Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hebrews 11:5-6 By faith Enoch. . .

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ( Hebrews 11:506 NIV)

Enoch, who was the father of Methuselah and the great grandfather of Noah, has only four verses given to him in Genesis, chapter 5. He is listed in this genealogy chapter with a repeated pattern: “When ______ had lived _____ years, he became the father of _____. After he became the father of ______ he lived _____ years and had other sons and daughter. Altogether, ______ lived a total of ______ years, and then he died. Period. But in the passage describing Enoch, there are distinctions that no one else in this chapter merited:

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:21-24)

Enoch did not die. There are only two people mentioned in the Bible as having never died, but who instead were taken from the world by God: Enoch and Elijah.

We are told that Enoch “walked faithfully with God.” What does that mean to “walk” with God? Walking is the most natural and common means by which we move forward. It is not strenuous exercise, but casual, comfortable travel. To walk with someone is to keep in step with him, to go in the same direction side by side. This is an intimate activity. You know, if you walk with your friends or your spouse, it is a time of good conversation - of laughing and sharing the things that are on your heart. To walk with someone is to purposefully set aside time to be together and to connect. {All of this, by the way, from someone who avoids exercise of any kind like the plague :) }

To say that Enoch walked “faithfully” with God tells us that this was his regular habit. Enoch knew God well. Enoch and God apparently had a daily appointed time when they met to walk together. It was a priority with Enoch - and I am certain it was a priority with God, as well.

Think about that. How amazing that the God of the Universe desires to have intimate fellowship with us! He longs to walk through ALL of this life with us. Not just the dramatic, big times of tragedy or loss, but during the quiet times, the routine times, the small times. He wants to walk with you through the scary time of abandonment and divorce as well as during the daily grind of your work or the frustrating days of toddlers and tantrums, diapers and messy houses, which seem to last an eternity - and yet are gone in a blink.

In the Hebrews passage we read that Enoch “pleased God.” What does that mean? This passage tells us that is involves faith, because, without faith, there is absolutely NO WAY to please God! Jesus affirms this in the Gospel of John when Jesus was approached by a crowd with a very specific question:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  (John 6:28-29)

I have written on these verses many times, because I think they are so important. Jesus could have given them a long list of things to DO. In fact, that appears to have been their expectation, and I’m guessing, their desire. I imagine each of them thinking, “Jesus, just tell me what we need to do to get into Heaven. If you want me to tithe, I’m all over it. Attend temple every day? I’m your man! Give to the poor? Fast and pray once a week? Chant Bible passages? Meditate? Study your Word every day? Witness to my neighbors? I’m there, LORD! Just tell me what to DO!”

When we focus on what WE can DO, we are dealing with pride. We like the idea of self-effort and achievement. Surely, those things listed are good things. But Jesus gives us only ONE requirement - one imperative: BELIEVE in Him!

If we want to please God, we have to BELIEVE that He is - that He is Who He says He is - and that He longs to reward all who seek Him diligently. He guarantees that if we earnestly seek Him, He WILL be found (see Jer 29:11-14). He’s not playing hide and seek with us. He YEARNS to be found by us. And the truth is that HE. IS. the reward! Eternal life with Him forever is ours when we believe! This is the good news of the gospel. As my pastor loves to say, “Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”  Believe it!

Enoch was a man who pleased God BY FAITH. And that’s why he is numbered with the heroes in this chapter. Next up? Noah! Boy do we need rain about now. . .  

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