“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.” (Hebrews 11)
But who is Enoch? Genesis 5:21-24 tells us how he lived. And Jude 14-15 tells us what he believed. Maybe that’s all you need to know about anyone!
Genesis 5:22 tells us that Enoch ‘walked with God’. The verb is a metaphor for how you do life. So that is to say, he lived his life in the glow of an incredible God-intimacy. And Jude 14-15 records a prophetic word that emerged from that intimacy. He said that God was coming to act as the judge of everyone. God would punish evil people for all their wicked words, deeds and behaviour. Curiously, that is similar to what Abel believed, too.
Abel lived by faith and he died, prematurely, and horribly. Enoch lived by faith, but he did not die. His relationship with God was so close that God did not allow him to die. We just don’t know what that means! The Bible simply says that God took him. “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”
So the two men, Abel and Enoch, are commended for their faith, despite totally diffetent life-stories. Clearly both had faith, so evidently it’s not quantity of years or favourable circumstances that gives your life purpose, but that quality of intimacy.
Whether a person has faith is even more important than life and death.
And the writer nails this down in one word. It’s the word “pleasing.” “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.”
I guess most people would want God to be pleased with them! But how do you achieve that result?
The word “achieve” is a giveaway. This is not something you can strive to accomplish by dint of effort. Romans 3 makes it pretty clear that our best attempts fall sadly flat. “All have sinned and fallen short…” God is the judge of all, and no judge is “pleased” with a lawbreaker.
The words of the General Confession invariably drive me to my knees: “We have sinned against you in thought, and word and deed. Sometimes by our own deliberate fault.”
If God is not pleased with our words and actions, he is certainly not pleased with our thoughts. Some people can perhaps control their behaviour, but nobody can control their thoughts. But Jesus taught that an evil thought is wrong, too (Matthew 5:28). In fact, it is the evil thought that causes evil behaviour (Mark 7:20-23).
But this passage in Hebrews takes us clear out of this religious perfomance ethic. It can quickly become self-obsessive to keep our eyes fixed on how well (or rather, on how badly) we are performing. And the writer gives us the word “faith.” He phrases it negatively: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” With faith, then! With faith, it is possible! There is something that causes God to be pleased. It is when a person has faith in him. Faith means active belief and trust in God. God is pleased when a person believes his (God’s) word. God is pleased when a person trusts him.
In order to desire a relationship with God, a person must believe two things. First, the person realises that God exists. And next, that God will be kind to someone who really desires a relationship with him. In the beginning, those two ideas may not seem strong enough to be called beliefs. But they are the beginning of faith. And faith is like a seed (Luke 17:6); it grows. It is God’s word that causes faith to grow. We read God’s word in the Bible. We respond. We pray. We listen, We obey. We get to know God. We learn to identify his voice and our confidence in that discovery leads us into the life of Enoch.
It is the will of God that we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord: “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him” (Colossians 1:10).Enoch is a wonderful reminder of what life is all about-walking with God by faith throughout our days on earth, then walking right on into the presence of God in heaven someday.
Many will eventually do this, like Enoch, without facing death. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall becaught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shallalways be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Others may face death, but the key ingredient of fellowship on earth right on into heaven is the same: “I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:23-24).