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In every field of human endeavour some people are outstanding. When I worked in financial service there were endless lists and league tables and many people strived to be top of those lists. Time magazine has a person of the year and then of course the ultimate accolade is the Nobel Prize given in several different fields. So, in just about every field of endeavour there are outstanding individuals. My question is are there outstanding individuals spiritually and if so who are they and what does one have to do to become a great spiritual man or woman?
In our series on the book of Genesis we have come to a chapter that tells us especially about one outstanding individual and what he was like and what happened to him. This one outstanding individual is best seen against the backdrop of his whole list of ancestors. (Gen 5: 1-3). The subject of this genealogy is the family line of Adam through Seth. Last Sunday we saw Cain killed Abel and then were told at the end of chapter 4 that Adam and Eve has another son called Seth. This is the structure of this passage. The pattern of each generation is given, someone lives X number of years becomes a father and has a son who carried on the line and lives X more years. Sometimes telling us if they fathered more children and then gives the total number of years they lived and that is the pattern followed throughout the chapter.
The Bible indicates that these people were actual/real people. Their children and family lines are mentioned in the first four chapters of I chronicles written over 300 years later and in the Gospel of Luke written at least 600 years later so, these are real historical people. In chapter 4 we we're told that Seth’s line began to call on the name of the Lord and Genesis 5 is the history of the godly line through Seth. So, what's the point of the genealogy, “they live, and they had a child and they died”. Well things get interesting when we come to one outstanding individual, he's obviously outstanding because what is said about him is so radically different than everything that said before, look at (Gen 5: 21-24)
Enock is the only other person in the book of Genesis of whom it is said they walked with God will be Noah in chapter 6 verse 9. This suggests to me a lifestyle that is characterized by devotion. Walking with God is a lovely metaphor of living your life in relationship with God. (Hebrews 11:5) Putting these 2 verses together adds up to say Enoch was an outstanding individual who walked with the Lord and with whom the Lord was so well pleased, he didn’t experience death.
There is a something else we should know about Enoch. (Jude v14) It seems, not only did Enoch walk with the Lord but he prophesied the word of the Lord also. In fact, according to Jude verse 14 he prophesied about the return of Christ in judgement. However, he not only prophesied for a future generation, he also prophesied for his own generation. The quoted age of Enoch is much shorter than the other men mentioned in the list of the first human descendants. Enock was the exception to the often-repeated phrase in chapter 5 “and then he died”, but Enoch did not die, he was translated directly to heaven. The reason he lived a short life is because God took him, and the Lord took him as a relatively young man.
Enoch’s prophecy was not just for future generations to come like us today. It was also to his generation also. (Gen 5: 21-24) Enoch fathers someone called “Methuselah”. Many commentaries both ancient and modern have noticed the fact but the name Methuselah means “when he dies it shall be sent”. Some have even translated it as “God’s judgement follows after me” He names his son Methuselah and in doing so gives a prophecy and a warning. The promise is that judgement will come but not come until his son dies. The warning is that judgement will come once his son dies. Methuselah live 969 years longer than any other man whose age is recorded in the bible. Enoch prophesied the coming judgment of the flood and named his son to signify the prophecy. The year Methuselah dies the flood came so both the promise and the warning came to pass. We already know Enoch was a prophet, we know that from Jude. But also, he names his son in such a way as to warn of the impending judgement and flood, and, the day his son died the rain began to fall. Interestingly Methuselah gets to live longer than anybody else in the bible as an illustration of gods long suffering before judgement. Then two generations later Lamech has a son and names him Noah. It is during the life of Noah that the flood comes, and God uses Noah to allow a faithful remnant to escape the great judgement.
Let me get back to what I think the main point of Genesis chapter 5. We get all these people who follow on in the line of Seth. They called on the Lord they lived long lives and the family line is preserved, nevertheless, they did all eventually die. You cannot read this chapter without seeing it again and again “And he died, and he died, and he died”, repeatedly. The wages of the sin of Adam was indeed death. However, there was an exception. An outstanding individual named Enoch did not die. Enoch been taken by God indicates that God could not only conquer death but that there is life after death as well. Enoch is an outstanding individual because he didn't live like other men and women, he walked with the Lord and the good news is that you too can live like Enoch
Firstly, you've got to walk with God but walk in the same direction as the Lord. The answer to doing that it's in the scripture, the bible. Secondly, you need to talk with the Lord. If you're going to walk with the Lord and go the way of the Lord you need to know his what His word says, and you need to talk with him.
One final observation It doesn’t say Enoch was perfect, it doesn’t say he was without sin. It just says he walked with the Lord and the Lord was pleased with him. Walking implies that you still might possibly stumble. Which tells me if you are walking with the Lord and you do stumble you can still get up and continue walking and talking with the Lord.
J Vernon Magee who wrote a famous study booklet about Enoch. I’d like to close by quoting the last short paragraph from his essay.
“perhaps every day the Lord and Enoch took a walk together and they enjoyed each other’s company so much that the walks got longer and longer. Finally, one day after a long, long walk together God said to Enoch, you're closer to my house than yours why don't you come home with me.
Maybe God said to Enock, “Instead of walking all the way back to your place, why not come to my house instead. So, God took Enoch home to his house. The most outstanding people are those who walk with the Lord who speak with him, who speak accurately for him and who God is pleased with. Maybe for some of those individuals he's eager to take them home to be with him and what a wonderful perspective that can give you on this life and the life to come.
The Great Patriarchs