The Heroes of Faith: Enoch.

‘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).

This example of faith can certainly be described as intriguing and almost totally unique! The details concerning Enoch’s life and his extraordinary departure from this world are found in Genesis 5:18-24.  Writing to Jewish Christians the author draws attention to Enoch’s faith, and states in verse 5 that God took him!  This in itself compels us to investigate in more detail – if we are to understand why this is seen as faith that pleases God.

A clue is found in the Genesis passage (5:21), where we are told that Enoch was 65 years old “when he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father…Enoch:walked with God’ 300 years and had other sons and daughters.” Notably, it is only after this event that we are told Enoch: ‘walked with God’ – a statement that is repeated again later, in verse 24.  Enoch was blessed with the knowledge that above all other joys – including family life and raising a child – the true quality of life is found in living in a way that pleases the Lord.  Philip Eveson notes the fact that Enoch was ‘walking with God’ is a descriptive way of saying he was living with God.  In other words: ‘This was life for Enoch: fellowship with God. It did not stop him engaging in family life.  He was no hermit or monk.  On the other hand, he did not make the things of this world his life, not even his family.  God was his life.’[1] 

This seems to sum up Enoch up nicely. Whatever the issues concerning his extraordinary departure from this world, Enoch was a product of faith that pleased God because he looked to his way, in all things, after the time he turned to him.  Some have seen significance in that the years of Enoch’s life totalling 365, the number of days in one year, hence concluding this represents a complete life.  It is an interesting theory, but the text seems to suggest that only 300 of them were a prelude to his existence with God being really completed when he was taken from this world!

The hearers and readers of this letter would have known the details of Enoch’s life and his extraordinary departure from the world – indeed, such a privilege was only granted to one other Old Testament saint and that was the great prophet Elijah! So, in verse 6 the writer of the letter builds on this.  How did these heroes of the primeval age (before the Flood) please the Lord?  Well, the answer was simply ‘through faith’.  Without faith there was no other way that Abel’s sacrifice would have been accepted, or Enoch would have walked with God to have been spared from death!  This illustrates that faith and belief in God are essential. Complete trust in him is to be the order of the day if we want to please him and see his blessing.

Want to listen to the Sermon on this passage?  Faith that Pleases God.

 [1] Philip Eveson, The Book of Origins, Genesis Simply Explained, (Darlington, Evangelical Press, 2001), 145.

 

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