Skip to content
Aug 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 23, 2020


Intro: Reading the New Testament we constantly bump into faith

Jesus stressed it, pointing out instances of little faith and great faith
– Paul practically wore out the word faith
(faith appears almost forty times alone in his letter to the Romans)
• but the writer of Hebrews gives the fullest explanation of faith
• beginning in chapter 10, he reminded us of God’s declaration,
my righteous one shall live by faith (Heb. 10:38)
◦ then he defined faith in chapter 11 verse 1:
Faith is resting in the assurance that we will receive the things we hope for, the certainty of having things that are now invisible (my paraphrase)
◦ he follows that with numerous examples of others who lived by faith
– like I said last week, this is a magnificent chapter
• it would be hard to find a chapter that is more helpful than this
• from all these examples we learn that
Faith finds God, while unbelief gropes in the dark, and finds nothing

After the example of Abel, this second example is a little strange
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

The book of Genesis can be studied in sections
– each section tells us a story of a person or family
• and each section is separated from the one before it by a genealogy
◦ genealogies: those long, boring lists of “who begat who”
• we don’t expect to find much that interests us in these ancient family trees
◦ but every once in awhile, we strike gold
◦ Enoch is gold
– like Melchizedek, Enoch is a bit character with a minuscule role
• he is no more than a name in a genealogy
◦ yet he captured the imagination of biblical sages and rabbis
◦ he inspired legends and centuries later books were written in his name
• how did he make this list in Hebrews 11?

The writer quotes the Greek translation of Genesis
– in fact, he uses some of the exact same Greek words
Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God [had taken] him (Gen. 5:24, LXX)
• the writer tells us it was By faith that Enoch was taken up
• Genesis doesn’t say anything about Enoch’s faith,
◦ but it’s a reasonable deduction
– the writer adds God’s purpose for taking Enoch, which was so he would not see death
• follow the genealogy’s trajectory through time of fathers and sons
◦ each generation followed by the next, and they all exit the same way
and he died . . . and he died . . . and he died
• there’s only one exception – Enoch, that he should not see death
◦ Enoch is unique even in this chapter of Hebrews
These all died in faith . . . (Heb. 11:13)
death took all the others, but God took Enoch

This mystery haunts the dusty old genealogy
– how did Enoch just go from this world into–what? Heaven? Another dimension?
• God wanted Enoch immediately
◦ and wanted to spare him the experience of death
◦ it would seem that he just disappeared
and he was not found
• this phrase is echoed in another biblical story, equally strange
◦ that was when Elijah was taken into heaven
◦ a few doubtful prophets wanted to go look for him
Maybe the Spirit of the LORD dumped his body on some mountain or in a ravine (2 Ki. 2:16-18)
◦ but when they went and looked, they did not find him
– the point is, Enoch left this world because God took him out of it
• the writer says, prior to leaving he was “commended”
◦ last week we learned that’s what this chapter is all about
◦ all the people who made this list were commended (v. 2)
• his commendation was for having pleased God
◦ again, that is from the Greek translation, not the original Hebrew
◦ later I’ll explain why that’s important to me

The writer pauses to make another fundamental statement
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

God is pleased when we know him
– when we live with him as the center and circumference of our lives
• when we choose paths that require absolute dependence on him
• otherwise, without faith it is impossible to please him
– God is pleased when we draw near to him
• this is the primary objective of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 10:22)
• so, if we are going to draw near to God, faith is what gets us there

When we move into faith, the first step is believing that God is
– not, as the verse reads, “God exists”
• God could simply exist, yet be in some faraway place
◦ we always want to add something to these two words
◦ like God is “powerful,” or “holy,” or “good,” or “love”
• but prior to those qualifiers, God simply is
◦ there is no blank that needs to be filled-in
◦ the two words are a complete statement
– this takes us back to when God revealed his name to Moses
• Moses asked God, What is your name?
◦ how did God identify and define himself to his people?
◦ in the name Yahweh–“I am”–the God who is
• God is not limited by conditions or attributes,
◦ he is not limited by space or time – he IS
◦ God is all the time, in all places, and all things to his people
– this was the special significance of God revealing his name at that particular moment in history
God saw the people—and God knew (Ex. 2:25)
This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations (Ex. 3:15)
• from his side, God says, “I am”
• in response, from our side, we say, “he is”

The second step of faith is believing that God rewards our quest
Harold Attridge, “Enoch’s faith, like that of anyone who would ‘approach’ God, is grounded in two propositions, that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him. These two affirmations are only one element of the complex portrait of faith that emerges in the chapter, but they are fundamental.”
– that he rewards us, tells us that he cares, that we matter to him
• we must believe this!
◦ we have to believe this journey is worth it,
◦ that it will be rewarded – as it was for Enoch
Luke Johnson, says of Enoch, “It was, then, his disposition of faith during his life that leads to God’s gift of continuing life.”
– I’ve frequently talked about seeking God
• so here I’ll only remind you that our search for God is not:
◦ geographical – or intellectual (an accumulation of information)
◦ neither God nor his reward are visible
Faith walks through emptiness and silence
• we seek God by focusing our attention on this present moment
◦ remembering that God is here now
◦ and God, by his Spirit, awaken our consciousness to his presence
Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it (Ge. 28:16)

Noah shares something in common with Enoch
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:7

Noah’s life was also well-pleasing to God
– Noah’s story differs from Enoch’s in terms of what God expected of him
• God warned him of events that were at that time unseen
◦ we’ve seen, this is where faith leads us–into the unseen
• Moses response demonstrated his reverent fear
◦ this reverence was characteristic of Jesus’ prayers (Heb. 5:7)
Rudolph Otto, in his book The Idea of the Holy describes the natural, human response to holiness as “the deepest and most fundamental element in all strong and sincerely felt religious emotion.”
◦ reverence comes from a felt sense of the sacred; the uncanny power of the holy
– Noah’s faith challenge was to construct a huge ship
• it became salvation for his family
◦ salvation is a theme in Hebrews, where we find that Jesus is
the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb. 5:9)
• that one person found salvation, tells us all could have had it
◦ those who rejected it were condemned by Noah’s example
◦ Noah is the first person in scripture to be referred to as righteous

Conclusion: The one thing I find most interesting in Enoch’s story

Did not interest the writer of Hebrews at all
– and that is, the original Hebrew does not say that Enoch was well-pleasing
• but that he walked with God
• Enoch did something unique
◦ something no one else in the living chain of his ancestors and descendants
– what does this mean, anyway? How does a person walk with God?
• I am not sure, but I am guessing it does not mean hike trails with God
◦ or go on long walks through a park or along the seashore

Perhaps walking with God means
• to go through life with a consciousness of God
• to constantly acknowledge God and interact with him, praying to him and thanking him
• a kind of intimacy with God
• a willing surrender to God, because to walk with him, we have to be willing to go wherever he is going
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (Jn. 10:27)

The writer of Hebrews
shows us the possibilities of a life we’re meant to live
That life is a potential that faith actualizes
Faith walks with Jesus
. . . as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him (Col. 2:6)
This is the kind of faith that we want growing in our hearts
So that the first step we take every morning
is a continuation of our long walk with Jesus,
until one evening he turns and says to us,
“You must be tired. Why don’t you just come home with me?”

Leave a comment