Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Knowing God: Enoch

My son Benjamin turned 1 in October. One thing we're trying to teach Benjamin is how to walk. He has demonstrated that he knows how to take a few steps, but he doesn't want to walk. He would rather crawl. It isn't that he can't walk, but he doesn't want to walk yet. He can get all the food, clothes, toys, and drink he wants without walking at all. He doesn't even need to inconvenience himself to go to the bathroom; he just sits there and goes in his diaper. We expect that one day he will walk sometime in the next couple years.
Some of us are like that too--maybe you. It isn't that we can't walk with God, it's that we have decided not to because it's more comfortable the way things are. Crawling and making messes are not a problem. We don't need to learn to walk more with God because we like things the way they are. It would require change.
Many Christians go through their whole Christian life crawling, when God wants us to walk. They miss so many opportunities!
In a similar vein, when I was a boy, my parents would send us to my grandpa's house (who we called Papa). We would help him with work that he couldn't do anymore. He would usually pay us a little money or take us out to eat. Sometimes he would take us with him on these trips to his farm, and we'd walk the farm with him to check it out. He would talk to us about life and even current issues, and how to do what was right. I remember once while we were walking down the dried up creek bed he told my brother Mark, "Mark, when you were younger, I didn't think you'd amount to a dime. But look at you now." That was how Papa gave a compliment.
We learned more than just how to work from walking with Papa. I learned about serving and ministry. He was a Gideon, and my first impression of that organization. He would go to nursing homes and distribute Bibles and speak, and encourage people.
There are advantages to walking with God too. Today we're looking at Genesis 5 and how Enoch walked.
We know that God is working and on the move with a purpose. The question is not will God walk with you, but will you walk with God. Will you? Will you do what is necessary to walk with Him? Sometimes, like my Papa, there is work involved before you gain a benefit.
The Bible says in Genesis 5:21 and following, "When Enoch had lived 65 years he became the father of Methuselah. And after Enoch became the father of Methuselah, he walked with God 300 years, and had other sons and daughters. Altogether Enoch lived 365 years." It says again, "Enoch walked with God. Then he was no more, because God took him away."

What does it mean to walk, as the Bible says walk here? This is the Hebrew word halach. I share Greek and Hebrew words in sermons because if I were in the pew I'd want to know that. This word means literally to walk, and is used metaphorically to have a relationship with someone. It didn't just mean physical walking when it was used of someone walking with God. It means a relationship existed between Enoch and God.
In Genesis 6, it is used of Noah, to say he walked with God. In Genesis 17, God tells Abram (before his name was changed) "I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be blameless." Wow! I still think God commands that of His people. He's saying for us to walk before Him and be blameless. In Genesis 48:15, Jacob is blessing his son Joseph before Jacob dies, and says this about his relationship with God, "the God before Whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, walked, the God Who has been my Shepherd, all my life, to this day." What a statement of a relationship!
In other words, I know Him too! I've walked with Him, and am walking with Him today!
In Isaiah 38:3, the good king Hezekiah said this about his relationship with God, "Remember now, oh Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth, and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight." Hezekiah wept bitterly. What happened to him? I'll write that later.

Can you say what Jacob and Hezekiah said? The Oxford American Dictionary describes walk as this, "to move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once."[1]
Doesn't that describe walking? Physically? Spiritually? It means I have an ongoing journey with God, and walking is a means to an end, in order to get somewhere spiritually.
I believe God wants to do something in every person's life, even if they say they don't believe in Him!
It is our responsibility to find out how God wants to use us, and what can happen if we walk with God. He wants as close of a relationship as Enoch had.
Something interesting that happens as we walk with God; that is knowing God personally, not just knowing about Him. If we were to ask God, "Who is that person reading this blog?" Would God say, "I know him." "I know her." Or would God say, "I don't know."
Don't you want God to say, "I know them intimately."

I am pushing a personal pursuit of God so much, that someone may object, saying, "What about focusing on fellowship? What about unity?" Wouldn't 100 guitars all tuned to the same tuning device all sound better together than if 25 were tuned by device A, 25 tuned by device B, 25 tuned by device C, and 25 who tuned themselves, each differently? Wouldn't 100 soldiers all trained by the best commander be better equipped to accomplish the mission than if 100 people came together and someone threw them some guns and said, "Accomplish the mission!" Each Christian being trained, studied, and intimately walking with God will result in greater worship, teaching, discipleship, stewardship, service, and fellowship for our mission.
Consider Enoch as an example of our walk.
Something else happens when we walk with God. Jude tells us something fascinating about Enoch and his walk with God. We're told in Jude 14-15 that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about people who weren't walking the talk, saying, "See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones, to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly, of all the ungodly acts they have done, and the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
This is what Enoch prophesied, living in fellowship with God. God told Enoch a message for his time, which was before the great flood. If you remember, the reason for the flood was the violence and sin of mankind in the world, and God intended to wipe out humanity from the earth, except for Noah. During this time where the evil was building up, Enoch had a prophecy and a message to share.
If you and I are walking with God, we understand the times that we're living in. A Christian in the 21st Century is different than a Christian in the 20th Century. In the Postmodern world there are differences in the way we communicate. When I pray and read the Word God will reveal ways to communicate with people. If you ask, "God why aren't you doing anything in my life? I haven't been able to witness to anyone, I haven't seen anyone come to faith in Christ, and I haven't felt any spiritual blessing, or I don't know my spiritual gifts."
It starts with that time alone with God. If you just pray 5 minutes a day, that's a starting point. If you pray during your lunch break, that's a start. If you confess any sin you have to God, and just meditate on one Bible verse--do that five days in a row and you will notice a difference.
You could even watch your favorite TV shows, and mute the commercials and pray. If you add all the commercial time, that would be a lot of prayer time. I'm not saying throw out the TV (again, understand the times), but park time aside for God, to walk with Him.
This is the beginning of walking with God, and God working, and giving us a message for our times.
As Christians, knowing our times and culture is so important. We should not be shut-ins, hiding out. We are not of the world, but we are in it. Hold the Bible in one hand, and hold the newspaper in the other.
When the earthquake happened in Haiti, we began praying and collecting resources to know how to best work to help them, with a spiritual goal of salvation and discipleship.
Knowing our culture means knowing this: Our culture is liberal, postmodern, there are many Christians in name but not action, we live in a post-Christian area, and the younger you go the more there is an ignorance of Scripture. When I was a Youth Pastor, I would quiz the kids sometimes with Bible stories. The three people in the fiery furnace were? The person in the Lion's den was? The person on the ark during the flood was? Which prophet was used to part the Red Sea?
(answers: Shadrach, Meshech, Abednego; Daniel; Noah; Moses)

We could go on and on. I used to test the kids every year when I was a youth pastor, and less and less they were familiar with the Bible. There is a transcending ignorance, and not always intentionally. Some would say "Great, our culture is going to pot!"
Actually, we have a great opportunity. We don't have as many hurdles to climb theologically with presuppositions and assumptions, or false doctrine handed down. We have an opportunity to talk about the Bible in a fresh way! What an opportunity! And anyone can do it!
Another thing about Postmodern world is that people like stories. People want to hear your story. If you say, "I don't know how to witness," and the good news is that all you have to say is, "Can I tell you a great story?" "Do you want to hear my God story from this week?" "Can I tell you something great that happened?"
If we were in fellowship time and I said, "Did you see the Saints game last night?" And someone else said, "No, I missed it. Tell me about it." You'd be excited until I finished telling you about how the Saints won, blew out the Cardinals, and Kurt Warner got jacked on one of the plays (I love Kurt Warner, and I wish you the best, Kurt! Hope it didn't hurt too much). You'd be listening to me.
How much more should we share about what God is doing in our lives!

Something else we see in Enoch, is that he walked with God, God gave him a prophetic word for his times, and finally God took him. This was the first instance of transporter technology. We aren't told if it was in a whirlwind with chariots of fire like Elijah; we aren't told if it was like Jesus when He ascended and He was in the clouds, but we know that somehow God took him, and he was gone! No more! Couldn't be found! He has never been found on earth!
The way the writer writes this in Genesis it points to Enoch as an exception to the rule that we all die because of Adam's curse. The great news is that if you walk with God, which means knowing Jesus Christ (as we said last blog) as your Savior, then we have the hope that God will give us life and we won't have to experience death one day.
Remember, because Adam and Eve sinned, everyone since then has to die, because we have inherited the genetic disease, the terminal illness, and the original plague. Genesis 5 tells us this, that Adam dies, his son dies, his son dies, his son dies, his son dies, his son dies, but not Enoch. With Enoch, God breaks the rules! God shows up with mercy, telling Enoch he can have life!
Today, you can experience that same mercy if you are in Christ. You don't have to experience the death that sin created in all of us. Jesus already died that death on the cross, and He did it so we could freely receive God's mercy and life. God Himself died on the cross, and that one death paid for all the deaths that have to be paid, as a result of sin. If I decide I will take Jesus' sacrifice, I don't need to pay for my own sin with my own death. Does this make sense?

Just as Enoch walked with God, and God took him, I can walk with God and God will take me! I may die in my body, but my spirit will live on! Jesus talked about this in John 14, saying don't you know I've prepared a place for you? I go there to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also."
1 Thessalonians 4 tells us also that the Lord Himself will descend with a shout, the cry of the Archangel, and the dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive and remain will be caught up with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." At any time that could happen.
One way or the other, God is going to take those who are in Christ, walking with Him, just like Enoch.
Again, it isn't a question of if God wants to walk with you. He's ready. It's a question of if you want to walk with God. God wants to do more with you than you could ever imagine, if you will just surrender yourself to Him. Will you walk with Him. If you had to answer right now, what would you do?
Hezekiah's story ends, by Isaiah coming to him. There is a knock on the door, and it's the prophet. He tells Hezekiah, "God has extended your life 15 years." If you want to walk with God, there are two choices. You could say, "That's okay. If I want food I'll cry, if I make a mess I'll sit in it. I'll pray for you while you walk, but I'm comfortable right here." You will miss everything God has for you if you don't walk. God wants people like Enoch, who will defy culture and the curse, and not fearing what people think, and will walk with Him.
I challenge you to walk with Him. Make a few minutes of prayer time each day. Make a few more minutes to read at least one verse each day. Put one foot in front of the other, and walk with God. If you're introducing yourself to God, it starts with accepting Jesus Christ and His payment for sin, and committing to make your walk with God in His pattern. Walk with Him.
Give Him your cares. Talk to Him. Share with Him. Understand His principles in Scripture.
Please email me at if you want to talk more about this.

[1] Oxford American Dictionary, s.v. “walk.”

No comments: