John Parish - New Zealand - Sunday Morning

My thoughts have been on Enoch.  He is a man that we do not read a lot of in the Bible, is he?  I was looking over the verses in the Bible this morning that speak of Enoch and I have only come across five verses in the whole Bible that speak about him and although there is not a lot said about him, just reading about the little we have and thinking about his life has given me some sweet thoughts I have enjoyed and maybe I can share with you this morning.

Maybe I should pass on greetings from the States and California, especially.  Several asked me to give greetings to the friends here and in Australia and even though they do not know many of you, their thoughts are with us in these days of convention together.

The first place we read of Enoch is Genesis 5.  This chapter is one of those chapters that would be easy to skip in the Bible.  It is full of names that are difficult to pronounce and who begat who.  Sometimes it is easy to think there is not much there.  I was reading it one time and the thought occurred to me, those names of all those people that had their children – really, we do not know much about any of them and the only one in the chapter that it says any more about than that he begat sons and daughters was Enoch.  It does mention Noah and we know what kind of a man Noah was, and there are others that were Godly men serving God, but the rest we don’t know what their lives consisted of other than the normal course of events.  They got married and had their families and they died.  I think it would be sad if that was all there was to their lives or anyone’s life.  What they did.  What their lives consisted of.  There was nothing written about it.  It was legitimate to be married.  It is legitimate to have children – those are legitimate things.  And what we do in our lives, our jobs, our schooling, whatever we do, legitimate things.  They are good and right in their place.  It would be sad if that was the only thing our lives consisted of.  Just the normal things that everyone’s life consists of.  It is nice to think of Enoch, not only did he have his sons and daughters, his wife here on earth, but he walked with God.  There was something deeper in his life than the normal course of events.  Something that was in his heart that made his life more special than the lives of those who just lived the normal course of events.

We are so thankful God has revealed to us something that is greater than life itself.  Something that goes beyond the normal course of life’s events.  When we think about it, if all we do is live our lives for just the normal things, we are really not much higher than the plants and animals around us, are we?  That is what they do.  They reproduce after their kind.  That is what God has put into them.  What is there to the life of the animal and plant – they die, and that is the end.  God has placed something in our hearts that we want something more than that.  We seek for more meaning than the normal things of life.  We are thankful that He is holding out to all of us something that goes beyond life.  Something that is greater than life and something that goes on into eternity.  We are thankful for the day we were grafted on and we made it ours.

I want to tell you a couple of stories.  The first one happened when I was in Hawaii reading the paper one day, and there was an article about a building in Honolulu that was going to be demolished and I read that article and it was a surprise to me.  This building that was going to be demolished was only 26 years old.  Not all that old as far as a building goes.  They were gong to demolish it and bring it down and it was going to be nothing more than rubble.  I wondered what the contractor and architect thought about that.  All the time they had spent building it.  What did the plumbers and drain-layers and electricians and carpet layers think about that?  All the time they spent building it and 26 years later it is going to be brought down to nothing and carted away as if it doesn’t exist.  It was clear to me, the temporariness of the things of time.  Those people that would have worked on that building – they were doing legitimate things, they were making their living and that was good and yet here, such a short time later it was all being brought to nothing.

The other story is at a convention in our home State and a man stood to his feet to give his testimony in one of the meetings and he said, “When I was young, I thought about those words, nothing maters but salvation and I thought to myself that is not true.  There are a lot of things in my life that matter.  I have a wife and family and business to take care of and there are a lot of things in my life matter.  But life has gone on and I have gotten older and the things that mattered to me so much in the past are mattering less to me now, but the things that I have in God, they still have their own value and they are the things that are going to go on with me.”

It is good that we understand that and keep in proper place and perspective the things that truly have value in life and the things that truly feed our souls and the things that truly give meaning to our lives.  It would be sad if at the end of life, even spending our lives doing things that would be legitimate, yet having nothing before God.  We want to keep before us what really does matter.  We think of Enoch and it says in verse 21, “And 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 and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years.  Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him.”

A man who lived his life, did the things that were natural to do, yet walked with God.  We are thankful for men and women boys and girls who fulfill this same thing in their lives today.

It is interesting though, he lived sixty and five years and begat Methuselah and he walked with God after he got Methuselah three hundred years.  It made me wonder could it have been that before that maybe Enoch didn’t walk with God?  But then came along a son, a little boy, and suddenly responsibility is laid upon his shoulders and suddenly he realizes, "I am responsible for this little life and this son of mine is going to be looking to me for an example and I am responsible for giving him something for his soul and I need to do something for my own soul first and I need to walk with God so that I can bring my own son up in the fear of God and teach him to walk with God."  We are thankful for parents that understand this kind of responsibility as they have their children.  Sometimes that responsibility drives people to seek for God and seek for His help.

I remember a man telling his testimony and he told about how his mother professed when he was a boy and he grew up going to meetings around the workers and God’s people and then when he got older, he didn’t want it for himself and he went out into the world and he married a young lady who was of the world.  It wasn’t long after they were married that she started wanting what his mother had and she wanted it for herself and she went to meetings and professed.  That didn’t move him.  His wife professed for a while and he didn’t go to meetings with her.  And then the time came their first child was born.  He said when that little girl was born, something moved in his heart and he felt desperate that he needed God’s help to raise that little girl and that life put into his trust moved him to seek God and make his choice and make the things of God his own.

I Timothy 2:15,  “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”  This verse appeals to me in this way.  It isn’t childbearing that will save a woman or man having children doesn’t save people, but that something, that having that responsibility.  Having that little life moves in the hearts of people to seek after God.  It is wonderful to think your children might even be a help to you in your salvation and your walk with God.  Sometimes the little ones come and ask why do we do that.  Why do we go to meetings?  What is this?  How and why do we do this and what does this mean?  Maybe things we have known all our life, but these little questions make us start to search and look at what does this mean and it brings us closer to God and it makes us understand so we are able to teach them the same things.  It is good when parents understand their responsibility of teaching their children and preparing them to be in the fear and admonition of God.

I have appreciated what we have heard of Manoah and his wife, “Show us how we can bring him up so he would be the man we would want him to be.”  As parents come to God in that attitude you are going to find that God is going to help you also and it is going to help your own soul as well.

We heard in one of our other conventions about someone that was visiting with their father and telling that sometimes, it seems like the only time they can read is when they sit down with the children and read the scripture.  That father said, "When you were a child, often what I got out of the scripture and the bread I had to share for the meeting was when I sat down with you and read you the scripture."  As you help your children, you are helping yourselves.  As you teach your children, you are learning yourselves.  God is giving you a wonderful privilege and responsibility to be true to the little lives that he has placed in your care and to teach them the things of God and to help them to love the things of God and to believe it in the place where God can speak to them.  It is a great responsibility and privilege.  Our children are the hope of the future of God’s children.  We want to be those that look for the future and commit what we can so that if you can be tried and the work of God can continue in the earth even in the future.

Deuteronomy 6:6, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  Thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

The Lord was anxious that they would hold up before themselves the Laws of God, the Ways of God that they would be thinking about these things that they would be talking about these things in their homes and that they would be practising them.  As we have heard, it is the example of parents’ lives before the children that speak volumes.  When their children asked them what the Passover meant and what do the stones by the river Jordan mean?  They told them – this is what it means – the Lord brought us up out of Egypt and He saved us.  The Lord brought us out of this river and helped – you parents are doing this in your homes.  Taking time to read from the scripture with your little ones and living the Word of God in your own lives.  In this way, your little ones can be taught and brought to the place where God can deal with them and they, too, can come to walk with Him and get to know Him in their own experience.

Enoch walked with God.  Walked with God.  It says that Enoch walked with God and not that God walked with Enoch.  It says the same thing of Noah.  Noah walked with God and not that God walked with Noah.  In our country, we see bumper stickers and they say, "God is the co-pilot."  That is the way many people want to make God their God.  They want to be in control.  They want God beside them in case they get into trouble.  They want to make the decisions.  It doesn’t work like that.  God is no one’s co-pilot.  The only way it works is when they get out of the driver’s seat and allow God to take that place.  God doesn’t walk with us, but we walk with God.  It is allowing God to set the pace.  We do not want to try to set the pace ourselves.  Running ahead when we want to or lagging behind, but keep pace with the God of Heaven.  Sometimes the voice of God urges us forward, urges us to go and we need to be ready to go when the voice of God leads us on forward.

I was thinking of Moses and the voice of God to him allowed him to go before Pharaoh and speak the word of God.  He said, "I cannot do that.  I cannot speak, I cannot go forward with Him, I cannot do that."  He at first tried to lag behind when God was saying come forward.  We are thankful that, in the end, they were willing to go forward and ask what God wanted them to do.  There are times too, that God is saying, "Wait.  Do not go forward, just wait."  Waiting to be obedient to the Voice of God when it says wait.  Sometimes, it is easy to feel impatient and want to rush ahead.  Until the Voice of God leads us to go forward, we need to wait.  King Saul had an experience when he was asked to wait.  Samuel told him to wait until he could come and he would offer the sacrifice.  Samuel didn’t come at the time he thought he should come – although he had waited.  He forced himself and did what was not his place to do.  Samuel told him, “You have done foolishly."  If we do not wait while the voice of God is telling us to wait, it will always lead to foolishness.  We want to be in tune and step with God.  Walking with Him, allowing Him to set the pace.  When He comes forward, we come forward, and when He waits, we wait.  If we are willing to be sensitive to that, we will never do wrong and we will always be happy and thankful for what it brings into our own experience.  Walking with God is also allowing Him to set the direction of our lives and where we go and where we don’t go.  It is easy to want to track ourselves.  To choose our own directions.

Jonah.  The voice of God came to him and asked him to speak at Nineveh, and it was not a direction he was too keen to go in and he went in another direction and he brought a storm in his life and a storm in the lives of those around him because he didn’t go where God wanted him to go.  He had that experience of being swallowed up by the whale and being spat out on to dry ground.  What happened?  The voice of God came again and it was the same message.  The same direction.  He was willing then to go in the same direction, God had asked him to go in.  We need to be careful to go in the direction God wants us to go.  That we follow God’s direction and He directs us.  God’s message didn’t change for Jonah and He doesn’t change for us either.  We want to be faithful in going in the direction that He would choose and keeping pace with the pace He Himself would set.  Doing this is walking with God.

We heard yesterday about life being a series of steps and how often do we feel we do not know where the next step is and as we ask God, He is trying to show us the next step and He is trying to take us on the next step that is there to take.

Hebrews 11:5,  “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.”

I just thought about the testimony that Enoch had.  Really, you can say that that testimony summed up his life and it was three words that summed up Enoch’s life.  He pleased God.  That is a testimony that is worth striving to gain for ourselves.  Very little testimony, yet speaking volumes.  He pleased God.  A life of resignation to the Will of God.  A life given completely over to God and the summation of it can be put in those three words.  It would be wonderful if those words could be our testimony and could be said about our lives.

I had been thinking of others’ testimonies.  The testimony Jesus gave of Mary, “She hath done what she could.”  A short testimony and yet, it was wrapped up in those words.  What is the summation of what our lives are?  What is the testimony?  I was thinking of this of testimony, and really our testimony is what we are.  Sometimes we think about a reputation and it seems that a reputation is something that is service.  Maybe the opinion of ourselves, or the opinions of others.  A testimony is something of the heart and what we are in our own hearts and what God sees us as being and it goes deeper.  Jesus had no reputation.  As far as the world was concerned, He was a nobody.  He was what He was before God, what He was in His heart; the approval of His God; He didn’t have at all a reputation, but He had a wonderful testimony.

I thought of that church at Laodicea.  Revelations 3, he talks about them being opinionated, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.  I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.  Because thou sayest,  'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.  I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.'”

Their own opinion of themselves, their reputation was wretched.  We have a need of knowing.  They thought, “We are rich.  We are increased with goods,” and that is what things looked like to them.  But God saw nakedness and blindness and poverty and the testimony was so different.  God’s testimony was so different from what they saw themselves as being.

We want to be those who do not have just a surface appearance, but we want to be those, that in our hearts, we are genuinely right before God and have in our hearts the Spirit of God and the riches of God, the Kingdom of God within.  Our testimony – what it is before God in our hearts.

We speak about our testimony being what we say in meetings and that is true that we testify, but our testimony goes far beyond that.  What we say in meeting is expressing our purpose.  The testimony is what we make real in our life’s experience.  That is our testimony.

I appreciated a verse in Revelations 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  They overcome – speaking of the Devil – of the blood of the Lamb of the Word of our testimony.  Two things that we can use to overcome the Devil.  We are thankful for the blood of Christ that cleanses us from the sins of the past.  Our past sins and guilt.  Satan has nothing to say against that.  He has no power against the blood of the Lamb, or the word of our testimony.  So our testimony, what we purpose in our hearts and this is lived out, Satan cannot say anything against that.  God gives us a power as we seek His face, as we live out the word of our testimony, to make it real and to accomplish what we have purposed in our hearts and before others.  Satan has no power before a good testimony.  A testimony is so important.  It is something we need to grow.  It takes time and it takes faithfulness to build up a testimony and yet it can be wiped away so quickly by foolishness.  We want to be careful that we guard our testimony.  It is something that is so precious.  It is something that we can use to guard against the Devil.  Reaching out, having the reliability in our hearts and lives of those things of God.

I was thinking of what it says of Enoch in the book of Jude 14, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.'“

Just understand that the Lord sees all and understands all and will judge righteous judgment.  Sometimes when we see events in the world coming upon us and they make us question and they make us fearful and yet just pray that God is in control and God will bring all things into judgment and nothing escapes the eye of the God of Heaven in whom we have to do and there is a day all will be brought before Him in judgment.  We can trust in that.  We can trust that all things are being done according to His will and are right on schedule.  It is a wonderful rest we can have that God sees and knows and He will judge.
 
Psalm 73, the Psalmist got to thinking about the unrighteous and it started to look to him that they had it good and they came out with whatever they wanted and they could get away with it.  As he tried to keep himself clean, he was all in – but then he went into the sanctuary and then, “I saw their end.”  He realized in the sanctuary that the unrighteous are not going to get away with their unrighteousness.  Our efforts to be right before God and keep ourselves clean, are not in vain.  God sees and God knows.  When he started the Psalm, he was envious of the foolish but by the end of the Psalm, he realizes, "How foolish I am to be thinking that way."  It was a whole different view-point when he got into the sanctuary.  He sees that God sees and God knows.
 
Psalm 37, do not fret ourselves because of evil doers.  God will take care of them.  God sees and God knows and judgment is in His hand and He will judge.  We are thankful to know the one who sees all and does understand and we want to keep our lives clean and upright before Him and walk as He would have us walk.

I appreciated these little thoughts and hope they will be helpful to you and help us to be true in our place.