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The character of Enoch is the point on which attention is fixed. He 'walked with God,' he 'pleased God'.
I. What is Implied in this Description?
( a ) Agreement. 'Can two walk together except they be agreed?' Man naturally is at enmity with God, averse to Him, disliking His law. This enmity must be destroyed. There is no peace with the wicked, and as the first requisite to walking with God obedience is required.
( b ) Intimate Communion. Agreement in aim and purpose is possible apart from intimacy: but walking implies close and personal converse with Jehovah. Knowledge of God begets confidence in Him, life is lived under His eye, and in constant recognition of His presence and law.
( c ) Progress. He 'walked,' went on from grace to grace. There was activity in the spiritual life: no cessation of effort. God walks with us to lead us into full knowledge and holiness.
II. The Foundation of His Character. What was the fount and root of this life? Genesis is silent, but the Epistle to the Hebrews gives the information 'By faith,' etc. How great this faith was we can scarcely measure, but the least faith which brings a man to God is faith in His existence and in His love. Thus walking with God becomes a source of knowledge and an aid to faith, enlarging its sphere, and giving greater power for service.
III. The Reward. 'God took him.' His aim was to please God, and he was rewarded with the high honour of going home without passing through the gates of death. When his character was mature the intercourse with heaven was more perfect.
J. Edwards, The Pulpit, vol. v.
I. What was the Character of the Age in which Enoch Lived? Now respecting the age when Enoch lived we know little, but that little is very bad. He was the seventh from Adam, and lived in the time before the flood. In those days we are told the earth was corrupt before God, and filled with violence. Every sort of wickedness seems to have prevailed; men walked after the vile lusts of their hearts, and did that which appeared good to them without fear and without shame. Such was the character of the men before the flood; and in the middle of this age of wickedness Enoch lived, and Enoch walked with God.
II. What was his Character? You have heard he walked with God, and you know perhaps it is an expression of great praise. A man that walks with God is one of God's friends. That unhappy enmity and dislike which men naturally feel towards their Maker has been removed; he feels perfectly reconciled and at peace. Again he that walks with God is one of God's dear children. He looks upon Him as his Father, and as such he loves Him, he reveres Him, he rejoices in Him, he trusts Him in everything. And lastly to walk with God is to be always going forward, always pressing on, never standing still and flattering ourselves that we are the men and have borne much fruit; but to grow in grace, to go on from strength to strength, to forget the things behind, and if by grace we have attained unto anything, to abound yet more and more.
III. Enoch's Motive. Faith was the seed which bore such goodly fruit; faith was the root of his holiness and decision on the Lord's side faith without which there has never been any salvation, faith without which not one of us will ever enter into the kingdom of heaven.
IV. Enoch's End. We are simply informed that 'He was not, for God took him'. The interpretation of this is, that God was pleased to interfere on His servant's behalf, and so He suddenly removed him from this world without the pains of death, and took him to that blessed place where all the saints are waiting in joyful expectation for the end of all things, where sin and pain and sorrow are no more. And this, no doubt, was done for several reasons. It was done to convince a hard-hearted, unbelieving world that God does observe the lives of men and will honour those who honour Him. It was done to show every living soul that Satan had not won a complete victory when he deceived Eve; that we may yet get to heaven by the way of faith, and although in Adam all die, still in Christ all may be made alive.
J. C. Ryle, The Christian Race, p. 243.
Enoch the Immortal
What has its sublimest consummation in the Christian consciousness had its crude form in the portrait of Enoch. That portrait was God's message of universal hope. Every man of the future aspired to be an Enoch.
I. Brief as it is, this record is a biography the description of a rounded life. Three times the curtain rises and falls.
( a ) We see first an ordinary man a life in no way distinguished from his contemporaries engrossed in family cares and engaged in secular pursuits.
( b ) Suddenly there comes a change drastic, complete, revolutionary. Up to the birth of his son Methuselah he has merely 'lived'; he now begins to 'walk with God'. He had lived sixty-five years as a man of the world occupied with the cares of a household. When he changes mere 'living' into walking with God he goes over precisely the same ground he is still occupied with the care of 'sons and daughters'. No outward eye could have detected any difference.
( c ) Now we have a third and distinctively unique scene. Enoch himself has disappeared: there is no trace of him. There is no grave for him. There is the place where the grave should have been, and there is a tablet above the spot; but in the tablet are inscribed the words 'He is not here; he is risen'.
II. Why is this man represented as escaping death? It is on the ground of holiness; it is because 'he walked with God'. Do you think that is an accidental connexion of ideas? It is the keynote to all the subsequent teaching both of the Old Testament and of the New the prelude to all the coming music.
III. Enoch was not transplanted into foreign soil. The text says that translation was preceded by revelation that before going out into the new world he had a picture of that world in his mind. It tells us that the beginning of the process was not the approach of earth to heaven; it was the approach of heaven to earth. He did not first go to Eshcol to try the taste of the grapes; he had specimens of the fruit brought to him sent unto his desert as a foretaste, and this foretaste was the climax of the glory; it made the glory, when it came, not wholly new.
G. Matheson, The Representative Men of the Bible, p. 67.
'Oh! for a closer walk with God' is number one on the list of Cowper's Olney Hymns.
I. There are some hymns in our hymn books which thoughtful people decline to sing. They will tell you that the aspirations expressed are so lofty and so far above their desires, that to join in singing such hymns seems to them devoid of reality. But here we have a hymn breathing the holiest and loftiest aspirations, and yet every member of a congregation can heartily join in singing it. Every member of a congregation, whether good or bad, can honestly express a heartfelt desire for 'a closer walk with God,' and where is the man or woman who does not sigh for that 'calm and heavenly frame' of mind which springs from a 'closer walk with God'.
II. Cowper might well have selected as the motto for this hymn the words of the Apostle St. James, 'Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you'. So you see that the opening aspiration is not only thoroughly reasonable, but thoroughly scriptural, and is well calculated to give expression to the desire of every worshipper. And what prayer can be more appropriate to those who are travelling through a vale of darkness than the prayer for light! We have, thank God, the light of His Holy Book to guide our steps aright, but we need the aid of the Holy Spirit to enable us to say with the Psalmist, 'Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path'.
III. Few hours in life are more fraught with happiness than those in which we contemplate sweet intercourse with dear ones who have passed away. And yet with all their sweetness there is felt, deep down in the heart, a want that can never in this world be supplied. This is a rough illustration of the condition of the lapsed Christian. The memory of the peace that was once enjoyed mingles with the feeling of present alienation from God, which no amount of worldly excitement can obliterate. This feeling of a want, this aching void in the soul is often the precursor of the prodigal's return. He, like the son in the parable, comes to himself.
M. H. James, Hymns and their Singers, p. 112.
References. V. 24. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Genesis, p. 38. J. Edwards, The Pulpit, vol. v. J. Jackson Goadley, Christian World Pulpit, 1891, p. 139. C. E. Shipley, Baptist Times, vol. liv. p. 807. E. H. Bickersteth, Thoughts in Past Years, p. 21. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 382; ibid. Old Testament Outlines, p. 5. V. 26. G. B. Cheever, American Pulpit, p. 72. VI. 2. J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year, vol. ii. p. 161. VI. 3. J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii. p. 159. J. Keble, Sermons for Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, p. 161. C. G. Finney, Penny Pulpit, No. 1675, p. 439.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25