Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Hebrews 11:5, 6
WHAT IS FAITH?
Faith is understanding the importance of pleasing God even though you might be the only one trying to do it, and even when it demands that you take a stand against evil in order to please Him.
“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 11:5, 6).
If we knew little about Abel, we know even less about Enoch. But an understanding of what his calling from God was will go a long way toward explaining why his departure from this life was so unusual.
There are actually two Enochs mentioned in the Scriptures. The first is mentioned in Genesis 4:17: “Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.” But our concern is with the second Enoch. What we know about him is summarized in Genesis 5:3-18, 21-24 and Luke 3:37.
“When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth…When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh…” And so the genealogy of Seth continues until: “When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch.”
When Luke traces the lineage of Jesus, he records: “…the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mehalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”
According to the genealogy given to us in Genesis 5, Enoch was a descendent of Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth. It appears that fatherhood might have influenced Enoch’s spiritual journey depending on how you read the story given to us in Genesis 5:21-24.
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 356 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Enoch’s faith statement covers four words:“he walked with God.”
Benson writes in his commentary, “Enoch walked with God, and therefore is said to please him; that is, he set God always before him, and thought, spoke, and acted as one that considered he was always under God’s eye, and he made it his daily business to worship and serve him acceptably.”
In the same vein, Keil and Delitzsch comment, “…life had not only a different issue, but also a different form. Instead of the expression ‘and he lived,’ which introduces in every other instance the length of life after the birth of the first-born, we find in the case of Enoch this statement, ‘he walked with God (Elohim);’ and instead of the expression ‘and he died,’ the announcement, ‘and he was not, for God (Elohim) took him.’ The phrase ‘walked with God, which is only applied to Enoch and Noah (Genesis 6:9), denotes the most confidential intercourse, the closest communion with the personal God, a walking as it were by the side of God, who still continued His visible intercourse with men (vid.,Genesis 3:8). It must be distinguished from ‘walking before God’ (Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40, etc.), and ‘walking after God’ (Deuteronomy 13:4), both which phrases are used to indicate a pious, moral, blameless life under the law according to the directions of the divine commands. The only other passage in which this expression ‘walk with God’ occurs is Malachi 2:6, where it denotes not the piety of the godly Israelites generally, but the conduct of the priests, who stood in a closer relation to Jehovah under the Old Testament than the rest of the faithful, being permitted to enter the Holy Place, and hold direct intercourse with Him there, which the rest of the people could not do.”
BUNNY TRAIL—BUT RELEVANT
a. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians: “…we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (5:9, 10).
Like Enoch, our faith, our true faith, is expressed through whether or not we live our lives in the way that pleases Him. How we please Him is one issue, but the idea that we will stand before Him one day and be judged by Him as to whether or not we met that goal, as stated in 2 Corinthians, is another issue. This, along with several other similar verses, provides a conundrum that, for many, defies explanation.
Another commentator, Barnes, writes, as a suggested explanation: “For we must - (δεῖdei). It is proper, fit, necessary that we should all appear there. This fact, to which Paul now refers, is another reason why it was necessary to lead a holy life, and why Paul gave himself with so much diligence and self-denial to the arduous duties of his office. There is a necessity, or a fitness that we should appear there to give up our account, for we are here on trial: we are responsible moral agents; we are placed here to form characters for eternity. Before we receive our eternal allotment it is proper that we should render our account of the manner in which we have lived, and of the manner in which we have improved our talents and privileges. …God has made it necessary and certain, by his direct and positive appointment, that we should stand at the bar of the final judge; see Romans 14:10.”
We so often assure ourselves, and others, that, as believers we will not be judged. The issue here is not one of salvation but of accountability. We are not held accountable for our sin which has been paid for in full by Christ, but we are to give account for how we obeyed the instruction pertaining to working out (or working on) what that salvation looks like in daily life —something we are to take seriously from the moment we are saved. (Philippians 2:12)
b. Jesus, in telling the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, suggests the same. Jesus describes a householder who goes away on a journey. Before he leaves he entrusts three of his servants with an amount of money corresponding with their abilities (none are given more than they can handle). The first two put the money to work. The third buries what he has been given. The householder returns. The first two servants present their Master with an accounting of what has happened to his investment. They are rewarded for their faithful service. Then the third presents himself, long with his excuses for not having done anything with what he had been given. He is punished for his laziness and his talent given to those who have proven their trustworthiness.
The lack of faith demonstrated by the third man via his disobedience reminds us of James’ words in James 2:14-26 and Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-17. The Lord has expectations of His children.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?...But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do…You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor, Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did…faith without deeds is dead.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…I chose you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”
In the passage from James, the connection between works and faith and ones’ responsibility toward a needy brother is clear shown. “Faith” writes James, “by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”
In the passage from John, Jesus graphically illustrates what happens to the believer who doesn’t produce the fruit than needs to accompany a confession of faith. It is not a matter of contributing to salvation but of giving evidence that salvation had taken place. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
There are other passages in Scripture that deserve consideration when it comes to understanding that when we claim faith, simply saying that we have it is not sufficient. Look for similar supporting statements in Matthew 3:10; 7:17-19; 12:33; 13:8, Galatians 5:9 and 22, Colossians 1:6, Hebrews 12:11; 13:15, James 5:7.
Personally, I believe that this giving of account is not a separate event from that which is described in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31:46. The sheep are separated from the goats based on the evidence of what they did or did not do. Their actions were evidence of their faith, or the lack thereof and those lacking in the faith that fueled the lives of those who lived for the glory of God, suffered the consequences: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Let’s go forward into history before we go back to take a look at Enoch’s life. With little being know about Enoch it will be valuable to look at a descendant of his who may have faced a very similar situation as that which Enoch faced and responded to in faith.
Years after God took Enoch home, a descendent of his was born, a man by the name of Noah. By the time Noah had children, the earth was a pretty terrible place. Genesis 6:1-8 describes the situation.
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal, his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilium were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
It is noteworthy that the wickedness of man described here, that which will end in disaster on a global scale, is precipitated by lust. There is much debate about this particular passage. Four common views of who these “sons of God” and “daughters of men” are:
1. Angels.In the King James, angels are referred to as “sons of God” and later translated as “angels” in other versions, i.e. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. Mark 12:25 tells us that angels do not marry but that is specifically referring to the angels of heaven not fallen angels. That idea might give new meaning to the expression “married to a devil!”
2. Sons of Cain.Considering how Cain’s descendants are described in Genesis 4 as a line of murderers, it is unlikely they would be referred to as “sons of God.”
3. Sons of Seth.This phrase refers to the righteous line that followed the steps of Abel whom Seth replaced. The implication is that believers in God married those who didn’t believe. A prohibition against intermarriage would become a core value in the Law and in instructions given in the New Testament.
4. Unknown men of prominence.The idea here is that men of exalted station lusted after and married women of low station. But that doesn’t explain why they would be called “sons of God.”
Given what is to come when the Law is delivered to Moses and so much emphasis is placed on God’s people not uniting in marriage with the pagan nations around them, as well as the New Testament injunction against the same as a union of light with darkness, we would not be far off the mark to assume that these “sons of God” were indeed the righteous line and that some kind of instruction had been given to them to stay away from those who did not follow the same creed.
Part of the confusion centers around these mighty men of valour, the Nephilium, and how a union between the righteous line and the unrighteous line could produce such men. But in reading the text it appears that these heroes were not the product of such unions but were a breed of people present at the time the righteous united with the unrighteous.
Whatever the case may be unequal yokes led to hearts distant from God’s. The idea of God filled with “pain” is astonishing to us. But as people created in His likeness, we can expect that emotional responses like His would be built into us as well.
But it appears that Noah’s situation as one of very few who followed God was not exactly new. The world wasn’t a good place when Enoch walked the earth either. How do we know that? Jude 1:14, 15 tells us this:
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy one to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”
Apparently, Enoch was a prophet, God’s messenger to the people of his age and beyond.
Barnes comments on this, writing: “The age in which he lived was undoubtedly one of great wickedness. Enoch is selected as the only one of that generation signalized by eminent piety, and he appears to have spent his life in publicly reproving a sinful generation, and in warning them of the approaching judgment; Jude 1:14, 15. The wickedness which ultimately led to the universal deluge seems already to have commenced in the earth, and Enoch, like Noah his great-grandson, was raised up as a preacher of righteousness to reprove a sinful generation.”
What exactly does a prophet do?Prophecy is
To forthtell is to proclaim a message truthfully, clearly, and authoritatively to those for whom it is intended. On occasion, but not always, forthtelling will involve foretelling, or predicting events before they take place. Prophets are primarily concerned, not just with predicting the future, or something that is going to happen in the future, but with delivering a message that addresses the hearer’s present situation. In many cases foretelling is simply a matter of describing the consequences of not paying heed to the message—some of which may already be known by the hearers of that message.
A prophet is generally the person no one wants to hear from because his message tends to be a negative one, one of warning.
Enoch is said to have preached to the same type of people as are described in Jude. Those described for us in Genesis are as wicked a generation, as Jude spoke about in a New Testament. So we need to ask what “these men” mentioned in Jude were like in order to have a better understanding of the wickedness that grieved God’s heart so much in Genesis. Enoch’s role as foreteller to the people of his day was of future judgment. But a forth-teller often repeats the same message to different generations. Sin may be expressed in novel ways that change over the centuries but at its core it remains the same over time. It was because the world was so overwhelmed by evil and evil men that God decided to flood the earth in Noah’s day. It will be because the world is so overwhelmed by evil and evil men that Jesus Christ will return as Judge.
The little letter written by Jude is all about evil and evil men. In the verse that specifically refers to Enoch’s era, “ungodly” is mentioned four times. God will come to judge…
“all the ungodlyof all the ungodlyacts they done in the ungodlyway, and of all the harsh words ungodlysinners have spoken against him.”
In the rest of the letter the author describes these ungodly men as deceptive, as wolves disguised as sheep: “secretly slipped in among you.”
They are “godless,” teaching that the grace of God is a licence to do what you please. In Jude’s era, these ungodly denied Christ and therefore were not believers and were subject to condemnation. This denial of Christ seems specifically attached to sexual sin. Immorality and sexual perversion are a denial of Christ’s teaching and any claim to follow in His footsteps. What is particularly noteworthy is the bent in the modern world to exalting, even in the public forum, these same kinds of sins. At what point then will the judgment of God fall on us for the same godlessness?
They reject authority and speak abusively about heavenly beings.
They “have taken the way of Cain” and “have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error” and “have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” We shall look at these three examples a little later.
Most telling is the statement that these men are “shepherds” or supposedly spiritual leaders who only look out for themselves. So often in the Old Testament God rebukes those who, as spiritual leaders, were to lead His people in righteous paths but did not.Jude describes them as: “clouds without rain, blown along by the wind, autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”
It makes one wonder how it is possible to be deceived by such leaders, but perhaps a close and honest look at many of those having spiritual authority, both in the past and in the present, reveals just how easy it has been for the rot of unrighteousness to settle in the hearts of those who claim to be righteous. Technology has made it possible for us to see much more quickly and in dirty detail the depth of evil even among those who claim spiritual authority.
These men complain and find fault. They do what they want even though it may be evil. They are proud and they manipulate others in order to get what they want.
They do not have the Spirit of God.
What Jude describes as being prevalent in his day is what Enoch lived, and preached against, in his.
Three specific Old Testament characters are mentioned in connection with these ungodly men both of Jude’s time and of Enoch’s time. Jude 1:11 cites three examples: “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”
“They have taken the way of Cain.” Genesis 4:1-16 and I John 3:12 say that Caindid not “belong to the Lord.” He was evil and could not abide righteousness as he saw it in his brother therefore was compelled to eradicate it. Hate, jealousy, and intrinsic spiritual barrenness dictated Cain’s response. This is what we are to expect. The unrighteous will try to eradicate that which rebukes them.
“they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error.” Numbers 22-24; Joshua 13:22; Nehemiah 13:2; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14 describe Balak, the king of Moab as one whowanted to put a curse on the Israelites because he couldn’t defeat them in combat. He appeals to Balaam, who apparently had a reputation for being able to do these kinds of things. Balaam was given clear instructions from God after the first visit from Balak’s representatives: “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”
One would suppose that to be the end of the discussion, but Balak sends another, and more impressive delegation to Balaam to persuade him (22:15-17). Balaam responds correctly by saying that he can’t say anything that goes “…beyond the command of the Lord my God”but then, instead of sending these people on their way Balaam invites them to spend the night while he asks the Lord again, as though he were anticipating a different answer. What follows is God’s dealing with a prophet who hovers between doing what he is told in the interest of personal gain and doing what God had instructed him to do. The passage in Revelation suggests that Balaam actually showed Balak how to draw Israel away from the Lord.
“Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” Balaam didn’t dare curse Israel but he found another way to satisfy Balak thereby ensuring Israel’s punishment at the hands of God Himself—a sweet revenge for Balak in the end though both Balak and Balaam were punished by God for their rebellion against His will.
“they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” Numbers 16:1-49, 26:10 describe Korah. Korah and his kin were Levites, assigned to the care of the Tabernacle. They wanted more power and prestige and rebelled against God’s chosen leadership and were punished accordingly.
While the Old Testament does not specifically say that Enoch did not die, his case is so significantly different from all the other genealogies where people “lived” and then “died” that we can assume that something unusual happened to Enoch that happened to very few others. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11. Only three people in the Scriptures are described as being taken to heaven without having to die. One was Enoch and the other was Elijah.Jesus died, but it was a living, breathing resurrected Jesus who ascended into heaven.
Though Enoch was a righteous man and a prophet of God, it doesn’t seem from our text that it was that alone which resulted in his unusual home-going. We are told that: “By faith he was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…he was commended as one who pleased God, and without faith it is impossible to please God…”
James is very specific on the subject of faith and works. A man of faith must do good things—they are an expression of his faith. But a man who does good things is not necessarily expressing his faith. If a man who professes faith does not do good things, then we have reason to believe that his faith, as James points out is “dead.”
But are we to assume then that men who do good things are all men of faith? Though the ultimate judgment is up to God, and we are to look out for ourselves and our own actions rather than sitting in judgement on the actions and motivations of others, we know that Jesus Himself warned us about the need to be discerning: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Normally we look at this passage as it is and are left with the same question: How can I tell from what a person does if they have the faith that needs to accompany the deeds that make them acceptable to God? The context in Matthew 7 is important here. Just prior to these comments on false prophets Jesus says that many will take the road to destruction, and few will walk the road and enter the gate that leads to eternal life. This is important. There will not be as many of “us” as we think there are from what we see.
Just after the discussion on those who look good but are still destined for destruction because their “looks” are based on a lie comes the parable of the wise and foolish builders. You will remember that the wise man built his house on a rock and the foolish man built his on the sand. When the rain came and the flooding began the wise man’s house was safe, but the foolish man’s house was swept away. You might not have been able to tell before the rain and the flood whether or not there was any difference between the structures, but the test proved which was built well.
“Therefore…” says Jesus, it isn’t the look of the house that is important but the foundation upon which that house is built. It would appear that the question we need to ask does not grow out of what we see, but out of a more important aspect—the foundation of this person‘s life—and what the ground is out of which his actions have grown.
This idea also comes into play—but through a different example—as Jesus approached Jerusalem just before He was arrested and put on trial. Mark 11 is one of the passages that describes Jesus’ encounter with the fig tree.
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it…In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.”
Our reading of this passage has often led us to believe that Jesus was expecting the impossible and that He was being unfair to expect to find figs on this tree. But apparently a mature fig tree should produce the evidence of fruit—early figs—before the season of harvesting begins. Jesus should have seen the evidence of a fruitful tree when He approached. The leaves promised what the tree hadn’t produced. So it was with Israel. This parable is attached to the story of Jesus having come from the jubilant celebration of His entry into Jerusalem to the shouts of admiration from the people to His entrance into the temple to throw out those who had turned His “house of prayer” into a supermarket and banking center.
It was the tree itself that promised what, under closer inspection, it did not deliver. We are not be deceived by the “leaves” or the works, but inspect more closely to study the root or foundation.
It is interesting to note that Enoch’s walk with God probably had an influence on his great-grandson. In Genesis 6 we read that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and walked with God.” We don’t know much about Enoch’s son, Methuselah, or his grandson, Lamech, as far as they spiritual lives are concerned, but we do know a lot about Noah.
We can only assume that Enoch did not have an easy life as one of the few, if not the only voice, speaking for God among His peers. Hebrews 11:5, 6 indicate to us what might have been the reason for his steadfastness in spite of any difficulties that he faced in standing up for truth.
If Enoch’s world was approaching the spiritual desolation of what Noah would experience later, Enoch might have been tempted to wonder if there was a God in heaven who cared anything about any of the mess below. But Enoch continued to believe that such a God did indeed exist and that this God would reward him for his obedience and faithfulness to the will of God.
FAITH pleases God.
CONVERSATIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS
1. In the light of what you know about Scripture, what does walking with God look like?
2. Matthew 25:14-30 tells the parable of the talents. Each servant in the story was given exactly what the Master knew he was capable of handling but the third man came up with excuses as to why he hadn’t done anything except hide what he had been given. Can you describe any times you have hidden what God has given you or been reluctant to use what God gave you? What were the results?
3. “Faith without works is dead” writes James. Why?
4. Is there some point in your life right how where you have faith, but it is faith that hasn’t taken any appropriate action to bring it to life? What do you need to do?
5. Most of us are not called to operate on the same scale as an Enoch. But our world still needs forth-tellers (delivering the message) and foretellers (describing the consequences of not listening to the message). How can you be both in the manner Peter describes in 1 Peter 3:16 “…with gentleness and respect?”
6. Enoch pleased God because of his faith and walked with Him. It would have been a lonely journey but he obviously felt he wasn’t alone. What measures can you take to ensure that, though you may be the only one to stand up for Christ, you know that He walks with you?
7. Report on how you are doing in strengthening your relationship with God as a vital part of your faith journey.
I Corinthians 6:12-7:40; 2 Corinthians 6:14
Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12; 1 Kings 11:2; Ezra 9:14
One particularly condemning example is found in Ezekiel 22:23-31.
Jude 1:12, 13
2 Kings 2:1, 11,12