"The righteous shall be victorious in the name of the Lord of Spirits and He will cause the others to witness this that they may repent and forgo the works of their hands. They shall have no honour through the name of the Lord of Spirits yet through His name they shall be saved, and the Lord of Spirits shall have compassion on them, for His compassion is great. And He is righteous also in His judgement, and in the presence of His glory unrighteousness shall also not maintain itself: at His judgement the unrepentant shall perish before Him"[Enoch ch50 Charles translation – my highlighting]
My previous post outlined Enoch’s prophecy regarding weeks 8-10, the start of which is the point that Christ returns to judge the earth and raise the dead-in-Christ from their graves. Of course, as with the canonical Old Testament, LJC is not named as such, but it is undoubtedly Him (“the Chosen One”) being referred to, as the narrative indicated a few chapters earlier:
On that day the Chosen One will sit upon the throne of glory, and will choose among men’s deeds and places without number, and their spirit will become strong in them when they see my Chosen One and those who have called upon my holy and glorious name. And on that day I will cause my Chosen One to dwell among them, and will transform heaven and make it a blessing and a light eternally. And I will transform the earth and make it a blessing, and will cause my chosen ones to dwell thereon, whilst those who have committed sins and crimes will not step on it [45:3-5].
The key point I am highlighting from the opening featured passage is that there are not two but three categories of people identified at the end-of-age judgement. The same is more cryptically indicated in canonical Revelation with respect to the New Jerusalem. Chapter 21 describes this as a bride adorned for her Husband. The city is enormous in size and the saints of God are its inhabitants – they are the bride. Yet we also read in verse 24 that “the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it”. Or as some versions/manuscripts render it “the nations of those that are saved”… (e.g. KJV). These cannot be the saints of God who are the “wife of the Lamb” and who inhabit the city. The likes of the Apostle Paul, Moses and Elijah do not “walk by its light” or pay occasional visits. No, the group being referred to are those who have been saved (spared) through the compassion of God and in view of their willingness to repent and bow the knee to the King of Kings, or “Chosen One” as the Book of Enoch describes the Son of Man. As Paul indicated, others who refuse to believe the Good News of Christ even after it has been made clear to them (which has certainly not been the case for most in the current age) are to be ignominiously dealt with (“set ablaze”) at Christ’s appearing (2Thes1:8).
Likewise in Enoch’s prophecy there are three groups. Firstly, the elect righteous, sometimes referred to as “the chosen ones”. They are those who had been “victorious in the name of the Lord of Spirits” and who shall receive honour and praise, even from the angels (40:5) [If you are uncomfortable with that idea then you should observe how Jesus describes His elect in Revelation (3:21) – for the LJC regards His faithful disciples as His own kith and kin and corporate bride-to-be, indicating the elect are to attain both royal and divine status (cf. Heb2:10-11)]. As should be evident from Scripture as a whole, this group are, proportionally speaking, a minority. Given planet earth’s cultural and religious formation, not to mention her catastrophic historical ecclesiological fractures, most human beings have never received an accurate account of the path to glory, still less embarked and persevered along it.
The role of natural law
Hence the divinely ordered but confusingly entitled “natural law”, for as I have previously explained, it pertains to that which is spiritual and to Christ as Logos as much as to the laws of nature. An effectual role for such was acknowledged by the earliest Christian writers such as Irenaeus (pupil of Polycarp, the pupil of the Apostle John) and Eusebius (3rd century Church historian who through his explicit references to natural law indicated such had been understood within the Church up to that point). But (typically) such divine benevolence was rejected by 4th /5th century Augustine and much later by the Protestant Reformers who built on his “theology of sovereign grace”. For natural law in this context (outlined below) infers a benevolence on God’s part and an underlying goodness on humanity’s part that such theologians and their adherents regard as abhorrent, undermining the gospel as they understand it. Satan would despise it also (the clue’s in his name), for he will have been more than happy for God to be presented as incomprehensibly harsh and unjust from any human perspective, and for men and women to be regarded as virtually depraved by nature, with gospel evangelism adapted accordingly.
Second century Christian writers knew better, not because they were superior biblical exegetes but because they had received the full deposit of faith in written and verbal form, either from the apostles themselves, their proteges such as Timothy and Titus or those men’s immediate successors (which takes us into the early 2nd century). Hence, Justyn Martyr had spoken of God’s benevolence towards all who endeavour to walk uprightly and in accordance with right reason; God, he wrote, is One who accepts those who imitate His own qualities of temperance, fairness and philanthropy and who exercise their free will in choosing what is pleasing to Him. Irenaeus, also 2nd century, recognized that God in His providence is present with all who attend to moral discipline” paying heed to the natural precepts of the law by which man can be justified. To such men, God was comprehensively and comprehensibly adorable. He was just, He was good, He was compassionate, just as human beings understand those terms. And that is why the Creator has ensured that every human being has been provided with the innate ability ultimately to be united to Himself (but not to be delivered from the corrupting influence of mortal flesh in the present except they encounter the grace of Christ in the gospel – Rom7:24-25).
Through the faculty of conscience, most (not all) have an internal urge to do what is right – they inwardly delight in what is noble and virtuous even though they usually fail to live up to such moral aspirations (cf. Rom7:22-23). The architect-in-chief of Western theology on the other hand asserted that man by nature could do “absolutely no good thing, whether in thought or will, affection or action”. That is an affront to divine providence as much as it is to humanity. Yet there are some to whom such a description does apply: the twice dead (in mind and spirit– Jud1:12) – the children of the devil. In Enoch’s language they are the wicked and godless; in the secular world they are akin to psychopaths, whether criminal or respectable. Such peoples’ universally observed characteristics closely align with Scripture’s presentation of those who, like their archetype Cain are not “of God” (1Jn3:12) – devoid of a functioning conscience, lacking compassion and empathy, and with no compulsion whatever to speak the truth.
So, returning to the Judgement, in Enoch’s parable there are three categories – i) the righteous, ii) those who witness the vindication of the righteous and repent of their own wrongdoings. They are saved (i.e. spared) through God’s compassion, but not honoured to the degree of those who had obeyed the gospel. For only those who have partaken of the means of grace and been formed by divine teaching have souls fitted for immediate magisterial service in Christ’s Kingdom. Thirdly, there are those who refuse to repent and shall “perish before Him”. One might wonder who on earth would refuse to repent knowing the fate that awaits them. Likewise in New Testament accounts, who would not be willing to bow the knee to Jesus Christ when He is revealed to the world in His majestic glory? Category threes will already know the answer: for Jesus Christ is the summation of all that is good, and as such is an abhorrence to them. They cannot “repent” anymore than a goat can become a sheep or tares become wheat. They cannot become something they no longer are – a human being who in any measure reflects the image of God, being the personification of love.
Completing the biblical jigsaw
Be assured, the soteriological assumptions outlined above are not derived from the Book of Enoch but the New Testament – the teaching of Jesus and Paul in particular. And all have been reconciled and integrated with the teaching of the whole bible in The Little Book of Providence. Nevertheless, the Book of Enoch helps fill out the detail and complete the jigsaw. Otherwise aspects of the bible would remain a puzzle, such as the purpose and rationale for the universal flood and the existence of gigantic hybrids referred to in the Old Testament relating to the conquest and divinely ordered ethnic cleansing of some Canaanite territories. Hence God’s justice and judgements can be clarified and fully vindicated. And whilst mankind’s contribution to the woes and evils of this world is substantive, it is secondary to that of fallen members of the angelic realm – a reality more clearly presented in Enoch than canonical scripture in view of the greater detail provided concerning the judgements and destinies of the respective parties.
The focus of the bible
That is because canonical Scripture’s focus is the salvation history of the world centred on Christ and His peculiar peoples – the Jewish nation and the Church. It was never intended to be a comprehensive account of God’s creation – the origins, history and destiny of the angelic realm being a prime example; Enoch goes into far more detail. Likewise, God’s providential intentions towards creation as a whole – these are alluded to in the bible, but often cryptically so, in verses and passages that typically biblical theologians label as difficult or anomalous. Not so this “armchair theologian”, who is no theologian at all in any academic sense, merely someone who understands himself to have received revelatory insights concerning biblical interpretation. And especially those that impact upon the context of Israel and the Church within God’s broader benevolent providence; believing also that such an eventuality and the writing pertaining to it has been prophetically foretold, most clearly but not exclusively in the Book of Enoch (previous post).
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Related post: ENOCH’S APOCALYPSE – THE AGE TO COME