The story is told of a lawyer who was on his deathbed. He asked his wife to go bring him the Bible. She thought this was a strange request because as long as she had known him he had never read the Bible seriously. She pulled Bible off the shelf, blew the dust off its cover and brought it to the dying man. A few moments she came back and said, “What are you doing?” He said, “Looking for loopholes!”
It’s natural for man to seek a loophole when it comes to death, but according to the Bible there were only two men who never tasted death—Elijah and Enoch. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Enoch, but what it does tell us is very profound. In fact, the Bible says more of him in the New Testament than the Old Testament. In many ways Enoch is a model believer because of the closeness and intimacy he enjoyed with God.
First, notice that Enoch walked with God. Twice in Genesis we read that Enoch walked with God (5:22, 24). What does this mean to walk with God? Whenever the Bible uses the term “walk” it refers to the daily pattern and behavior of a person. To walk with God means you are going to the same place, on the same path, at the same pace. Eugene Peterson once said that the Christian life is “a long obedience in the same direction.” That’s a good description of Enoch, moreover he walked with God in the midst of a terribly wicked and perverse society (Gen. 6:5). Enoch is proof that you can be righteous in a world gone completely wrong. In the journey of faith God is looking for walkers, not sprinters.
Second, Enoch witnessed for God. The name Enoch means “teacher” or “dedicated.” We find out in the brief epistle of Jude that Enoch was a preacher and a prophet. Jude 14-15 reads, “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Enoch was given incredible prophetic insight to see far down the corridors of time to the Second Coming of Christ. Enoch may have been the first “hellfire and brimstone” preacher because he frequently warned of God’s judgment.
James Boice has written, “At this point the texts in Genesis and Jude come together, for why do you suppose Enoch was so conscious of the ungodliness of his generation and so strong in preaching against it? It was because he walked with God.” The closer you walk with God, the more you will become sensitive to sin, and the longer you walk with God the more of an alien and a stranger you will feel like in this world. The more fellowship you have with God the more you will long for heaven and your appetite will become less and less for this earth.
Enoch’s prophetic ministry not only spoke of Christ’s return, but it also included warning his generation about an even more urgent judgement. In Genesis it says that Enoch began to walk with God, after his son Methuselah was born (5:22). In other words, when his son was born something changed in Enoch. What was it? It had something to do with the naming of his son. The name Methuselah in Hebrew means “When he is dead it shall be sent.” This raises the question, “When Methuselah died, what shall be sent?”
Interestingly, when you go through all of Genesis 5 and you figure-up a timeline of the birth and death of these patriarchs you find out that on the very year that Methuselah died was the very year the Flood came and drowned the whole world. Warren Wiersbe wrote:
“If we make the year of Adam’s creation the year “1” and calculate the years in the genealogy of Genesis 5, we discover that Methuselah was born in the year 687. Add the number of years he lived (969) to that and we arrive at the year 1,656—the year Methuselah died. Then, by doing some more addition in the genealogy we discover that Noah was born in the year 1056 from Adam. He was 600 years old when the Flood came which meant that the flood came in 1656—the very year Methuselah died.”
Methuselah was a living reminder of judgment. Enoch was God’s prophet to the pre-flood generation, and one of his his jobs was to warn the world that judgment was coming.
Apparently, Enoch was made to understand that the death of his son would signal the destruction of the world.
On the other hand, Methuselah became not only a living testimony of the coming judgment of God but a living illustration of the grace of God. He lived longer than any other human being ever lived at 969 years old. Thus, God extended the maximum grace period for all people to call on His name and escape the Flood (Ez. 18:23, 1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). What an amazing picture of God’s grace and patience with the human race.
Third, Enoch was well-pleasing to God. The writer of Hebrews thought that Enoch deserved a mention in the Hall of Faith, “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 (Heb. 11:5).” There is nothing better that can be said about a servant of God than to have as their final assessment, “they pleased God.” Every true follower of Christ longs to hear the sweet words of Divine accolade, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
We can only theorize as to how God took Enoch. Maybe it was like Elijah. Perhaps God took him in a chariot of fire, or maybe his body just vaporized through his clothes. Imagine the surprise and shock when the family of Enoch discovered that their father/husband wasn’t coming home for dinner. As they went out looking for him maybe all they found was Enoch's footprints stopped abruptly in the sand, maybe his cloak and sandals were left in a pile. I like the way one little boy described it to his parents after learning about Enoch in Sunday school. “One Sunday God and Enoch took a walk together until Enoch said it was getting late. And the Lord said, “We are now closer to my home than yours, why don’t you just come to my house tonight?”
Enoch shows us that you don’t have to get to heaven to begin enjoying God. You can have God right now. -DM
James Montgomery Boice, Genesis, Vol. 1 (1-11) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 288.
Warren Wiersbe, Run with the Winners (Chicago: Tyndale House, 1986) 37-38.