The Prediluvian Period (7): Enoch, Who Walked With God (1)

Homer Hoeksema was professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

Introductory Remarks

The Word of God does not furnish us with any kind of detailed account of the history of the line of Seth, the line of the people of God. In the rather remarkable fifth chapter of Genesis we find, apart from the biblical account of the beginning of the covenant line and the account of the consummation of the history of that line (chapters 4, 6, 7), the record of that line. But there is very little detail furnished us. We learn that there was, indeed, a line. We learn that this line of Seth represents the generations of Adam: the race is represented not by the mighty and rich and famous line of Cain-Lamech, the ungodly, but by the line of Seth. We learn, too, that already before the Flood God gathered His church in the line of generations—the successive sons in the generations of Adam representing the seed of the woman in that age—although also then it was true that not all were true "Sethites" who were of the line of Seth according to the flesh. But as far as details are concerned, we are not told as much about the generations of Seth as we are about the generations of Cain-Lamech. 

There are only two individuals in those generations of Seth who are singled out for special mention. One is, of course, Noah, around whom the history of the consummation of the prediluvian age revolves. The other is Enoch, whose history is very briefly described in the Scriptures. The latter was apparently the outstanding representative of the descendants of Seth. He was not fundamentally different from his predecessors or his descendants; but he was more eminent than all until Noah. In the biblical picture of Enoch, therefore, we are given, as it were, a snapshot, or even a representative moving picture, of the generations of the sons of God.

The Bible does not tell us much about the details of Enoch's history, though what it does tell us is telling. InGenesis 5:21-24 we find this record: "And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." 

In addition to this, we find the data of the New Testament. In Hebrews 11:5, 6 Enoch is enrolled among the so-called heroes of faith: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." And inJude 14, 15, we find this: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." 

From this rather scant data we learn that Enoch was famous. But he was famous in an altogether different sense than the renowned family of Lamech, his contemporary. He was famous for the fact that he "walked with God," famous for his faith, famous for the fact that God translated him. He was famous as an example of the power of God's grace and the power of the promise. In other words, God revealed through Enoch that He was indeed realizing His promise of putting enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent and His promise of giving the victory to the seed of the woman. In this sense, we may also consider Enoch and his history to be representative, to be a sampling, of the history of the generations of Seth.

Enoch's Walk with God

While the book of Hebrews describes Enoch as having the testimony that he pleased God, Genesis specifies this by describing Enoch as a man who "walked with God." This is noteworthy. Of the other representatives of Seth's line we are merely told that they "lived" a certain number of years; of Enoch we are told specifically that he "walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years." This is emphasized by its repetition in verse 24: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." This, therefore, was the outstanding trait of Enoch. What does it mean?

In general, this refers to the covenant relation. There are different expressions in the Scriptures to indicate the intimate relation of the covenant between God and His people. The Bible describes God as dwelling with His people (the idea of communion, fellowship). It speaks of God as speaking with His people, as friend with friend. So here, walking with God expresses the covenant relation from a certain point of view. This point of view is that of Enoch's life in the midst of the world, as the term "walk" indicates.

The covenant implies, in the first place, that God is our God and gives us all the blessings of His grace. Enoch's inner life was filled with God. His heart was a sanctuary of God: God dwelled there. His thoughts were of God. To know God, to know His name, His precepts, His salvation—that was the important thing for Enoch; and God revealed Himself to Enoch. His desires were toward God. To be near God, to obey Him, to trust Him, tolove Him, to experience His favor and goodness—that was the all-important aspect of Enoch's whole existence; and God made Enoch to taste His communion.

In the second place, that covenant relation implies that through these blessings of His grace we are in principle enabled to love God and to be His people in the world, manifesting this in our lives in the keeping of His commandments, the doing of His will. This latter idea has the emphasis in the expression "walking with God." To walk, in the Scriptures, denotes one's life and the direction of that life from a spiritual point of view. To walk with God is to have our life controlled by the principle of God's grace. It is to have the direction of our life in harmony with God's will. It is to be God's party in the world. 

In God's covenant communion, Enoch's walking with God must not be construed as some kind of mystical contemplation of God and of the delights of God's fellowship. No, our walk refers to our entire life's manifestation. That Enoch "walked" implies that he lived the full-orbed life of this present earthly existence. But that Enoch walked with God means that Enoch was with God in all his life, in all his speech and activity in the midst of the world. The knowledge and love of God filled his inner life; from within, that knowledge and love of God controlled all his outward life.

In the third place, Enoch's walk with God was a walk in the midst of a wicked world, and thus a walk against the world. Enoch walked with God antithetically. This may be learned, first of all, from a study of Enoch's place in history. He was the seventh from Adam. He lived in the second half of the prediluvian period, when the world was fast becoming more wicked and when the children of God, through a process of amalgamation and through persecution, were becoming fewer in number and more despised. As we have seen, by a comparison of the genealogies of Cain and of Seth, it appears that Enoch was a contemporary of Lamech the Terrible and his sons. This may also be learned from Jude 14, 15, quoted earlier. From this it is clear that the world in the midst of which Enoch lived was a thoroughly wicked world. This is emphatically expressed in the verses from Jude, which speak of the ungodly, of their ungodly deeds which they ungodly committed, and of their hard speeches against God. It was a world which rebelled openly against God and against His people. It is not easy to walk with God in such a world.

In that world Enoch walked in such a way that he condemned the world. This implies, of course, that Enoch was not an isolationist in the physical, local sense of the word. He did not physically retreat from the world, but he came into contact with that world. When he did so, he testified against it, condemned it. Moreover, this testimony of Enoch was not only a testimony of his own walk in godliness. It was also a spoken testimony. Enoch prophesied! The message of his prophecy is recorded for us in Jude. It is a sharply condemnatory prophecy. This tells us volumes about Enoch's walk. When he walked with God, he at the same time condemned the world which walked without God and against God. He did so in no uncertain terms. Enoch was manifestly of the party of the living God in the midst of the world.

Thus Enoch pleased God, and he had the testimony that he did so. This implies also that it was his desire and striving to please God. The love of God was in him, so that the one desire of his heart and the goal of his existence was to be pleasing in God's sight. This implies, too, that Enoch manifested this in his life by himself keeping God's precepts and by witnessing of God against an ungodly world. And of this he had divine testimony, something which most likely means that God spoke to and with Enoch by direct revelation.