The Story of Enoch
J. R. Miller
The history of the world is not told in detail in Genesis. We have only a glimpse here and there of the life of the first days. But a few names are preserved from antediluvian generations. The people seem to have lived long—but not to much purpose. All we learn of most of them—is that they lived so many hundreds of years, and then died. The good seed seemed to perish in the death of Abel—but Seth was born in his place, and then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Some generations passed and in the scant record, we come upon one name that shines brightly in the story. "When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Genesis 5:21-24
God and Enoch were good friends. Their relations were intimate and familiar. The meaning is not that God appeared to Enoch in any visible form and walked with him about the country, as a man would walk with his friend. A little child, however, told the story thus. She had been to Sunday School, and when she came home her mother asked her what she had learned that day. She answered, "Don't you know, mother? we have been learning about a man who used to go for walks with God. His name was Enoch. He used to go for walks with God. And, mother, one day they went for an extra long walk, and they walked on, and on, and on, until God said to Enoch, 'You are a long way from home; you would better just come in and stay.' And he went in!"
The child's idea of the story was very beautiful. It was true, too—at least in a spiritual sense. The figure of a walk is used in the Bible many times for the course of life. When men are said to have walked in the ways of the Lord—the meaning is that they lived righteously, keeping God's commandments. When we read that the people walked in the way of Jeroboam, the thought is that they followed him in his idolatry. When it is said that Enoch walked with God, we are to understand that he obeyed God's commandments, so far as they were revealed to him, and that he lived in communion with God.
It was a walk of faith. Enoch did not see God. We do not know how much he knew about God. We must remember that he lived before the Flood, only a few generations from Adam. The race was in its infancy then, and only a few revelations from God had been made. There was no Bible. It was long before Moses received the ten commandments on Mount Sinai. But in whatever way and to whatever extent Enoch had been taught about God—he believed. God was as real to him—as if He had walked with Enoch in human form!
We all walk with God in a sense, for all our life. We never can get away from His presence for a moment. He is closer to us than our nearest friend. Wherever we go—He walks beside us. But the trouble with many of us is that we do not realize this presence. We never think of it. Faith is that exercise of the mind, which makes unseen things, real. God was real to Enoch. His walk with God—was as real as if he had seen God's face, and heard His voice and felt the touch of His hand!
We may walk with God as consciously and as familiarly as Enoch did, if we really desire. Christ told the disciples that He wished to make them His personal friends, opening His heart to them and giving them His full confidence. But how many of us are living in conscious communion with Christ? We sing Bernard's hymn,
"Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Your face to see,
And in Your presence rest."
But to how many of us, are the words really a true expression of our experience? We talk a good deal about God—but how many of us are actually walking with God? An eloquent preacher says, "A missing note of the religious life of today, is that of personal fellowship with the Creator. We are largely dependent on other people, not Christ—for our spiritual experience." Never have there been so many religious activities in which Christians take part, as at present. There are meetings, societies, brotherhoods, unions and all manner of organizations for the promotion of spiritual life and for the winning of souls. But is there not a lack of personal communion with Christ? We are depending more for the quickening of our spirits and for our religious interest and earnestness, on outside activities and on the influence of other Christians upon us—than on our own individual fellowship with Christ!
We need to learn anew to walk with God. We need to train ourselves to more personal communion with Christ, to be more alone with Him. We cannot get our religious life second-hand. None of us can give to another, what we have received from God, in our own communion with Him. The wise virgins could not give of their oil—to their sisters whose lamps were going out, and whose vessels were empty. Sometimes it seems to us as we read the story, that these virgins were selfish, unkind, ungenerous, in refusing. But the incident is meant to teach—that one cannot give the grace of God to another. Each must receive it directly from God for himself. If your friend walks with God—then in his hour of trial or need, he will have the comfort and strength he requires. But if you follow God afar off—then in your time of stress, you will find your lamp burning low and your vessel empty, and you cannot run to your friend for what you need. Each must know Christ for himself.
There are many blessings which come to him who walks with God. One is companionship with God. Human companionship is very sweet and refreshing. It makes the way seem shorter and easier. How could we live without friends? We never can be thankful enough for the companionships of our lives. It would be hard to live without our human friends. We need them, and they bring us cheer, comfort, strength, encouragement all along the way. But human companionships, as heart-filling as they may be—are not enough. Then they drop away one by one—we know not what morning, the dearest and most needed friend shall be missed from our side when we come out to begin our day's walk.
What would you have done if the Great Companion had not been beside you on that dark day when the human friend you had leaned on so heavily, was called away? What will you do when those who now make the journey so pleasant for you, slip away and leave you if, when you lift up your eyes through your tears, you do not see the Master still by your side? Then, even with the happiest and gladdest earthly companionship crowding our path, we need God too. Without Him—the dearest human love fails to satisfy.
But no words can fully tell of the joy and the blessing of Divine companionship. Think of the years when Christ walked with His personal friends, what His presence meant to them. And that short story of the Incarnation is not something past, which cannot be realized now. We may have those days over again, each one of us, with all their sweetness and helpfulness. Christ came down to earth, not to stay a few years only and then leave us—but to stay unto the end, and to walk with each one of us all the way home.
Another blessing that comes from walking with God, is the transfiguration of our common life. Many of us miss much of the beauty and the glory of life, because we do not know that God is with us. Life is all dark and mysterious, sometimes full of sorrow and disaster, when we know nothing of the love of God. But when His love fills our hearts—then all the world is changed. Even human love coming into a life, changes the aspect of all things. Only the other day a young friend came to tell of the coming of love, and the dear face was shining as if a holy lamp of heaven were burning within.
If human love brings such joy, the love of Christ brings infinitely more!
Enoch's walking with God was not interrupted by the common experiences of his life. "Enoch walked with God 300 years—and had other sons and daughters." Some people suppose they could continue to walk with God if they were engaged all the time in 'religious' work; but they do not suppose it possible to maintain a life of unbroken communion with Him, when they have to be at work in the shop, in the office, or in the kitchen. But the truth is, we may stay near Christ just as easily when at our daily duties—as when we are at our devotions.
There is a legend of a monk whose great desire was to see Christ and touch the hem of His divinity. At his monastery, he waited in prayer and penance before his crucifix. He had vowed that he would see no human face—until his prayer was granted. One morning he seemed to hear a voice which told him that his wish would be fulfilled that day. With eager joy he watched. There came a gentle tap upon his door, and the plaintive cry of a child was heard, pleading to be taken in and fed. But the voice of the cold and hungry little one, was unheeded. The 'saint' was busy with his devotions, watching for the vision of the Master, and must not be disturbed. The condles burned low and the monk grew dismayed. Why did not the vision appear? All he heard was, "Unhappy monk, you may pray on forever. The answer to your prayer was sent today—it lingered, then sobbed, then turned away."
God is quite as sure to come to walk with us, in the doing of some common task of love and kindness—as when we pray or sit at our Master's communion table. "For I was hungry—and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty—and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger—and you took Me in; I was naked—and you clothed Me; I was sick—and you took care of Me; I was in prison—and you visited Me." Matthew 25:35-36
To him who is walking with God—all life has glory. We do not know what we miss—when we fail to see the Great Companion who is ever by our side.
A little child was traveling with his mother over the sea. After a little while he asked, "Mother, where is the sea?" His mother said, "Why, we are on the sea. It is all around us." The child replied, "I see the waves—but where is the sea?"
Just so, we go through our days, all bright with the shining of God's glory, and ask, "Where is God?"
You remember how the disciples, going to Emmaus, talked with the Stranger who walked with them, about Jesus, telling how bitterly they had been disappointed, not knowing, not dreaming, that He who was walking with them—was the Master Himself for whom their hearts were breaking. So ofttimes, we walk on our ways in life with sadness, crying out for God, asking, "Where is He? Where can I find Him?" while all the time He is closer to us than our dearest friends. How a simpler faith would brighten all things for us—and reveal the Master to us!
Another blessing from walking with God, is a heavenly atmosphere. We know the value of atmosphere even in human friendships and associations. Everyone has an atmosphere of his own. With some people we feel ourselves in an atmosphere that is sweet, exhilarating, inspiring. All our life is quickened by their influence. With others we find a depressing atmosphere about us, when we enter their presence. Dr. Arnold used to say, "We too much live, as it were, out of God's atmosphere."
They used to build observatories in the heart of cities—but it was found that the atmosphere was unsuitable. It was not clear—but was full of smoke and dust which obscured the vision. Now observatories are built on the highest points that can be found, where the air is pure, so that observations can be made without hindrance. God walks always on the high levels—and those who walk with Him must leave the low valleys with their fogs and mists—and go up to the mountain-tops!
Another blessing from walking with God, is the cleansing of our lives. The influence of pure and good companionship is always transforming. John lay on Christ's bosom—and became like Christ. When two live together in close and intimate association, they grow alike. Intimacy with God, can result only in becoming like God.
Sometimes we want to run ahead of God—we cannot wait for Him. "Enoch walked with God." He waited for God—-was not impatient when God seemed slower than he wished. We must trust God when He delays to answer our prayers. He knows when to answer.
Then sometimes we hold back when God wants us to move quickly. Walking with God means that we must never parley nor dally when God moves on—but must move promptly, never falling behind.
So let us walk with God—wherever He leads us. The way may not be easy—but that is not our concern; our concern is only to walk with Him—without question, unfalteringly. He always leads in the right way—He will lead us home!
That was the way He led Enoch. "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." People missed him one day and saw him no more—but he was not lost. God had simply lifted him over the river of death, so that he missed dying, and had taken him home!
Christian life here is very sweet. It is a glorious thing to walk with God in this world. But only in heaven can we get the whole of anything good, which was begun here. We are going on into that land where all faith's dreams shall be realized, where all love's visions shall be fulfilled. Nothing beautiful shall be lost. We shall meet our Christian friends on the other side; dying is but parting for a little while.
A child, about to fall asleep, threw her tired arms around her father's neck and said, "Good-night, dear father; I shall see you in the morning."
She was right. When we die, we are only saying to our remaining Christian friends, "Good-night!" And in a fairer land, we shall say "Good-morning!"