What can we learn from Enoch? The Bible says little about him. He was born 622 years after Adam was created. He was the seventh generation from Adam, though with the great ages to which people lived in those days, Adam was still alive for much of Enoch’s life.
Of Enoch’s first 65 years we know nothing, but for the last 300 years of his life the Bible records that he ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:22). What made the difference? What happened when he was 65?
We are told that his son Methuselah was born that year. Perhaps the responsibility of bringing up a family weighed on Enoch, and he realised that he needed God’s help for the task.
Whatever the reason, there was a significant change in his life. For every believer there is a point in time when we enter into a relationship with God. We may not always know the exact time, but there must be a moment when we pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. Have you come to that point in time?
What does it mean to walk with God? Obviously it is not a physical walk, although in these early Bible times God did on occasions appear to people in physical form. But the expression is used in the Bible to describe our manner of life or behaviour. Consider some of the features of Enoch’s walk.
In Hebrews 11:5 Enoch is commended as one ‘who pleased God’. How did he know what was pleasing to God? Could he, like us, open his Bible to find out?
Hardly, for there was no Bible in those days. But God was not silent. Sometimes he spoke directly to his people (Genesis 17:1); sometimes he revealed himself in dreams or visions (Numbers 12:6). Others like Adam may have told him what God had revealed to them concerning his will.
By whatever means he knew, he followed what was pleasing to God. He believed God, for ‘without faith it is impossible to please him’ (Hebrews 11:6) — and faith led him to obey God (compare Hebrews 11:8).
For his last 300 years, Enoch pleased God. That was characteristic of his life. Is that true of us? Do we please God in all areas of life, or at least sincerely desire to do so? Whether it is our religious life, our family life, our business life or our social life, we should be regularly asking, ‘Is this pleasing to the Lord?’
Fellowship with God
Enoch walked with God. It is possible to render outward obedience to God without experiencing a nearness to God. We can be scrupulously diligent and honest in all our dealings with others, and yet have little communion with the Lord.
We may know our Bibles well, and be thoroughly grounded in the finer points of doctrine, without walking closely with God. Can it be said of us that we walk with God?
Of course, there will be times when we do not feel God’s presence — periods when we are spiritually dry. But at such times do we long and pray that God would draw near to us?
David had his dry periods, but he often expressed his longing that God would not forsake him. He prayed, ‘Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me’ (Psalm 51:11).
Paul urged Christians to ‘pray continually’ (1 Thessalonians.5:17), and prayer is foundational for a close walk with God. But we can also know communion with God even when we are not praying. Even at work or in leisure we can know God’s presence and commune with him. Do you walk with God? That is what the Christian faith is all about.
Walking in faith
Enoch is listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Verse 5 speaks of his being taken from this life ‘by faith’, but doubtless his whole life was one of faith after he turned to the Lord.
What does it mean to walk by faith? Hebrews 11:1 is helpful. Faith involves confidence in the unseen. It makes us certain of things that are not visible — and because we know they are true, we believe them and act accordingly.
Verse 5 also helps in understanding this. Enoch, like all those who possess true faith, believed not only that God exists but that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There is a God in heaven whom we can seek, find, and commune with. Indeed, he first seeks us.
When we talk about ‘believers’ today we are not thinking of those who just believe in religion or even in the existence of God. We mean they have faith in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Believing in Christ
How does Enoch fit into that scheme? After all, he lived thousands of years before Jesus was born. Nevertheless, Old Testament believers had essentially the same faith as we have — though they looked forward to Christ, whereas we look back.
When Adam sinned, God made a wonderful promise (Genesis 3:15). He promised that a descendent of Eve would crush or bruise the head of the serpent. All the Old Testament prophecies were built upon that first promise of victory over the devil. Although believers in those days had a lot less light than we have, they still looked ahead to the coming deliverer.
God also gave various types or shadows, including the sacrifices. Every time an animal was sacrificed it was a reminder that sin brings death but that God’s grace provides a substitute — to die in the place of the sinner. Thus Adam and Eve were clothed with the skins of slain animals, while Abel’s offering of lambs was accepted by God.
Every sacrifice pointed to Calvary where Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for the sins of his people. Enoch looked ahead to the promised Saviour.
Testifying to God
He was commended as one who pleased God (Hebrews 11:5). That is what he was known for. There is another Enoch mentioned in Genesis 4:17. He had a city named after him. What an honour! His name was perpetuated on earth.
Our Enoch may not have been famous on earth, but he was in heaven. He was known both on earth and in heaven as the man who pleased God. What a testimony that must have been to all around him!
What are we known for? What will people remember about us when we are gone? Our jokes? Our DIY skills? Our intelligence? We should strive to be known as those who please God.
Walking in the midst of darkness
It is not hard to be a Christian in a Christian environment — in the church, in a Christian school or at a Bible conference. But when those around us are hostile to the gospel it is a different matter.
Paul speaks of believers ‘shining like stars in the universe’ in a ‘crooked and depraved generation’ (Philippians 2:15). That was Enoch’s situation, as we see from Jude 14-15. It was a very ungodly society, just like our own.
In such surroundings it is easy to justify keeping quiet — after all, we are free to live as we please, aren’t we? But Enoch did not reason that way. He spoke out against the prevailing wickedness and warned of coming judgement.
Noah — who also walked with God (Genesis 6:9) — was a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5). He doubtless warned of the coming flood, but Enoch seems to have spoken of the final judgement.
We too should be willing to speak of the coming judgement and warn people to flee from the wrath to come. In addition, we should let our light so shine that by godly lives as well as words, the gospel might go forth.
The end of Enoch’s walk
His walk had an end — God took him. He left this world without dying, just as Elijah did much later. Why did God take him in this way? Was Enoch perfect?
Certainly not. All we can say is that it pleased the Lord to do this. It was a wonderful and symbolic end to a life of walking with God. It was also a picture of what will happen to every believer when Christ returns.
We shall be caught up to meet him in the air if we are still alive. And if we have died we shall be raised from our graves to meet the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Every walk has a destination, even if it is returning home after walking the dog.
But what a wonderful destination is ours if we are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation and are walking with him! We shall soon be with the Lord in our eternal home in glory. What a wonderful hope! Is it yours?