Heroes: Enoch

How does a person “walk with God”?  What does it mean to walk with God?  It’s faith, isn’t it!?  That’s what Enoch was commended for, his faith in Christ the Savior.  And that’s what makes Enoch an example for us in Hebrews chapter 11.  We’ve been journeying through this chapter in our weekly devotions, looking at the examples the Lord sets before us, examples of sinners living in a sinful world who found their comfort, peace and focus for living in the forgiving Lord who calls sinners to himself in Jesus. 
Today, it’s 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.”  (Hebrews 11:5) Now, Enoch has something in common with one other man, and that is the Prophet Elijah.  The two of them were taken to heaven directly without seeing death.  And in the process, they provided for Old Testament believers a concrete picture of eternal life awaiting through faith in the Lord and his promised Savior to come.  Unless we live until Judgment Day, we don’t expect to enter heaven without first facing death.  But, Enoch’s faith and his experience of eternal life still encourage us as we approach our own last day. 
There is something that we do very much have in common with Enoch, however.  That is the circumstances in which he lived.  Tucked away in the Book of Jude, we’re told how Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam – the great-grandfather of Noah – was a preacher of the true faith against false prophets and worldly ways that were consuming the earth’s population at that time leading up to the Flood.  And yet, surrounded by increasingly ungodly influences, Enoch held firmly to the true God.  He believed that life does not consist in the things of this world alone, but our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there.  In the face of all peer pressure to give up the Lord and live for this world, Enoch instead – by God’s grace – walked with God.  In other words, he lived by faith in his Savior, his greatest treasure. 
The verse in Hebrews goes on: “For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith, it is impossible to please God.”(Hebrews 11:5,6) Without faith, people can do a lot of nice things that help a lot of people.  But for our words and deeds to be pleasing to God, we must have the cleansing from sin that only Jesus can give.  Otherwise, all our “good works” are like dirty rags, as the prophet says.  The taint and stain of sin overshadow all we do.  But covered in the righteousness of Jesus, through faith in him, God doesn’t see the stain of sin but credits the righteousness of Jesus to our account.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, but through faith in the One in whom he is well pleased, he is pleased with us also as we trust in him and seek to serve him in this life.  Forgiven, cleansed and at peace with God – like Enoch – we too “walk with God”.  What an honor from God!
So when you think of Enoch, thank God that he has given us the same faith as he had given to this ancient example of faith.  As you think of Enoch being “translated” directly to heaven without seeing death, we who fully expect to see death still are comforted in the knowledge that life with the Lord awaits in eternal glory. 
And, one more thing: when you think of Enoch, think of a man living in a time in history when faith in the true God was going out of style.  The world and its influences, influenced by the prince of this world – Satan himself – was seemingly carrying the day.  Dangers to the soul were everywhere.  Temptations to fall away were severe.  Yet wise is the man who knows what Enoch knew and what Jesus would point out: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Yes, in the face of many temptations in an increasingly ungodly world, Lord walk with us as you walked with Enoch.  And, by your grace – kept strong by your Word and Sacrament - help us always to walk with you!