There were giants in the earth in those days," God says (Gen. 6:4). They appeared in the godless line of Cain. They were prodigies of strength, knowledge, and wickedness. But there were other giants, too, unheralded and unsung, mighty men of God, giants of the faith. There were men like Seth, the founder of the godly line; men like Noah and Enoch who spoke to contemporary issues, warning of judgment to come; and Abel, noble martyr of the faith. The first man to leave this earth was Abel. He died, both murdered and martyred, hero and saint. The second man was Enoch—caught up boldly into heaven by way of the rapture. A giant indeed! Our thoughts here are taken up with Enoch.
We think first of his times. They overlapped with the days of Noah and displayed the same hallmark. It was a time of great mental activity. Cain, a vagabond of a man, surprisingly enough conceived the idea of gathering an ever-growing world population into cities. Rural lifestyles with their innate conservation gave way to urban living. Great cities attract talent and breed crime. It was so in Enoch's day. All fields of human endeavor experienced tremendous innovations and growth. Science, engineering, and technology took gigantic strides and produced the skills needed to build the ark. Art expressed itself in musical entertainment and metalworking. It was God who enabled them to achieve these things and to fill their houses with good things. Their response was to tell God to be gone. What could the Almighty do for them that they could not do for themselves (Job 22:16–18)?
So it was not only a time of mental activity but was also a time of material prosperity. They were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage, all legitimate things but things that were blighted by their unbelief.
Moreover it was a time of moral depravity. "The earth . . . was corrupt," the Holy Spirit declared (Gen. 6:11). People employed their imaginative powers to devise wicked pleasures and pastimes. Their every thought was evil. They lived to gratify their lusts and to pursue perversion with the blessing of all. Finally it was an age of monumental apostasy. The godly line dwindled to the sum of one man's family. The Cainites abandoned all pretense of religion. Of the dozen names in the line of Cain listed in the record, only two had any reference to God (Mehujael and Methusael). In contrast, those recorded in the godly line often have annotations alongside their names, comments that help us see how godliness was kept alive on the earth despite the increasing wickedness of the Cainites and the dwindling numbers of the Sethites.
The godlessness of the Cainites brought in the final apostasy. Occultism flourished and gave rise to a "New Age" movement. People began to explore the deep things of Satan and to delve into forbidden secrets. Because their forebearers ate fruit from a fatal tree of knowledge, the Cainites' eyes were opened. They became as gods and plunged into the ultimate evil. A strange hybrid progeny appeared, and wickedness inundated the earth. We think next of Enoch's testimony. Enoch was the heir of the ages, descendant of a long line of patriarchs of the faith. The torch of testimony was handed on to him by his forebears, and he raised it high for three hundred years before handing it on to his son. As apostasy increased, so Enoch preached the more boldly. He warned of the coming of the Lord in judgment (Jude 14–15). He foresaw a coming holocaust of wrath. He denounced ungodliness. He set a date for the day of doom. He called his son by the significant name "Methuselah," meaning "when he dies, it shall come." Not even such anointed preaching as Enoch's, however, could stem the tide. Wickedness was in the saddle, riding high, wide and handsome across the face of the world. Nothing could stop it but judgment.
Finally, we have his translation. For Enoch did not die. He was carried bodily into heaven. The rapture came, and he was gone, caught away in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, from family and friends, from business partners and fellow saints. A voice for God was suddenly stilled on the earth. The ungodly took it in their stride, doubtless glad that he was gone. It would save them the trouble of killing him. A silence fell, an ominous silence, not broken until the voice of Noah rang out, and the judgment, long promised, finally fell. Thus Enoch was a candidate for rapture. So are we who love the Lord.