Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 42

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.


Next in the Hall of Faith is Enoch. Here is what the Writer says about him:

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:5-6, NASB 95)

Such is the Writer's commentary on these verses in Genesis:

Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)

What we see here is that "Enoch walked with God." This seems to have begun after the birth of Methuselah and one might wonder what the connection here might be. What is apparent is that Enoch was close to his Lord and had such a relationship that God took him to heaven before he saw death. The best counterpart of this that we have is the ministry of Elijah, who was also directly taken to heaven. I suspect that the event must have been observed, i.e. the taking of Enoch from the earth. It is certainly more than the reporting of someone who got lost and never returned.

From the life of Enoch, the Writer of Hebrews draws this generalization, "He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." We do not see God directly with our eyes. We can see evidence of Him in creation and evidence of Him in the lives of others. Given the evidence, one might suppose that there is a creative force or forces, but it is a larger thing to grasp that a Person is behind it: a Person with a purpose. But even supposing that one concludes that the Creator is a Person, why should one even think that such was approachable.

If I were to meet the President of the United States, I would remember the encounter for the rest of my life. And, if I were to meet him later, I would have to give him my name again and tell him of the previous encounter. He would be gracious, of course, but even the jog to his memory would not awaken an image of the first meeting. He simply meets and greets too many others day in and day out. What for me would be a memorable event would be, for him, background noise. For most situations, greatness is the same as aloofness.

Why should it be any different with God? The creation is at least 12 billion years old and filled with galaxies, which are filled with stars. Why would we, living on a speck orbiting a bigger speck in the Milky Way. And although the Milky Way dwarfs our sun, it is but a speck in the cosmos. This makes the case for the ultimate aloofness. Why do we go about thinking of God thinking about us?

But imagine the President of the United States with enough heart and mind to remember everyone he ever met--and bring it to mind with the same vividness as the original encounter. In this way, he could be the close friend of everyone he ever met. He would only forget me, because his capacities are limited.

Here is what we are told of God:

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

The Lord supports the afflicted; He brings down the wicked to the ground. (Psalm 147:3-6)

Note the jump between healing the brokenhearted and giving names to all the stars. The text casually moves from one hurting individual to naming every star in every galaxy. The picture emerges of a God to Whom each star is distinct enough to have a name. God can be close, because He is so great. Indeed Jesus tells us that He even knows how many hairs are on each of our heads.

So we can seek Him and, in the seeking of Him, know that He will reward our search with a sense of His presence and provide help and wisdom. Faith is seemingly such a small thing, but observe how great a connection with God it gives.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.