Saturday, August 20, 2011

Born for righteousness


When we started our Sunday morning study in Jude, Gabrielle made a comment to the effect that it should be pretty easy since it was only 25 verses long. That was several weeks ago and I’m thinking that tomorrow we’ll still be discussing Jude. Jude is only 25 verses long, and Jude’s message is direct. He calls on believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” Jude makes it clear that the faith for which we are to contend has already been delivered at the time of his writing. But Jude warns that ungodly men had already infiltrated the church; men who turned God’s grace into license and by their behavior denied God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, reading Jude requires a lot of background knowledge. If you don't know the background, you can spend a lot of time in remedial reading. Gabrielle couldn't anticipate that our Sunday morning studies would digress into a lot of Biblical history.

Jude spends about half of his letter reminding his readers that such were always punished and for whom “the infernal region of darkness is being kept into the eon.” Jude 1:13 (ABP) Jude reminds his reader of several accounts from the Old Testament: Cain, Sodom and Gomorrah, unbelieving Israel, Korah, and Balaam. All of these were judged by God as our assurance that the infiltrators would also be judged. But Jude makes an allusion to an event not fully elaborated in the Old Testament as we know it. In Genesis 5:2-4, it mentions the “sons of God” who married the daughters of men and their offspring who were giants. God destroyed the world by water in Genesis 6, but Genesis never deals with the hereafter much less the disposition of the angels who sinned. Yet Jude expects his readers to remember:

Also angels not keeping their own sovereignty, but leaving their own dwelling-place, he keeps in everlasting bonds under the infernal region for a day of great judgment.
Jude 1:6 (ABP)
Jude also makes two direct references to Apocryphal works. He contrasts the infiltrators of the church with Michael, the archangel. The infiltrators blaspheme spiritual entities which do not understand, but Michael would not bring a railing accusation against the devil, choosing instead to say, “May the Lord reproach you.” Michael, whom Daniel describes as a great ruler, contested with the devil over the body of Moses. We do not know this from Deuteronomy or from any Old Testament book. Rather we know this from the Apocryphal book, The Book of Moses. So Jude assumes that his readers would know the Book of Moses as well as they would know Old Testament Scripture.

Jude also quotes directly from The Book of Enoch, saying,

And also Enoch the seventh from Adam prophesied to these saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads executing judgment against all, and to reprove all the impious of them concerning all the works of their impiety with they were impious; and concerning all the hard things which impious sinner spoke against him.
Jude 1:14, 15 (ABP)
Richard Laurence’s 19th Century translation of Enoch 2 reads:

Behold, he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.

Of all the possible Old Testament prophecies regarding judgment, Jude pulls a prophecy from a book the church now neglects to teach. Yet Jude doesn’t just borrow from Enoch once.  We do not know that the angels who sinned are kept in eternal chains in the infernal regions because our Old Testament tells us so. We know this because of The Book of Enoch chapters 7—22. 

My casual read through the Book of Enoch this week indicated that Daniel was enlightened by the Enoch. Daniel is the only Old Testament writer to refer to God as the Ancient of Days. Enoch uses this name for God, ten times. Other than three prophetic utterances in Psalm 8, 80, and 144, which the Psalmist probably did not regard as Messianic, Daniel is the only Old Testament writer to refer to the Messiah as the Son of Man. 

I view in a vision of the night, and behold, with the clouds of the heaven, and one as son of man was coming. And he came unto the old one of days, and he was brought before him.
Daniel 7:14 (ABP)
Daniel describing the Son of Man in the presence of the Ancient of Days recalls Enoch chapters 46 and 48. Likewise, New Testament writers including, Luke, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews all borrow from Enoch. Paul’s famous declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I speak to you a mystery; we shall not all indeed sleep, but all shall be changed,” echoes Enoch 49:1, “In those days the saints and the chosen shall undergo a change. The light of day shall rest upon them; and the splendor and glory of the saints shall be changed.” 

No reference to Enoch is as compelling as the Gospel references to the Son of Man.

Chapter 46

There I beheld the Ancient of days, whose head was like white wool, and with him another, whose countenance resembled that of man. His countenance was full of grace, like that of one of the holy angels. Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was and why he accompanied the Ancient of days.
He answered and said to me, This is the Son of man, to whom righteousness belongs; with whom righteousness has dwelt; and who will reveal all the treasures of that which is concealed: for the Lord of spirits has chosen him; and his portion has surpassed all before the Lord of spirits in everlasting uprightness.
This Son of man, whom you behold, shall raise up kings and the mighty from their dwelling places, and the powerful from their thrones; shall loosen the bridles of the powerful, and break in pieces the teeth of sinners.
He shall hurl kings from their thrones and their dominions; because they will not exalt and praise him, nor humble themselves before him, by whom their kingdoms were granted to them. The countenance likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed; nor from that their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.
They shall condemn the stars of heaven, shall lift up their hands against the Most High, shall tread upon and inhabit the earth, exhibiting all their acts of iniquity, even their works of iniquity. Their strength shall be in their riches, and their faith in the gods whom they have formed with their own hands. They shall deny the name of the Lord of spirits, and shall expel him from the temples, in which they assemble;
And with him the faithful, who suffer in the name of the Lord of spirits.

Chapter 48

In that place I beheld a fountain of righteousness, which never failed, encircled by many springs of wisdom. Of these all the thirsty drank, and were filled with wisdom, having their habitation with the righteous, the elect, and the holy.
In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days.
Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits. A support shall he be for the righteous and the holy to lean upon, without falling; and he shall be the light of nations.
He shall be the hope of those whose hearts are troubled. All, who dwell on earth, shall fall down and worship before him; shall bless and glorify him, and sing praises to the name of the Lord of spirits.
Therefore the Elect and the Concealed One existed in his presence, before the world was created, and forever.
In his presence he existed, and has revealed to the saints and to the righteous the wisdom of the Lord of spirits; for he has preserved the lot of the righteous, because they have hated and rejected this world of iniquity, and have detested all its works and ways, in the name of the Lord of spirits.
When we see Enoch use the term, Son of Man, we are reminded that the New Testament uses this name for Jesus nearly 90 times across all four Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation. In fact, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man nearly 80 times! Why did Jesus use this name for himself? He used it because it conveyed his meaning to his audience. Enoch writes,

In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days.
Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits.
If a New Testament theologian was looking for a definitive declaration of Jesus Christ’s eternal preexistence, he would have to shop no further than Enoch 48, “Therefore the Elect and the Concealed One existed in his presence, before the world was created, and forever.”

But wait, there’s more! When Jesus gave the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, he was speaking in a context of hell that his listeners understood. How would they know about a place of comfort and a place of torment? How would they know about the great gulf that was fixed between them? The answer resides in Enoch chapter 22. The Christian belief in eternal punishment for the wicked is better elaborated in Enoch than in the New Testament and Jude and Peter quote Enoch to lend authority to their belief in eternal punishment.

When Jesus spoke of himself as the Son of Man, he was claiming to be the eternally pre-existing one—the one chosen before the heaven and earth were even created. Below is a sampling of Jesus' words:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
(Matthew 16:27)

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
(Mark 8:38)

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26)

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
(John 6:27)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
(John 8:28)
The Book of Enoch does not only refer to the Messiah as the Son of Man. Angels address Enoch also as son of man. God addresses the prophet Ezekiel as “son of man” over 90 times. In Psalm 8 and 144, son of man, refers immediately to mankind and prophetically to the Christ as Hebrews 2 reconciles.

While Jesus identified himself as the Son of Man in allusion to his eternal preexistence in the presence of the Ancient of Days, Jesus also used the term to make his identification with all of mankind. He was both eternally existent God, one with his Father, and he was man, born of women through Enoch’s lineage.

The term, Son of Man, applies aptly to Christ and to believers because it is through Christ that we are reconciled to our Creator. Only in Christ, can we realize the righteousness for which man was created. Enoch writes in chapter 69:16-24, 

The Ancient of days came with Michael and Gabriel, 
Raphael and Phanuel, 
with thousands of thousands, and myriads and myriads,
which could not be numbered.

Then that angel came to me, and with his voice saluted me, saying,  
You are the Son of man, who art born for righteousness
and righteousness has rested upon you.

The righteousness of the Ancient of days shall not forsake you.
He said, On you shall he confer peace in the name of the existing world;
for from thence has peace gone forth since the world was created.

And thus shall it happen to you forever and ever.
All who shall exist, and who shall walk in your path of righteousness, 
shall not forsake you forever.

With you shall be their habitations, with you their lot; 
nor from you shall they be separated forever and ever.

And thus shall length of days be with the Son of man.
Peace shall be to the righteous; 
and the path of integrity shall the righteous pursue, 
in the name of the Lord of spirits,
forever and ever.

Jude is probably most famous for his similar benediction:
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless 
before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour, 
be glory and majesty, 
dominion and power, 
both now and ever. 
Amen.


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