"Enoch" (January 2010)
I really love looking up the meanings of names and places. As a matter of fact, last month’s newsletter was entitled, “Dwelling In Goshen”. It centered around the meaning of the word Goshen. We learned that Goshen means, “drawing near”. We said that Christians should be living in a constant state of “drawing near” to God- in the good times as well as in the bad. As I also said in last month’s letter, the meanings of names are of significance to God, so I believe that by learning their meanings it can help give us a clearer picture of who God is and Biblical understanding.
This month I want to talk about a man in the Bible named Enoch. One day I was reading an article about him and the thought came to me, “I wonder what his name means?”. So I looked it up. Enoch’s name means, “teacher”. When I discovered this, I thought, "How fitting". Although the Bible doesn't tell us a lot about Enoch, it tells us he walked so closely to God that one day God translated him and took him to be with Him. Enoch didn't make it to heaven by way of the grave like the rest of us- his arrival took place through supernatural means. He was only one of two men recorded in the Bible who did not leave this earth through death. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.” (Hebrews 11:5a) “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)
Why do I think the meaning of his name is fitting? Even though we don't know a whole lot about him, the brief testimony of his life "teaches" us a lot. This month I want us to look at some lessons that his life teaches us.
1) What we know about Enoch is that he was no ordinary man. There was nothing “ordinary” about a man who walked with God to such a degree that the Lord would just take him to be with Him without him going through the avenue of death. His life teaches us that those who are followers of the Lord and walk with Him, are not "ordinary" people. We are considered by God as a "royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people". “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) There should be nothing "ordinary" (or like everyone else) about us because we are children of God, ambassadors of Christ, representatives of the King of kings and Lord of lords and bright shining lights in a dark world. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1) “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)
2) Enoch's life teaches us not to follow "status quo". Enoch’s walk with the Lord went far beyond just religious practices and rituals. So many Christians seem to be content with just going to church and barely getting by in their relationship with God. We can’t live lives that just get by when it comes to our relationship with the Lord. We should be going above and beyond the norm and in pursuit of a deeper relationship with Him. The Book of Psalms compares this pursuit of a relationship with the Lord that we should have to a deer that is thirsting for a water brook. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) The opposite of the “status quo” would be “radical”. We should be those who are "radical" for Jesus. We should be among those who are told that "it doesn't take all that". We should be those who are called "fanatical" in our love for Jesus. It is pretty obvious that Enoch was on the "radical side". His relationship with the Lord went way past just a Sunday morning church service or "casual Christianity". If it hadn't, the only thing that we might know about him would be just his name-- and it would be just another name among a genealogy that stretched out over thousands of years. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
Since we are looking at the things that his life teaches us, let me ask you a few questions. Is your relationship with the Lord “status quo” or “radical”? Are you pursuing a relationship with Him, or is it just a "church thing" to you? Are you acting like everyone else, or is there some sort of obvious distinction between you and those who don't profess to know the Lord?
3) Another thing that his life teaches us is that those who walk closely with the Lord will have revelation and insight. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." (Jude 1:14) Enoch lived during the time of the Old Testament. According to the verse above, he was the fourth great grandson of Adam. He lived during the beginning of history, yet he is prophesying about events that will happen at the end of history. How was he able to do that? How did he know these things? How did he know that the Lord was going to return to earth and bring judgment? How was he able to know about the return of Christ when he lived in a time that had not yet known about His first coming or the cross?
Enoch knew these things because it is God's desire to reveal Himself and His plans to us. He desires to show us things that we don't know. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) He desires to show us things that are hidden from our understanding. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11) When Moses asked to see God's face, God didn't rebuke him and deny his request. He didn't show him His literal face because no one can look upon it and live. But God did grant his request by placing Moses in the clef of a rock and declaring who He was as He passed by- God “showed” him what He looked like. “And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:18-23) Also we are told in the scriptures that God made known His ways to Moses. This means that He told Moses why He did what He did. “He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7)
Enoch walked closely to the Lord and the Lord revealed His plan for mankind to him. God gave him a glimpse into the future and gave him hope. Enoch lived in a time when evil was prevalent but God showed him a time when He would come and establish His Kingdom on earth and the rule of wicked men and evil would be destroyed. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14,15)
The lesson Enoch’s life teaches us is-- God desires to reveal Himself and His plans to us as well, and He will if we will walk closely enough to Him to listen. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) Yes, because God is a sovereign God there are things that He reserves for His own understanding- that means He doesn't always tells us everything. But the reason we don't know "more" about God, His plans and the things He does want to show us is because we won't do what it takes to walk close enough to Him for Him to tell us. Again, a few questions. How closely are you walking to God? Close enough that He is able to reveal His plan to you? Close enough for Him to show you deeper insights, greater revelations and a clearer understanding of spiritual things? Close enough to know Him a little better? The closer we walk to the Lord, the more He can show us about Himself and His plans. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17,18a)
4) "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters." (Genesis 5:22) As we have already said, we know that Enoch walked with the Lord and he walked so closely to the Lord that one day while they were "walking" together, he just walked right on up into heaven- never seen on this earth again. From this we learn that not only can we "walk" with God, but we can walk as closely as we desire. There are no limits or boundaries as to how close to God we can walk-- at least none that the Lord puts on us. If there are limitations, we are the ones who placed them on the relationship we have with Him. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8a)
Think about this also. Remember we said that Enoch lived in Old Testament times. He lived after Adam disobeyed God and brought sin upon all mankind but before Jesus came to reconcile us back to the Father and give us access into His presence. If Enoch was allowed to have such a close intimate relationship with God during the time when they had to offer sacrifices, how much closer a relationship can we have because of grace and mercy which came through the eternal sacrifice that was paid by Jesus. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) Enoch walked with God before the way was made into His presence before His throne of grace through Jesus Christ. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2 Cor. 5:19a)
The Lord taught us through Enoch’s life that we could walk as closely to Him as we desire and then He moved everything out of the way through Jesus that would be a hindrance. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Ephesians 2:13-16;3:12) There is nothing that hinders us from walking as closely to God as we desire, so how closely you walk to the Lord is determined by you.
5) Let’s look at another lesson that Enoch’s life teaches us. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:5,6) From his life we learn what it is that pleases God. Do you have a desire to please God? Have you often wondered what it takes to please God? Have you wondered if it is even possible to please God? After all, He is the wonderful Creator of the universe, the Sovereign, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent God, and we are just “mere mortals”. Enoch pleased God, so that means that it is possible. The answer to how to please God is found in verse six of our scripture text above. So, if it is impossible to please God without faith, then that means that it is possible to please God if you have faith.
Jesus had a lot to say about faith. He told us that even the smallest amount of faith can cause things that are impossible to become possible. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20) He marveled when He saw great faith exhibited. “When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Luke 7:9) He honored faith when it was exercised. “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” (Matthew 9:22) He rebuked those who had little or no faith. “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:39,40) “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30) “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:31) When He returns He will be looking for faith. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Part of Enoch’s brief testimony was that he pleased God because of his faith. Who testified to Enoch’s faith? God did- this was God’s testimony about Enoch. How would you like to have God Himself declare this about your life! It is possible to have a faith that pleases God. How do we get it? Look at Enoch again. He “walked with God”. The more he walked with God- consistently on a daily basis- the more deeply aquatinted with God he became, the more aquatinted he became the more his faith grew. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The more time we spend with God- in prayer and reading His word- the more closely aquatinted with Him we’ll become and the more our faith in Him will grow. Where would you say your faith level is? Great faith, little faith or no faith? Are you exercising your faith in God when you go to Him in prayer by believing that He will answer your prayer and meet your need? Or do you go expecting nothing?
6) There is one last lesson I want to bring out. Not only does faith please God, but He also rewards those who have faith and are faithful. “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Through the life of Enoch we discover that our faith in God is not in vain. His faith so pleased God that God did something in his life that we have only seen happen in the scriptures one other time- God translated Enoch and took him to be with Him without tasting death. Being translated because of our faith may not be our reward, but God does reward those who are faithful. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Times are often hard. Circumstances of life tend to want to make us throw up our hands and give up. Our faith gets sorely tried at times. The enemy would love to destroy our faith and trust in God. By regardless of how violent the storm in your life may be, how difficult the problem, how grave the situation, don’t cast away your faith in the Lord, there is a reward attached to it if you will remain faithful- it is not in vain. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35- NLT) “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8) The ultimate reward will be when we hear Him say, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)