Thursday, July 21

By Faith Enoch

This is the third post in a series on Hebrews 11. You can find the previous posts here and here.

Enoch is the second of the faithful "ancients" to be listed in this chapter. Here's what the writer of Hebrews says in regards to Enoch and his faith:
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God. Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:5,6 NET)

You'll remember Enoch from the Old Testament as the the man who "walked with God". Here's what the Genesis record of his life tells us:
When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. The entire lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away. (Genesis 5: 21-24 NET)
There's not a whole lot there, and what is there is just a little mysterious, isn't it? Yet the writer of Hebrews sees an important lesson on faith for us in Enoch's life.

It was as a result of his faith the Enoch did not see death. The Old Testament account tells us simply that "God took him away." Enoch was just there one day and gone the next, and this mysteriously thrilling end to his life on earth was because he had faith.

You'll notice that those verses from Genesis don't say explicitly that Enoch had faith, but the author of Hebrews points out to us that this is implied in the story. That Enoch received God commendation as having pleased him is implicit in the statements that Enoch "walked with God", and since it is impossible to please God without faith, we can conclude that Enoch had faith.

The writer then points us to two things about the nature of faith that can be learned from Enoch. That Enoch approached God (or walked with him) in faith required two things: Belief in the existence of God, and belief in the goodness of God's character. No one can come to God if they don't believe he's really there, so believing in his existence is a necessary first step toward faith, but it's not enough. James tells us that even the demons go this far. They believe there is one God, but their reaction toward him is not one of trust in his goodness, but rather revulsion and fear. There's no way those demons want to walk with the God they know exists. However, the person of faith sees the God they know exists as a God who "rewards those who seek him." A person with faith in God understands that God has good things for those who seek him out, and so they want to be with him, and they want to walk with him like Enoch did.
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