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. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:5-6 ESV
We don’t know a whole lot about Enoch. Other than what we read about him here in Hebrews, the only other mention of him is found in the book of Genesis. He’s part of a genealogical list that shows the line of man from Adam all the way to Noah. “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21-24 ESV). He lived to the ripe old age of 365. But his time on earth was short compared to that of his father (962 years) and son (969 years). Enoch, as the genealogical list suggests, lived in the days before the flood. While there have been many suggestions to explain why men lived so much longer in those days, no one really knows why. But we do see that, over time, the longevity of man diminishes dramatically. Most likely as a result of the ongoing effects of sin and the curse of death on the human body.
But Enoch lived over three centuries. In our day, it is rare for anyone to make it to the single century mark. But the remarkable thing about Enoch was not his lifespan, but his departure from this earth. The Genesis account tells us “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament says he “was not found” He was on this earth for 365 days and then one day, he was gone. But unlike very other man listed in the genealogical record found in Genesis 5, he didn’t die. He is the only one in the list whose name is not followed by the words, “and he died.” Enoch was taken. He would have lived longer, but God took Enoch to be with Him. The author of Hebrews explains, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death.” Enoch was spared the fate of all men ever since the fall. He was glorified and received his redeemed body without having to suffer the inevitable and inescapable reality of death. He was there one day and gone the next. The Scriptures simply tell us “he was not found, because God had taken him.” Why? Because of his faith. But we are told that Enoch’s faith showed up in the way he lived his life. “Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5b ESV). Two times in the Genesis passage, we are told that “Enoch walked with God.” The Hebrew word for “walked” is halak and it can be used to refer to literal walking or physical movement, but it can also be used to refer to living life. So in other words, Enoch lived his life with God. It is the same idea expressed by God to Abraham in Genesis 17. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless’” (Genesis 17:1 ESV). God was commanding Abraham to live his life with the awareness that he was doing so in the presence of God. And when God told Abraham to be blameless, He was not demanding perfection. The Hebrew word for “blameless” is tamiym and it means “complete, whole, entire, sound” (Hebrew Lexicon :: H8549 (KJV). Blue Letter Bible). Abraham was being told to live his entire life, his whole life, with the constant awareness that God was watching. There was to be no compartmentalization, no hidden areas. He was to live as if God was with him at all times, because He was.
And that is how Enoch lived. He lived by faith, believing that God was with Him every day and in every circumstance. Enoch couldn’t see God, but he believed in Him. The author of Hebrews explains that “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV). Enoch believed God existed even though many around him did not. That genealogical record found in Genesis 5 gives us an abbreviated glimpse of mankind’s trajectory from the fall of Adam to the days on Noah. In the very next chapter of Genesis we read, “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 NLT). By the time we get to the days of Noah, we find that “God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.” (Genesis 6:11-12 NLT). The path from Adam to Noah was not an easy one. It was filled with increasing sin, violence, godlessness and wickedness. The further man got away from the garden, the dimmer his recollection of God became. And in the midst of this downward spiral, Enoch stood out like a bright light. He was a beacon of faith in the midst of the darkness of man’s increasing sinfulness. He believed God existed and that He would reward those who please Him.
The text tells us, “before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” He had lived a life that pleased God, by faith. He was not self-seeking, but God-pleasing. He lived as if God exists and as if God was walking with him every moment of every day. His God was not distant or disinterested in his life. His God was near and lovingly involved in every aspect of his daily walk. He lived to please God, by faith. He lived to obey God, by faith. He lived to bring glory and honor to God, by faith. To walk with God requires faith in God. You have to believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. You have to believe that He sees and that He cares. Enoch longed and hoped for the reward of God without ever really knowing exactly what the reward might be. It is likely that Enoch would have lived many more years on this earth, just like his father and son. But God rewarded Enoch by taking him in mid-life, and by sparing him the pain and suffering of death. He also didn’t have to endure what would have had to have been a prolonged period of old age should he have lived. In those days before the flood, men enjoyed long life, but they still had to face the inevitable reality of sin. Enoch had faith in God and he was rewarded by God with escape from the curse of death. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death” (Hebrews 11:5a ESV). That is the ultimate reward of all those who place their faith in God by trusting in His Son’s sacrifice on the cross on their behalf. As Jesus told Mary and Martha at the graveside of their brother, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25-26 NLT).
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. We are to live our lives on this earth, believing that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him and that His ultimate reward is a death-defying escape from this world into eternal life in His presence.