Enoch Walked By Faith

Enoch walked by faith. The Bible talks about faith all throughout the old and new testaments, but the only definition it offers for faith is found in the book of Hebrews, “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

The writer of Hebrews went on to illustrate what Enoch’s faith looked like by giving us a glimpse of what Enoch’s spiritual life was like, stating, “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.

Enoch was close with God, continually aware of His presence, continually communing with God, meditating on His words, opening himself to God to be profoundly transformed by God’s word, God’s love, and God’s power. There was a surrender here, delighting to go where God directed. When God took a new course, Enoch had to change too, or the walk would be over — fighting or resisting God’s will ends the walk until you surrender, and then you can pick right back up where you left off.

Understanding what faith is becomes a crucial part of understanding what it means to put our faith in Jesus, today. So, what we can glean from scripture, is that faith is

  • The assurance of the things we hope for,
  • The proof of things we do not see, and
  • The conviction of their reality.

Faith is perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

Does that sound like “blind” faith? It isn’t. Even though faith is based on what is physically unseen, it is not blind. Blind faith is believing something without any evidence or reason. The kind of faith the Bible talks about is a “seeing” faith, based on solid evidence provided through

  • God’s revelation in Scripture.
  • God’s revelation in nature and our lives.
  • God‑given power of reason.
  • Spiritual illumination given by the Holy Spirit.

Pistis is the Greek word that gets translated into both the English words “belief” and “faith.” If you were to put both meanings together into one sentence, then you might say that faith is belief in God and acting on that belief. It is necessary to stress the last part of that definition, though, because the kind of faith the Bible is the most concerned about is saving faith, and saving faith won’t save if the belief is only an intellectual assent to truth.

In his letter, James pointed out that demons have this kind of intellectual assent sort of belief, based on evidence and reason. But instead of being saved, they just tremble at the knowledge of Who God is.

We might say, from Cain’s life, that he certainly believed God existed, he believed God was God. He surely understood the story of creation, the stories his parents had told him of Eden. He had assuredly seen with his own eyes the seraphim with their flaming swords, guarding the gates of paradise. He had even made, albeit half-hearted, sacrifices to God. There was nothing missing in Cain’s belief system. So, what made Cain different than Seth?

That brings us to the even more foundational question: what are the elements of saving faith?

Content: Sincere belief in what is false is called being deceived. So knowing and believing the right things is pretty much essential. And, Adam and Eve presumably taught their offspring the truth about God,

Otherwise, how would all of these things have been passed down through the millennia until they were finally written? There is no question in my mind, however you understand the story of Adam and Eve (as metaphorical, symbolic, or actual) that we are meant to know with confidence that Adam and Eve’s original family knew all there was to know of God.

  • God’s covenant nature
  • The reliability and truthfulness of God’s word
  • God’s promise of a savior
  • The right approach to God
  • God’s mercy and faithfulness
  • The savor of God’s love

Consent: The apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers in Rome, explained the breakdown of belief in these earliest days of humankind, most notably in Cain’s legacy, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

A personal, loving acknowledgement of God, giving thanks to God, glorifying God, are the responses of faith. By thanking God for Seth, Adam and Eve modeled a warm, mature love for God.

Commitment: This is where acting on one’s beliefs comes in, the actual walk of faith. Seth and his descendants acted on their beliefs, as epitomized in Enoch. They walked with God, they called on God’s name.

[Church Graveyard, St Chad’s church at Middlesmoor, by FreeFoto.com]


 

Joanne led and taught a Bible class of 350-500 students from 2003 to 2013, and has recently retired as an advisor and mentor to eight Bible classes in the Maryland area with BSF, International. ____________________________________________________________ Joanne continues as a Bible teacher with Ancient Voices, Sacred Stories, LLC, and serves on the pulpit teaching team of her church, New Hope Chapel, Arnold, MD. ____________________________________________________________ A long-time "armchair archaeologist," Joanne joined the Board of Directors for the Biblical Archaeology Forum in 2013 and has participated in two excavations, Tel Kabri and Tel Akko. Another passion for Joanne is the healing work of counseling. She serves as a lay counselor and trainer in affiliation with The Lay Counselor Institute, since 2012. Joanne is currently attending Portland Seminary, working towards a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis in Biblical studies

4 thoughts on “Enoch Walked By Faith

  1. Joanne, Enoch has always been a fascinating biblical person to me. I have a few questions. Maybe you have some insight to share? You noted Enoch “meditated on God’s word.” What do you mean by this, as the written word of God was not (presumably) present during the time of Enoch? Are you referring to Christ, the Word of God, or something else? Would faith have been present before the “undoing” or the “fall”? Seems that faith, in the sense that we understand it now, would not have been necessary, as the relationship between God and humans was formed and complete? But based on this it seems faith could have been present, and needed, to not experience “death.” Enoch was freed of that nasty, physical, as well as spiritual death. So here’s what I really wonder, would unfallen humans have simply lived forever on this planet, or would a transformation/transition have taken place, much like Enoch experienced, where a disappearance from this space happens? I don’t think people were made to live forever on this planet, and thus I ponder what that “death” would have been called before the fall? A sleep, rest, or maybe even sabbath? I keep leaning toward sabbath/rest.

  2. Thank you for asking me those things, and for musing aloud about “what if…”
    What do I mean by “God’s word”?
    I have spent a few years thinking about the phrase “God’s word,” (and similar phrases, which pop up about 17 times throughout the Old and New Testaments) and what it might mean in the context of the passages that phrase is found in. I think for sure it means an actual word, actual words, and a body of words.
    The apostle John appropriated logos, I think, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, deliberately mirroring the beginning of Genesis with the beginning of his gospel, so that a domino effect would take place in which everywhere the word “word” might be associated with God, we would see another layer revealed as that word somehow also being Jesus. To the ancient Bible reader, then, all those passages would appear in their mind’s eye, and the original, literal meaning of “word” would fall down, revealing Jesus, and a new pattern would emerge.
    So, in my thinking and reading about the word “word” in this context, I came to understand that the word translated in English as “word,” at least in these first few verses of John’s gospel, comes from the Greek word Logos, which was familiar to the Greeks in their philosophy just as it was familiar to the Jews in their philosophy. I knew it was important to Greeks. But that was new for me, that it was also important in Judaism.
    To the Greeks, Logos meant “First Cause,” the reason or the will behind the universe, an unknowable force. Plato once wrote that he hoped a Logos would come from God some day to make the meaning of life clear. (I forget where I found that, but I can sleuth out the reference if you would like to have it.).\
    In Hebrew this word was called “Debar” and it was God’s expression of Himself, “Thus saith the Lord.” Logos, or “Debar,” was the word that proceeded from God’s mouth and accomplished what God intended to do, almost a synonym for God Himself.
    So this Logos concept incorporated the idea that this was God. But John was saying that Logos, the Word, was another personality with God. The nuance of the word “with,” in Greek (evidently; I’m taking that on faith, because I haven’t examined it myself, yet in Greek), meant that Logos looked God straight in the eye, did not kneel as a subject, or look down as a superior, but looked on as an equal. John was grappling with one of the deepest mysteries of God: the Trinity. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
    So, you are asking a fair question as to whether I meant Jesus when I said Enoch was “transformed by God’s word.” I actually tried to be really intentional with that who sentence, writing “meditating on His words….transformed by God’s word.” I am, more and more, being careful to make a difference between God’s words, when I mean the actual words attributed to God, and God’s word, which is more fluid in its meaning.
    In this case, I was wanting to the reader to associate the totality of God’s communication and God’s power, the breath of His words, His Spirit, in that phrase “God’s word.” With maybe a hint, a foreshadowing, of Jesus; for though I am probably more dispensationalist than I’m not, I also recognize that Who God is, is Who God has always been.
    So, then, Enoch meditated on the words of God, the actual communication God had with humanity up to that point, and with the conversations God presumably had with Enoch himself as they daily walked together. Enoch’s worldview was shaped by that communication and also the power of God embodied in that communication. Enoch’s values and ethic, his character, his way of doing things, his decisions and priorities, even his passions and desires, who Enoch was, was transformed by that walk with God.

  3. When I read Genesis, I try to read it as a “straight up” account, though there are all kinds of archaeological issues (and scientific ones, too) with that approach. I do that, because I think that’s how the stories were intended to be received, and I will miss what those stories have for me, if I try to take a 21st century approach that demands archaeological and scientific documentation for its content.
    So, in the time of Enoch, was there a written account of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity? Were there pictorial/petroglyphic accounts? Was it all orally preserved? I feel like no one can aver one way or the other.
    Humans have always been as smart, creative, and capable as we are today. (Some archaeologists are claiming a genetic change happened about 100,000 years ago, maybe later, in Homo Sapiens, which appeared about 200,000 years ago. Was that the “Eden” event?). The cave paintings in France are 40,000 years old. The oldest known paintings are more like 64,000 years old. Evidence of writing in pictorial form is about 6,000 years old. Actual writing is about 5,200 years old. So, who knows. It would be hard to believe those who first knew God kept no record at all!
    In any case, curating a record of God’s commnication with humanity, His revelation, His “word,” would have been in itself an act of faith, believing these words from God were important for life, that relationship with God, knowing God, was important. Cain’s line evidently didnt think so, at least that’s the impression I get from these early stories. But Seth’s line did.
    And yes, I think faith was needed even in the Garden. Though all was in harmony, there was potential for “undoing,” and in that potential, the first humans had to believe (without physical evidence) that it was right to heed God’s instruction in -not- eating of a fruit that gave every indication of being lovely, fragrant, and good. They had to resist what all their physical senses were telling them. They had to believe that God’s instruction was right, and not the pull of that fruit on their sight, smell, and touch.
    And then the stakes were raised. The serpent’s claims could only be resisted if they believed God was trustworthy and generous, that God did not feel threatened by their potential once united with the power of the tree’s fruit. There was no physical evidence to the contrary. Their belief had to be grounded in God’s revelation of Himself.
    The way I see it, faith will always be necessary so long as there are things we cannot corroborate independently from God’s revelation. At whatever point we have to take God’s word for something, we will need faith.

  4. Your last set of questions, about the nature of death, and whether there would be a transition from one kind of existence to another had the “undoing” never occurred, are intriguing. I’ve not spent a lot of time thinking about that.
    I think Genesis 2-3 gives the impression that so long as humanity had resisted the tree of knowledge, they would have continued to exist in this beatific harmony with creation, living indeed forever, as the tree of life would have made that possible. The end of Revelation gives the same impression of an eternal, physical state in Paradise.
    Of course, logic says overpopulation, a groaning planet, non-renewable resources and scarcity. Logic says that without some sort of magical thinking, this absolutely does not work.
    That’s literally as far as I’ve gone with that aspect. It’s like reading a science fiction or fantasy novel. A good writer makes sure the details all work. I don’t think the writer of these early Genesis stories was concerned about that, so I don’t have enough details to work with, on that matter, except for the hint of the tree of life.
    BTW, I have read that Enoch’s story may be a translation issue, and we may not be understanding it correctly, but I haven’t pursued that line of inquiry, yet. I don’t think the truths would change, even if we were made to know that Enoch died like everyone else–so did Moses.

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