God reveals two important events in Scripture which took place in the tenth century: Adam’s death at 930 years old, 30 years into the tenth century, and Enoch’s translation into heaven fifty-seven years after Adam died. For this segment of history we will consider those years of Adam’s growing old to his death. Next time, the Lord willing, we will consider the translation of Enoch.
When the eyes of an elderly saint who has lived to experience a great event of history grow dim and then close to this life, there is a sense in which that history dies as well. That history does not live within the hearts of those who live on but have never experienced it themselves. The history is viewed from a distance, but can never again be touched and experienced first hand. The only man who had experienced Paradise, had felt his heart sink from the righteousness and beautiful grace of God to the depths of guilt and shame, and had heard the wondrous promise of a seed who would conquer the awful power of sin, was now very old and near unto death. Would the memory of walking in the cool of the evening in covenant fellowship die with him? Would the sense of guilt, and the thrill of hope in God’s promise stay with the church?
Adam had waited all his life for the fulfillment of God’s promised seed, but the power of sin only seemed to grow, and no sign of a savior able to crush its head ever appeared. Yet the evidence of the power of God’s grace and faithfulness was apparent in godly children and the church which surrounded him. His heart was filled with joy and wonder, as well as concern that God’s revelation to him through the history of his life be passed on to them. If he was to die before God’s promise was fulfilled, the church must learn to cherish that knowledge and carry it to the next generation.
Life in the sin cursed world is busy now, and it was busy then. Children, young people, planting, weeding, harvesting, feeding, rearing children, growing, learning, playing, experiencing, chasing ambitions, sorrowing, rejoicing—life is busy! It often is not until God takes away health or strength that we sit still and really think about real life – life with God. It is then that we begin to realize just how much of our busyness is just that: vain busyness. Adam was growing old in the middle of a very busy world, and he could see more and more how important it was for the church to set priorities, make time for devotions and instruction, and especially cherish the day of worship established by God. No greater joy filled his heart at this point in life, than to see the children, the young people, and the busy parents set aside their daily work, and listen in rapt attention to the preaching of God’s word. It renewed his hope to see the young people show true sorrow for their sins, and find comfort in the promised redemption. When he could see that longing in their eyes for that perfect covenant fellowship with God that he had enjoyed, then he was assured that God would preserve that knowledge with his people. Then he was ready to die and go home to his heavenly Father.
It is the same with elderly saints today. Nothing grieves them more than to find the children and young people of the church uninterested in the truth that God has revealed and recorded in the Bible, and cherished and developed by the church through the ages. It brings sorrow to see all the energy of youth and the resources of covenant parents invested in careers, large homes, and earthly wealth instead of the establishment and maintenance of sound, God glorifying schools and catechism instruction. As his eyes grow dim, so do the hopes of God’s continued blessings for such families.
By this time in Adam’s life, God had revealed to his church the fundamental truths of man’s spiritual condition before the holy God: His sovereign power in creation, his sovereign power to accomplish his purposes, his great love and mercy toward the church, and had planted the hope of full redemption and covenant life with him in the promised Savior. Adam held a precious heritage. Today we are able to enjoy, as believers, the full accumulated treasure of the revelation of God and his plan of salvation in Christ. When the apostle Paul considered the faithfulness of God through the ages, he exclaimed in faith “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33) As we live in the last days and await the return of Christ, we are called as a church to mine these riches, polish them, and display their glory to each generation.
How do the elderly saints feel as they observe our busy lives today? Do we ask questions and listen with interest to their experiences in church life? Do they find us reading material that will keep us alert to life in the church world? Do they find us diligent in our catechism studies and thankful for Christian schools? Today we increasingly witness with horror what happens when the church becomes busy in the things of the world, loses interest in the treasures of God, and looks for a quick and easy solution to salvation. Churches which have a history rooted in the release from Rome’s bondage, have forgotten and do not really care what Luther or Calvin exposed, and are quite content to let the priests, bishops, and pope promise salvation with the help of good works. The treasures of knowledge and wisdom lay in dusty heaps or are kicked around like worthless stones. Let us pray that God continue to pour out the power of his grace upon us and our children that we might see and cherish the heritage we have.
God has preserved the truth of his word through many generations. Not only does he raise up men like Methuselah and Enoch to lead his people in the green pastures of his word, but God also works mightily in the hearts of his sheep a hunger and thirst for that word. We can be assured that this will continue until the last sheep has been born, fed, and prepared for glory and his place in the kingdom of God. To God alone be all the glory.