Jude wanted to encourage his readers to contend for the faith. But our last two articles have demonstrated Jude’s emphasis on the world’s wicked infiltrations of, and its influences upon, local churches. Jude does not mince words. He is clear that these pretenders are “ungodly” (v 4). He wasn’t the first person to sound this warning. The Apostles had (vv 17-18), but there was someone else even before them. In verses 14-15 (ESV), Jude says “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’” Ungodly sinners will be judged, and Enoch preached that very clearly.
Telling ungodly sinners that they are ungodly, and that they have committed ungodly deeds in an ungodly way, and that the Lord is going to judge them, is not easy – at least, it shouldn’t be. Preaching sin and God’s judgment is no light thing. When the Apostle John ate a scroll of God’s words, it was as sweet as honey in his mouth … but then his stomach became bitter (Rev 10:9-10). The words of the scroll concerned God’s wrath against a sinful world, and John was sensitive to it; he was, after all, considering the deaths of millions of ungodly people. It was hard to digest. Nevertheless, John was told, “You must prophesy again …” (Rev 10:11, NKJV). The message may have been difficult, but it still needed to be preached.
We have a similar task today. Sinners need to be told of their ungodliness and warned of impending judgment. Some might argue that we shouldn’t spend much time on those aspects of God’s truth in our preaching because, after all, it is a gospel meeting, and the “gospel” is “good news.” This is true; the gospel is the very best news. But our decision to call it a gospel meeting in the present doesn’t change the ancient model of the apostles’ preaching recorded in Scripture. They did preach the good news of the gospel, the offer of forgiveness through faith in the risen Lord (e.g, Acts 13:38-39); every gospel meeting must contain the good news of salvation. They also clearly preached man’s sin and warned them of God’s coming judgment (Acts 17:30-31). Again, preaching judgment is not a light thing and if it is approached carelessly, it may come across as harsh and callous. Which brings us back to Enoch.
Why does Jude select Enoch? There were lots of people who boldly preached judgment. Enoch’s prophecy isn’t even recorded in the Old Testament (which is an issue for another time). Jude had good reasons for selecting Enoch. If you are going to contend for the faith, if you are going to be a witness for God amidst ungodliness, it will be a big help if you are like Enoch. He was fit to speak about the world’s ungodliness because he was a man of godly character.
Jude highlights that Enoch was the seventh from Adam, that is, he was the seventh generation of mankind. Remember that numbers in Scripture are significant. Seven represents completion or perfection. God designed a complete week to be seven days. Israel was prescribed seven feasts in their annual religious calendar, which in turn foreshadow God’s program to the completion of time. Enoch was the seventh from Adam. He wasn’t the only one in the seventh generation of mankind. Lamech (Gen 4) was also the seventh from Adam, through the line of Cain. He was an arrogant murderer and the first documented polygamist, an ungodly man. But through Adam’s son Seth (Gen 5), the seventh generation was Enoch, a godly man. Enoch, a man complete in his character, pictures God’s perfect man, because he walked with God (Gen 5:24).
It must have been easier to walk with God in those days, though, right? I mean, so close to the beginning of God’s creation, probably before things got very bad … right? Wrong. Remember Lamech above? And while Enoch lived in Genesis 5, it is in Genesis 6 when God sees such corruption on the earth that He determines to destroy mankind with a flood. Living for God has never been easy. But it has always been possible. Here, then, is another reason why Jude selects Enoch. He not only lived a godly life, but he did it while surrounded by ungodliness. I know there is plenty of corruption, temptation, and ungodliness all around you. But it is possible for you to walk with God. And this is exactly what Jude wants to see accomplished in his readers. Don’t get swallowed up by the pervading currents. Rise above the tide of the world … like Enoch did (in more ways than one! Gen 5:24). “Keep yourselves in the love of God … others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 21, 23).
The composition of Jude’s letter, and its placement in our Bible, points toward its special applicability to last days. This is another reason that the Spirit of God leads Jude to introduce Enoch. He prophesied about the end of the age, and lived near the end of an age himself (it concluded following the death of his son). You also live in last days (e. g., 2Tim 3). The Lord is coming, and will bring judgment upon ungodly sinners of this world, just like Enoch said. Like Enoch, you will be taken up to heaven before the judgment comes, but what about those around you? Enoch was an individual the Lord used to be a witness to an ungodly world. Yes, Enoch prophesied. But Enoch did something greater than lifting his voice in a bold condemnation of the ungodliness around him – much greater! Enoch walked with God. “He had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb 11:5). That is effective witness for God.