It is striking to read in context.
Genesis 5 is one of those chapters of the Bible that gives genealogical data. If we’re honest, it’s easy to gloss over these chapters because they tend to follow a similar formula: “When ____ was _ years old he became the father of ____. After… he lived __ years and had other sons and daughters.”
The biblical description of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24 strays from the formula. Verse 22 adds one key phrase: “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah…” (emphasis added). The other entries in this genealogical formula simply say a guy “lived x years after he fathered…”
But Enoch didn’t just live. Enoch walked with God.
The end of Enoch’s story really strays from the formula. Every other guy in this list lived 900-something years and “died.” Enoch’s story was different:
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (ESV)
Now that’s a different ending. That jumps off the page a bit, doesn’t it?
In a very short description of the life of Enoch, we’re twice told he walked with God. When we see something repeated like that in the Bible we know there is a heavy emphasis.
What does it mean, exactly, that Enoch walked with God? What was it that made him different from his fathers? What was different about the way he related to his creator?
These are questions that for which I don’t have easy answers. I pose them more as a suggestion for reflection.
Commentators seem to agree that the phrase “walked with God” is meant to convey an intimate relationship with God. The New Living Translation makes this more overt when it says Enoch “walked in close fellowship with God.” (That, of course, begs the question about what we mean by “close fellowship.”)
I think the picture to get in our minds is of two people who are so comfortable together that they can walk together with hours of conversation or simply hours of silence, just being together on a path. The walk seems to be a long journey, not a meeting over a cup of coffee.
Enoch’s walk with God was a sustained, long-term connection.
How We can Be Encouraged by Enoch
We don’t get much biographical information about Enoch, so we can’t really see exactly what or how he lived.
But one thing is clear: Enoch was different. He didn’t fit the mold and he didn’t live like everyone else. After all, the formula of Genesis 5 is that everyone else “lived” and “died,” but Enoch “walked with God” and “was taken.” He was a different dude, and he had a different relationship with God.
So here’s one big takeaway from the life of Enoch:
It’s possible to walk with God.
At first glance that doesn’t seem mind blowing. It probably just seems obvious. But think about it a while longer. We know that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden. But then sin enters the picture, Adam and Eve blow it, and everything gets messy – including the nature of their relationship with God.
Until this point we’ve not seen anyone else walking with God. Enoch’s brief story shows us that it is still possible for a human to walk with God in a fallen world, to have an intimate relationship with the Creator in the midst of chaos and brokenness.
We can assume that the world was a messed up place in Enoch’s day because God destroyed it with the flood a few generations later.
But Enoch’s story shows us God has not abandoned us in a broken world. He is still here and still invites us to walk with Him. On this side of the cross, we know Jesus made a way for us to walk with God and paid the ultimate price to do so. So perhaps Enoch’s life was really a foretaste of what was to come in Jesus – a preview of coming attractions.
And that should encourage us to pursue the kind of relationship with God that marked Enoch’s life. He wants to walk with you. Do you want to walk with him?
So we arrive back at a question similar to one we asked earlier: How did Enoch walk with God? What did that look like? And we personalize these questions: What does it mean for me to walk with God? What will that look like in my life?
I have no pat answer to offer – only the belief that these are profound questions worthy of your time and reflection. But be encouraged by Enoch, whose brief story shows us that we can walk with God.