it was Enoch alone who wandered off quietly, so that he could comfort himself in the presence of God. And so that he, also, could extend comfort to Him.

Comfort God, you may ask?  Comfort GOD!?  GOD?  Why should I have anything to do with God?! screamed the voice of the accuser–for his voice was sharp in the midst of Adam’s offspring.  It is GOD’S fault that we stand here today before a cave in the earth; the body of our father wrapped in cloth, his bones laid beneath earth and stone.  We will never see him again.  We will never speak to him again.  Never again will we see his smile or the light in his eyes.  Never again will we hear Adam’s songs or listen to his stories.  Nay, all that remains is for us too, is to lie dead and lifeless in the earth.  Adam’s fate prophesies to all of us.  Don’t ask me to weep with God—this is God’s own fault!  God is the one who pronounced this sentence of death upon us.  If God weeps, let Him weep by Himself, for He—the inflictor of death—deserves His own tears.

Enoch stole away.   For his heart whispered a truth with deeper resonance than the shrill accusations of his cousins.  Somewhere, echoing from the depth of the faded Garden, from deep inside his throbbing heart, from a place before the existence of time, Enoch heard the Voice of weeping:  “Oh, My son, Adam!  My son, My son Adam!”

“Oh My Son…..if only I had died in your place! Oh Adam, My son, My son….”

Enoch wept.  But he did not weep alone. For on that great day of the mourning of the sons of men God also wept.

But let it forever be remembered that He did not weep alone.

~~~~~~~

“Oh, my son Adam!  If only I had died in your place!” 

Adam’s lifeless body hung from the very tree he had hoped would give him the kingdom—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  He was caught by the magnificent hair of his head. By his own thoughts of self-glory and pride was Adam ensnared, dreaming of a shortcut to a throne that was already his by Divine inheritance.  In self-absorption, in doubting the character of his Father, Adam listened to a whisper and rejected the very roots of his own being; the One who gave him Life.

Hanging from the tree in which every son of Adam was destined to live and die, Adam hung from his head until it ached with death and his tongue was on fire.  Thoughts of life were replaced with cat calls and cursings, symphonies and smut; an incessant bombardment of noise from which there was no escape.  For the branches of tree from which he hung also grew within him.  Adam could scratch at his own skin, but the source and strength of the tree was always out of reach, hidden in the indiscernable and unreachable depths of his own soul.  A shadow of death within and without. Adam could scratch and till the face of the earth but it did nothing to stop the multiplication of thorns and thistles, for the earth was a reflection of his own soul.  And as more children were born to him, the Tree grew, roots greedily drinking in the sweat that flowed from Adam’s brow, a thriving ecosystem of thorns and hard labor.  There were Adam’s children, busy being born and dying amidst the branches of the Tree that they are.  And everywhere that Adam’s sons went, the seeds of the tree went with them, for they themselves were its seed, reproducing after their own kind.

Cursed is every man who hangs on a Tree. Cursed is humanity. Beautiful humanity.

“Oh, my son Adam!  If only I had died in your place!” 

Far back, before the fashioning of any time-faded symbol .  Before the creation of the sun, there was Light.  And before the creation of the animals, there was a Lamb. And before Life was given to any creature, before any man tasted death, the Lamb was slain.

But when? and where?

Outside of time, the Lamb was slain.  Inside of time, the Lamb was slain. Past, present and future—the Lamb was slain.  On the corner of nowhere, the Lamb was slain. In the heart of everything, the Lamb was slain.  In a field with his jealous brother, the Lamb was slain. For a Passover meal, the Lamb was slain. Between the porch and the altar, the Lamb was slain. On a hill named “the Skull,” the Lamb was slain.  On a Roman Cross, the Lamb was slain. Hanging from that ancient Death-Tree, the Lamb was slain.

When Adam and Eve left the Garden, some say their nakedness was covered by God in the skin of a slain Lamb.  Others say that the skin which now clothed their nakedness was the very skin that covered their procreative organs, the place of their strength.  This place in each of them would now shed blood in covenant—Adam with God in circumcision, Eve with Adam in their first sexual union outside of the Garden.  A covering or veil of flesh that in the proper time must be removed, but only in the context of covenant intimacy.  To return into the Garden would require the shedding of blood—the cherubim holding swords at its entrance prophesied this truth.  And Enoch understood.

In all true covenants, there would be the shedding of blood.

In the remission of sin, there would be the shedding of blood.

There is something sacred about blood.  Even the blood of an animal.  Do not drink it or eat it.  For the life is in the blood.  And within Him whom we live and move and have our being, is all His blood shed. Hear this—it is within HIM that all blood is ultimately shed.

And He would indeed, shed HIS OWN BLOOD for the healing and restoration of all things.  A great mystery, but  God Himself would do it. He would become the Sacrifice. He would provide the redemption. He would do the impossible.  Enoch knew this somewhere deep within him and rejoiced.

But before Adam was, before Abraham was,  I AM!

Behold the Lamb,

slain

from the foundation of the world.

He hangs on that Cursed Tree.  He–so clean and without curse, becomes the curse of humanity.  All the bloodshed, all the violence, all the rape, all the hatred, all the hard hearts and frozen love, all the vanity and pride, all the accusation, all the blindness, all the disease, all the endless toil, all the cheating and oppression, all the kicking the weak down to the ground, all the whispered lies, all the hypocrisy, all the snobbery and indifference, all the racism, all the foolishness, all the self-hatred and shame, all the blame, all the curse.  All that the Tree produced.  All of it. All of its stench.  All of its winding tentacles.  Every bitter seed, down to the last bitter dregs.

Just as Adam, in his fall, carried everyone down to a life outside the Garden and bound us to a Tree of Death, so the Last Adam, in his rising, would carry everyone up back Home and free us into a Tree of Life. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself….

My God, My God!  How great Thou art!

Enoch knew, and he bowed in reverence. He would instruct his life around this thought:  If there was a first Adam, there must be a Last Adam of greater strength and ability, able to undo the curse. If the malady was great, the cure must be even greater.  If all would die in Adam, so all would be made alive in Christ….

And Adam would live again!

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Life becomes very simple when I think of it as a journey in which the one goal is to walk with God consistently. The pathway and the destination of the journey have the same goal: to know God. My primary objective is not creating a certain kind of ministry or getting a certain kind of job or any other outward thing. Deeper and simpler, the goal is just this: To walk with God consistently through everything. To continually increase in the knowledge of Him; through all the thick and thin, the ups and downs of life…To “suck the marrow out of life” as Thoreau said–life being in this case, “that they may know You, the one True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Since I have started this blog, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear from new people–folks I’ve not met in person–who want to learn how to walk more closely with God. Considering all there is to know on this subject, I am a novice. The subject is vast, but there is none more fascinating to me. I can think of no other pursuit that is even remotely as worthwhile and fulfilling as this one.

If that is the case, why do my actions so often seem to contradict the desires of my heart? Why do I put off the very thing my heart most longs for? How can I gain a more consistent walk with Him; one that not just in position, but in experience, overflows with His life?

As I think about the simplicity of walking with God through life, my mind goes to Enoch; the first person who was described as having “walked with God.” In the next few blog posts, I would like to take an imaginative journey into his life; to see what Enoch saw and to see what his life–at the dawn of the ages–signifies for us, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Enoch

“Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21).

Two incredible things are linked together here: walking with God, and bypassing death! During my lifetime, we’ve heard a lot about a generation that will bypass death. I suppose there are many ideas out there about what such a thing will look like. I also know from the Scripture that there are many dimensions and layers to this truth of bypassing death or overcoming death. The exploration of those dimensions is a fascinating topic. But what really captures my attention and heart is this whole concept of “walking with God.” If bypassing death is the result of walking with God, then our attention should be given to pursuing this manner of life. This is something that Enoch grasped, as no one else in his generation did.

In describing Enoch, it is not said that “he had a worldwide ministry, and then was not, for God took him.” It doesn’t say that he raised the dead or fathomed every mystery or brought daily sacrifices and offerings to the Lord. It simply says that he “walked with God.” Surely in his 300 years of walking with God, there were many other good works wrought through him. There are extra-canonical books credited to him, one of which is quoted in the book of Jude in the New Testament. (I will get to that later). But whatever else Enoch did or didn’t do, from God’s perspective it was all summed up in this one amazing sentence: “He walked with God.”

Surely there were others in Enoch’s day who walked with God to some extent? After all, he was descended from the righteous line of Seth. His fathers must also have walked with God in a measure. But there was something unique about Enoch’s walk that set him apart from everyone else around him. Of Enoch alone it was said, “He walked with God.”

In fact, if you look at the genealogies that precede him, there is a very obvious pattern describing his forefathers. Each one lives a certain amount of years, begets a son, lives a certain amount of years after that, and then dies. The pattern continues unbroken until we come to Enoch, the 7th from Adam.

Enoch’s life starts the same as all the others. He lives a certain amount of years (65 to be exact) and then he begets a son (Methuselah, famous for being the person with the longest lifespan in the Bible at 969 years). However, after the birth of Methuselah, something radically changes in Enoch’s life. Instead of merely “living,” as he had done before the birth of his son, he begins to “walk with God.” What brought this great change into his life?

I imagine that in his youth, Enoch spent a lot of time with his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Adam. Yes, Adam was still alive when Enoch was born. In fact, Adam lived for 298 years after Enoch’s birth–the majority of Enoch’s life.

“Grandpa, tell me about the good old days!”

I can just picture a young Enoch, filled with an insatiable curiosity and yearning to know the kind of life that his great-grandfather had once known. And Adam would tell Enoch of life in the Garden. Life before the curse–before there was such a thing as thorns and hunger and sweat and pain and hiding from God. Life before man had any idea what it was like to dig a deep hole in the dust and lay a lifeless body in it.

It was a life, Adam told him, of incredible unity and harmony with all creation. A life in which Adam could peer into a creature and see its essence–and thus “name,” it by calling out the nature that he perceived within. Adam was a co-regent with his Father, assisting Him in the finishing touches of Creation. And like his Father, Adam was a gracious king without a hint of malice or greed toward the creation around him. To destroy anything would be unthinkable. Life pulsated with its own extravagant beauty and seemed to continually be overflowing out of itself.

Most of all, it was a life of familial affection with God, the Father, the Source and Root of all life and beauty. He told Enoch how the voice of God would come into the Garden in the cool (or the ruach, the spirit or breeze) of the day and how they would walk and talk as friends. He shared with Enoch about the perfect righteousness, peace and joy that he knew in the presence of God. Of course, back then, while in the Garden, he did not identify it as righteousness, peace, and joy–it was just the way life was. It was all he knew. He had nothing to contrast it with.

He told Enoch of the shimmering light that clothed God–and himself. He talked about the mist that arose from the earth to water it, and the River that divided into four and ran throughout the land. Sometimes Adam and Enoch would walk down to one of those rivers, which still ran through the earth in Enoch’s day–and indeed still run to this very day. And while they walked along the banks of the river Pishon, Adam would reminisce about the headwaters; the Mother River that was now buried in darkness under impenetrable layers of hard earth and stone.

Adam spoke of his expulsion from the Garden and the cherubim guarding the way back to the Tree of Life–God’s way of protecting him and his offspring from a fate-worse-than-death. (There is only one fate worse than death, and that is to live forever in a state of immaturity and selfishness mingled with corrupted knowledge and power. Contrary to popular opinion, it is a fate that God inflicts on no one, but rather one that from the beginning, He ensured our protection from). Adam spoke of the progressive fading of the Garden, and how even the plants began to slowly change from their original appearance, until the original Garden was barely discernable. Many of these new plants took root and faded quickly, and a different sort of balance of nature began to spread–one dominated by “good” soil and “bad” soil that produced both fruits and thorns. And all of it was tended by hard labor.

Of course, the two Trees at the center of the Garden disappeared from sight…but not from mind. One Tree had taken root in Adam. And the other Tree, of course, had vanished–apparently without a trace.

The Faded Garden

In Enoch’s day, some of the other ancient trees from the original Garden still lived. As they walked in the place where the Garden had once been, Enoch would lay his hand on a gnarled old trunk that with roots that went back to a time before leaf knew what it was to fall from branch. His grandfather would try to recall memories so distant they may only have been a dream. “It seems like I might have once sat here with Eve and God–the three of us–laughing together. In the beginning, though, I did not call her Eve. God called both of us ‘Adam,’ for we were one. He pulled her out from the depths of my being and built her from my very essence. Yes, she is indeed my very soul!

Like his very soul; like Eve; the Garden was only dim and fading shadow of its former glory.

“…And over there, that dark and tangled area is where we hid from Him. At least I think so. It’s so hard to tell now…” And Adam would sigh the kind of sigh that can only arise from the howling abyss of a soul estranged from her Lover.

They rarely walked in the shadow-Garden. It was hard now to even find the way back to where it had once been, as its borders began to bleed and blend with the thorny environment around it. Mostly, it was a place that the people of Enoch’s generation avoided, in the same way one avoids walking across the grave of a beloved grandfather, or a man avoids returning to the magical forest that he played in as a child–because the pain of seeing it through jaded, adult eyes is just too great.

And to be sure, what good does it do to recall one’s shame? Why should anyone willingly remember the height from which they have fallen? Better to forget the past and try to survive as well as one can, before one returns to dust. And so goes life under the sun. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

As much as Enoch’s heart yearned for the wonder of the world that his great-grandfather had known, his heart was moved even more strongly by a greater desire…he longed for communion with the Source of all the beauty. He was fascinated by the One who had invented all of it; the Heart and Mind that had brought everything into existence. What was HE like? And what was it like to walk with the Voice of God in the Spirit of the Day? Was it still possible to connect with Him in a meaningful way? Though everything had changed, could he still walk with God? Could he also sit in His presence under a shade-tree in the cool of the day and laugh together, as his grandparents had once done? Did God have any lingering desire yet in His heart for fellowship with His creation? Or was the fate of mankind perpetual banishment, with only an occasional glance at God as through a veil or a prison lattice during our brief existence in life-as-we-know-it?

Of course, there were always those who “called upon the name of the Lord.” It began in the days of Seth’s son, Enosh–Enoch’s great-great grandfather. But Enoch, wanted more than that. He didn’t want to just “call upon the name of the Lord.” He wanted relationship, if he dared to say it that way. The kind of relationship that God and Adam had once experienced. Knowing God through a veil was better than not knowing Him at all, but Enoch’s hopes were set on more. His hunger drove him on, and many times he would venture alone and heavy-hearted into the faded boundaries of what had once been a Garden.

“Is it possible for me to walk with You? Could I know You for myself? Would You tell me about Your thoughts, Your feelings, Your plans? Could I know You in a way that transcends merely hearing stories about You?

“Do You still care about us? Do You want my company?”

And even deeper; the implied question, the one he dared not voice was this: “Will there ever be restoration for mankind?”

It took a while for these thoughts to crystallize within him, and it was the birth of his son, Methuselah, that was the tipping point; the great divide of his life. Enoch was 65 years old. It was the year that everything changed.

I have never had a child myself. But as I write these lines, my imagination is transfixed by an image I see in my mind’s eye. I see Enoch looking down in the eyes of his newborn son and seeing his eyes–his very own eyes–looking back at him. A locked gaze between Enoch and Methuselah; a gaze that can ever only be known between father and son.

In the buried recesses of his heart, an idea is moving, kicking, trying to come out. A knowing about something. Something sacred. Something beyond language. Something that he sees in the eyes of his son…or is it his own eyes he is seeing, staring up into his? And at that moment, his heart skips a beat, because he hears the Voice of God, coming from somewhere–a place he cannot quite identify. It is a whisper that roars. It is the Voice that comes in the Ruach; a Sound that cannot be denied.

“The feeling in your heart as you gaze into your son’s eyes, is the same way I feel when I look at you!”

Ah, at the dawn of the ages, a glorious light is dawning in the heart of one man! With an infant son in his arms, Enoch takes his first baby step. His walk has begun. It is a small step for Enoch and a giant step for all of mankind.

“I am a direct descendent of God. His image in me, though marred and faded and indiscernible as the Garden, still remains as an unmoving testimony to His original purpose. It was carried from Adam to Seth and all the way down the family line to me. It passes through me and on into my son. He also carries the image. And in the same way that my heart is moved with compassion and hope for Methuselah, so God’s heart is moved towards me. As I desire him to be my friend–so my Ancient, Ageless Father desires my friendship.”

And with a heart overflowing with love for his infant son, he dares to wonder: “Could it be that the desire that I have felt as I have searched for Him is only a tiny fraction of the desire that is in His heart for me; an infant son of the Most High?”

A simple thought. It wasn’t rocket science–it was infinitely more profound. And though Enoch’s great grandchildren have since gone to the moon and back, created atom bombs and found ways to genetically modify seeds (the very seeds that are themselves descendants of the outer garden that Adam tended in the sweat of his brow), very few have grasped the significance of what Enoch grasped that day. And fewer still–perhaps a handful or less–have shared in his experience of being translated past death and into God’s manifest presence.

At least up to this point in human history.

“I am beloved of God. In spite of my weakness and sin–I am desired! And if I am desired, He will indeed make a way to restore me–and all of us–back to the fullness of His presence and life. Death will not reign over creation forever! The Garden will be restored!” Oh, the wonder of it! Once the thought took root within Enoch, he could never again deny it. It was not merely something that he hoped might be true. It was something that he knew, a knowing that transcended all experience and was past argument.

And in Enoch’s soul, the faded edges of the Garden began to take shape. A cool, life-giving Ruach began to blow. And a small seed that had once been hidden by a flaming sword that turned in every direction, burst up through the soil of his heart.

How could it be? It was a miracle, no doubt about it.

And so began Enoch’s Great Walk, the only walk worth walking–the walk that we are all invited into–if we have ears to hear the Call. And blessed indeed, are the ears that hear!

….To Be Continued….  ~Mercy Aiken

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