Elijah and Enoch, the only two prophets to be translated, had something in common. They were both haters of sin and cried out against it. They both walked so closely with God that they couldn’t help sharing His hatred for ungodliness.
The undeniable effect on all who walk with God is a growing hatred for sin — and not only hatred, but separation from it. If you still love this world and are at home with the ungodly — if you are a friend to those who curse Him — you are not walking with the Lord but sitting on the fence, putting Him to open shame.
“Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). We know from Hebrews that this speaks of Enoch’s translation, the fact that he did not taste death. But it also means something deeper than that: “He was not” as defined in Genesis 5 also means, “He was not of this world.”
In his spirit, in his senses, Enoch was not a part of this wicked world. He was taken up in his spirit to a heavenly realm. Like Paul, he died daily to this world while he cared for his family, worked, ministered, occupied. But “he was not” — he was not earthbound! The Lord consumed Him. Every waking moment his mind came back to Him. His heart was attached to God with what seemed like a huge rubber band. And the more you stretch a rubber band, the quicker it springs back when you let it go. Enoch’s heart always “sprang back” to the Lord.
As mankind grew more ungodly all around him, as men changed into wild beasts full of lust, hardness and sensuality, Enoch became more and more like the One with whom he walked.
In this day, many Christians are running to hide from mounting calamities. So-called prophets are telling people to come to their safe havens. Christian Jews are being warned to get back to Israel to escape the financial collapse anticipated in America.
I know where I want to be when things fall apart. When the financial market crashes, I want to go back to Wall Street where I was during the crash on October 19, 1987. I want to be there like a modern Enoch, walking and talking with God, without fear — a peaceful, fearless witness, preaching Jesus to a people whose world has collapsed.
Jesus did not tell us to hide, He said, “Go ye!” I want to be where the Holy Ghost is — and you can be sure He will be on the frontlines of the battle, calling the troubled and fearful to Himself.
Enoch saw that his own society was wicked, and as he looked down to the very last days, all he could say was, “Ungodly!” Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14-15).
Are you walking with the Lord? Then you must see the world as Enoch saw it: ungodly and full of the spirit of Antichrist. How can you be a part of what is ungodly? How can you associate with those He is coming to judge? He is coming with ten thousands of His saints to judge a sinful, lost world. Which side are you on?
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).
“And Enoch walked with God.” The Hebrew meaning for walked implies that Enoch continually conversed with God. He lived three hundred sixty-five years — or a “year” of years! He introduces to us a new kind of believer, for he is a type of the dedicated believer in Christ.
Enoch learned to walk with God in the midst of a wicked society. He was no hermit hidden away in a wilderness cave. He was an ordinary family man with the same problems and burdens we carry — involved in everyday life with a wife, the obligations of children, household responsibilities.
Those who walk with God are translated out of Satan’s reach, out of his kingdom of darkness and into Christ’s kingdom of light. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossian 1:13). We are translated right now out of the devil’s snare and into the very heart of Jesus.
The Greek word for translate suggests that Christ personally came and carried us away from the devil’s power and set us in a heavenly place. But God only translates those who walk close to Him, as Enoch did. Those who are held captive at Satan’s will cannot be taken up and delivered from darkness. You are not truly saved until you firmly set your heart on walking with God.
Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus even though it appeared Timothy didn’t want to (see 1 Timothy 1:3-4). We believe the reason may have been because of problems the Ephesian church was facing. It seems the church was living in self-righteousness, trying to look good. When you are self-righteous, you often are deceived and you become greedy and ambitious; you may even start to hoard things.
At this time there was a famine in Macedonia and also in Jerusalem, resulting in extreme poverty. While Macedonia and Jerusalem were struggling, the economy in Ephesus was good; they had a lot of resources but they were clinging to them for themselves.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: “Charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”
Paul’s first word, charge, means to “command or give strict orders.” In some translations we read, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.”
Why would Paul tell them to command people to be generous and to no longer cling to things for themselves? It sounds so legalistic and it is — it’s the Law. The Law shows us where we are off grace, where we are wrong. The command that Paul said Timothy should give to the Ephesians was not to get them to give an offering only, but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.
In the New Testament, Christ is the perfect Lamb of God who is offered for the sins of the world. His blood is shed on the cross and it is a supernatural Passover for each of us. We are saved from death and we find eternal protection and peace in Him. Whoever places himself, by faith, under the blood of Christ is spared from eternal death and finds salvation.
Fifty days later, it is Pentecost, the beginning of the Church where the promise of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is powerful and personal. The laws, desires, purposes, plans and promises of God are not written on tables of stone any longer, but can be written by the Holy Spirit every day on the tablets of our hearts. It is one of the truest and most extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit available to human beings.
Ezekiel, the man of God and biblical writer, received a prophetic picture. It is a promise for every believer who will pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” Ezekiel prophetically described what would supernaturally take place when someone sincerely asks God to be empowered to receive His resolution by Him and for Him.
“I will give you a new heart and I will put a new Spirit in you. I will take away the heart of stone (impenetrable) and I will give you a heart of flesh (upon which God can leave His imprint — a modern analogy would be like wet cement). I will put My Spirit in you and I will cause you to know and obey my ordinances. I will write my laws upon your hearts and you will walk in my commandments” (see Ezekiel 36:26-27).
What assurance, what confidence! God promises that by His Spirit new passion, values, changes, convictions and commitments are made possible.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
The Old Testament is filled with accounts of the wonderful blessings that came to those who walked in God’s presence.
God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his: “Abimelech . . . spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest” (Genesis 21:22). This heathen king was saying, “There’s something different about you, Abraham. God is with you wherever you go.”
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when His presence was with him: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:5–6). When God’s Spirit is present with us, we can be strong and courageous because we trust His promises.
God told Isaiah of a special promise He makes to those He loves: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God . . . and I have loved thee. . . . Fear not: for I am with thee” (Isaiah 43:1–5, my italics).
With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire, and you won’t just survive but will be kept and protected through it all.
These Old Testament accounts aren’t mere stories. They are meant to encourage us to trust God for His presence in our own lives.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
If Jesus Christ is your Lord, He has commanded the light of His loving-kindness to shine in your soul.
This glory of Christ — this tender loving-kindness that shines in our hearts as we pray and search His Word — changes us, “from glory to glory,” into the likeness of Christ. And the revelation of love, compassion and caring we receive from Him must shine out of us to others.
This revelation is increased daily within us “by the Spirit of the Lord.” Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the glory of Christ. The Spirit shines in us and changes us through every circumstance. Finally, He shows us how to shine His caring, loving-kindness to others who are in need.
I ask you: What are your present circumstances doing to you and in you? Is there a sweetness of Christ shining out of you? Do you ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see the pains and needs of others? That is the changing that Paul says takes place in us by the Spirit of God.
Only those who are at rest in the perfect will of God can trust that “all things are working together for good” in the worst of circumstances. So, dear saint, lift up your head and testify to yourself, to heaven and to your circumstances: “I am living in the perfect will of God, come what may.”
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).
Paul is telling us, “Get your eyes off your troubles. Don’t focus on the things that are coming upon the earth because they are all going to pass away. Your problems mean nothing in light of the eternal glory awaiting the people of God. After one moment in paradise with Him you won’t remember any of it!”
It is written of Christ, “For the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus Himself said, “When you see these things coming, look up and rejoice! It all means your day of redemption is at hand” (see Luke 21:28).
According to Paul, when darkness and uncertainty are closing in, God commands a marvelous light to shine in our hearts.
Paul is speaking here of a glorious manifestation of the knowledge of the glory of Christ that comes to us in our trials:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Paul is describing nothing less than a fresh revelation of the glory of God in the person of Christ.
When Paul received this revelation, he was in prison and penniless. Even though he subsisted on lowly prison food, he was made alive by the fresh revelation of the glory of Christ he received daily.
We Christians struggle so hard to find the will of God for our lives. And then once we believe we’ve found His will, we labor hard to see it fulfilled.
I am convinced this struggle to find God’s will — to live in it, walk in it and see its fulfillment — can become our greatest battle. And the battle intensifies whenever we find ourselves in dire circumstances.
Many Christians simply cannot accept where they are right now. Their lives are burdened down by serious problems. For some, the burden is a lingering sickness. For others it is an unsaved loved one. And now for increasing numbers, the battle is a financial crisis. Very few Christians accept that such burdens could possibly be a part of God’s perfect will for their lives.
As a preacher of the gospel, I know that all sustaining faith and hope must have a foundational truth upon which to grow. What is this foundational truth? Simply this: I must know and believe I am in God’s perfect will — right now, right where I am, in this present time and place.
Simply put, no matter the condition I find myself in — whether I’m rich or poor, sick or healthy, in prison or free — I am to believe I’m in the center of God’s perfect will for my life. I embrace that my steps have been ordered of the Lord.
I personally identify with Paul: “In whatever state I find myself, I am content” (see Philippians 4:11).
I thank God for the example of Paul. This faithful apostle knew how to abound in blessings and yet also rejoice in times of adversity. No matter his outward condition, no matter how pressing his circumstances, Paul always knew he was in the center of God’s perfect will.
There are times in life when things look very bleak but we can say to God, “I’m putting all my faith in You because while my situation looks hopeless, with You nothing is impossible” (see Luke 18:27).
In Mark 5 we read that Jesus was on His way to the home of a man named Jairus and a large crowd was following Him.
“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe” (Mark 5:25-27, NLT).
The King James Version said she touched the hem of His garment. And even though her condition was getting worse, she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed” (verse 28).
Her faith was saying, “I can do this” and then, “Jesus will do the other part.” She was looking at the impossible and affirming that Jesus could do it.
I love this woman’s faith. She had no reason to have faith because nothing she had done had worked. But she finally got hold of this one last hope, this one last desire. She said to herself, “I will touch just the hem of His garment. I will grab hold of Jesus!”
She maneuvered her way through the crowd and touched the hem of His garment — and “immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (Mark 5:29).
Once, when Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, the apostle John records that “he had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). The fact is, Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria to get to Galilee, geographically speaking. In fact, because Jews hated Samaritans, Jews regularly took the long way around in order to avoid that region. But Jesus felt compelled to go through Samaria because that’s where the Spirit now led Him—He had to go through Samaria not as a matter of geography, but as a matter of mission, out of obedience to the Spirit’s guidance.
When Jesus reached Samaria He sent His disciples on ahead of Him and He sat down beside Jacob’s well. There He waited for His divine encounter with the Samaritan woman, where He supernaturally discerned everything about her. Their conversation changed her life forever, and she became the world’s first evangelist, witnessing about Jesus to the people of her city. Jesus stayed with these Samaritans for two more days and was able to bring many others to salvation before moving on. This encounter would never have happened if Jesus hadn’t been following the Spirit’s leading.
Later, in Galilee, as the time for the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem drew near, the brothers of Jesus urged Him to travel there “so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:3-4).
But Jesus was on a different schedule. He answered them, “You go to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” (John 7:8).
Once again Jesus was waiting for clearance from the Holy Spirit to move. He was waiting for the right time to make an entrance at the feast and to reveal His wisdom and teaching to the people in Jerusalem. He knew, in fact, that He was the true feast — the Messiah they’d been waiting for. He Himself was the reason for their celebration, though they did not realize it.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
In recent weeks I’ve sought the Lord for a word that would give me peace amid all the unnerving bad news.
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “David, behold the glory of Christ. That is what will keep you anchored in peace.”
“Thank you, Lord,” I prayed. “But what really is the glory of Christ?”
To me, His glory comes down to something I need and understand: loving kindness. This is more than just Christ’s kindness. It is His loving kindness — then it is his tender loving kindness.
This may be but one facet of His glory. But it is how we need to see Christ — the exact likeness of the heavenly Father, who is caring, tender, loving and kind to His children.
Paul beheld Christ’s glory every morning. This much-afflicted servant of God woke up on many days deeply troubled. There were countless times when he was cast down and perplexed. But Paul stirred his soul to look up so he might behold the glory of Christ — meaning, the mercy and loving kindness of the person of Christ. As Paul did this, the Holy Spirit renewed him with strength to face each day.
Jeremiah wrote this prophecy: “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that He understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Note the very first item in this list of things God delights in: loving kindness. His message to us is clear: We are called to glory in his loving kindness.
David testified in the Psalms, “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Psalm 42:7–8, my italics).
Paul writes, “We are troubled on every side . . . perplexed . . . persecuted . . . cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
“Trouble on every side” — Can you identify with this phrase? Perhaps you’re facing physical pain, marital distress, financial problems, concerns for your children. Life can be totally overwhelming at times.
The fact is, it is possible to be in God’s perfect will and still be cast down at times. We can walk in the very center of His will and still be perplexed, troubled and persecuted.
Some Christians have been troubled on every side for so long they think, “This cannot be of God. It’s all too much to endure. My suffering has gone on for too long and I feel utterly abandoned. The Lord must be chastening me for past sins. There’s no other explanation.”
Paul lays before us wonderful truth he clung to that kept him from despairing:
“Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Hear the truth Paul is declaring to us:
“Yes, all these many troubles and trials have worn down my outward body. My flesh is indeed slowing down. But, at the same time, something wonderful is happening in my soul. All these things are working together for good in me, and I am growing in my knowledge of the Lord and His ways.”
Paul knew he was living in God’s perfect will. He realized all his trials weren’t happening because he was under wrath. On the contrary, Paul knew more deeply than ever that he was greatly loved by the Lord.
In short, Paul had embraced his condition and was learning patience: “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
Not long ago, a wonderful young Christian unburdened his great anxiety to me.
“I feel a calling from the Lord to work with youth and children, but all doors to ministry just keep shutting to me. I pray for other doors to open, but God doesn’t seem to hear my cry. I feel so useless.
“The only ministry I do now is helping with an outreach in one of our slum areas once a week. I serve as a big brother to a preacher’s son because his dad is very sick. But that’s all I’m doing. I have to believe God has more for me.”
When I heard this, I told the young man, “I want you to understand something. What you are doing right now is more precious to the Lord than if you were preaching to thousands in some stadium. Usefulness to Him has nothing to do with numbers.
“You are playing a part in saving that preacher’s son. Go and be a friend to those few slum kids God has given you. Be satisfied in this time and place. And know you are living in God’s perfect will because you’re being faithful in the little things.”
Tell me, Christian, have you made peace with your present situation? Can you trust that God is doing His perfect work in you through every circumstance? If you can’t, you will grow restless, hopeless and eventually mad at God. You’ll become bitter and hard.
Peter writes, “Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). Likewise, Paul instructs, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Paul wrote many of his epistles to the churches while locked up in a cramped prison cell — bound, despised, cut off from believers and seemingly from all ministry. Talk about painful conditions. Yet Paul never spoke of being a prisoner of his circumstances; instead, he called himself “a prisoner of Christ” (see Ephesians 3:1).
In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul stated his desire for all saints who suffer: “That you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:9–11).
Amazingly, Paul’s words of hope and exhortation were a product of his longest imprisonment, probably in Caesarea. When Paul penned these words he had no hope of being released. As far as he knew, he would be there for years, possibly for the rest of his days. It is clear that he had made peace with his painful circumstances.
Nowhere in this letter do we find Paul questioning the Lord. The apostle had entered into a full spiritual understanding of God’s will and embraced his circumstances as the Lord’s will for his life at that moment. Therefore, Paul wrote triumphantly to the Colossians, “Oh, that you would come into this full spiritual understanding of God’s will for you.”
Can you imagine? Here was Paul in utter captivity, lacking freedom of any kind. Yet he spoke of “walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing to Him, being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of the Lord.”