HEBREWS CHAPTER ELEVEN
THE SCOPE OF THE CHAPTER
We trust that our readers are by this time duly impressed with the fact that we must not give an interpretation of any passage of Scripture, or even a chapter, apart from its context.
We have learnt also that the Scope of the passage must be gathered from its Structure. In other words, we must know what it is all about before we can find a clue to the meaning of the words: and we can find this out only by getting the Structure of the whole context.
As our subject here consists of a complete chapter, it will be necessary for us to see the exact place in which it stands in relation to the Epistle as a whole. We must therefore give the structure of
The Epistle to the Hebrews as a whole:-
A Chapters 1 & 2, Doctrinal Introduction.
B Chapter 3: 1 - Chapter 4: 13. The
C Chapter 4: 14-16. General Application
(Having therefore.) Boldness of access to God in heaven.
B Chapter 5: 1 - Chapter 10: 18. The Priesthood of Christ.
C Chapter 10: 19 - Chapter 12: 29. Particular Application
(Having therefore.) Boldness of access to God in heaven.
A Chapter 13. Practical Conclusion.
The first thing we learn from this Structure is that the chapter we are to consider has not been rightly divided by man.
Its subject does not begin at the first verse of chapter 11, but at the nineteenth verse of the previous chapter (chapter 10), the member of which it forms part. That is to say, it begins at chapter 10: 19, and ends with chapter 12: 29.
Hebrews 12 therefore comes in the middle, and forms part of a larger portion of the Epistle. Consequently no exposition of it can be complete which treats it as beginning only at chapter 12: 1. We must go back to chapter 10: 19 if we would see the part it bears in relation to the whole.
The commencement of this member, C, is marked off by the catch-words Having therefore; these are the same words which commence the corresponding member C (chapters 4: 14-16). The former of these two members (chapter 4: 14-16) contains the conclusion which follows from the establishment of the argument concerning The Mission of Christ (chapter 3: 1 - chapter 4: 13); while the latter (chapters 10: 1 - chapter 12: 29) contains the conclusion which follows the argument concerning The Priesthood of Christ (chapter 5: 1 - chapter 10: 18).
It will be necessary now for us to note the Structure of the second of these conclusions, so that we may, by its being broken up, see what is the scope of the whole, and what is the special place of the chapter we are to consider.
The Structure of C (Hebrews chapter 10: 19 - Chapter 12: 29).
Particular Application of chapter 5: 1 - chapter 10: 18.
C D Chapter 10: 19-23. Exhortation to draw near to God, and to hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, because Christ the High Priest is accessible in heaven and faithful that promised.
E Chapter 10: 24-25. Duties as brethren, to endure exhortation.
F Chapter 10: 26-31. Warning in view of God being the living God.
G (a) Chapter 10: 32-37. Exhortation to patience, in view of the promise.
(b) Chapter 10: 38, 39. Living by faith.
G (b) Chapter 11: 1-40. Examples of living by faith.
Chapter 12: 1. Exhortation to patience in view of the examples of faith in the promise.
Chapter 12: 2-3. Exhortations to look, away from the above examples to Jesus,
the Foremost and Last example of faith, because He endured, and is accessible in Heaven.
E Chapter 12: 4-24. Duties as sons, to endure chastening.
F Chapter 12: 25-29. Warning, in view of God being a consuming fire.
From the above Structure we see the true place of chapter 11.
We see also its true reference.
The Scope of the whole passage is an exhortation to patient endurance in view of the promises. This exhortation is based on the faithfulness of the Promiser (Chapter 10: 23), and the Examples of faith are shown in those who lived by faith (chapter 11.)
The pivot on which the whole turns in the quotation from Habakkuk 2: 4, The just shall live by faith.
This is quoted three times in the New Testament, and each time the emphasis is on a different one of these three words:-
Romans 1: 17. The just shall live by FAITH.*
* Hebrew: The just shall live in (or by) his faith (or faithfulness).
Galatians 3: 2. The JUST shall live by faith.
Hebrews 10: 38. The just shall LIVE by faith.
In the first of these (Romans 1: 17) the subject is Faith or Faith-principle as being the principle of Justification, in Gods Gospel, which is there being revealed.
In the second (Galatians 3: 11) the subject is Justification, which is by Faith-principle in contrast with law-principle.
In the third (Hebrews 10: 38) the subject is Living by faith in Gods promises, so as to be able to wait an watch with patient endurance.
This is the subject of Habakkuk 2: 1, 3, 4, which begins I will stand upon my WATCH, and set me upon the tower, and will WATCH what he will say unto me. ...
For the vision is yet for an appointed time
But at the end it shall speak, and not lie:
Though it tarry, WAIT for it;
Because it will surely come, it will not tarry. ...
The just shall LIVE through his faith.
This context is clear. Faith in Gods word can alone enable us to wait with patience for the fulfilment of His promise.
This is the burden of the context of Hebrews chapter 11, and hence, in Hebrews 10: 37, the third verse of Habakkuk chapter 2 is quoted as well as verse 4, while, in Romans and Galatians, the verse (verse 3) is not quoted; because, patient Waiting is not the burden and object of the context in those two quotations of Habakkuk 2: 4.
The exhortation (Hebrews 10: 32-37) is to patient waiting through faith: Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, [perseverance] that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Then it goes on to quote Habakkuk: for yet a little while, etc.
The whole burden of Hebrews chapter 11 is the patience of those who endured by faith, not having received the promise (verse 13); and of those who, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (verse 39).
Now we are prepared to understand and appreciate
(1) The Definition of faith in verses 1-3, and
(2) The Exemplification of faith in verses 4-39.
THE DEFINITION OF FAITH
In Hebrews 11: 1. Faith is defined as being
The FOUNDATION of things hoped for,
The CONVICTION of things not seen.
There is no question as to the meaning of the word rendered substance in the A.V.; which, in the margin, gives, ground, or confidence, as an alternative.
In the R.V. it is rendered assurance, with giving substance to in the margin. The word is (hypostasis) a setting or placing underneath. Hence, its primitive meaning is foundation. The rendering substance comes from the Latin, sub stans (standing under).
We all hope for many things, but the question is, What foundation or ground have we for our hope? Everything turns upon this. All depends upon it.
As to our hope for eternity, it all rests on the faithfulness of Gods promise. If there be no God; or, if His promise be not true, then we have no foundation whatever for our hope; all is baseless. Everything, therefore, depends upon the fact that God has spoken, and that what He has said is true.
Hence, the definition of faith in Romans 10: 17:
Faith cometh by hearing.
And hearing [cometh] by the word of God.
If we heard nothing, there can be nothing to believe. There is neither place or room for faith. We may think it, or imagine it, or hope for it; but we cannot possibly believe it, because we have not heard anything about it. Our hopes and thoughts and imaginations are all vain, being without any foundation.
Hence, of Abrahams faith, the father of the faithful, it is said
ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD.
God had spoken; Abraham had heard; and he believed God.
What he had heard came by the word of God; and his faith came by this hearing.
Abraham believed what God had said. God had caused him to hope; and hence, believing God, his faith in Gods Word was the foundation or ground of that for which he hoped.
None can hope in vain who believe God.
This is why the common question, Do we believe? is so senseless. The real question is, not Do we believe? but WHAT do we believe? or rather, WHOM do we believe?
We believe many things that man says, and that man promises. But the question is, are they true?
It is not a question of the sincerity with which we believe, but of the truth of what we believe.
The more sincerely we believe what is not true, the worse it is for us. This holds good in every department of life. If what we hear be not true, then, to doubt it, means our safety.
When we give ear to man, we can never be certain that what he says is true. But when we give ear to God, we can set to our seal that God is true in what He says; and that He is faithful in what He promises. Faith is hearing God and believing what He says. This is the simple definition. But there are various expressions connected with this faith.
It is used with the Preposition (en) in. This means that our faith rests in the truth of what is said (Mark 1: 15, etc.). It is the same when used with the Dative of the person.
It is used with (epi) upon, which means that faith rests upon what we hear; and that what we hear is the foundation upon which our faith rests (Romans 9: 33; 10: 11, etc.).
It is used with (eis) unto, which means that faith goes out to, and is directed to Him of whom, or that of which we hear (John 2: 11; 3: 15, etc.)
There can thus be no mistake as to the meaning of the first part of the definition of Hebrews 11: 1.
As to the second: - Faith is said to be
THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN.
The A.V. renders this, evidence, while the R.V. renders it proving, with test in the margin.
The word is (elengchos) a proof, that by which anything is proved or tested; logical proof, proof that conveys a satisfying conviction to the mind. Hence, this is the best meaning to give the word here. It is the conviction produced by demonstration. In John 8; 46 the Lord says, Which of you convinceth Me of sin? (not convinceth, as in the A.V., but convicteth, as in the R.V.); so in John 16: 8, 4 When He [the Holy Spirit] is come, He shall convict the world in respect of sin, (not reprove, as in A.V. margin, convince), but convict, or bring in guilty. None could do this of Christ; but the Holy Spirit does this of the world. He brings it in guilty, and convicts it of sin. Why? For this very reason Because they believe not on Me.
This is the great sin. And this brings us back to our subject.
God hth spoken; and the sin is defined as not believing what He hath said: for He was the Living Word, and through Him we believe in the Living God.
Hence the opening words of Isaiah 1., which is the great indictment of
Hear, O heavens,
And give ear, O earth:
For Jehovah hath spoken.
This is the great fact for us who possess the Word of God.
GOD HATH SPOKEN.
Do we believe what He hath said? This is the one abiding question. He has given to us, and made us exceeding great and precious promises. Do we believe Him? If we do, then, this faith is the foundation of all we hope for. It is the conviction of what we have heard but do not see. Thus Faith is the opposite of sight. Man says that seeing is believing. This is one of his many fallacies. Faith is the demonstration to us of what we do not see. Hence, we live in, and by, this faith, we walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7).
What we see is what we know.
What we believe is what we hear.
Hence the examples of faith given us in Hebrews chapter 11 are those who, having heard God, believed what He said; though they saw not the things of which He spake, and which He promised. They were beyond the limits of physical eyesight.
Noah believed the truth of things not seen as yet (verse 7).
Others by faith saw the promises afar off (verse 13).
Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible (verse 27).
This is faith. This was Abrahams faith. He rejoiced to see Christs day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8: 56). But he saw it by faith, afar off.
* * *
RECKONING BY FAITH
Having given the true definition of faith, the Apostle proceeds to give examples of it; showing how men of God in past days lived by it: i.e., how they conducted their lives according to it.
Those whom he calls the elders,* in Hebrews 11: 1, he speaks of as the great cloud of witnesses in chapter 12: 1.
* The word is used in its Hebrew sense ancients (zekunim). See Isaiah 24: 23, which thus implies the resurrection of those who are referred to, i.e., not older in age, but people who lived in olden times.
The scope of the whole passage (of which this chapter forms part) is, as we have seen, an exhortation to patience [and perseverance] in view of the great tribulations these Hebrew believers were passing through, and of the faithfulness of God to His promises which He had made to them.
Gods word was the foundation of all that they hoped for; His faithfulness was all that they had to rest upon.
He points his readers back to the great cloud of witnesses* who had borne such wondrous testimony to the power of a living faith in the living God: to those who had borne witness, not only in their faithful life, but in their martyr-death.
* The word is (martus), and is always used of a judicial witness, or deponent; i.e., one who witnessed with his lips and not with his eyes. Hence the word comes to be limited, to-day, to the greatest of all such witness, a martyrs death.
The word for eye-witness is quite different. It is (epoptes), a looker on, spectator.
The word rendered obtained a good report, in Hebrews 11: 2 and 39, and witnesses, in Hebrews 12: 1, are cognate.
In the former chapter it is the verb, and in the latter it is the noun. There is no word in the original about good.
Verse 2 tells us that by (or through) this faith [of theirs]; or by such a faith as this, they were made witnesses (by God), or became witnesses (for God), and could thus be called, in chapter 12: 1, a great cloud of witnesses, by faith in the promises which they had received from God, and believing what they had heard.
They were enabled to hear such wondrous witness; and were strengthened to suffer, and conquer, and to wait patiently for the fulfilment of the promises which they saw, by this faith, afar off.
It was this, and by such faith as this, that their example was so necessary, and was such an encouragement for those to whom the Apostle was writing.
The scope of the whole section is (as we have seen), an exhortation and warning against apostasy; and the words immediately preceding are, We are not of those drawing back to destruction, but of faith, to the saying of the soul.
What it is to be thus, of faith, is the subject of what follows in chapter 11. Faith has to do with that which is not seen. The things we hope for are not seen as it is written: Hope that is seen is not hope: for what any one seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we do not see, then do we, with patience wait for it (Romans 8: 24, 25). It is to this patient waiting under trial that these Hebrew believers were being exhorted.
Faith is thus the opposite of sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7). This is the essence of the whole of chapter 11. It begins, in verse 3, with the statement that the events which we see going on around us spring from things that do not appear, but from the fact that God rules and over-rules, and that He has prepared and ordered the ages.
The word rendered worlds is not used of the created world, which is (cosmos), or of the inhabited world, which is (oikoumene); or of the ploughed and trodden earth, which is (ge), but it is (aion) age, which is here in the plural, and means ages, or dispensations. This is its proper rendering.* It is by faith we perceive (nooumen) that the events we see happening around us do not happen by chance.
* This is the sense in which aiwv is used in this Epistle (at elsewhere). See Hebrews 1: 3, where the verb (poieo) is used in the sense of appoint, at in chapter 3: 2. See also Hebrews 6: 5, where it it used of the age to come; and Hebrews 9: 26, where the first word world is (cosmos) and means the created world and the second is this word aiwv (aion) age.
Even worldly wisdom can see this and say that there is a hand that shapes our destinies; that things are not what they seem and that we cannot judge by appearances.
This is the force of the word rendered framed, as may be seen by studying all its occurrences.* It will be at once observed that in no other place is it rendered framed, while all the other renderings taken together show that the best meaning to give the word in Hebrews 11: 3 would be prepared, as in the previous chapter (Hebrews 10: 5). So that the sense of the verse would be, that while the events which we see with our eyes taking place around us do not happen by chance, as judging by appearances, or from the outward phenomena, they seem to do; but are prepared, ruled or over-ruled by God, who has, in His own ordering, the dispensation of the fulness of times (Ephesians 1: 10); and orders all according to the purpose of the ages which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3: 11. Compare R.V).
* [The Greek word ] occurs in the following passages, and is rendered mend in Matthew 4: 21. Mark 1: 19. Perfect (perfected, made perfect, be perfect, &c.), in Matthew 21: 16. Luke 6: 40. 2 Corinthians 13: 11. 1 Thessalonians 3: 10. Hebrews 13: 21. 1 Peter 5: 10; fitted, Romans 9: 22; restore, Galatians 6: 1; framed, Hebrews 11: 3; and perfectly joined together, in 1 Corinthians 1: 10; prepared, Hebrews 10: 5.
It is by faith in what God has revealed in the faithful sayings of the prophetic word that we perceive and understand this great fact which, to the outward eye of mortal man, is neither seen, nor understood, nor even acknowledged.
The rendering of the third verse, according to this, would be as follows:-
By faith we perceive (by the word of God) that the ages were prepared, so that, the things we see, come to pass not from things that appear. That is, as we said above, as we walk by faith and not by sight, we understand that we cannot and must not judge by the outward appearances, because in one of His weighty words God has told us that He seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16: 7).
It was by such a faith as this that these elders knew that things were not what they seemed, and therefore did not judge by sight of the outward eye.
Though the Flood appeared to be delayed, and the unbelief of others seemed to be encouraged by it, Noah did not judge by those appearances, but believed the words of God as to things not seen as yet.
It was by such faith as this that Abraham and Sarah, though at first staggered by the words of the angel, yet as soon as they understood that they were the words of God they considered not the outward appearances of their natural physical condition, but waxed strong in faith, and believed God as to what they could not see.
It was by such a faith as this that Joseph did not consider the circumstances as they appeared to him in Egypt, but believed God as to their going up thence at the set time that He had prepared, even to the very year.
It was by such a faith as this that Moses was not deceived by the outward splendour of his royal surroundings in the Court of Egypt, but voluntarily surrendered all; refusing the treasures; choosing the sufferings; and esteeming reproach for Christ as better than all. For he judged and endured as seeing Him who is invisible (verse 27).
But we must not anticipate.
The whole chapter and all its parts must be studied in the light of this third verse.
It does not carry us back to Creation, and divert our thoughts into such a totally different channel; but, it lays the foundation in no uncertain way for all that is to follow.
This foundation has been hidden from the readers of the Word
(1). By rendering (aiones) worlds instead of ages.
(2). By rendering (katartizo) framed instead of prepared as in Hebrews 10: 5; framed being a rendering which is not given it in any other of the thirteen passages where it occurs.
(3). By rendering (gegonenai) made instead of happened, or came to pass, which is its usual meaning. There are words for creating and making, but this is not one of them.
It will be seen that verse 3 is not written to teach that there are more worlds than one; or that they were created out of nothing; but it is written to give us, at the outset, the secret of the elders wondrous witness, which consisted in this; that they walked by faith and not by sight; and that, therefore, they did not look on the outward appearance or judge by outward phenomena; but, understanding that the ages and dispensations were all prepared by God, they rested on the prophetic Word, and believed that He was overruling all for the accomplishment of His own counsels in them and through them.
* * *
FAITH [COMETH] BY HEARING
In our last paper on this chapter we saw that the third verse was not a digression from the subject which the chapter had introduced, but it laid the foundation still deeper.
In verse 1 we have the definition of faith - as to its nature.
In verse 2 we have fact that it was by the exhibition of such a faith as this that the elders obtained a good report. Having borne such witness themselves, they obtained witness from God, and thus became a great cloud of witnesses (chapter 12: 1) for our example and encouragement.
In verse 3 we are told that faith, in its nature, always has regard to the things which are not seen: and that those who exercise such a faith as this do not walk by sight; they do not judge by outward appearance, and they understand that the things we see do not happen from chance or from things of which the outward human eye takes cognisance.
But this to a certain extent is negative.
Before we pass on to the first example of these elders - to the faith of Abel - we must go deeper, and seek for some positive information as to the origin of such a faith as this.
This is something beyond the definition of faith or its nature, characteristics, results, and manifestations.
Whence does it come?
To this question there is only one answer, IT COMES FROM GOD.
We read in Ephesians 2: 8: For by grace ye are saved through (i.e., by means of) faith: and this not of yourselves. [It is] Gods gift: not of works, in order that not any one might boast.
This language is unmistakable, and will be thankfully received by those who do not stumble at the freeness of that grace (Matthew 11: 6).
If we go further, and seek to know bow this gift comes from God, then we find the answer in Romans 10: 17, and here we have no verb. The A. V. and R. V. both supply the verb cometh in italics; and probably no better could be supplied.
To see the argument of the context of Romans 10: 17 we must go back to verse 13.
13. Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14. How then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall hear apart from one proclaiming?
15. And how shall they preach if they be not sent?
According as it standeth written How seasonable are the feet of those announcing glad tidings of good things! (Isaiah 52: 7).
16. But not all obeyed the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith (chapter 53: 1) Lord, who hath believed our report?
17. So then, faith [cometh] by hearing [the report], and the hearing [cometh] by means of the word of God.
Thus the manner in which faith cometh is graphically explained and illustrated. It believes that which comes from God. Hence it comes as the gift of God.
In this seventeenth verse there are three words which call for further notice.
The word rendered hearing is not the sense of hearing, or the act of hearing, but it is the matter which is heard. Hence in verse 16 it is rendered report.
Who hath believed our report? i.e., what they have heard from us.
The word is (akoe). And what they had heard was concerning Christ, as is clear from the concluding words of the previous chapter (Isaiah 52: 15).
That which they had not been told them shall they see (or perceive).
And that which they had not heard shall they consider.
That which they had been told was about Christ,* and it came from God.
* Hence the various reading in Romans 10: 17, which the Revisers have adopted, and hearing [cometh] by the word concerning Christ. This reading it supported by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Alford.
In Habakkuk 3: 2, we have the same word: O LORD, I have heard Thy speech; i.e., what Thou hast said. The Hebrew is Thy hearing. (See margin).
In Galatians 3: 2., the Apostle asks, Received ye the Spirit? (i.e, the New nature) by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? i.e., by believing what ye heard from God through me (compare verse 5).
The next sentence tells us that, that which faith (such a faith as this, Hebrews 2: 2) believes cometh by hearing the word of God.
The word rendered word here is not (logos) but (rhema). This is important, and significant: for these words must be distinguished from each other.
The former means a word which is made up of letters; while the latter is an utterance which is made up of words. Hence it means saying, and includes the whole of what is spoken.*
* See Luke 1: 38; 2: 29; 3: 2; 5: 5. John 3: 34; 5: 47; 6: 63-68. Acts 5: 20. 2 Peter 3: 2.
Finally the word by in Romans 10: 17 is not the same in both parts of the verse: Faith [cometh] out of hearing. There the word is (ek) from, or out of denoting the source whence it comes. But when it says: Hearing [cometh] by means of what God has said, the word is (dia) with the Genitive case, which denotes the cause, or instrumentality. We have no need to alter the translation so long as we understand and remember the significance of the two words, thus rendered by.
From all this we learn that the faith that saves comes from God, because there can be no such faith at all apart from what He has spoken.
He is the first great cause of faith. Unless He had spoken there could have been no place for faith.
Now from Hebrews 1: 1 we learn further that God has spoken at sundry times, and in divers manners. Or, according to the R. V. by divers portions and in divers manners.
We may render the opening words of Hebrews thus: the Epistle begins: In many parts and in many ways, of old, God, having spoken to the fathers by the prophets, at the end of these days He spoke by His Son.*
* The article not being necessary after the preposition (en) by.
This statement finds its illustration and explanation in our chapter.
God spoke to Abel, to Enoch, to Moses parents, to Rahab and others, of which speaking we have no historic record given. We know that He must have spoken, or there would have been nothing for them to believe.
Furthermore, what He spoke to each was not the same, God spoke of many matters, as well as many times and in many parts, and many ways.
What God spoke to Noah He spoke not to Abraham. He did not tell Noah to get him out of his own country and go into another. Nor did He tell Abraham to prepare an ark.
God spoke on many subjects, and each one who heard His words, and believed what He said, exercised saving faith and pleased God. For without faith it is impossible to please Him.
We all love to be believed in what we say; and there is no surer way of giving offence to others than by disbelieving their word.
Now had we been called to make a list of the elders of old who had such a faith as this, it is certain that we should not have selected the names as given to us in this chapter. We should probably have left out some whose names are here given; and we should have included others which the Spirit of God has omitted.
Our list would differ, because our object in forming the list would not be the same as the Divine object.
God, in His infinite wisdom, has caused the Chronological order to coincide with the Experimental order.
The Chronological or Historical order in which these elders lived, coincides with the Canonical order in which they are presented to us, because that is the order in which we are to learn the great lessons thus set before us.
Abels faith is put first not merely because he lived before the others, but because he believed God as to the first great fundamental truth that comes before all others: peace with God; access to God; worship of God; and all this through the blood of an accepted substitute.
We will not anticipate what we have to say on this but mention the great salient points which distinguish these first three.
Enochs faith comes next, not because he lived next (for other of the Patriarchs must have had like precious faith), but because we are to learn the experimental truth that two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3: 3); and that we cannot walk with God unless we can worship Him. We must know what it is to have peace with God before we can enjoy the peace of God. Hence Atonement comes before Communion. Worship comes before Walk.
Noahs faith comes next, not because no others after Enoch believed God, but because we are to learn, experimentally, that we cannot witness for God, unless we know what it is to walk with God.
It was because of this great eternal principle that we read of the Lord Jesus, that He ordained twelve that they should BE WITH HIM - and - that he might send them forth to preach (Mark 3: 14).
None can be sent forth by Him till they have been with Him. We must know what it is to walk with God, before we can witness for God.
Thus, these first three elders lay down for us these three eternal principles. They are written for our learning.
In Abel we have faiths WORSHIP.
In Enoch we have faiths WALK.
In Noah we have faiths WITNESS.
This order cannot be reversed or changed without disaster. Many try to walk with God who do not know what it is to enjoy peace with God: hence they try to be saved by their walk, instead of by faith through Gods grace. Many try to witness for God who do not know what it is to enjoy a walk with God.
But all this is doing; and it ends in death.
It is works, and not grace.
It is sight, and not faith.
Let us learn these great lessons which lie at the threshold of Hebrews chapter 11 so that we may better understand the examples and illustrations that are given.
Before we consider these we have to look at the second part of Romans 10: 17.
We have learned that faith [cometh] by hearing. We have yet to learn that hearing [cometh] by means of what God hath spoken.
* * *
HEARING [COMETH] BY THE WORD OF GOD.
In speaking of old time to the fathers by the Prophets, God spoke in many parts and in many ways. He spoke in command, in warning, in expostulation, in reproach, in encouragement, in judgment, in prophecy, in promise, and in grace.
Of those who heard, some believed the things that were spoken, and some believed not, some obeyed and some were disobedient.
God also spoke at many times and on many subjects: and the faith of each one who believed what He said was exercised in a different direction.
In the case of Enoch we are not told what God said to him. From the remote context, the last Epistle of the New Testament (Jude 14), it would seem that it was about the coming of the Lord with all His saints [Gk. holy myriads]. Whatever it was, Enoch believed God; and from the still remoter context, the first book of the Old Testament, we learn that His faith in this blessed fact resulted in His walk with God (Genesis 5: 24).
In the case of Abraham, God spoke in command and in promise. The command was to leave his own country; and the promise was that he should have a son.
In the case of the Parents of Moses, God must also have promised a son; and must have so described him, that, when the child was born, they knew that it corresponded with what God had said.
In this way each speaking of God was the occasion of hearing, the hearing of faith.
The responsibility of each was to believe what was heard. The record concerning Abraham the father of the faithful is by the bearing of faith ... Abraham believed God, and it was accounted (or, imputed) to him for righteousness (Galatians 3: 5, 6).
This must be the experience of all true [and regenerate] believers. They must believe God, and not man. They must believe what God says and has said; and not the traditions of men.
To believe God is not necessarily to believe or rehearse a Belief.
The popular question, Do we believe? is thus seen to be as absurd as it is meaningless.
If we answer this by asking, Believe what? Believe whom? the emptiness of the question is at once exposed.
These are the questions for us to-day.
ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD.
Do we believe God?
God has told us that there is no good thing in man (Romans 7: 18). Pulpit, Platform and Press, with one voice declare that there is some good thing in man. Whom do we believe?
God has told us that He created the heavens and the earth and all that is therein (Genesis 1., Isaiah 45: 18). Man tells that it was all evolved, apart from God. Whom do we believe?
The Lord Jesus said no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father (John 6: 65). Man says every man can come. Whom do we believe?
The Lord Jesus said, God is spirit: and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit (John 4: 24). Man says that worship must be by acts of worship which the flesh can perform. Whom do we believe?
The Holy Spirit declares that there is one Body (Ephesians 4: 2-4). Man makes and insists of having many bodies. Whom do we believe?
The Holy Spirit gives the solemn charge by Paul, Preach the word ... for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4: 2, 3). That time has come, and man says that Preachers must find something that man will endure, and must preach something other than the Word. We can afford to pay for it, why should we not have it? Whom do we believe?
God declares that these last times are perilous times when evil men and deceivers shall wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3: 1, 13). Man says the times were never more full of promise for good; and are getting better and better every year. Whom do we believe?
The spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4: 1 [See also 2 Timothy 2: 18]).* Man, in these latter times tells us on every hand that these are not spirits (i.e. evil angels) or demons. but the departed spirits of human beings and we are exhorted and invited on every hand to give heed to them. Whom do we believe?
* At a convention of The Alpha Union for the development of the New Theology, held at Penmaenmaur on August 3rd, 1907. The founder described it as being a re-asserting of the essential divinity in man,
God said to our first parents ye shall surely die (Genesis 2: 16). The old serpent said ye shall not surely die (Genesis 3: 4). And all his ministers to-day with one voice repeat that lie, and teach it as Gods truth. Their creed is expressed for them in the words
There is no death,
What seems so is transition.
Whom do we believe?
The Prophetic word declares concerning the resurrection of the rest of the dead that they lived not again until the thousand years were finished (Revelation 20: 5). Man declares they are alive all the time without any resurrection. Whom do we believe?
The Holy Spirit declares that this world is a dark place, and that, the prophetic word being the only light in it we do well that we take heed to it (2 Peter 1: 19).
The vast majority of preachers declare that the prophetic word is the dark place and we do well to avoid it. Whom do we believe?
God declares that If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1: 9) the majority of Christians, though they habitually say with their lips, I believe in the forgiveness of sins, Yet refuse to believe God, and tell us that no one can ever know that be is forgiven. Thus, they make God a liar, and say, practically, Lord, I am not going to believe what Thou sayest in 1 John 5: 9, until 1 have some evidence in my own feelings, that what Thou sayest is true!
They thus believe their own feelings, but refuse to believe Gods pledged Word.
Which are we believing?
These examples might well be extended, and other illustrations might be found.* For, inasmuch as Isaiah 55: 8 is true, and mans thoughts and ways are the opposite of Gods, we may always ask: Whom do we believe?
* Notably 1 John 5: 12.
This was the question for
We seldom think of the awe-inspiring solemnity of the words: So we see that they entered not in because of unbelief (Hebrews 3: 19).
God spoke to
TO-DAY, IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE.
They heard His voice that day. He said: Go up. Enter into My rest. Yet, in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 1: 32).
As those words of Psalm 95 (called the Venite) are sung week by week (generally as rapidly as the words can be got out of the mouth) how few stop to think of the solemnity of their meaning! Forty years long was I grieved with that generation.
Yes! Forty years of wandering. And why? Because they believed the evil report of ten men, instead of two who witnessed to the truth of Gods good report which HE HAD ALREADY GIVEN OF THAT LAND.
True, they did enter at
last. After long years of wandering they
And when Peter made the proclamation in Acts 3: 19-21 and called on the nation to Repent; and gave Gods promise that He would send Jesus Christ, and times of refreshing should come from the presence of the Lord; the people were at another Kadesh Barnea!* They were, again, face to face with another command, and promise of the Lord. And a way was open over (as it were) the hill-country of the Amorites. This was the Parousia or Coming of the Lord, made known to faith in the first and earliest of all the Epistles of Paul, and made known by a special revelation in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13 - 5: 11.
[* That is, at His Second Advent, when He will return to this earth to claim His inheritance (Psalm 2: 8); Rule in the midst of his enemies (Psalm 110: 2b); and establish His reign here for a thousand years, (Revelation 20: 2, 3. cf. 2 Peter 3: 8, R.V.), with joint-heirs (Romans 8: 17b), which He has chosen as accounted worthy to be with Him at that time, (Luke 20: 35; Revelation 3: 21, R.V.).]
This was something better than the hill country of the Amorites, and it was
far, far better than crossing by
That is why the Apostle could say: WE, which are alive and remain: for, how was he to know but what the nation would Repent; and that he would really be among those who were alive, and would go up over the hill-country, yea, in the clouds of heaven, without dying, or crossing Jordan?
As 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 was the Kadesh-Barnea of believers in that
Thousands of [regenerate] Christians
refuse to believe His voice. They agree
in affirming that the only way of entering Canaan is by crossing the
[* That is, (1) a conditional pre-tribulation rapture of living saints, (Luke 21: 34-36. cf. Revelation 3: 10); and (2) a select resurrection of reward, 1000 years before the last, general, resurrection of the dead, (Philippians 3: 11. cf. Revelation 20: 4-6, R.V.).]
In writing to the believers in Thessalonica in A.D. 52, while Peters offer of the kingdom, made in Acts 3: 19-21, was still before the nation, and before its formal withdrawal, in Acts 28: 23-28, nothing could be added to the revelation then made in 1 Thessalonians 4.
But after that withdrawal of the
May we not gather our answer to these questions from our Lords words in John 16: 12, I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Why could the disciples not bear them at that time? Because He was still alive. The corn of wheat had not yet fallen into the ground and died (John 12: 24). Because He had not yet risen again from the dead. On those facts rested important doctrines. Until therefore the events had taken place, those doctrines could not be made known.
Was it not even so in the case of 1 Thessalonians 4? Had not certain events to take place before any fresh revelation of truth would be made known? Had not the formal withdrawal of Peters offer to take place? and then, would not the way be open for further revelations to be made? Ought we not, reasoning from John 16: 12, to look for something fresh from the treasures of Gods grace and glory? Surely we ought. And, if we do, we find that, when the Apostle was in prison in Rome, those revelations were given to him; [prophetic] secrets hidden from men for generations, and hid in God, were made known: The great mystery or secret concerning Christ, [the Gentiles, the Bride,] and the Church [of the firstborn (Hebrews 12: 17)].
In that Roman Prison precious secrets were revealed for the Apostles, and for our own comfort and faith and hope. And the question again arises DO WE BELIEVE GOD?
Shall we be like
Shall we say that when Paul wrote 1 Thessaloins 4, God had nothing fresh to reveal, in the face of the fact that up to that time we have not a breath of the mystery? Not a word as to the revelation and teaching given to us in Ephesians?
Did Paul himself know anything about it until he was inspired to inscribe it in his book and his parchments (2 Timothy 4: 13)?
Does not this tell us that the objects of our faith are WRITTEN DOWN in the Scriptures of truth, and not handed down by the traditions of men?
And did the Epistle to the Ephesians contain all that God had to reveal?
Is there nothing new in Philippians?
What is the (exanastasis) or [out] resurrection and translation in Philippians 3: 10, at which the Apostle so desired to arrive?
What is the prize of the calling on high (tes ano klesios?) verse 14.
The A.V. and R.V. have obscured this by translating it high as though it were an adjective; whereas it is an adverb, and should be rendered upward (as R.V. margin) or on high. Was not the Apostles goal conformity to Christ in glory?
Is this the same as 1 Thessalonians 4? or, Is it something additional? The whole context seems to show that the Apostle was reaching forth to something set before him, and forgetting the things behind him. He did not reckon that he had laid hold of it; but he pressed toward the goal. He had not already reached it, but he was following on so that he might lay hold of that, for which he was himself laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
If we read carefully verses 10-15, may we gather that we have some fresh revelation of glory hinted at? and, is it because we have been trying to identify it with 1 Thessalonians 4. that the passage (Philippians 3.) has always been more or less of a difficulty with all of us?
If, then, Faith cometh by hearing what God hath spoken, let us to-day hear His voice, that we may enter into His rest.*
[* See Hebrews 4: 1, R.V.]
* * *
THE FAITH OF ABEI
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself bearing witness to his gifts: and by it [i.e., by means of his faith which led to his martyrdom] he, having died, yet speaketh.
As faith [cometh] by hearing (Romans 10: 17), Abel and Cain must both have heard what sacrifice they were to bring.
As hearing [cometh] by, and consists of, what we hear through the Word of God, Abel and Cain must both have heard from God. Otherwise it would have been by fancy, and not by faith; and there would not have been room, either for obedience on the one hand, or for disobedience on the other.
We find further particulars on this matter in the story, as recorded in Genesis chapter 4.
But first we have to notice the place where the story is written.
In the first chapter of Genesis we have the creation man.
In the second chapter we have man in communion with God.
In the third chapter we have the Fall of man; and, at the end, we see man driven out from the presence the LORD God.
In the fourth chapter we have the way back to God made known. This is the first thing that is revealed after the Fall. It stands on the forefront of revelation. It is no mere fragment of Hebrew folk-lore to be dismissed as an Old-wives fable. But it takes its place here, in Gods revelation, as being the first and earliest event, not only in Chronological or Historical order, but as being the first in Experimental order also. It is the first great lesson that is written down in the Scriptures of truth - for our learning.
God must have spoken (as we have said) to Cain and Abel, concerning the manner in which He would be approached. He must have spoken of the way in which, those who had been driven out might return back, and have access to Himself.
The lesson which is taught us by this first example of faith is that, Abel believed that which he had heard from God on this all important subject, and Cain did not believe God.
It is worthy of remark that in the Historical order in Genesis 4: 3, 4, Cain is mentioned first, and in the Experimental order in Hebrews 11: 4, Abel is mentioned first.
Cain is mentioned first, in the history, for he was the elder. He brought his offering unto the LORD. He was not godless, as is often represented. On the contrary he was most religious, and the offering which he brought cost him much more than Abels did.
He sought access to the same LORD and looked for the same blessing as Abel did.
But the point is, that the way back which he took, was his own way: while the way which Abet took was Gods way, which He had revealed and laid down.
Cain had heard the report as well as Abel, but he did not believe God. He invented what he must have supposed to be a better, or more excellent way.
Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, an offering unto Jehovah (Genesis 4: 3). But, that ground the LORD God had just before put under the curse for mans sin, and had said to Adam cursed is the ground for thy sake (Genesis 3: 17).
Cain, therefore, brought, as his offering to the LORD, that which He had pronounced to be cursed.
Abel, on the contrary, brought of the firstlings* of his flock, and the fat thereof.
* This was the law of redemption, which was afterwards laid down
What was it that made Abels a more excellent* sacrifice than Cains?
* See Hebrews 3: 3, and compare Matthew 5: 20; 6: 25; 12: 41, 42. Mark 12: 33. Luke 11: 31, 32; 12: 23.
Commentators have speculated much, and widely as to this. A variety of causes has been assigned.
But there is no room for more than one interpretation the moment we remember what the words by faith mean.
They mean that God had spoken; that Cain and Abel had heard; that Abet obeyed God and Cain did not!
The whole matter is perfectly simple. And the lesson it brings home to our hearts to-day is just as simple and clear.
It was a question, as we have seen, of believing what had been spoken as to THE WAY BACK TO GOD.
Gods way back (which Abel took) was by sacrifice, by the death of a substitute, by the blood of Atonement.
Mans way back (which Cain invented) was without blood and a way which be had devised out of his own heart. But, without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9: 22).
Cain might have brought his sin-offering just as easily as Abel. It lay at his door (Genesis 4: 7). (See R.V. margin); it was ready to his hand. If he did well he needed no sin-offering; and he would have been accepted. If he did not well, and sinned, then God would have had respect to his offering as He had to Abels.
No! it was the New Theology of his day: and it consisted in not believing what God had spoken; and in inventing a New way of his own.
In this lay his sin.
This is why God had not respect to his offering, however much Cain may have worked to produce it. The sweat of his brow could be no substitute for the blood of the lamb.
In all this we are shown the great fact that there never have been but these two ways in the worlds history.
However many and however various may be the religions of the world, all may be reduced to these two. Whatever may be the excrescences and eccentricities of mans imagination, there is always this reversion to type (as Evolutionists say).
Here we have the typical embryo of all the subsequent History of Religions.
Man may hold his Parliament of Religions,* but when all his talking is done, there is a reversion to type, and we come back to these two primal facts, and to these two ways.
* And considering the
hostilities which exist between them and the conflicts which have raged, they
will soon require to hold, not a Parliament of
One is Gods way and the other is mans,
One is by faith, the other is by fancy,
One is of grace, the other is of merit,
One is of faith, the other is of works,
One is Christianity, the other is Religion.
The one rests on what God has said, the other rests on what man thinks.
The one rests on what Christ has done, the other rests on what man can do.
These two words sum up and embody the two ways DONE and DO.
As to what man is to do there is no end to the variety. In no sphere is evolution seen to such a remarkable extent.
This will be seen in the papers on The Truth about Evolution,* which we hope to give our readers in due course.
* They are by Philip Mauro. See The World and Its god.
His point is that evolution is a solemn fact, but it is seen only in human affairs, because man has departed from God.
Nowhere else is evolution seen. Outside human affairs the evidences of evolution are non-existent: but it is, undeniably, the order of this present evil world where evil is found; for evil, like evolution, is not found outside mans world. There is no escape for man but Gods appointment for him, and that is death. This is why it is Christs work to deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God, our Father (Galatians 1: 4).
Evolution consists in unbelief and in departure from God. Hence it is that we see its germ first exhibiting itself specially in the religions sphere of human affairs. In the Divine sphere, whether in the animal or vegetable kingdoms, we look in vain for any trace of its action.
We see it working in the medical, legal, military, naval, artistic, and in every department of the scientific spheres, but it is in the religious sphere that it was first seen; and it is in Genesis 4., in the history of Cain and Abel that God shows us its beginning. Jabal and Jubal, and Tubal-Cain and a generation of artificers soon followed in the way of Cain (Genesis 4: 20-22).
The way of Cain was the first step in the evolution of Religion. Its developments and ramifications are to-day innumerable.
But in the way of Abel there has never been any evolution. Substitution and the shedding of blood remain the only way for the remission of sins to this present moment; and will remain the same to the end.
These are the
In the one no change has ever taken place; it is the only way back to God. Christ suffered the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3: 19). This is its end and it is headed up in Christ. In the other, there has been nothing but change. Evolution has run its constant and persistent course, and will continue so to do until it reaches its end in the deification of man, and is headed up in Antichrist.
All who are in the way of Cain are labouring on behalf of man, and for mans improvement. They are ready with their own ideas as to what man must DO to be saved.
Whatever may be the varieties evolved from mans imagination they are all one in asserting that man MUST do something. Whatever their differences or their controversies, they all agree in that; man must DO SOMETHING.
Man must be something, feel something, experience something, give something, pay something, produce something. He must be called and registered to do something.* He must DO something.
* This is according to English Civil Law, and it is carried out except when a census is made. Then Religious enmity and hatred step in and will not allow it lest it should be shown that one predominated over the other. Without a census, each may make its own boast.
They all insist on the last however they may differ about the others. Where they do differ is only in what the something is to be. It is this which accounts for the vast number of different systems of religion which have been evolved in the world history. All these are rightly called Religions. Even the Christian Religion is only one of them; and has as many Sects and Divisions as any of the others.
However many may be these differing forms, they are all one in Doing, while in true Christianity they are all one in Christ only.
Christianity is of God; and consists in a Person - Christ; Religion is of man, and is carried on for man, and in his interests. It consists of mens Forms, and Rites, and Ceremonies, Articles, Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines, and Traditions, Churches and Synagogues.
If your something does not agree with that of others, then be careful, or you may be killed, as Abel was, by one of these Cains. For, there is nothing in the world so cruel as Religion. It was Religion that murdered Abel. It was Religion that killed the Prophets, Crucified Christ,* and produced the noble army of Martyrs.
* It was not the ungodly rabble, but the Chief Priests and the leaders of the religious party.
It was Religion and the strife
of religious sects that delivered
It was Religion that afterward
It was Religion that deluged the
It was the Religion of Pagan Rome that cried: the Christians to the Lions.
It was the Religion of Papal Rome that gave Christians to the Stake; that invented all the tortures of the Inquisition - that sent forth Armadas with its instruments of torture, and has ever since been engaged in foul Conspiracies and Plots in order to obtain and secure its ascendancy.
It is Religion to-day that lies at the root of, and pervades the worlds political strife and it is in the struggle for Religious supremacy in Rome Rule and Education that the greatest bitterness, envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness, are manifested and exhibited in the political controversies in the present day.
The question of 1 John 3: 11, 12, brings out the contrast between Christian love and Religious hate.
This is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain who was of that Evil one, and slew his own brother. And on what account slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brothers righteous.
Cains works were evil, because they were his own, and of the Evil one, who (in the previous chapter) had ruined his parents by the same unbelief in Gods words. Abels works were righteous, because they were by faith, and according to what God required.
Hence Cains hatred, and hence Cains murder.
It will be found that Religion has shed more blood, and produced more sorrow and crying than all the wars and desolations caused by the politics and dynasties of the world put together. There have been, and still are, the wars of Creeds, as well as of Races.
There is more in the Margin of Genesis 4: 10, than appears on the surface. The words of the LORD to Cain are full of significance: What hast thou done? the voice of thy brothers bloods crieth unto me from the ground. We must need explain this plural, bloods.
In the ancient Jewish Commentary,* we read: He says not blood, but thy brothers bloods, i,e., his blood, and the blood of his posterities, his seeds.
The Targum of Onkelos explains, it as the voice of the blood of the generations which were to come from thy brother.
The Jerusalem Targum says the voice of the blood of the multitude of the righteous who were to arise from Abel thy brother.
It seems, almost, as though the Lord Jesus meant the same when He said: That upon you might come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias.
Whether these interpretations be correct or not, the fact remains most solemnly true that all these various Religions are one, in origin, in character, and outcome, and also in cruelty.
In the vital matter of Salvation they unite, and are ONE, in saying with onr voice: SOMETHING in my hand I bring.
Whereas, in true Christianity, which is Christ, the convicted sinner proclaims the existence of the great dividing gulf, and says:- NOTHING in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling.
This puts nothing between the sinner and the Saviour; whereas it is the essence of all Religions to put something, whether it be a Priest, or Sacraments, or Creeds, or Ceremonies of some kind or other. Something has to be said, or done, or believed, or felt, without which, they, as one Creed puts it:- Cannot be saved.
This is the first great lesson which we learn from Abels faith:- The Two Ways.
In one of those two ways, each one who reads these lines, stands, to-day.
Either he is trusting to something instead of Christ, or to something in addition to Christ; or, he is trusting wholly in the merits of that Substitute whom God has provided, even the precious blood of that Lamb which speaketh better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12: 24).
* * *
THE FAITH OF ABEL
The Faith of Abel shows
that, beside the
Both are by Faith; In both, we see that faith cometh by bearing, and the hearing cometh from what God hath spoken.
As there are only Two Ways of Access, one the true way, and the other the false way, with many varieties, so there are only Two Ways of Worship; and the False way with as many varieties and differences, each claiming to be the right way.
It is as important for us therefore to learn the true Way of Worship, taught us by this aspect of Abels Faith, as it was to learn the lesson of the True Way of Access; especially in the present day when Ritual occupies such a large place in public opinion, and in the conflicts and controversies which rage between the opposing Religions, and clamouring Sects.
In both cases, believing, or not believing what God has spoken lies at the foundation of all.
As to the only way of Access,
and the only offering that was to be brought, the command of God must have been
the same for Abel and Cain then, as it was for
The Book of Leviticus (which is the book of worship) opens with the words, which give it its name in the Hebrew Canon.
AND JEHOVAH CALLED and spake unto Moses out of the Tabernacle of the Congregation saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, IF ANY MAN of you bring an OFFERING UNTO JFHOVAH ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock.
Observe, that the command was not that they should bring an offering, but, if any man brought one, the command was as to what he should bring.
This agrees with, and explains Jeremiah 7: 22-24:
I spake not unto your fathers nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices; But this thing commanded I them, saying OBEY MY VOICE and I will be your God, and ye shall be my People; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But THEY HEARKENED NOT nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.
This is precisely what took
place at the gates of
This is the essence of the whole matter.
God spoke. He spoke to
It is the same principle which prevails to day.
Man himself acts on this principle. If any seek him, it is he who appoints the time and place and determines as to when and where he will be seen.
So, God laid it down from the first that, if any man would bring an offering to Him, it must be such and such an one, and it must be offered in such and such a way.
And he (the offerer) shall put his hand upon the burnt offering: and IT SHALL BE ACCEPTED FOR HIM to make atonement for him, (Leviticus 1: 4).
But Cain hearkened not to the voice of God; And, instead of bringing what God had appointed, he brought an offering out of the counsels and imagination of his own evil heart (Jeremiah 7: 24).
And, not only so. Not only was it something, other than what God had approved, but it was the product of that which God had laid under a curse: cursed be the ground for thy sake (Genesis 3: 17).
So that there was a double affront in Cains offering and being not of faith, it was sin (Romans 14: 23).
Hence, it standeth written:
Jehovah had respect
Unto Abel and his offering;
But unto Cain and his offering
He had not respect.
And to day, the Question comes to us:-
To what will Jehovah have respect?
What offering will He accept?
Not the blood of bulls and goats; for all these types have been fulfilled in the antitype. Now, Christs blood is that which speaketh better things than that of Abel; no one can be accepted but through its merits.
And as to worship: What is it that Jehovah now accepts? What voice do we bear coming from Him who tabernacled among men? What does the voice say which we are to obey? What are the words to which we are to hearken?
They come from the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. And God, who in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON: and the Son: hath said:
God is spirit
and they that worship Him
worship Him in spirit
and in truth.
These are the words to which we are to hearken, as written down for us from the lips of the Son, in the Scriptures of Truth.
We have no liberty; no choice in this matter. It is useless to follow the counsels and imaginations of our own hearts. That one short word MUST settles every thing.
It tells us that God will not have respect to anything but what is spiritual in our worship of Himself.
The SON, who hath spoken from heaven has declared that the flesh profiteth nothing (John 6: 63).
It is useless therefore for us to bring unto the Lord anything that is of the flesh: or anything that the flesh can do.
It must all be spirit!
The flesh is under the curse. The mind of the flesh is death (Romans 8: 6).
To bring anything, therefore, of the flesh, or that the flesh can do, is to be exactly like Cain, when he brought the fruit of the ground, of which God had said: cursed be the ground.
All the senses are of the flesh.
The mind of the flesh is sensual.
The works of the flesh are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 19-25).
They that are Christs have crucified the flesh, with its affections and desires.
Acceptable worship therefore, MUST be the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of the ground: or in other words, not the works of that flesh, which is under the curse.
We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our eyes, by gazing on a sacrament or anything else.
We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our ears, by listening to music, however beautiful it may be, or whether rendered by ourselves or others.
We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our noses, by smelling incense, or anything else.
We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our throats by singing Hymns or Anthems, Solos Quartets, or Choruses.
The only singing that goes beyond the ceiling or roof and enters heaven MUST be of the spirit, and from the heart.
The command is singing and making melody IN YOUR HEART to the Lord.
Singing, not to one another, not to an audience, not to a congregation, but TO THE LORD.
What is needed in true worship is not an ear for music, but a heart for music.
If we are filled BY the Spirit, our singing will be of the Spirit, from the heart. For that which is born (or produced) by the Spirit, is spirit. (John 3: 6).
We shall say with Mary,
My SOUL doth magnify the Lord
My SPIRIT hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Nothing short of this is the worship to which God will have respect.
All else is waste of time, waste of trouble, waste of money, waste of strength, waste of breath; and, IT PROFITETH NOTHING.
It is useless for any one to say I like such and such a service. I like to hear, or to do, this or that. It creates such nice feelings in me. Or I dislike this or that in Divine Service.
It matters nothing whatever what any one may like or dislike, think, or feel. It is not a question of what I may like or dislike: The question is WHAT does GOD LIKE?
What does God require?
To what will God HAVE RESPECT?
Divine Service is supposed to be, on the face of it, service or worship rendered to God.
It is for Him to say therefore what He desires.
Public Worship is not a Service offered to or for the public, but by the public, for or to God.
It does not matter, therefore, how beautifully a Solo, or an Anthem or a Hymn may be rendered (that is the correct expression); but it does matter whether God will have respect to it.
It does not matter how beautiful the voice may be to which we hearken, but it does matter whether we hearken to Gods voice, and whether we obey HIS voice.
The SON of God hath spoken (John 4: 24). We have heard His words.
The one question is Do we believe Him? Do we remember that whatsoever is not of faith, is sin (Romans 14: 23).
WILL WE OBEY?
Will we worship by faith, as Abel did? or will we worship by works as Cain did?
Do we desire to obtain Gods approval with Abel? or, do we desire to hear Gods words to Cain cursed art thou from the earth (Genesis 4: 11).
When Cain saw that God had not respect to his offering, he was very wroth. And there will be many who read these words, who will be also very wroth; and wroth with us for writing them.
For this cuts at the root all mans accepted traditions, his cherished practices, and his boasted capabilities.
It cuts off from him the praise and applause of man. It writes folly on his vain counsels and imaginations. It makes an end of his attainments and ambitions.
He may, and doubtless will, go on in the way of Cain, just the same. But it all counts for nothing. It profiteth nothing. It is labour in vain.
God has no respect to it.
It would be folly for us to dwell on the faith of Abel, without seeking to learn this great lesson which is thus written for our learning and stands on the very forefront of Gods revelation, in Genesis chapter 4.
If we learn not the obedience of faith in this matter, it is vain for us to go further with our studies of this subject of Faith. For it all turns on this -
DO WE BELIEVE GOD?
He hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.
His Son hath said: They that worship Him MUST worship Him truly in spirit.
Do we believe what He has said?
This is the one final question, the true answer to which does away with all that passes as current money with the Ishmaelite merchantmen, who make a gain out of so-called, public worship, to day, just as the Ephesian silversmiths made theirs out of the shrines of their goddess Diana.
It puts an end to all the tricks and contrivances of Christian Religion, all the new fashions, and modern methods, bands and songs and solos, and orchestral services, cantatas, which are all to do with the Flesh, and are all for the praise and glory of the choir; and no longer, as the simple worship of our fathers was - to the praise and glory of God.
This is the lesson of Abels faith, as it touches on the one and only true way in the worship of God.
* * *
THE FAITH OF ABEL
3. ABELS WITNESS AND GODS TESTIMONY
By which [faith] he obtained witness that he was righteous, God bearing witness to his offering (Hebrews 11: 4).
Here we have two statements in one, for it is the same verb in each clause. The A.V. renders the first witness and the second testimony.
The R.V. renders it: Through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts. On this, there is a marginal note: over his gifts. The Greek Text in this clause is somewhat uncertain.
The uncertainty referred to is about the word God: as to whether it should be the Genitive case, or the Dative: i.e., whether it should be as it stands in both Versions, or whether it should be bearing witness by his gifts to God. (Lachmann, & Tregelles)
But the scope of both the clauses is the same. It is the witness that Abel obtained and that God gave. God gave it (epi) upon or over. Not Abel obtained it by.
In other words, Abel obtained the witness, because God gave it. He received what God gave.
How this was done is not explained in the history of Genesis 4. There, the whole act is condensed and summed up in the words God had respect to his offering: but we are not told how God manifested this respect.
It must have been shown in such a way that there could be no mistake about it; and that Cain could just as evidently see it, as Abel; and knew that the opposite was true in his case; and that to his offering, which he brought, God had not respect.
It is the word (epi), upon, (which the R.V. margin renders over), which gives us the key to the solution, by reminding us of the subsequent fact revealed in connection with all Sacrifices: viz., that those which God accepted were never consumed by fire emanating from this earth, or kindled by fire made with hands; but by God-made fire descending from heaven.
In Genesis 15: 17, Abram, in his deep sleep, saw a smoking furnace; which, beside being typical of Israels affliction in the iron furnace of Egypt, was doubtless the material agency by which the sacrifices, which Abram had so carefully prepared and arranged, were consumed.
In Genesis 22: 6, 7, when Abram took the fire in his hand we have the Figure Metonymy, by which the fire is put for that which would set light to the wood which was consumed; as when we say we light the fire we do not light the fire but we set fire to the wood. If the fire is literal then the hand is literal, and Abraham took the fire in his natural hand: which is absurd.
In Leviticus 9: 24, on the occasion of the first formal offering on the Altar of burnt-offering, we read: There came a fire out from before the LORD,* and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering, and the fat, which when all the people saw, they fell on their faces.
* Compare chapter 10, where Nadab and Abihu used, not this fire from the brazen altar to kindle the incense in their censers, but took other fire: i.e., emanating from this earth, or kindled by mans hand. This was called strange fire, and the consequence was that, there went out a fire from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD (Leviticus 10: 2).
When we reflect that the incense of worship on the golden alter must be kindled with fire taken from the brazen altar of atonement, we can understand the sin of offering in worship to-day the strange fire of that which is produced by the flesh, and not by the Spirit of God.
When Gideon prepared his offering in Ophra the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up a fire out of the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes (Judges 6: 21).
This was no fire kindled by Gideon, or made with hands of man. It was supernatural fire produced by the miracle wrought by Jehovahs messenger, to show that He had accepted Gideons offering.
When Manoah made his offering and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD, the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground (Judges 13: 19, 20).
Here again was miraculous fire from the LORD, consuming and accepting their offering. It was no fire kindled by human hands.
When David offered his offering on the altar which he built on the site purchased from Ornan the Jebusite, The LORD answered him by fire upon the altar of burnt offering (1 Chronicles 21: 26).
At the dedication of the Temple, when Solomon had ended his prayer, we read that The fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house ... and when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, that they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground, upon the pavement, and worshipped (2 Chronicles 7: 1-3).
When Elijah would offer a sacrifice away from the Temple where Jehovah had caused His name to be placed, and where the fire which had fallen front heaven was kept continually burning,* fire had to fall from heaven specially for the occasion. After the prophets of Baal had in vain tried to produce the phenomenon by appeals to their god, and after Elijah had soaked the wood and the offering with water we read: Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and said The LORD, He is the God; The LORD, He is the God (1 Kings 18: 38, 39).
* It is in imitation of this that the Church of Rome pretends to keep the perpetual light before their alters, in spite of the fact that it is kindled by mans hands and consumes nothing but their own pretentions.
Add to all these examples the words of Psalm 20: 3, The LORD remember all thy offerings and accept thy burnt sacrifice.
Here, in the margin of the A.V. we read, against the word accept, that the Hebrew means TURN TO ASHES.
Why? Because this was always the way that Jehovah did accept offerings made, to Him. By fire from heaven He turned them to ashes, and thus showed that He had respect unto them, and accepted them as the substitute of him who offered them.
How else did Abel obtain witness that he was righteous?
How else did God testify of his gifts?
How else did Cain know that God had not respect unto his offering?
Surely there can be no doubt whatever as to the force of the word (epi), upon, for it was the fire that descended upon the sinners substitute instead of upon the sinner; upon Abels lamb instead of upon Abel.
Thus the doctrine of substitution was the very first doctrine taught to mankind; the first that is recorded in the Scriptures of truth; the first with regard to which man was required to believe what he had heard from God.
God had spoken. What he had said may be summed up in the
words afterwards recited to
This was the pronouncement for the sinner in Genesis 3: 17. And it is in Genesis 4 that we have the further revelation that God provided a substitute whose death He would accept in the sinners stead.
That is why the acceptance must be Gods own act.
All that the sinner could do was in faith to bring his offering and lay his hand upon it and confess it as his substitute, (Leviticus 1: 4). It was for God to give His testimony that He had accepted it.
It is even so to-day.
It is ignorance of this great first lesson that is the source of much of the quite modern evangelistic phraseology of the present day.
Mans conventional talk of this twentieth century (of the present era) is about the sinners acceptance of Christ. Gods Word, for nearly sixty centuries has been about the sinner believing what He had said.
God has spoken. He has told us that He cannot and will not accept the fallen sons of men in their sins. In ourselves we are not only ruined sinners because of what we have done, or not done; but we are ruined creatures because of what we ARE. The question is, Do we believe God as to this solemn fact?
What God accepted was Abels gifts (Hebrews 11: 4). Abel was accepted only in his gifts (Genesis 4: 4).
So, God has told us that He can accept us, as such, only in the merits and Person of that perfect Substitute - His Christ - whom He has provided. Do we believe Him as to this?
If we do we shall by faith lay our hand on Him, confess our belief in God as to our own lost and ruined nature, and as to Christ as Gods provided Salvation; knowing that, by this faith, God pronounces us righteous, accepts us in the person of our Substitute; and declares us as accepted in the Beloved, because God accepted His one offering when He raised Him from the dead.
Christs resurrection is the proof and evidence that God has accepted Christ. Christ risen is the sinners receipt which God has given to show that He has accepted Christs payment of the sinners debt.
There is no other receipt.
Christs blood is not the receipt. That is the payment.
The sinners faith is not the receipt. It is no use for a man to go to his creditor and say he believes he has paid what he owes. He must produce the receipt.
What is the receipt which we can produce to God which will prove that our debt is paid?
Nothing but the blessed fact that Gods Word assures us that He has accepted payment on our behalf in the person of our Substitute, when He raised Christ [out] from the dead.
We are to believe what He says when He assures us of this, and He is pleased to accept us in Him.
It is always the Creditor who accepts the payment which the debtor makes. And, when payment has been once accepted, no farther demand can be made upon the debtor.
This is how Abel was accepted; and this is how the sinner is saved to this day.
By the same faith in what God has said, we lay our hand on that Lamb of God as our substitute; and we obtain Gods Witness that we are righteous. God bears His testimony to this in that He raised Christ from the dead, and has accepted the believing sinner IN HIM.
It is not a question of whether the sinner accepts Christ, but whether he believes God when he says that He has accepted Christ.
It may be said that, the same thing is meant, in modern phraseology; then, Why not say so? Why not keep to Scripture language? Why alter it? Why make it all to stand on what man can DO, instead of believing what God has SAID. Why make it all turn on mans accepting, instead of mans believing?
God has shut up the sinner as to the uselessness of his bringing any thing of his own by way of merit.
It is useless for him to bring or plead any substitute other than that one whom God hath appointed. It would be the same as saying it is not necessary.
It is useless to bring anything in addition thereto, for it would be the same as saying that it is not sufficient.
In either case it would be a proof that Gods command had been unheeded; that His word had not been believed; and that His provision had been slighted and rejected.
All are to-day either in Abels way, or Cains: in Gods way, or mans.
All are trusting either to that Substitute whom God has provided, or they are labouring to provide one for themselves.
This is why such stress is laid on this matter of faith, in Romans 10. The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise ... But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thine heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach [is; nigh thee]: that, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [as thy Substitute] and shalt believe in thine heart that GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD thou shalt be saved.
Thus it is that Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing [cometh] by the Word of God (Romans 10: 6-11, 17).
But instead of believing the report of what God has said, sinners are taught to-day to believe in what they can do. As though they were the Creditor, and would fain make God their Debtor!
And all this, because they do not see or understand that all is of God; and all is of GODS FREE GRACE.
There is no merit in faith, of itself. It is not considered as merit among men, when one man believes what another man has said. How then can there he any merit in believing what God has said? It is our first bounden duty, without which all is sin.
But, instead of this, the sinner tries to make God believe in him; and that it is possible for him to DO SOMETHING.
In his blind ignorance he practically tells God that he, the sinner, is pleased to accept the payment which Christ has made to God!
But all this is only salvation by works in its most subtle form. So subtle that thousands are misled on the very threshold of their way back to God.
Hence it is that while the multitude are still taught to do something, many would shrink from doing certain things as works; and would be ready to confess, and say: not the labour of my hands. Yet they do not see that this acceptance of Christ is a work, after all: when it is thus put in the place of believing God.
True, it is not the labour of my hands. Nothing made with hands can obtain a footing in Gods new creation, where all things are of God: for new creation ground is the ground of resurrection.
Though they would shrink from making a god with their hands, they make their god out of their own heads, and out of the imagination of their own hearts.
But the God of our Salvation is the God who hath spoken unto us by His Son, and left to us the simple duty of pointing the sinner to what He hath said.
This is why we are to Preach the Word. This is the first great lesson of Holy Writ.
It is the oldest lesson in the world.
And, it is to show us that to believe God in this matter of substitution is the only way of salvation, the only way for man to be just with God; for The just, by faith, shall live.
* * *
THE FAITH OF ABEL
4. THE WITNESS ABEL OBTAINED
Though rendered obtained witness and testifying, the verb is the same in both clauses.
By means of which [faith] he was borne witness to as being righteous; God bearing witness to his gifts.
We have spoken of the witness which God gave; we have now to speak of the witness that Abel obtained: viz., that he was righteous.
We have already emphasised the fact that both Abel and Cain had heard what God had spoken, as to what both men were, by nature, in His sight. Both were exactly the same; both were equally begotten by Adam in his own likeness (Genesis 5: 3).
They were sons of men and not (as Adam had been) a son of God: that is to say, sons of Adam, and Eve, as fallen. There was no difference (Romans 3: 21).
It is true that Adam had stood
in a different category. He had been
created (not begotten) in the likeness of Elohim; and
created in Paradise: but these had both alike been begotten in Adams
own likeness , and were begotten outside [
From this point therefore our object-lesson begins. This is why it is the first great lesson set before us. This is why it stands on the forefront of Gods revelation.
There had been some good thing in Adam, though he was human. But there was no good thing in Cain, or Abel. That which is begotten of the flesh IS (and remains) flesh. And even Paul in later days had to learn the all-important lesson, and confessed I know (as a solemn reality*) that there does not** (as a matter of fact) dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good (or with A.V. any good thing).
* The verb is (oida) and it means to know, as a matter of absolute knowledge. Not (ginosko) to get to know, by effort or experience.
** The negative is (ouk) and denies objectively and absolutely, as a matter of fact. it is not (me) which denies subjectively, and hypothetically. Moreover, the negative (ouk) here, is connected with the verb dwell, and not with the noun good: There does not DWELL any good; not, there dwells not good (or any) good.
Thus, boldly and plainly is mans gospel of humanity, and the Divine immanence in man, set aside as having no part or place in Gods sight.
All who are born in the fallen likeness of our first fallen parents, are born with no good thing abiding in them.
It is not a question here, or indeed elsewhere, about what man has done. It is wholly and altogether a question only of what man IS.
The most ungodly man that ever lived will regret, and repent, and be very sorry for many things he has done or left undone. The vast majority, to-day, will own that they are sinners.
But, this is only a very small part of the whole matter; so small as to be hardly a part at all.
It is an ancient Pagan confession to say humanum est errare, it is human to err. It is equally human to regret it.
But, here, it is a question NOT of what man had done. Very probably both Cain and Abel had sinned, but it was a question of what they WERE, by nature.
As it was with Isaiah, when he saw himself in the presence of God, and in the presence of all that was thrice Holy; so it will ever be with all who thus become acquainted with the true character of their human nature.
Isaiahs words were I AM undone. It was not like our general confession: We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
There may be all this and more; but there is something behind, and something beneath, and something far beyond all this, and that is: THERE IS NO HEALTH IN US.
This is the confession that, we are not only lost sinners; but that we are fallen creatures.
We are not only sons of men, begotten by Adam, but we are born of Eve. She it was who was in the Transgression. Adam was not (1 Timothy 2: 13, 14).
So that we are doubly ruined: ruined sinners, and ruined creatures. Ruined, not because of what we have DONE, but because of what we ARE.
If we had never done anything, good, bad, or indifferent, we should still have no right to re-enter the garden, or to go into the presence of God. We should have no right to the tree of life, but should be subject to death. We should still need at least a forensic righteousness: that is to say, we should need to be acquitted; to be pronounced not guilty; and to be put into a position where our sins would not be imputed to us (Psalm 32: 1, 2).
But this is, surely, very different from having a Divine righteousness imputed to us!
The one is negative, and the other is positive.
What we have to ask is: Was the
righteousness of Abel the same as that of Abrahams? We read that
Abraham himself, from the time
of his call in Genesis 12. was surely, as righteous as
Lot who left him and went toward
This was no mere negative blessing of non imputation of sin. It was no mere pronouncement of not guilty, but it was the positive reckoning to Abraham, as actually having righteousness imputed to him.
It was on the occasion of God making a further promise of a son, in his old age, and under very special circumstances which were all contrary not only to reason, or to sight, but to all the laws of nature.
THEN, it is written, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. What this meant for Abraham in the way of blessing in Gods sight we are not told. But it must have been a distinct advance in Divine favour; and it accounts for much that we read of Abraham which we do not find in the case of others who are mentioned in this chapter.
This positive reckoning of
righteousness is revealed only in connection with Christ in the Gospel. This is why Paul announces his readiness to
preach this good news in
For this readiness to announce this good news he adduces four reasons: each introduced by the word (gar) for:
1. FOR I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
2. FOR this reason: It is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes God.
3. FOR this further reason: viz, that in this Gospel a righteousness is revealed from faith to faith:
i.e., God has made fresh revelations for the objects of mans faith; and has revealed
how man may not only be acquitted but justified.
4. FOR, the conclusive reason which constitutes this as being such good news: that, not only is a righteousness from God revealed, but wrath from God is revealed also, from which
this gospel brings the good news of complete deliverance.
This is a* righteousness revealed in the Gospel. It is more than a forensic righteousness. It is something given and received by imputation on the principle of faith. And it is this righteousness, which is imputed to believers now. It is not Gods attribute of righteousness; nor is it His acting in conformity with that attribute; but, it is something which He imputes or reckons to the believer. In other words, it is imputed righteousness.
* There is no article here, in the Greek.
In Romans 3: 25, 26, we find both aspects of the word righteousness, with reference (1) to the time past (in the Old Testament), and (2) now at this time (in the Gospel.)
(1). As to the time past, God was acting righteously it passing over sins, in His forbearing grace, i.e., in judicially acquitting those who believed Him when He spoke at sundry times and in divers manners.
(2). As to the present, at this time. He declares that He is equally just in justifying: i.e., in actually imputing righteousness to him who believeth in Jesus; who believeth what He has made known about the Saviour.
Hence in 2 Corinthians 5: 21, we advance to a further revelation, viz., that those who believe God now in what He has revealed of Christ are made Divinely righteous in Him.
Therefore to believe God in what He says now, in His Gospel, concerning His Son, is not only to be saved from wrath by His power, not only to be acquitted as not guilty but to be accounted a positively righteous, by His grace.
Romans 4. is therefore a distinct advance in the argument and treats of this imputed righteousness.
But all is by faith; i.e., by believing what God ha revealed.
Abel believed God, and he was judicially acquitted. God bore witness of his gifts by accepting the death of the substituted lamb, instead of the death which Abel deserved as a sinner. Hence Abel was righteous; and stood judicially acquitted before God.
But this brings us to a further question, as interesting as it is important. Why is this righteousness, whether forensic or imputed, all made to depend on our believing what God says?
Why was not some other condition laid down by God?
Out of all the many things which God might have required of man, why is faith singled out as the one and only ground of justification, and this, for all time, from that day till now?
Is not this question worth asking?
From Genesis 4. we see the condition in action; and in the Epistle to the Romans we see it stated and defined. Moreover a reason is given that it is of faith that it might be by grace, but nowhere is any explanation given as to why it should be so, and why faith should be the reason why man should be either judicially acquitted of his sin; or why Divine righteousness should be imputed and reckoned to him.
THE EXPLANATION is not given in so many words; but it is placed very clearly before us on the opening pages of the second, third and fourth chapters of Genesis.
Faith is made the condition, because unbelief was the cause of Mans Fall, of Sins entrance, and of Deaths appointment for man.
This lies on the surface of the history.
Eve fell by not believing what God had said. She tampered with the words which God had spoken.
She dealt with those words in the only three ways in which man can deal deceitfully with them.
(1) She omitted the word freely in Genesis 3: 1. (See Genesis 2: 16).
(2) She added the sentence neither shall ye touch it in Genesis 3: 3. (See Genesis 2: 17).
(3) She altered the certainty thou shalt surely die, (Genesis 2: 17), into the contingency lest ye die (Genesis 3: 3).
Satans two assurances,
Ye shall not surely die,
Ye shall be as God,
were believed; and Gods words, having been omitted, added to and altered, were in the end not believed.
Thus, by believing Satans words, was sin brought into the world, and death by sin. Hence, only by believing God, can man regain life, and sin be put away.
(1) Only by believing God in what He has thus revealed about man himself, can the sinner be acquitted, and pronounced not guilty, and, in this sense (forensically) righteous.
(2) Only by believing God in what He has revealed concerning Christ, can man be reckoned as being actually righteous, in Christ, and as having a Divine righteousness actually imputed to him.
This is THE REASON WHY believing what God says is made to be one necessary condition of justification.
Man MUST BELIEVE GOD in what He says in His Word; and he must believe ALL that God says.
In what sharp contrast does this set all that goes to make up religion! Religion occupies man entirely with himself: what he has done, with what he can do, and with what he must do. God would occupy man with HIMSELF, and with what He has said.
This it is which gives its character to all religion in the present day; Mans Day. Man is exalted, and God set aside. Mans doings are substituted for mans believing. This is why, on all hands, mans works are substituted for Gods word. And as the importance of mans works increases in his estimation, so Gods Word decreases.
This is why, in the religious world the two great questions which occupy man are: (1) what he must do to be religious, and (2) what he must do to be holy. It is all DOING, from first to last, instead of believing God.
But the modern, social gospel of humanity is the gospel of the Old Serpent. It is based on faith indeed; but it is faith in the devils two lies
Ye shall be as God
Ye shall not surely die.
So subtle is the poison of the Old Serpent, that not only does man, to day, in this his new theology not believe Gods Words; but he does not believe in Gods Word. This is why he puts forth his utmost efforts to get rid of all that is supernatural in the Scriptures of truth.
Here God steps in with His irreversible decree. He lays down the one indispensable condition on which He will even have any respect to mans doings: or alter His sentence of death on account of mans own self-undoing.
MAN MUST BELIEVE GOD.
Here, in Abels faith, we have the way back to Gods favour unalterably laid down at the fountain-head of Gods revelation of Himself, and of humanity.
The only way of access to God is by faith, i.e., by believing what He has said.
Whosoever does that; and takes that first simple step, stands judicially acquitted, as Abel stood.
Whosoever believes what God has further promised, in, by, and through Christ, his faith is counted (reckoned, and imputed) to him for righteousness, as it was to Abraham. Now, it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but FOR US ALSO, to whom it shall be imputed if we believe in Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered on account of our offences, and raised on account of our justifying. (Romans 4: 22-25).
Abraham and David believed God concerning His promises in Christ. God preached, before, the Gospel unto Abraham (Galatians 3: 8) and Abraham believed God. DO WE?
Do we believe what God has said about ourselves as ruined creatures; and, are we thus pronounced righteous, being judicially acquitted?
And, do we go on to believe all that God has said about His promises in Christ, as risen from the dead? and are we thus justified on that account, our faith being reckoned to us for righteousness, yea, a Divine righteousness which is imputed and reckoned to us, so that we are made Divinely righteous in Christ?
These are the questions which are solved by the consideration of Abels faith.
It leads us on from non-imputation of sin, to the imputation of righteousness.
It takes us beyond the doctrine of substitution; beyond the sacrifice of an animal for mans sin; and leads the sinner, into the far higher doctrine of his identification, as a saint with Christ.
The one remaining question is: Do we go on from faith to faith? (Romans 1: 16, 17).
Abraham went on. In Genesis chapters 12, 13, and 14 He believed God in many things about himself. But in Genesis 15 he went on from faith to faith. He believed God, in another thing: viz., about the promised Seed! It was this faith that was imputed to him for righteousness.
Do we thus go on to believe God?
We may believe what He has revealed of Christ in Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians: but, do we go on from faith to faith, and believe God in what He afterwards revealed concerning Christ in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, and thus give glory to God?
Is not all this something far beyond mere theological reasonings and scholastic arguments as to what is the righteousness of God?* and about the law-keeping righteousness of Christ, which were very rife among Brethren a few years ago? Those controversies created much bitterness, and left much confusion behind. But, our subject takes us far beyond all this, and reveals to us the blessed fact that Christ Himself, in all that He IS, and HAS, and HAS DONE, is, of God, made unto us who believe Him, RIGHTEOUSNESS.
* As though the definite Article were used in the Greek of Romans 1: 17, and 2 Corinthians 5: 21.
Instead of rejoicing in this blessed fact, and praising God for all the great things He has done for us, His children are engaged in a post mortem controversy, dissecting Christs life and suffering, and death: Hence, instead of holding the Head and living in the bond of peace, they are biting, rending and devouring the members.
Oh that we may go on from faith to faith, and believe God in all that He reveals to us as to our identification with Christ, in having His righteousness, His holiness, His perfections, reckoned to us, of His grace!
* * *
THE FAITH OF ABEL
5. THE BLOOD OF ABEL AND THE WAY OF CAIN.
We have seen, in our last chapter, why Faith, i.e., believing what is heard from God, is the only ground of acceptance with God, and the only ground of being judicially acquitted in His sight.
The blood of Abel yet speaks to us.
This is the last of these Divine words written for our learning concerning Abel.
HIS BLOOD YET SPEAKETH.
This is not the crying of his blood to God. This is the speaking of his faith to us. By it (i.e., by this faith) though he is dead he continues to speak (verse 4).
The cry of his blood from the ground was for vengeance on Cain (mentioned in Genesis 4: 10).
This, is a speaking, in the Scriptures, for our learning.
His faith speaks to us to-day. It tells us that it is not something else as a substitute for faith: it tells us that it is not something in addition to faith.
It is not works. It is not feelings. It is not experiences. It is not repentance. It is not love. But it is faith and faith only.
It is not reasoning, or intellectual assent to something about God. But it is believing what He has told me about myself, not only as a ruined sinner but as a ruined creature; not only about what I have done, but what I am. It is believing what He has told me about Christ, the Saviour Whom He has provided, and anointed, and given and sent; and that this Saviour is able to save.
Faith has to do with what we hear from God; not with what we feel in ourselves. Our feelings do not connect us with God, but only with ourselves. Whatever they may be, they do not affect our relation with God, or alter our standing before Him.
They are only human at the best. But, Faith is Divine, and has to do with God.
Faith, of course, produces its own feelings, but only as its own precious fruit; but feelings will never produce faith. Being justified by faith we have peace with God (Romans 5: 1).
This peace is felt. It is the blessed feeling of peace with God. But it comes from faith in what God has said and not from any feeling that originates in ourselves.
Thus, the blood of Abel continues to speak to us, though Abel is dead.
But the blood of Christ speaks also. It speaks of a better thing* than that of Abel (Hebrews 12: 24).
* All the Critical Greek Texts and R.V. read the Singular: thing instead of the Plural things.
If Abels blood cried for vengeance, Christs blood speaks of peace.
If Abels blood speaks of non-imputation of sin, Christs blood speaks of the imputation of righteousness.
If Abels blood speaks of judicial acquittal, Christs blood speaks of a Divine justifying.
This, surely, is a better thing.
Abel had to do only with a good thing - the type, but we have to do with the better thing - the antitype; we have that which the type prefigured, even the precious blood of Christ. If the former was able to procure a forensic righteousness, the latter is surely able to procure a righteousness which is Divine.
Thus the faith of Abel continues to speak to us.
But Cain also speaks. He spoke to Abel. What he actually said seems to have dropped out of the primitive Hebrew Text. The Hebrew verb in Genesis 4: 8 is not talked with but said, and ought to be followed by what he said. But the words haying dropped out, the rendering talked with is only a make-shift due to the accident. Correctly rendered the printed Hebrew Text reads, Cain said unto Abel his brother, and it came to pass, etc. In the A.V. there is a colon after the word brother. In some of the MSS. there is a break; in others there are asterisks * * * indicating the omission.
But the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Jerusalem Targum, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate Versions contain the actual words, which originally stood in the primitive Text.*
[* A.V. Translation-only Bible Students take note. There are better English Translations of the Holy Scriptures available!]
What Cain said unto Abel was Let us go into the field.*
* The Jewish Commentators, of course, enlarge on this, and tell us a great deal more. Some indeed give us the whole conversation, which, strange to say, is largely imbued with later errors about the future state, and smacks of Babylonish tradition. With all this we have nothing to do: we only note the correction needed, and which is supplied by some of the Documentary evidence.
It was part of Cains plot, to get Abel to go alone with him into the field; and when there, together, he rose up against him, and slew him. His words, and actions, show the deliberateness of his plans.
The carnal mind of a ruined creature at once displayed its enmity. He was very wroth when he saw that God did not accept his offering by consuming it with fire from heaven.
While Abels faith filled Abel with peace, Cains unbelief filled Cain with wrath.
Here we have part of the way of Cain. Here we have, on the forefront of the Bible, the manifestation of what religion really is.
Cain was a religious man. He came to worship Jehovah. He brought his gifts and his offering. He brought it unto Jehovah. But his works were evil and he slew his brother (1 John 3: 12).
This is the essence of all religion from that day to this.
This is the way of Cain: and all who possess religion instead of Christ (Who is, in His own blessed Person, the essence and centre of true Christianity) are treading in that way to-day.
All religions are alike in this. And the Christian Religion, as such, is no different in its spirit, and manifestations.
Speak of Christ, to anyone who has only Religion, and at once his countenance will fall, as Cains did (Genesis 4: 5).
But, with Cain, the LORD at once put the matter on its true ground: If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? (Genesis 4: 7). This is rendered in the Septuagint Translation if thou offer correctly.
This is what it means. If Cain offered correctly; i.e., what God had told him, he would have done well, and his offering would have been accepted.
There was no difference between the two men. All the difference lay in their offerings, which proved that the one believed God, and that the other did not.
Abel did well because he, believed, and hence, obeyed God. Cain did not well; because he did not offer correctly, though a sin-offering lay at the door ready to his hand.
He was without excuse.
Oh! how many millions have since trodden the way of Cain.
They are like Paul himself, who at the very time when he was most religious was all the while a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1: 13): at the very time when he was as touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless he was persecuting the Church. If any one ever had a standing in the flesh, and in religion, Paul could say I more (Philippians 3: 4-7).
All such are like the Athenians who were very religious (Acts 17: 22 R.V. margin).
It is not a question of earnestness, or zeal, or even of sincerity. Sincerity will not help us, unless, what we sincerely believe, is what God has spoken.
Man, with all his religious zeal, loves to offer God something. As one once remarked, It seems so mean not to do so!
Hence it is that so many strive to present to God, the labour of their hands; and, being ignorant of what God has said, or not believing it, their one great effort is not only to improve themselves but to improve the world.
They see that all is not what they would have it to be; but, instead of believing God as to His remedy for it, they seek to substitute their own.
Even where their religion includes a belief that Christ is coming again, they think the world is not yet good enough for that, being ignorant that God has said it is not yet bad enough for His judgment (2 Thessalonians 2: 3).
Hence, man still treads to-day the way of Cain, and follows him when he went out from the presence of the LORD (Genesis 4: 16). Man cannot endure that presence. He seeks to get as far off from God as he possibly can (Ephesians 2: 13).
His one effort is to make that far country as delightful, and himself as happy, as possible. Like Cain, he builds his cities, and multiplies his luxuries.
The busy labours of artificers in brass and iron drown the cries of Abels blood (Genesis 4: 22).
The noisy handlers of the harp and organ stifle spiritual worship and drown the voice of Abels faith (Genesis 4: 21). So that man, to-day, is surfeited with music not only while he eats and drinks, but even while he worships!
Such is the way of Cain. It is the way of persecution, but not of peace. It is the way of religion but not of Christ. It is the way of death, and not of life.
Yes, man, like Cain, is very religious. But notwithstanding all, the earth which Cain sought to beautify was stained with his brothers blood.
And, as then, so it is to-day, the world [under Gods curse] which the Churches are seeking to improve, is stained with the blood of Christ.
As the blood of Christ speaks of a better thing than that of Abel for the believer; so it speaks also of a more terrible vengeance for the unbeliever.
It is in the last Epistle in the Canon of the New Testament that we read of the way of Cain, and it is there associated with the error of Balaam, and the gainsaying of Korah (Jude 11).
This connection is full of significance. These three downward steps are thus put together for our comparison and contrast; and they speak to us, if we have ears to hear.
Unbelief characterises all three.
The first is unbelief as to the WAY of access which God revealed: the way of Cain.
The second is unbelief as to the WORKS of our lives which God requires: the error of Balaam.
The third is unbelief as to the WORD which God has given: the contradiction of Korah.
The first is necessarily followed by the second, and these are consummated by the third.
The way of Cain was not believing Gods Word as to the way in which He would be worshipped (Genesis 4.).
The error of Balaam was despising Gods Word, and following the counsel which Balaam gave, as to the idolatrous licentiousness of life, which brought down the plague and judgment of Baal-peor (Numbers chapter 25 and 31: 16).
The gainsaying of Korah was the contradiction of Gods Word (Numbers 16.) The Word rendered gainsaying (antilogia) means contradiction. And though connected with the way of Cain in Jude 11, it occurs three times in this Epistle to the Hebrews: (viz., in Hebrews 6: 16; 7: 7, and Hebrews 12: 3). It is the contradictions of sinners against Christ.
So the third and last of these three stages amounts to the contradiction of the Living and the written Word of God. It is exactly what we see to-day in the contradictions of the Higher Criticism, and in the blasphemies of the New Theology.
The entrance on the way of Cain is a deliberate going. They have gone (R.V. they went).
Into the error of Balaam they rush (A.V. they ran. R.V. they ran riotously).
In the contradiction of Korah they perish!
This is the end!
Though they pursue their own separate courses, to a certain stage, there is an evolution from one into the other, and they end alike in judgment.
Cains was a punishment greater than he could bear (Genesis 4: 13).
Balaams was a plague from the fierce anger of the Lord (Numbers 25).
Korahs was the pit which opened its mouth and shut them up
in the blackness of darkness for ever* (Jude 13).
[* That is, for an age after the First Resurrection of the holy dead. (See Revelation 20: 4-13, R.V.)]
What a solemn lesson for all who refuse to believe God.
What an end to the way of Cain.
What a contrast between the two ways.
The one is Gods revelation; the other is mans imagination.
The one begins with God; gives pence; and ends in glory.
The other begins with man; goes on to persecution and ends in the pit.
* * *
ENOCH: FAITHS WALK WITH GOD.
1. THE SLVENTH FROM ADAM.
It is not without the greatest significance and importance, we may be perfectly sure, that Enoch is specially designated, in the Epistle of Jude, as being the seventh from Adam.
There is, and must be something for our learning; some finger-post pointing us to a Divine lesson, in this expression, which has attracted the attention of most Bible readers.
Seven, we know, is the number of spiritual perfection.* And therefore it points to some spiritual lesson in the person and faith of Enoch, which is distinctly additional to what we have learned from Abel.
In Jude 14 it is associated with prophesying. And this is by the Spirit of Jehovah; so that the first thing we see is the connection of seven with the Holy Spirit: for a prophet is defined as one on whom the Spirit of God is (Numbers 12.). He alone gives the words of God, and enables the prophet to utter them as Gods spokesman.*
* Compare Exodus 7: 1 with 4: 16.
The expression tells us also that Enoch lived and prophesied in a day of declension and apostasy. For there were no prophets or prophecy until there was departure from God.
There was no need in
It is in the midst of the Fall, that we have the first prophecy. The prophecy of the coming seed of the woman was to remove the effects of sin arid death: and to crush the head of the old Serpent was named as part of the very sentence of Judgment.
When God provided and ordered the ritual and ordinances in connection with His worship He ordained everything, and appointed every office and duty from that of the High Priest down to the hewers of wood and drawers of water.
But there was no provision for a prophet!
A prophet was not necessary while the priests attended to their duty of teaching the knowledge of God, and while men continued in obedience to Gods laws.
Not until the Priests departed from their first duties, to teach the people the word of God, and became absorbed in their Ritual, were prophets sent to supply the deficiency; and to be spokesmen for God.
The very fact therefore that Enoch prophesied is sufficient, of itself, to tell us that he lived in days when men departed from Gods ways.
The very fact that he walked with God implies that others did not.
And this is borne out by other evidence.
It has been objected by some commentators, as being very strange that, after Abel, no one is mentioned until we come to Enoch, the seventh from Adam. No example of faith is given in Hebrews 11, though we read of Enos (Genesis 4: 26) then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.*
* See Michaelis, Introuction to N. T. (Marshs translation), pp. 225, 226.
This has sounded strangely in the ears of many, who remember how Adam, and Abel and Seth must all have called on the name of Jehovah in truest worship. These are universally regarded as godly men.
These two facts then: the prophesying of Enoch, and the omission of Enos, lead us to suspect that we have not yet rightly understood Genesis 4: 26.
It is a matter of fact that the words have been understood by those who ought to know what Hebrew is, in exactly the opposite sense.
The Targum (or Paraphrastic Commentary) of Onkelos (about the second century i.e. in Hebrew) says: Then, in his days, the sons of men desisted from praying (or became profane so that they prayed not) in the name of the Lord.
The Targum of Jonathan (or
Kimchi and Rashi agree with this. The latter says: Then was there profanation in calling on the name of the Lord.
Jerome also says, (Quaest,) that this was the opinion of many Jews in his days.
Without doubt these interpretations arose from a well-known signification of the verb (chalal) to call, but also, to profane.* and the information given in the note below, shows that there is good ground for this view.
* It is in the Hephal conjugation which is used only once (in Genesis 4: 26), so that we have to means of determining its exact sense. In the Hiphil it is rendered begin 52 times, pollute 1, sorrow 1, break 1, first 1. In the Pual, it is rendered to be profaned 1, to be slain 1. In the Poel, to wound 1, to be wounded 1. In the Piel, it is rendered to defile 8 times, to polute 18 times, to profane 30 times, cast as profane 1, &c. In the Niphal it is rendered to be defiled 1, to be polluted 4, profane ones self 2, to be profaned 2.
The margin of the A. V. shows that an object after the verb to call, must be supplied, and the word themselves is suggested. But there is better reason of supplying their gods:- Then it was begun to call upon [their gods] by the name of Jehovah.
That corruption began at a very early date is evidenced by the whole analogy of Scripture.
If it was with Enos the grandson of Adam that idolatry commenced it would correspond with his name Enos, which means, weak, mortal, miserable; and would correspond also with the fact that it was Jonathan the grandson of Moses, who became the first idolatrous priest in Israel (Judges 18: 30.)
His name was Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of MOSES, for the word Manasseh is one of four words in the primitive Hebrew Text which has what is called a suspended Nun: i.e., the letter ( ) Nun is written in the smaller character, in, or over the word to show that it originally formed no part of the word, and was inserted there more by way of suggestion, or for pronunciation.
The word is , and a small N is put between the M ( ) the S not in a line with the other, letters - but standing out a little above them; thus making it read Manasseh instead of Moses.*
* The letter is seen to be inserted, half in the word and half out. In some cases it is placed above the S, but never as actually forming a part of the word, or as the true primitive text.
This was doubtless done in very
ancient times to spare the susceptibilities of those who should hear the
scriptures read; and to conceal, or at least to mitigate the terrible fact
that, Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, was the first to become an
Idolatrous Priest in
That Jonathan was the grandson of Moses is also evident from Judges 20: 28, where his contemporary and second cousin Phineas is stated to be the grandson of Aaron.
It is significant that the name of Jonathan is omitted in the Genealogy of 1 Chronicles 23: 15, 16; 26: 24, where we read The sons of Moses, were Gershom, and Eliezer. Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief. And it is equally significant that Shebuel must either have been another son of Moses substituted for Jonathan; or, it may be that another name was taken by Jonathan himself, later in life, for it means he returned to God.
It may be of course (as the Chaldee paraphrase suggests) that Jonathan did return to God; and took Shebuel as a new name after his conversion.
If Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, could thus profane the name of the Lord, it is no less strange that Enos, the grandson of Adam, should have done the same.
Enos was born 130 years after the death of Abel, and it would be no wonder, if idolatry began within some few years after that; all the Patriarchs being still alive, except Adam.
By the time Enoch was born (in 622 A.M.) there would be need for a prophet to speak for God, and utter His warning words.
For of what did he prophesy but the coming of the Lord in judgment! And what could that judgment be for but on account of the fast-spreading corruption, and idolatry, and profanation of Jehovah!
If men began to worship the true God aright in the days of Enos, and continued to do so, why should such burning denunciation have been necessary in the days of Enoch?
But, if corruption and ungodliness then began, we can well understand why Enoch should have been raised up to prophesy of these, saying:-
Behold the Lord cometh with myriads of holy ones (i,e., angels), to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their works of ungodliness which they did ungodlily, and concerning all the hard things which ungodly sinners spoke against Him. (Jude 14, 15).
The repetition of the word ungodly is most emphatic; and it is done to call our attention to the one subject of Enochs prophecy, so that we may learn a once what must have been the existing condition of things in his days.
His mysterious removal may have
given a check to the flood of ungodliness, but the effect must have soon worn
off. For within another hundred years
Noah was raised up as the preacher of righteousness being
warned of God of the then impending judgment; and, moved with godly fear,
condemned the world, by his preaching of righteousness; and the preparation of
Here, then, we have our first insight into the nature of Enochs faith, and what it was, in respect of which he believed God. He was the seventh from Adam, and this carries our thoughts back to Adam, and causes them to dwell on the character of the days in which the six who preceded him (five of whom with their descendants) were all living.
If Enoch prophesied, as Gods spokesman, then God must have spoken to him and told him what to say: Gods Spirit must have been upon him. (Numbers 11: 29; 12: 6.)*
* We cannot believe that Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James who wrote to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called was quoting the Apocryphal so-called Book of Enoch!
It is much more likely that, some one who read these words of Jude concocted that Book out or his own vain imagination.
But our point is that Enoch believed God.
It must have been a special revelation to Enoch. For, how could he otherwise have known of coming judgment?
He knew from Adam, the great fact that the seed of the woman was coming into the world, first to suffer from the assaults of the old serpent, and finally to crush his head; and the coming of the Lord, from that moment, was always the hope of His people.
But, the coming, revealed to Enoch, was a new thing. It was a coming in judgment.
Would men believe God? It appears not. But Enoch believed: and gave forth the solemn warning of his message.
That is the question to-day. The corruption is spreading apace. Idolatry of the worst kind is the characteristic of religion. In the so-called Christian religion, men, to-day, do not make their gods out of wood, or metal, or stone; but of something far worse than these: they make him out of their own heads. These materials, at any rate, are pure as God created them; but mans mind is fallen and corrupt; and the imaginations of his heart are only evil continually.
Instead of the smith with the tongs (Isaiah 44: 12) working in the coals, we have the Theologian working with his brains in his study. Instead of the carpenter stretching out his rule making it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man (Isaiah 44: 13), we have the Preacher stretching out his vain imagination, making his god after the ideas of corruptible man, and belching forth his new theology. God is man, and man is God he says.
The corruption in the days of Enos was new. It was a new theology.*
[* That is, Christ, Gods First-born Son, is not ever to be given His long-awaited inheritance here! Psalm 2: 8.]
But where are the Enochs to-day? Where are those who walk with God, and who witness for God, by testifying: Behold the Lord cometh to execute judgment on all this abounding religious [prophetic] corruption?
As Abels blood yet speaketh, so Enochs prophecy yet gives forth its warning voice.
Jude, by the Holy Ghost, applies Enochs words to those in his day, who were going in the way of Cain. He says And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of THESE ALSO. Jude does not mean that Enoch prophesied as well as others; but that he prophesied of these ungodly ones, of whom Jude wrote, as well as those in his own day.
So he prophesies to the same in our day. He yet speaketh.
It is remarkable that the word rendered smith and carpenter in Isaiah 44: 12, 13; 45: 16, is (charash) and is specially connected with the making of idols; and it is the same in meaning as (choresh) rendered artificer in Genesis 4: 22.
It is also remarkable that, Lamechs sons, Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain should be the sixth in descent from Cain.
These three traders, and inventors, were also the instructors of artificers in their respective arts.
How true it is that God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions. (Ecclesiastes 7: 29)
This word, rendered inventions here, is in two other places connected with mans inventions in departure from God. In 2 Chronicles 26: 15, it is connected with instruments of war; and in Amos 6: 5, with instruments of music. Thus, four things are allied in Cains descendants: Commerce, Music, War, and Idolatry: Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain and the artificers or workers in wood and iron.
All their names are connected with a common root, to flow; and mark the onward flowing and increasing of Cains descendants.
They flowed on prosperously till they were swept away by the over-flowing flood.*
* The word in from the same root, Yabal: to flow.
They were carried away in the judgment; but the way of Cain in which they trod is filled to overflowing with their moral descendants to-day.
The harp, and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands (Isaiah 5: 12.)
On all hands we see the smiths and the carpenters at work, calling themselves and their works by the name of the LORD though they regard not the Work or the Word of the LORD. They call their buildings the house of the Lord, but He has small place in them. All is done for the praise and glory of man.
Man is busy framing new fashions in Religion, new modes of worship, new theologies, new gospels of humanity and socialism; and side by side! with these, the same handling of the harp and the organ.
Musical Performances, and Festivals turn, for the time being, our Cathedrals and Churches into Concert Halls: and from solos and singers we have advanced to the establishment of Institutions for the avowed purpose of the artificial instruction and training of those who rank equally with the Preachers in the announcements and advertisements of Public Worship.
No announcement to-day is complete without PREACHER, the Rev. - SOLOIST, Miss -.
The chancels regarded as the most sacred spot, are profaned by being turned into Orchestras: and all in the name of the Lord.
All is for man!
Mans pleasure is sought in the churches; mans achievements are eulogized in the pulpits; mans compositions are rendered in the choir; mans criticisms of the Bible are treated as general literature, and his new theologies are blazoned in the Press. It is man from beginning to end. No announcement to day, is complete unless the portrait of the Author, or the Preacher, or even the Evangelist, forms part of it.
It is solemn indeed, to find this very feature, which characterises the present day, so closely connected in the Epistle of Jude with the way of Cain, and the prophesying of Enoch: where men are described as walking after their own lusts, and having mens persons in admiration (Jude 16.)
Oh! where are the Enochs, to-day! Where are those who really believe God in His judgment of all these things now, and in His coming to execute that judgment ere long!
God has warned man of Judgment to come, and all man does, is to set it to music, and sing it in the churches which are called by His name; boldly and profanely advertising it as the performance of The Last judgment: and all this is engineered by the very man who should he preaching it as a warning; and is carried out by, the Jubals who handle the harp and the organ.
Is not this to repeat the days of Enos, and to profane the name of the LORD?
These are the men who are specially designated as ungodly in Judes Epistle: that is to say without, or apart from God.
For, as Science has already banished God, from His Creation, so Religion has politely bowed Him out of he Churches; while, as in the days of Enos, they do all in the name of God. Even this very formula has taken the place and thus usurped the use of prayer in the pulpit, before the preacher puts forth his profanity.
Oh! for Enochs faith! To believe God with reference to what we have heard from Him as to His coming judgment, and to warn the ungodly of their coming doom.
May we not well heed the Divine exhortation founded on this very fact (in Jude 17-21).
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual having not the Spirit.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal (Gk. aionian) life.*
[* Translated literally: - building yourselves up, praying in spirit holy, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of the Lord of us, Jesus Anointed, for life age-lasting.]
Thus, in this Epistle, while we see angels falling (verse 6) and cities failing (verse 7) we are commended unto Him that is able to KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, and to present you before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (verse 24).
* * *
ENOCH: FAITHS WALK WITH GOD.
2. BEFORE HIS TRANSLATION.
Two things are spoken of Enochs faith: his translation, and before his translation.
The latter, though mentioned last, must be considered first.
It was by faith he was translated. It was by faith that, before his translation, he was well-pleasing to God.
In Genesis 5: 21-24, there is nothing said about his faith, but only about its results Enoch walked with God.
This it is that connects him with the faith of Abel.
Can two walk together except they be agreed? This is Gods question by the prophet Amos (chapter 3: 3).
The answer is supplied in the fact, that, experimentally as well as historically, Abels faith must precede the faith of Enoch.
Abel believed God as to the way in which He would be approached in worship; and Enoch had the same faith, for he who cometh to God in worship must believe that He IS,* and that He BECOMES* a rewarder of them that seek after Him.
* The two verbs both rendered is in this verse, must be carefully distinguished. The former is the verb to be. The latter is the verb to become.
The number two (in Amos 3: 3), speaks of division or unity, peace or war, opposition or agreement.
Its first occurrence in Genesis 1: 6 is in connection with division, and separation. But it is also used of confirmation of testimony, by the mouth of two witnesses.
Cain and Abel illustrate the former; Abel and Enoch illustrate the latter.
Abels faith, chronologically, precedes Enochs faith and it precedes it experimentally also. For there can be no walk with God, until there is peace with God; and there can be no peace with God before there is the Divinely accepted sacrifice. In other words justification must come before peace. Hence in Romans 5: 1 we read: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.
Enoch had Abels faith which witnessed to his agreement with God; and he had Abels righteousness, which enabled him to walk with God.
So that we get here, an advance in experimental teaching.
Sin cut off man from communion and intercourse with God. God came down and walked with Adam before the entrance of sin (Genesis 3: 8). Adam and his wife heard the sound of Jehovah Elohim walking in the garden, in the cool of the day.
But sin entered: so Jehovah Elohim drove out the man (Genesis 3: 24); and all communing, communicating, walking, talking and revealing were at an end.
Abels faith shows the first step in the way back to God. The shedding of blood gave remission of sin (Hebrews 9: 22). The substitute was accepted in the stead of the sinner.
The blood of Abels lamb effected what the sweat of Cains brow could never have accomplished. It gave peace with God and restored communion with God. It enabled man once more to walk with God, but on Redemption ground, and no longer on Creation ground.
Hence, the experimental advance was that, God, who had spoken to Abel and made known, to and through him, how men must come to God in grace, spoke again to Enoch, and revealed how He would come to the earth in judgment.
For it was Amos who says again: Surely Adonai Jehovah will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets (Amos 3: 7), and David adds the Divine testimony -
The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him:
And His covenant to make them know it (Psalm 25: 14, margin).
This blessed fellowship with God is based on blood; for, when we enjoy fellowship with God, then it is (and not in connection with sin), that we are reminded that the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin. It is this which gives us boldness of access into the Divine light (the true shechina) of that presence, and preserves us alive when there.
God is light (1 John 1: 5).
We walk in the light (Ephesians 5: 8).
God is love (1 John 4: 16).
We walk in love (Ephesians 5: 2).
God is truth (1 John 5: 20).
We walk in truth (2 John 4, 3 John 3).
In fellowship with God, which is the result of His peace which He gives, our ears are opened to bear and receive the truth which He reveals.
To those friends God makes known what He doeth (John 15: 13-15). For He said shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know him
So here, to Enoch, God made known His secret, and revealed the solemn fact, unknown to all beside; and unknown to Enoch until God revealed it to him.
Enoch heard God; and faith cometh by hearing.
Enoch believed God, and this it was that made him well-pleasing to God, while he walked with God; and this it was that ended in his Translation.
God had spoken about His coming to execute judgment on the ungodly; but, it is equally true that God did not leave Enoch in ignorance of the fact that judgment would not come upon him; for he was godly.
When God warned Noah, and Divinely instructed him as to the coming judgment (verse 7), He at the same time revealed the blessed fact that He would deliver him and bring him safely through it. Surely He must have given the same Divine instruction to Enoch that he also would be translated before it came.
Otherwise, how could it be said that it was by faith Enoch was translated, if he had not heard the word of the Lord, and believed what he had heard? (Romans 10: 17).
Enoch must have heard the blessed, welcome, good and glorious news, that he should not see death, but should be translated to heaven.
It is a perversion of the truth of God, to hold from Genesis 5. (apart from Hebrews 11.) that Enochs translation merely means conversion from worldly life and carnal pursuits,* or to say that it means an early death, and thus a transition from this mortal life to the immortal.
* Phito, De Abrahamo, and elsewhere, thus allegorises the translation of Enoch.
Hebrews 11 is doubtless a Divine addition to Genesis 5. The same Holy Spirit, who inspired Moses, inspired Paul, and gave us, by him, His own explanation.
When He explains that, God took him, and he was not found. He means that Enoch did NOT SEE DEATH at all, but that he was translated without dying, and was taken bodily from the earth.
It is equally a perversion to take the words He is not here used of a Risen Christ, and place them on a tomb-stone (as we have seen them) of one who is dead, and not risen.
Even in Genesis 5. there is not the whole of the Divine revelation, for
elsewhere we learn that Enochs body must have been changed* when he
was translated; for flesh and blood
cannot inherit the
[* NOTE. From this statement, we conclude that ENOCH will not to accompany Elijah; for both are to be killed by antichrist! their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city where also their Lord was crucified (Revelation 11: 8, R.V.)!
We know also, from other Scriptural statements, that the heaven into which ELIJAH ascended, was not be the heaven where our Lord Jesus is now, after His Resurrection, bodily seated at His Fathers right hand. (Psalm 110: 1. cf. John 3: 13; 14: 2, 3; 1 Thessalonians 4: 16, R.V.]
At death, the spirit returns to God who gave it, but the body returns to earth as it was (Ecclesiastes 12: 7; Genesis 3: 19). At death, therefore, the body (the dust) remains on and in the earth. But, in Enochs case, his body was not found: because God took him and he did not die at all.
How wrong it is therefore for any to use those words, spoken of one who did not die, and use them to-day of any one who has died!
Yet, how common it is for us to hear it said of one who has died, God has taken him, or God has taken her!
It is not true. It is not the truth. It is not only non-scriptural, but it is an unscriptural expression.
In this case it would have been just as true for the Holy Spirit to have written By faith Enoch died, instead of By faith Enoch was translated.
But, people do not die by faith. Most of them believe the teaching of demons that
There is no death.
What seems so, is transition.
They believe the Devils lie rather than what they hear from the word of God.
That word reveals the opposite of all the traditions of men. It teaches that
There IS death;
What is not so, is TRANSLATION.
It required no faith on the part of Enoch to believe that he would die. It does not say Enoch died by faith. That would have been a matter of sight. He saw death on every hand.
Of each of the six patriarchs before him, it is recorded and he died (Genesis 5: 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20). But of Enoch it is written, that he did not see death, and the reason given is that God, took him, and he was not found.
This implies that men looked everywhere for him, but the search parties could not find him dead or alive.
They could not find Enoch, for God had translated him. They could not find his corpse, for he had not died.
Doubtless there was much excitement, if not consternation. It was quite a new thing on the earth. If they searched, they did not search in silence; but must have wondered and speculated as to what had become of Enoch.
Even so will it be in the coming day of the translation of those who believe God, as to His promise to send Jesus Christ, and take them to meet Him in the air, and call them up on high (Philippians 3: 14).
God has revealed for the hearing of faith, what He has in store for His saints.*
[* See Luke 21: 34-36. cf. Revelation 3: 10, R.V.]
He knoweth how to execute judgment on the ungodly; and He knoweth also how to deliver those whom He has justified (2 Peter 2: 4).
As He delivered Enoch by translating him before the coming of the judgment by the Flood of waters, so will He deliver His saints from the wrath to come.
Alas! how few of us are like Enoch and believe what God has written for our faith.
How few [Christians] are, in consequence of this unbelief, walking with God. The many are walking with themselves, and engrossed with their own walk, instead of being occupied with what God has revealed!
How many, there are who believe that they will [all] go through the judgments of the great Tribulation! They must not be surprised if they find they are dealt with according to their faith
If some (as many hold) are not caught away before it, as Enoch was, who will they be but those who believe not!
Who, of [redeemed]
To whom did God swear in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest? but to them that believed not (Hebrews 3: 11, 18).*
[* See R. Govetts: Christian! Seek The Rest of God In His Millennial Kingdom.]
Why could they not enter in? Because of unbelief [relative to the above Divine statement] (Hebrews 3: 19).
So we see the full solemnity of
the lesson to be learned from
Enoch was not in darkness as were the ungodly to whom he prophesied as to the coming judgment: nor are we (2 Thessalonians 5: 4).
Enoch heard by the word of the Lord that the coming judgment would not overtake him as a thief: and he believed what he heard.
We read the same blessed hope for ourselves in the same Word of truth (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-4; Philippians 3: 14).
Do we believe it?
That is the question that must remain with us; and do its own blessed work in our hearts.
In 1 Corinthians 10: 11 these things are specially declared to have happened unto them by way of ensample (or type), and are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. And in verse 5 it speaks of those who did not believe God, and says that with many of them God was NOT WELL PLEASED.
But it is the very opposite that is declared concerning Enoch: for, before his translation he had this witness borne of him that he had been WELL-PLEASING UNTO GOD.
By faith Enoch was translated. - That is the reason.
He believed what God had revealed to him about it and this faith was well-pleasing to God.
Do we believe what he has told us about [the possibility of] our coming Translation?
Do we look for our calling on high (Philippians 3: 14) and walk with God while we witness and wait for that translation?
If we do, it will prove, like Enochs and Calebs and Joshuas, a lonely walk, so far as man is concerned; but it will be with Him here, and soon with Him there; and, meanwhile, we shall have abounding happiness in the knowledge that we are even now, in the midst of all the confusion and corruption
WELL-PLEASING TO GOD.
* * *
ENOCH: FAITHS WALK WITH GOD.
3. HE WELL-PLEASFD GOD.
It is a remarkable fact that, in this chapter, every verb is, what is called in the Greek, in the Aorist Tense, except three, which are in the Perfect Tense.
That is to say, all these historical facts and events are described as having been done, and done with, as completed, and hence, are in the simple Past Tense, except in three places, where the Perfect Tense is used. The Perfect Tense denotes that the thing was done but that its effect remains. When it says, for example, that Pilate wrote a Title and put it on the Cross, it is in the Aorist Tense, because it records a simple passing act that was completed, and a fact that took place once; but when it says of the Scripture it is written it is the Perfect Tense, and means it has been, or was written, and that what was written remains. So that a good rendering of the Perfect Tense in this case would be: it standeth written.
Whenever it is stated that we died with Christ it is always the Aorist Tense, because it
records a simple but blessed fact, which took place, once for all, at
* Of course, it follows, that, if we are risen with Christ, we are dead to the world, though not dead with Christ. We must carefully note this distinction. If we died with Christ we died to the world and all its religion and, therefore, we continue dead to all its religious ordinances, but as regards Christ we are blessedly alive with Him and to the things which are above.
** For example, in 2 Thessalonians 1: 10, it is to, it is the Second Aorist Tense, Subjunctive Mood and means When he shall have come, describing what will then have already taken place. Compare Luke 17: 10, 1 Corinthians 15: 24, Matthew 10: 23, etc.
We have, in the verse we are considering (Hebrews 11: 5), the first of the three Perfects in this chapter. We shall come to the others in their places.*
Unfortunately, in the A.V., these three Perfects are not distinguished. In the R.V. the first is noted in the Text, but, in the case of the latter two, the note is relegated to the margin.
It devolves on us therefore, now, and here, to give the full force of the Perfect Tense in this fifth verse, for these are the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, and they are written for our learning.
The Verb in question is rendered in the A.V. For before his translation he had this testimony. In the R.V. it is rendered: he hath had witness borne to him. If this third Person of the Verb refers to Enoch, and means he, then it might be rendered, he hath been borne witness to.
But there is nothing in the Greek to compel us to understand Enoch, or to render it he. There is no occasion to introduce Enoch at all. It is quite clear without doing this.
What the Greek says is IT HAS BEEN [and still is] WITNESSED THAT HE WELL-PLEASED GOD.
What was the witness that was thus borne, and still is borne concerning Enoch? Surely it is what is witnessed of him in the Scriptures of truth: viz., that in believing what God had revealed for his faith he well-pleased God.
As the witness which Abel obtained was in the fire which descended from heaven, so, Enochs witness which he obtained, was in his own ascension to heaven.
And thus these first two illustrations of faith are linked together. But the link is closer than this.
The great point in connection with Abels faith is that his offering was ACCEPTED BY GOD.
The great point in connection with Enochs faith is that his walk was ACCEPTABLE TO GOD.
We have these two distinguished in Ephesians 1: 6, and 2 Corinthians 5: 9, though in the A.V. both are rendered by the same word (accepted)
Ephesians 1: 6 is He hath made us accepted in the Beloved: and 2 Corinthians 5: 9, is we labour, that we may be accepted in Him.
* One of the other two is in connection with Abrahams offering of Isaac (verse 17); and the third is in connection with Moses instituting the Passover (verse 28).
The distinction between in and of is not sufficient, because the two words are totally different.
In Ephesians 1: 6 it is the (charitoo) to make one an object of favour.
In 2 Corinthians 5: 9, it is the Adjective (euarestos) well-pleasing.
This latter is the very word used of Enoch in Hebrews 11: 5, 6. His faith was well-pleasing or acceptable to God. Abels offering was accepted by God.
This is the link between these first two men.
The former has to do with God, and the latter with man.
The former was the act of Gods grace in accepting Abels offering: the latter was the fact of Enochs faith and walk being acceptable to God.
Thus Enochs walk and Enochs faith are united. He WALKED BY FAITH and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7).
It is this walk which is so well-pleasing to God. For in the immediate context (verse 9) the one follows on the other:-
We walk by faith, not by sight therefore we make it our aim to be well-pleasing unto Him (2 Corinthians 5: 7, 9).
Walking with God; and walking by faith, and not walking by sight, Enoch did not judge according to the things that he saw.
He was not deceived by any outward appearances or material prosperity; he was not deluded by any schemes for dealing with social evils, or for improving the corrupt state of things around him.
But he showed that it is possible to walk with God even in the darkest days; and to witness for God in the most perilous times.
He, doubtless, did not please men, or seek to them. It was enough for him that he was well-pleasing to God.
This is why his translation was not merely a passing historical event, but remains as a standing witness which be obtained; a witness which remains to this day for us, to show us that a walk by faith and not by sight is, of all things, well-pleasing to God.
The blood which tells of Abels death, continues to speak to us of the only way of being accepted by God. So Enochs translation which tells of his entrance to [age-lasting, as well as] eternal life without dying, continues to witness of the only way of being acceptable to God.
For he that approacheth to Gd, in worship (as Abel and Enoch did) it is necessary for him TO BELIEVE GOD; to believe that He IS; for, apart from faith it is impossible to well-please [Him]. It is a matter of necessity for him to believe that He IS and that He BECOMES a REWARDER of those who seek Him out.
For we who seek Him as Abel sought, will find Him as Enoch found Him; if not by being, while we are alive and remain, called on high (Philippians 3: 14), and thus clothed upon with a spiritual body by translation (2 Corinthians 5: 24); yet, we shall surely find Him in a glorious resurrection when absent from these mortal bodies we shall be for ever at home with the Lord in resurrection bodies, made like unto Christs glorious body, and presented faultless in Him before God with exceeding joy (2 Corinthians 4: 14, Philippians 3: 20, 21, Jude 24).
But the abiding lesson still standing before us in Enochs faith is that, it is well-pleasing to God to believe Him, as to this our own translation [when He will return].
Abel believed what God had told him about the accepted sacrifice and acceptable worship.
Enoch believed what God had revealed concerning the coming judgment on the ungodly and his own prior translation to glory.
His faith, as well as Abels blood, continues to speak to us; and it tells us that if we would be well-pleasing to God the one thing necessary is to believe what He has revealed as the blessed object of our faith.
Our responsibility is far greater than theirs. For God, who spoke to those elders, spoke in sundry portions and in divers manners. We have what He said to them in the Old Testament. But He has since spoken by His Son; and we have what He said in the Gospels.
But since then He has spoken unto us by His Spirit, in the Epistles, and in the rest of the New Testament.
We have more to believe than those who lived in the former Dispensations.
Enoch and Noah had to believe in the seed of the woman, and in the coming Judgment (Jude 14): others had to believe concerning the seed of Abraham and the coming nation of Israel (Genesis 15), others had to believe concerning the seed of David and the coming [Messianic] Kingdom (2 Samuel 7), others were called to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as still to come as the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1).
When He was rejected and crucified by His own people, others were then called on to believe that, on the repentance of the nation, God would send Jesus Christ with the times of refreshing for Israel and the world, (Acts 3: 20, 21).
When this Testimony was refused (Acts 28: 25, 26), then further additions were made to the revelation of Gods counsels: and, His purposes which He had purposed before the foundation of the world were vouchsafed in the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.
Each generation of faithful ones, was in its turn, called on to believe God in what He had revealed for the faith of His people; and they were well-pleasing to Him in proportion as they did so.
But, as of old, the multitude to
day, refuse to believe Him. They still provoke Him, as
It is as though Enoch believed what had been revealed to Abel as to approaching God, but refused to believe what had been revealed to them as to translation by God.
It is as though Abraham believed all that had been made known to Abel, Enoch and Noah, and refused to believe God that in his seed  Israel shall he made a nation,* and  all other nations be blessed.
[*NOTE. Since these writings were first published (in July, 1908), Israel is now truly a nation; but, how many Christians believe what is not yet accomplished in accordance to Divine will: that all other nations be blessed?]
This is the condition of thousands [upon thousands] to-day who call themselves believers.
They persist in calling
They persist in calling themselves believers, though they steadfastly refuse to believe what God has revealed in the Epistles written after the casting aside of Israel in Acts 28: 25, 26.
For all that they care, the Holy Spirit might as well have never made any subsequent revelation at all.
Though the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He had many things to say to them, which they could not then understand - and that He would send the Holy Spirit, who would glorify Him, and guide them into all the truth yet to he revealed,* His professed disciples of the present day practically tell Him that there was no occasion to send Him to do this; and that the truth into which He guides them in the Pauline Epistles can be dispensed with.
[* This Divine statement begs the question: Who then, is their guide, if not the Holy Spirit?]
They are content with the Old Testament revelation, and the Teaching of Jesus. They confess their belief that Jesus Christ will come to Judge, the quick and the dead, but as for any blessed hope of their translation, ascension or even of resurrection, they can do without it. They practically tell Christ, that He need not come again for them: they are going to die and - [immediately after that] - go to Him! Thus, the traditions of men are believed, and greedily swallowed, while the subsequent revelations of God are unheeded; and those who do believe them are treated as eccentric expositors, and fanciful faddists.*
[* That is, temporary enthusiasts to be ignored.]
How can those
who thus judge be well-pleasing to God?
Is it not as true to-day as it was of
Why? Because of their unbelief. God grieved, and provoked, and sware in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest.
May it not be the same in the case of thousands to-day who do not believe Him as to the way of entering into His rest, which He has revealed in Resurrection ([See also Luke 20: 35; Hebrews 11: 35b] 1 Corinthians 15.), Ascension ([See also Luke 21: 36; Revelation 3: 10] 1 Thessalonians 4.), and Translation ([See also Luke 22: 30. cf. Revelation 6: 10, 11] Philippians 3.)?
If they persist in believing the
evil report of the ten spies, and refuse to enter into
His rest by the hill country of the Amorites, they
must not be surprised if they have to wander in a wilderness all their lives,
and enter it by crossing the
Oh! the blessedness of believing God!
Those who would enter into His rest and be well-pleasing unto Him, must believe that He IS and that He will BECOME a rewarder of their faith.*
[*NOTE. We often hear Christians say: I do not believe in reward; or we should not be thinking about rewards! But, the fact of the matter is, God will reward them according to their works: and that reward will depend upon the nature of their works - whether they were good or bad!]
Of this first fresh revelation made after that given to Abet, Enoch is the blessed example of One who believed God, and was well-pleasing in His sight.
May we know what it is to enjoy peace with God as Abel did, and to know the peace of God, and to enter into His rest,* as Noah did.
[* See Hebrews 4: 1, 9, 11. cf. Numbers 14: 20-23; Psalm 95: 7-11, R.V.]
* * *
2. NOAH: FAITHS WITNESS FOR GOD.
(1) THE EIGHTH PERSON.
In dealing with the Elders, the great cloud of witnesses named in this chapter and in Hebrews 12: 1 we are not writing their Lives or Biographies from the Old Testament standpoint, but we are confining ourselves to this chapter (Hebrews 11.) and other Divine Comments made by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. These comments help us to understand better the nature of, and reasons for, the good report which they obtained and the witness thus borne to them by God.
Moreover, these comments, being Divine, point us to the special aspect of their faith on which we are to dwell, to the exclusion of other events recorded in the Old Testament history.
Noah is the last of the first group of three; for all the Elders named are arranged in perfect order, symmetry and beauty.
This order we shall set out in connection with Abrahams faith, and exhibit it to the eye of our readers that they may admire the Divine workmanship of the Holy Spirit, and marvel at the perfection of His work.
Noah follows Enoch, not merely Historically and Chronologically, but because the special aspect of his faith follows, Experimentally, the aspects of faith exhibited by Abel and Enoch.
We have seen in the former two that there can be no walk with God (as with Enoch), until there is peace with God (as with Abel); and Noahs faith goes on to tell us that there can be no witness for God, until there is a walk with God.
In other words Agreement with God must precede a walk with God (Amos 3: 3); and our walk with God must precede our witness for God.
This is the Experimental order of this first group and it is Divine.
It cannot be altered without courting disaster in our service. The many failures, which we witness all around us, may be generally traced up to an attempt to reverse this Divine order.
Noah had Abels faith, and he had Enochs also. But, he had something more. He was called to believe God in matters of which God had never before spoken; and of which they had never heard anything from God.
They also had their own special aspects, but all were alike in that they each believed what God said to them.
Noah was not murdered, as Abel was; nor was he translated, as Enoch was; but he was called to occupy a special position and to believe God in matters of which they knew nothing; though he offered Abels sacrifice, and enjoyed Enochs walk.
The expression in 2 Peter 2: 5,
THE EIGHTH PERSON,
points us to the character of his days; and therefore to the nature of his faith, and the need of his witness.
The days of Noah became a significant expression on the lips of our Lord, and was used to convey a solemn and important lesson.
Noah was the eighth person not in the same sense as Enoch is as the seventh from Adam. Enoch was the seventh in genealogical descent from Adam; Noah was the eighth, in numerical reckoning, of eight persons saved and brought through the flood. This expression prints us to the fact that, out of all the vast multitudes destroyed by the Flood, only eight persons were saved. This fact is emphasised in 1 Peter 3: 20, and 2 Peter 2: 5.
This is what we also are called to emphasise in our consideration of Noahs faith.
There are certain facts which we must take as being settled; for we have given the evidence more than once: viz., that, some time before the days of Noah certain angels fell from their high estate. They are called sons of God (Genesis 6: 2, 4; Job 1: 6; 2: 1; 37: 7; Psalms 29: 1; 89: 6 - sons of El - Daniel 3: 25.) They are called spirits (1 Peter 3: 19). They are called angels (2 Peter 3: 4; Jude 6).
At some time in the history of the world these angels fell. They were disobedient (1 Peter 3: 20). They sinned (2 Peter 2: 4). They kept not their first estate, or principality (Jude 6, margin). But they left their own habitation, their (oiketerion) their spiritual body.* Whatever this was, these angels left it.** Whatever this may mean or imply, we do not know, nor can any one tell us. We do not always understand God, but happy are we if we believe God, as we most certainly do here. We will not allow our reason to cause its to disbelieve His Word.
* See our Pamphlets: The Spirits in prison and The Sons of God.
** This word rendered left is peculiar. It is not merely the usual word (leipo) to leave but it is (apoleipo) and means to desert, to forsake, to leave behind. Compare 2 Timothy 4: 13, 20.
The nature of their sin is
described with sufficient detail in Genesis 6: 2, 4 and Jude 7, where the cities of
These angels are reserved in everlasting [Greek perpetual] chains unto the judgment of the great day (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2: 4), and are now, therefore, said to be in prison (1 Peter 3: 19).
Their progeny are not reserved for any future judgment of any kind. They had to be utterly destroyed. They were abnormal, super-human, uncanny: and were the reality, of which the later Greek mythology only retained a vague tradition. That mythology was not an invention or fabrication of the human brain; but it was a remnant of primitive truth the true origin of which the Greeks did not and could not know, apart from the Divine revelation in the Scriptures of truth.
They were called nephilim; or fallen ones (from their origin). They were doubtless giants in form, as in wickedness. The word the Holy Spirit uses of them is (asebis) i.e., without God (2 Peter 2: 5; Jude 15).
We can, within narrow limits, tell when this fall took place.
We find Enoch prophesying of the judgment which God was going to execute on these ungodly (Jude 14). But we do not read of its having been executed in his day. He was translated before it came. We find Noah again proclaiming the imminence of that coming judgment. For he proclaimed a righteousness: not a Divine righteousness revealed in grace (Romans 1: 16, 17), but a Divine righteousness revealed in wrath from heaven. For the next verse (18) goes on to reveal this additional fact concerning Divine righteousness.
If the Flood was the execution of the judgment, which Enoch had prophesied, then the fall of the angels must have taken place before the days of Enoch.
Adam was contemporary with Enoch until within fifty-six years of Enochs translation;* and, before his death in 930, it was revealed to him that he should live 120 years longer. That is what God said to Adam in Genesis 6: 3. There can he no doubt about this, for it is Ha-Adam the man Adam,** otherwise the words he ALSO is flesh are without sense. Adam had become like the rest.
* Adam died aged 930 years, and Enoch was translated in 986 A.M., aged 365 Years.
** See, How to enjoy the Bible, pp. 374-6.
In this case Adam must have been 810 years of age, when that revelation was made in Genesis 6: 3, and the corruption must have begun some time before, for it to have become so wide-spread in the days of Enoch. Adam also had become like the rest, and when God made known His intention to destroy, and take them all away, Noahs family was the only family which had kept itself pure, and without blemish:* for such is the meaning of the word rendered perfect in Genesis 6: 9.
* For so the word (tamim) is continually rendered without blemish of the perfection of the animals for sacrifice.
All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth (verse 12).
No judgment would do but that of a flood to sweep them all away from off the face of the earth.*
* We learn from Genesis 6: 4 that there was another irruption of fallen angels after those days, not only one in the days of Enoch and Noah, but another ALSO, AFTER THAT.
The consequences were the same
and the progeny were called by the same name Nephilim (Numbers13: 33). They
were also known as Emim (Deuteronomy
2: 10); but as Anakim,
from one of great renown (Deuteronomy 2: 10). Horim (verse 11), and Zamzummim (verse
20). They were indeed the seven
nations of Canaan - so that the results were more limited, and localised; and
the sword of
The angels themselves were reserved unto the judgment of the great day: but, their progeny had to be destroyed utterly, if only in mercy to the human race (see Psalm 136: 17-22, Numbers 21.). For them, there can be neither resurrection nor judgment.
It is a great pity that in Isaiah chapter 26, their later name, Rephaim, should be translated, instead of transferred. In verse 14 it is rendered deceased, and it is said they shall not rise, and in verse 19, it is rendered dead, the earth shall cast out her dead.*
* There is another word dead in both verses, but it is (muth) which is the ordinary word, and is quite different. The R.V. renders verses 14 and 19 the same as in the A.V. but puts in the margin or the shades. Hebrew Rephaim.
This gives us some little insight into the character of the days of Noah, and explains why only eight souls were saved, and why Noah was the eighth person. The word rendered saved here (1 Peter 3: 20), is peculiar. It is (diasozo) and means to bring safely through (with emphasis on the word through.)*
* See its only occurrences, Matthew 14: 36; Luke 7: 3; Acts 23: 24; 27: 43, 44; 38: 1, 4.