Abel, Enoch, Noah: God’s Missionaries
Isaiah, the prophet, was divinely induced to proclaim this message: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ Hark, your watchmen lift up their voice, together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared (opened up) his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:7-10). The question is, how did God do all that? In the Gospels, Jesus gave us the answer by becoming the answer. Jesus became “the Immanuel,” and “the God with us” (Matthew 1:23); not only by how He looked, but by what He did. And so can every person who believes in Jesus, the Christ, and who does what Jesus did. Jesus said, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his work. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:10b-12).
The world always has been God’s mission field; namely, to restore “His Image” in man. The first missionary was Abel. There is little written about Abel, but what was written was profoundly important to Jesus and to the early Christians. We read, “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no regard” (Genesis 4:35). Jesus had this to say about the kind of person Abel was, “Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar” (Matthew 23:34-35). To the writer to the Hebrews, Abel was the dead man who continued to speak of a faith that causes one to do what is right: “By faith Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking” (Hebrews 11:4). To the same writer, the shedding of the blood of Abel was the first atonement, and the shedding of Jesus’ blood was the final atonement. Hebrews states, “And to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24).
Abel, the dead man, left posterity some very vital lessons about the conflict between good and evil. What Satan began in Adam, Satan completed in Abel, where Satan also triumphed over good, and broke up the family. Jesus’ prediction that families would divide over Him had already taken place in Adam’s family (Matthew 10:34-36). Abel was everything that Cain, his brother, was not. Abel was so good that God regarded him as being righteous. Therefore, the Lord asked Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4-6b-7; NIV). Abel had mastered his desire and his will to do what is right and Cain had not. The implication was that the “Image of God” in Abel was alive, but in Cain the “Image of God” was dead. The death of Able became the evidence of what a person will do when he or she loses the “Spirit,” or “Presence” of God, or self-control in his or her life (John 8:39-47). Abel became the first martyr for being a righteous witness for God. Cain could not live in the presence of goodness and righteousness. Cain did exactly what his father, the devil, wanted him to do. The devil wanted Cain to remove Abel, the one that pleased God. Cain was warned by the Lord, but he paid no attention until it was too late. This was God’s second warning. God warned Adam to curb his taste for food, which would kill him. God also warned Cain that sin would destroy him. The third warning did go to Noah. It was the tragedy of tragedies when Cain chose wrong over right; and thereby, set a precedent for all sinners to follow. Jesus had this warning to the leaders who perverted or who removed God’s message and messengers from public life, “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). Jesus counseled that such lawyers remove themselves from this world by hanging millstones around their necks and drown themselves (Mark 9:42).
The second missionary of God was Enoch, a man who practically lived for God. Enoch did what was right in the sight of God and everyone could see it. The amazing thing was that Enoch was guided by his inner knowledge or the “Godly Image” within him. He had no specific laws, but he had the ability to discern between good and evil. Enoch’s conscience or his heart was filled with the “Spirit” or the “Presence of God.” It was similar to what Paul said to the Romans: “When the Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they have not the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears them witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16). Enoch had, without the law, what we can have with the law. John, the Apostle, wrote, “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (I John 3:21-22). Enoch was the son of Jared and the father of the oldest man in the Bible; namely, Methuselah. We have this brief account of Enoch, “And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Genesis 5:18-24; NIV). This Enoch is a descendant of Seth and not of Cain who also fathered a son called Enoch (Genesis 4:17). In the Hebrew tradition, Enoch was a man of faith and that was the reason why God removed him from this world without dying (Hebrews 11:5). Elijah, the prophet, had a similar departure without dying physically (II Kings 2:11). According to Jude, Enoch preached unpopular judgment: “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). In comparison to all the other antediluvians, Enoch was a young man when he just vanished. Enoch’s prediction of judgment fell on the generation of Noah.
The third messenger of God was Noah, a great grandson of Enoch, who knew right from wrong. Enoch fathered Methuselah, who fathered Lamech the father of Noah (Genesis 5:21-32). “Noah,” like his great grandfather, “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). The “Image of God” was very much alive in Noah. Noah needed “God’s Image” to sustain his courage and his faith in a wicked generation, about to be doomed. Since Cain, God resumed to communicate with Noah to save Noah and his family via an ark because the wickedness of men, no longer, could be tolerated or be controlled. God revealed to Noah that a flood was coming. Noah believed God; therefore, he built an ark as instructed. Faith saved Noah and his family. It was the lack of faith and the lack of morals that doomed his generation (Genesis 6-8; Hebrews 11:7). In a way, Noah was fortunate that his own family endured with him the ridicule and mockery by a wicked and godless people. At that time, the godly people and the worldly people had become one people by marriage. The wicked people used their daughters to marry godly men and turned them into one of their own. This new bread was known as the “Nephilim.” The Nephilim were regarded as being more intelligent and more sophisticated. They certainly could have built boats and saved themselves, but they did not believe what Noah was preaching.
Two things that man keeps on repeating plagued Noah’s generation, the infatuation with sex and an over dependence on human knowledge. Both destroyed what was left of any God consciousness or of any morality. It was after the sons of God had married the worldly women that the Lord aired his feelings toward Noah’s people, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:2-3). What the writer meant was that God withdrew “His Spirit” from man. God also shortened man’s life span; thereby, stopping man from too much sinning. Man, without the influence of God’s direction is a lost ship without a rudder or a vehicle without breaks. The result was, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. …. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5-6, 11-12).
For our immediate intent, the work of the Spirit of God is the “Spirit of God” who was the “creating energy” of the universe and of man. In spite of man’s wickedness, it is God’s Spirit who is the “source” that sustains the world and man. This “energy,” the Creator can withdraw from man, but God will not withhold the “energy” from the world, and from life, whether it is good or bad. God made His Promise into a covenant and signed His Promise with a rainbow. God said to Noah, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth’” (Genesis 9:8-13).
Any deviation in nature, which results in devastation is the work of the evil spirit called, “Satan” and not of God (Revelation 12). It is Satan, the evil spirit, that has led man to believe that Satan’s deeds and Satan’s laws can outdistance God’s Spirit and God’s Laws. This evil spirit (Satan) has succeeded in convincing man that God is outside of man’s realm of possibility. Man obtains his knowledge, not from faith in divine revelation, but from the “inclinations and from his thoughts” (Genesis 6:5). It is basically a human imagination that has come up with a fictitious theory of the origin of the cosmos and of life. This human imagination continues to verify it with more speculative ideas and with more speculative theories. Man, without the Spirit of God, cannot believe in a Being with sufficient “energy” to keep this world in space with merely the Breath of God. We live in a world that has more messengers of Satan, than of God. During Elijah’s day, the Baal prophets numbered four-hundred and fifty to one Elijah (I Kings 18:19), and only seven thousand people had not bowed to Baal (I Kings 19:18). This ratio has persisted through human history. Micah, who fought against four hundred false prophets, is another example of the power of evil leading two kings into defeat and death. Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah agreed to recapture the lost territory form the Syrians. The Baal men promised victory, but Micah predicted defeat and also the death of Ahab and the sparing of Jehoshaphat (I Kings 22). The true God did not endorse that conflict, but the Baals did because sin is too blind to see its own perversion.
Jesus predicted that even Christians would favor false prophets and even a false Christs when He said, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. …. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:11-13, 24). Jesus compared the end-time with the days of Noah and Lot when men and women fell because of their infatuation with sex and human wisdom (Luke 17:26-29). Paul warned, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (II Thessalonians 2:7). It has become apparent that our hope of a Christ-like world is numbered. Nothing stands in the way of atheism and secularism, except Islam; the mortal enemy of Christianity and America. And nothing stands in the way of those who want to repent and who want to return to the God of the Bible and to God’s Laws. We must heed the warning of Joshua, “You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done good to you” (Joshuah 24:19-20). (Quotes are from RSV, Unless otherwise stated).