25 April 2021
Ps Ben Hooman
Please open your Bible at Hebrews 11 as we continue our Faith Life Series. This chapter begins by telling us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. The “hoped for” things we are sure of, are things God has promised. The “unseen things” we are convinced of, are things God has revealed. So, faith believes what God has revealed and trusts what God has promised.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
Now, what does it mean to live by faith? God teaches us by pointing to real-life examples of faith in action. Each of them highlights a distinct aspect of faith.
Last week we looked at Abel and saw from his story that faith listens to God. Abel was commended as righteous because of a sacrifice that God accepted. He offered a first-born lamb from the flock. A life was laid down for him.
Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb from the flock points forward to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Offering the lamb was a sign that Abel was trusting in God’s promise. And that promise was fulfilled when Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross. God gave his one and only Son as the sacrifice for our sins.
Abel knew that a life must be laid down because God had revealed it, back in the garden of Eden when He made garments of skins to clothe Adam and Eve. God had revealed the acceptable sacrifice and faith listens to what God has revealed.
Hebrews 11 paints a picture of what a life of faith looks like. Each story fills out the picture. Today we come to the story of Enoch, where we learn that faith walks with God.
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)
The story of Enoch is told back in Genesis 5, where God records the generations from Adam to Noah, whose story we will look at next time.
Ten generations are recorded. We read here about Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.
- Why are these names recorded?
If you look at the end of Luke 3, you will see that this is the line of descent into which Jesus Christ was born. What matters about them is the relationship they have with Jesus. And that of course is the thing that ultimately matters about us all.
Joseph Parker says, “The fifth chapter of Genesis is the beginning of that long series of characters in human history which are extremely uninteresting. Such people as Enosh, Mahalalel, and Jared are respectable plodding quiet men who said goodnight to one another regularly, remarked briefly upon the weather and died.”
The most important thing about you – what will matter about you forever is not how many people know your name, or not how many people follow you on social media. It is not a list of great things that you have accomplished. It is the relationship you have with Jesus.
Why are these names recorded? And secondly:
- Why did they live so long?
The lifespans of these generations are about ten times as long as our lives today. Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5). Seth lived 912 years (Genesis 5:8). Enosh lived 905 years (Genesis 5:11).
This was God’s provision for multiplying the human population in its earliest generations. After the time of Noah and the flood, human lifespans come down rapidly to what we are used to today.
These first generations lived for many years, but they had one thing in common:
All the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died (Genesis 5:5) All the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died (Genesis 5:8)
All the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died (Genesis 5:11)
This grim reality runs like a relentless drumbeat throughout the chapter. It is like the sound of a train on the tracks when it gets up to speed, “and he died, and he died, and he died.” This runs through the whole chapter with one exception. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him”. (Genesis 5:24).
By any standards this is a remarkable story. Suddenly there is a break in the clouds. Light shines into the darkness, and we have reason to hope that the reign of death may not be forever. This story points us to the hope we have in Jesus who broke through the power of death and ascended into heaven.
Enoch walked with God
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:21,22)
“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24)
What does it mean to walk with God? To walk with God is to live in a constant, conscious enjoyment of the presence of God.
To walk with God involves:
God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, but when they sinned, they hid from Him. You can’t walk with someone when you are hiding from them.
To walk with God means that you are at peace with Him. Any known sin in your life has been confessed and forgiven. You are at peace in the presence of God, because you have nothing to hide from Him.
Walking involves movement in a particular direction. If two people come to a crossroads and they want to take different paths, they cannot walk together. Amos asks,
Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3)
“Do two walk together, unless they agreed?” So, to walk with God means that we go where He is going. God is the great peace-maker: when we make peace we are walking with Him. God is merciful and just, so when we “do justly” and “love mercy,” then we walk humbly with our God. The prophet Micah says,
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you; but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Walking is not sitting and walking is not sprinting. Walking involves slow, steady movement. To walk with God does not mean that you are perfect, but if you are walking you are making progress. Paul says,
“… I press on to make it my own, because Christ has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:12,13)
He speaks of straining forward toward what lies ahead. Walking isn’t easy when the wind is against you. Sometimes it involves leaning into the wind. But even if your progress is slow, you will still be moving forward.
Think about this: “Walking with God!” That is the greatest privilege possible. What else could compare with this? The Creator of heaven and earth; the sovereign Lord of the universe is your heavenly Father, and He is so intensely interested in you, so intimately involved in your life, that He would choose to walk with you!
If you want to get some place fast, get in a car. But if you want to savour a place and enjoy it, get out of the car and go for a walk. When you walk, you see things you don’t notice from a car. You hear, touch and smell things that you miss in the car.
Walking with God is the greatest pleasure. David says,
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forever more.” (Psalm 16:11)
That means more than that heaven is a place of great happiness. Pleasures are found at God’s “right hand,” and those who walk with God taste these pleasures before they ever arrive in heaven.
The constant, conscious enjoyment of the presence of God that, by faith, is possible for you now is a taste, an anticipation of the joys that will be yours forever in heaven.
Walking with God involves peace, purpose, progress, privilege and pleasure. Here is something that everyone who loves the Lord will aspire.
Enoch walked with God, and Enoch walked with God in the light of the coming Judgement.
Enoch walked with God in the light of the coming Judgment
The early chapters of Genesis chart the growth of sin in the world and its devastating effects. Adam and Eve disobeyed a single command in the Garden. And just one generation later, their son Cain killed his brother. The world’s first baby became the world’s first murderer.
Ten generations are recorded here from Adam to Noah. And by the time of Noah we read, The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11)
Enoch was the seventh of these 10 generations from Adam to Noah. If wickedness had filled the earth by the time of Noah, you can be sure that it was running rampant in the time of Enoch.
This is confirmed by a prophecy given by Enoch, that is quoted and preserved for us in the New Testament. Enoch was given a prophetic glimpse of the day when our Lord Jesus Christ will come with His holy angels. He will establish the truth, right every wrong, and bring the whole world to justice.
“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.” (Jude 14,15)
Notice the word ‘ungodly” or ungodliness occurs four times. Enoch was surrounded by people who had no place for God. People who spoke against God. People who acted in defiance toward God.
And in such a world, Enoch walked with God! It is possible to walk with God, in a world that defies Him. That’s what Enoch did. And that is our calling today.
Enoch lived with a profound awareness that judgment was coming. We know that for sure from his prophecy recorded in Jude, but there may also be a hint of this in the name Enoch chose for his son.
A.W. Pink says that the name Methuselah can mean, “When he is dead, it shall be sent.” He suggests that perhaps Enoch gave his son this unusual name, because God had revealed to him that when Methuselah died, the flood would come.
That is exactly what happened. The flood came in the 600th year of Noah’s life and if you compare that with the long years of Methuselah’s life, you will see that God sent the flood in the year that Methuselah died.
“When he is dead, it shall be sent.” ‘Enoch, the world as you know it will be washed away. And I will let you in on the secret of when it will happen: When your son dies, the judgment will come.”
Pink asks this question: What effect would such a revelation have on you? Every time the boy became sick you would think “This is it. The judgment of the world is about to come!”
Enoch knew that the judgment of God was coming soon. He knew that he had to be ready to meet with God. And in the light of that Enoch walked with God.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27)
“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, … (2 Corinthians5:9)
Therefore, at all times, we must cling to Christ as our Saviour. We must walk with God by faith so that we are ready to meet him by sight.
Enoch walked with God, Enoch walked with God In the light of the coming Judgment, and thirdly Enoch walked with God after he became a father.
Enoch walked with God after he became a father
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah …” (Genesis 5:21,22)
It seems that the responsibility of being a father caused Enoch to feel that he needed God in a way that he had not felt before.
Some of you may think that 65 sounds quite old, but at this point, Enoch was about a fifth of the way through his life. On a lifespan of 90 years that would be about 18 years old. So, here is a young man who suddenly finds himself in a place where he knows that he needs the help of God. He feels it in a way that he did not before.
Enoch got through his early years without too much trouble. He had always believed in God, always come to worship, always offered the sacrifices. But when Methuselah was born, Enoch knew that he needed help and he began to walk with God.
Maybe you know what this is like. Your world changes. God gives you a new assignment, and you know that you are out of your depth. Has it occurred to you that God may have done this so that you will seek Him and walk with Him in a way that you were not doing before?
You become a father, or a mother, and you find yourself saying, God has given me this wonderful gift and if I am to raise this child in this ungodly world, I need strength. I need wisdom. I need patience. I need a pure heart. And only God can give me what I need.
Enoch walked with God, Enoch walked with God In the light of the coming Judgment, Enoch walked with God after he became a father, and Enoch walked with God until God took him home.
“Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 days. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:23,24)
Genesis 5 is a chapter of numbers and as every accountant knows, the numbers tell a story. And I want to make two observations from them:
- Adam was still living when Enoch was born
If you add the ages at which each of these patriarchs became a father, you will find that from Adam to the birth of Enoch was 622 years (130 + 105 + 90 + 70 + 65 + 162 = 662 years).
We are told in verse 5 that Adam lived for 930 years. So, Adam was still living when Enoch was born. In fact, Adam was still living when Enoch’s son Methuselah was born and when Enoch’s grandson Lamech was born!
Nine generations were all living at the same time! Adam lived to see his great, great, great, great, great, great, grandchildren. That is a lot of birthdays to remember!
- Enoch was taken soon after Adam had died
Again, this is clear from the numbers in Genesis 5. Adam died after 930 years. And if you add up all the numbers, you find that Enoch was taken up to heaven after 987 years. So, this was soon after the death of Adam, and before any of the other patriarchs died.
Imagine the impact of this first recorded death by natural causes. Abel had been killed, but that was before Seth or any of his descendants were born. Since the birth of Seth, all of these patriarchs carried on living.
But over time Adam became weaker. Picture Seth, and Enosh, and Kenan, and Mahalalel, and Jared, and Enoch, and Methuselah, and young Lamech all gathering round the old man. They knew what death was because they had seen it in the animals, but when the first man died, all of the others knew this is what will happen to me!
We live in a world that is far from God and all of us are going to die. But God is full of grace and mercy and soon after the death of Adam, God gave a wonderful sign that death’s power would be broken.
Death is like a river that separates us from the presence of God in heaven. All have to cross the river. But Enoch did not go through it. God picked him up and carried him across it!
“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24)
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:5,6)
God gave this marvellous sign that one day even death itself will be conquered. Enoch was taken. We read this story and we wonder; how can this be? The answer lies in the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Saviour broke the power of death when He rose from the grave. He was “taken up” into heaven (Acts 1:11) And He says to us, I go to prepare a place for you and…I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:2-3).
Death for a believer is Christ taking us home. Most of us will be taken through the river. Those who are alive when Christ comes in glory will be taken across the river, without going through it. Either way, it is Christ who will take us up, and we will be at home with Him.
Enoch walked with God, Enoch walked with God in the light of the coming Judgment, Enoch walked with God after he became a father, Enoch walked with God until God took him home, and lastly Enoch walked with God by faith.
Enoch walked with God by faith
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
Enoch walked with God. But what does that have to do with us? This ancient story may seem a long way from the realities of your life today, but Hebrews applies the story of Enoch directly to us.
After telling us about Enoch who walked with God, Hebrews says, “Whoever would draw near to God.” Walking with God is not just for Enoch. This is for us today. Whoever would draw near to God! This is an open invitation. “Whoever” is as inclusive as you can get.
How can we draw near to God?
So how can you draw near to God? How can you live in a constant, conscious enjoyment of the presence of God?
This verse gives us two answers:
- You must believe that God exists
If you would draw near to God, you must believe that He exists (verse 6). There’s more here than believing there is a God. Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He is!
There is clearly a reference here to God revealing His name to Moses. Moses asked the Lord, ‘What is your name?’ And God said, I am that I am (Exodus 3:14).
If you would draw near to God, you must believe that He is who He says He is. Don’t go looking for a God of your own imagination. God has made Himself known in the Scriptures, and If you want to walk with Him, you must believe what He says about Himself.
- You must believe that God rewards
If you would draw near to God, you must believe…that He rewards those who seek Him (verse 6). It’s no good saying, ‘If God wants me, He can make himself known to me. God has made Himself known in Jesus Christ.
Our calling is to seek Him. This is a constant theme of Scripture.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7,8)
Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6,7)
God “rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). What is the reward? The reward of seeking God is finding Him. God said to Abraham, “Do not be afraid… I am your shield, your very great reward (Genesis 15:1 NIV). God is the reward of those who seek Him.
God invites you to live in the constant, conscious enjoyment of His presence. If you seek Him, you will find Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)