Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Part 2

Disclaimer

I realize that in the preceding post, I took some real liberties in imagining what life might have been like for Enoch, and how the birth of his son might have been the catalyst for the great change in his life. I want to clearly state that these musings are merely that—my own musings. I was not visited by an Enochian apparition in the middle of the night and shown the deep mysteries of the universe. I want to make that clear, because there is so much weirdness surrounding Enoch. Gnostics and mystics of every shade and stripe seem to be drawn to Enoch in droves, each with a fanciful “revelation” that was communicated directly to them…But this is NOT that. I am not after secret knowledge, other than the sacred mystery that unveils Christ to our hearts.

My purpose in this writing is to acknowledge that there is indeed a high call, and to stir us to press on into it. Most of all, I am writing to honor and exalt Jesus. Apart from Him, there is no high call, there is no power over death, and there is no restoration of mankind. Enoch’s path is not an alternate way to the Father, but one that points to the True Path.

I may take more imaginative liberties as I continue the series, but know it is just “me” trying to get inside the heart of how some of these things could have possibly played out. I will always base it on as much biblical fact as possible.

In the first post, my musings with Adam, Enoch and the Garden were based on the fact that their lives intersected and surely they must have had contact with each other. These people had a strong oral history that came directly from Adam himself and eventually reached Moses, who wrote it down. I felt that Enoch must have “heard” Adam’s stories more than others around him and that is what stirred his heart to seek the Lord. I also surmised that it is possible that the Garden slowly faded away rather than disappeared off the face of the earth in a flash of lightening. Prior to writing the blog, it had never crossed my mind that the faded edges of the Garden might still exist in the antediluvian world, or that anyone would venture in that direction; but as I began writing, that is where my imagination took me and so I went with it. It seems likely that Adam would at least have had a distant memory of the general spot where the Garden once stood. Anyway, I think it is an interesting possibility but would never make anything more than that!

That said, it’s hard to talk about the antediluvian world without sounding a little mystical. There is so little that we know of that world inhabited by people with incredibly long life-spans, nephilim, the apparent vegetarianism of man and beast, and a history that sound like a fairy tale to our modern ears. Nevertheless, I take the Genesis account of this time on earth as true history. I believe that people literally lived with lifespans that almost reached a thousand years, (which from God’s perspective is less than one day and no big deal). Why did they live so long, you may ask? Perhaps it is because, being so freshly uprooted from the Garden of Life, they still carried a hefty dose of life in their mortal bodies. Death, having only been recently introduced to creation, was not allowed to reign as immediately as it would after the flood. There’s a lot to speculate on, but that’s not the purpose for this writing.

Let’s get back to Enoch….

Enoch’s First Glimpse into the Heart of God

As I said in the first post, I think the Scripture makes it pretty obvious that the birth of Methuselah awakened something in Enoch that caused him to begin to walk with God. As he looked into his son’s eyes, I imagine that he felt a taste of what God had felt when Adam first opened his eyes and looked into His. And perhaps there was also another angle to it: As he looked at his newborn son, something rose up in his heart that wanted to see a better world for Methuselah and his following descendants to live in. Perhaps it was also this desire that drove him to seek God; to see what God had in store for mankind. Moved by the revelation of the Fatherhood of God, it gave Enoch boldness to consider that even as he wanted good things for his children, how much more God must want good things for His offspring.

In a world that had rapidly become defiled through the free reign of pride, violence, lust and unfettered greed of every kind, Enoch remembered that there was a perfect and unaltered standard of Righteousness, Mercy and Truth. And he wept to see how grossly the image of God had become distorted and how little anyone seemed to care about it. For, while some of Adam’s children avoided the faded Garden out of sheer terror of the distant memory of God, others deliberately hardened their hearts and scoffed at their grandfather’s stories.

Worse than the guilty conscience that drove some to spend their lives trying hide from God–the fearful shrinking away from the very thought of Him–was the prideful strutting about of the overtly wicked; the scornful gleam in their eye, the callous grinding underfoot of the weak and helpless, the mocking laughter that accompanied their evil deeds.

Lamech, 7th from Adam

This was most clearly displayed in Enoch’s cousin, Lamech. Like Enoch, Lamech was also the 7th generation from Adam. He came through the line of Cain; a line of strutting demagogues and self-appointed kings that culminated with his violent and godless reign.

I realize there may be some reading this who do not understand the Biblical significance of the number seven, so allow me to briefly digress for a moment. The Bible is filled with numbers, and none of them are without meaning. Each number is a symbol for a concept. Once you understand what each number stands for, the Bible opens up in a new way and deeper meanings to simple stories are revealed. It’s a fascinating subject, especially for someone like me who used to hate math. Now that I know that numbers are actually telling a story, I love them!

Biblically, the number seven is indicative of fullness, perfection, completion. For that reason, it is often used in relation to God. In the case of the two lines of Adam (one via Cain and one via Seth), the idea of the 7th generation is meant to convey the fullness or maturity of everything that line represented. If there was a seed of pride and violence in Cain, it would reach its full maturity in Lamech. And if there was a seed of faith and humility in Abel/Seth, it would reach its full maturity in Enoch.

And so, we see that between Lamech and Enoch, there could not be more stark a contrast. While Enoch is recorded as the first to “walk with God” and the first to be translated past death, Lamech’s life illustrates the exact opposite:

“Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 4:19-24).

Anyone who would use the Bible to justify polygamy would have to acknowledge that according to the Bible itself, the first mention of polygamy is in the context of a family line of wickedness. As the first recorded polygamist, Lamech’s lifestyle is a blatant distortion of the pattern that God had set at the beginning: These TWO shall become ONE.

Not only is Lamech a picture of unbridled lust, but you also get the feeling that he was a dominating and misogynistic sort of guy! I can just picture Adah and Zillah inwardly rolling their eyes as Lamech calls them to attention. “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice! Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!”

“Ugh. There he goes again…”

And they offer Lamech outward obeisance because he will probably beat them if they don’t. But blind Lamech is so full of himself that it never crosses his mind that his wives’ hearkening to his call is not a sign of true reverence. If he discerns a lack of respect, he knows how to get it of course: beat them into submission. But he’s too much of a strutting rooster to notice that forced “respect” is no respect at all. True respect can only come from love and trust, but Lamech doesn’t care about love. It never crosses his mind to regard his wives as anything more than his chattel; just 2 more possessions that add to his “greatness.” He is so full of self-love that there is no room in his heart for anyone else.

However, there is another idea that is also intended to be understood here, and that is that Lamech is also a picture of a double-minded, or two-souled man. (In the Bible, the soul is feminine in gender; another separate and fascinating study).

I want to quickly look at the double-minded man in scripture, because not only does it give us a picture of what Lamech was, but also what Enoch was not.

The Double Mind

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8).

My friend Jonathan Mitchell has a great translation of the New Testament (it is available on Amazon), and I love how he renders this verse:

“A two-souled (or: =divided-willed; or: = emotionally split) adult male [is] unstable (unfixed; inconstant; turbulent) in all his ways” (James 1:8).

Through this verse we can deduce that where Lamech was divided, confused, mixed and split in his soul, Enoch was single, simple, unmixed, and undistracted in his soul. Where Lamech’s proud and evil eye was focused solely upon his own greatness, drunk with the dark depths of power that he conceived within himself, Enoch had captured the heart of God with a humble and faith-filled gaze in His direction.

“Lord, have mercy! Save me from myself! Wash me and cleanse me! Keep me from the wicked way!”

Where double-souled Lamech was staring hard at everything but God, single-eyed Enoch was learning to behold God constantly, through the eyes of his heart.

Because Lamech looked for everything but the genuine knowledge and love of God, his split-soul became loud and cluttered with useless information. He looked for many things, but he saw Nothing. And thus, his blindness grew into profound darkness.

On the contrary, Enoch cared only for one thing; to behold the beauty of the Lord. He looked for nothing but the genuine knowledge of God; and thus his soul became quieted and at rest. He looked for One Thing, and he saw Everything. And so his dim light became as brilliant and blazing as the noonday sun.

Lamech’s cry is: “Prove yourself to me, God! Ha! See? Nothing happened. If God is real, He doesn’t care about you–or me.”

Enoch says, “I will let patience will have its perfect work in me so that I will be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Though You slay me, I will trust Your mercies. You are God and there is no other.”

You see, if Enoch’s primary “good work” is faith towards God, Lamech’s primary sin is this: He deliberately forgot that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. He chose to suppress the truth that was buried somewhere deep in his heart.

The Path to Blindness

Paul powerfully addresses this frame of mind in the first chapter of Romans:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:18-23).

There is quite a load of information to unpack here, but there are a few key phrases that I want to concentrate on. Namely this: “…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…”

Jonathan Mitchell says it this way: “…simply because, although at one point experientially knowing God, they did not glorify (imagine, esteem, suppose, fancy, conjecture about, hold an opinion of, repute) [Him] as God, or thank Him (or: give thanks in joyously expressing the goodness and well-being inherent in [His] grace and favor). And so in contrast, they were made futile (vain; fruitless; without profit; empty; useless; worthless; subject to a process of meaningless frustration; subject to exercises in futility) in their reasonings (or: thought processes, dialogues, ideas that went throughout in every direction), and their [collective] unintelligent (stupid; unable-to-put-things-together) heart was darkened (=the core of their being was made to experience an absence of light).”

Simply put, a lack of properly acknowledging God as God, results in ingratitude. And ingratitude leads to an inability to make proper sense of anything else pertaining to our relationship with Him, and in an extended sense, with one another. The inevitable result is darkness and confusion.

On the positive side, if we are experiencing darkness and confusion somewhere in our life, the first step out of it is to begin to acknowledge God and give thanks to Him.

The Glory of a Grateful Heart

It’s the “not being thankful” part that really gets me. The fact that this “little” oversight on the part of man would be painful to God, speaks volumes about His heart. He gives because He loves. He sends rain to the just and the unjust. It is only due to His tender mercies and preserving grace that we have not already been fully consumed by our own sins. He gives and gives because He loves and loves. He never stops loving.

But someone may ask, why does our gratitude mean so much to God? If we search our heart, we discover there can only be one true answer to that question: Because WE mean so much to God! If He didn’t care about us, our gratitude or ingratitude would mean nothing to Him. But the fact that my thankfulness or lack thereof actually moves the emotions of His heart is an incredible testimony–not so much of how intrinsically valuable I am, but rather, how much value God has chosen to place upon me. It is the God who is moved by my gratitude and grieved by my ingratitude that causes me to tremble in reverence. It is astonishing that He has deliberately chosen to wear His heart on His sleeve. It is astounding that He has made Himself, in a sense, vulnerable…to me. And you.

He doesn’t demand gratitude. He’s not at all interested in outward obeisance….In fact, it makes Him sick. Unlike Lamech, He knows that forced respect is no respect at all. Pure and undefiled love is what matters most to God. We’ve all heard it: God IS love. But how deeply have we meditated on that statement? Does it change the way we look at God, ourselves, the world around us? It should.

Our Father is not a strutting rooster. He doesn’t play the games of unborn children who think they are men. His majesty, though plainly seen, lies yet veiled before the hearts of those who prefer blindness. And so, with tremendous dignity, He waits. With perfect wisdom, He waits. With burning passion, He waits. With steadfast love, He waits for someone to turn to Him, someone to acknowledge Him, someone to say… “Thank You.”

And then someone steps forward: Enoch.

Thank You, Father, for the very consciousness within me that causes me to think and feel and know. Thank You for the simple fact that I have existence. I am alive.

I want to join Enoch in his thanks right now. Will you join me?

Thank You I can sit here at a computer and type letters that convey sounds that mean something to the reader, and in this manner, across all time and space, the reader and I are sharing the same thought through these words. Thank You for the miracle of language, a miracle that the best minds and greatest linguists have not been able to fully explain. There is wonder. There is mystery. There is beauty. And I thank You for it. Thank You for the heart that beats in my chest and lungs that rise and fall through no conscious effort on my part.

It’s the fact so massive, so gigantic, so colossal, that we miss it.

I exist. By the will of God, I am alive.

Emboldened by the revelatory light of Fatherhood and Sonship that is now dawning in his heart, Enoch whispers two incredibly powerful words: “Thank You.”

This time, it isn’t just a vague sense of gratitude. His thanks is actually directed to Someone.

And for the first time in his 65 years, he truly means it. From the bottom of his heart, he means it.

And so, out of the overflowing gratitude and newly awakened love in His heart, comes a new resolve: To the best of my ability, Father, I will walk with You all the days of my life.

The resolve is not Enoch’s alone, and nor does it fully rest within his own strength to achieve it. Enoch feels the strength of grace coursing through his soul; the kind of strength that makes him feel like he could run a thousand miles and never get tired. He understands now, that it is impossible to walk with God, apart from grace.

“How do I find that grace that Enoch found?” you may ask.

It is simple. Begin by saying Thank You. For God gives grace to the humble, and only the humble can be grateful.

To be continued…… ~Mercy Aiken

Advertisements

Read Full Post »