Holiness Before The Flood; Or, Do You Walk With God?
‘And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him (Gen. 23, 24).
A remarkable biography! Nowadays men write hundreds of pages about their heroes, and do not say as much as that. But there is a good reason. There is not so much as that to say.
Enoch was a mighty man, with a wonderful life, lived under very unfavorable circumstances, and I have profited much by meditating upon his life, and what I think must have been his secret.
We are prone to look upon past ages and distant places as peculiarly favorable to godliness. I remember that years ago I thought if I could go to London and listen to Chas. Spurgeon each week, I could be a Christian. In my boyhood I wished that I had lived in the days of Jesus, and heard His wondrous words, and questioned Him about the mysteries of godliness, for then I could certainly have been His true follower. Usually the further back we go, the more godly seems the age, and the more blessed seem the men.
But really this is not so, and especially is it not so of Enoch’s age and place. The age was most ungodly, and men had very little religious light. The world was fast hastening to that dreadfulness of sin and unbelief which would cause God to sweep away its people by the deluge and leave but eight persons in it. They had no Bible. They had no law. Men had not yet had a Divine revelation from Heaven, telling them they must worship God, must keep the Sabbath day, must honor their parents, must not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet. Try to imagine an age and place with no such teaching as that! Every man a law unto himself, his evil passions and lusts and tempers having no restraint put upon them, and he plunging continually deeper and deeper into sin and corruption.
Then they had no Gospel, with Jesus revealed as a loving Savior; they had only one promise of hope and mercy, and that rather vague — the one given to the woman after that awful fall in Eden, the promise of the Seed that sometime would come to bruise the Serpent’s head. It was a black night, with only one lone dim star shining in the darkness. But Enoch held on to that promise, and in its light and hope he walked with God for three hundred years.
We have a whole Bible, a finished revelation. We have the holy, just, good law of God, showing us what we ought to do and what we ought not to do. We have the Gospel, with its full noonday light, showing us how to keep the law, how to get life and power to fulfill the will of God on earth as the angels do it in Heaven. We have Jesus, crucified before our eyes for our sins, dead, buried and raised to glorious life again for our justification, and ascended on high to the right hand of God, far above all created things and all opposing powers of evil, to intercede for us, to pour out the Holy Ghost upon us in rich measure, to live in us through the Spirit. We have commandments, precepts and thousands of promises. Instead of a midnight, with one lone, dim star shining fitfully in the darkness, we have a midday, with all the splendor of the sun in his strength, together with ten thousand reflected lights, shining upon us; and yet we, in our trembling, pitiful, shameful unbelief, wonder however Enoch could walk with God!
I. I imagine that Enoch made up his mind that it was possible to walk with God; that is, to be agreed with God, to be of the same mind and heart and purpose as God. Of course, there were stupendous difficulties in the way. There were no churches or Salvation Army or Sunday-schools; there were no holiness conventions; no days with God and nights of prayer; no Bible, no War Cry, no religious papers and libraries. In fact, instead of these helps to walk with God, he found the whole community against him — yea, the whole world, for in Jude we read that Enoch had to prophesy against the ungodliness he found around him.
Then, not only did Enoch have these extraordinary difficulties to face, but he had all the ordinary difficulties as well. He got married and had a large family of boys and girls to care for; he had all the anxiety of a father to provide for his family and to protect them from the influences all about them. Then, I cannot imagine that he did not have the ordinary infirmities and the sinful nature of other men. No doubt he might have said, as you and I have said, that his temperament was peculiar, and that while others with a happier temperament might be able to walk with God, yet, with his peculiarly crooked and difficult make-up, it was quite out of the question for him to hope to be holy and walk with God. Then, of course, he had the devil to fight.
II. I think that Enoch not only believed in the possibility of walking with God, but he made up his mind that he would walk with God. He put his will into this matter.
III. Not only did Enoch believe in the possibility of walking with God, and determine that as for him he would walk with God, but he took such steps as were necessary to do so. He separated himself in spirit from the ungodly people about him, and he raised his voice against their evil ways, and became not only a negatively righteous man, but a positively holy man.
Enoch had his reward. It paid him to walk with God. He loved God and God loved him, and their affection became so intense that one day God’s love overcame the power of death, and drew Enoch from earth to Heaven.
Now, I suppose that most people, in reading the story, think that Enoch’s reward consisted in getting to Heaven without dying. Well, this was certainly a most unusual and blessed experience, and one I suppose that men have wished for all through the ages. There is something about death that is awful, and from which men shrink, and yet, since Jesus has died and gone down into the grave and risen again, the terror is lost, to the Christian. Still, it is probable that if allowed to choose, most Christians and all sinners would say, ‘Let us go to Heaven like Enoch did.’ But I cannot consider this Enoch’s chief reward.
For three hundred years God was his Friend, his Counselor, his Comforter, his Constant Companion. Oh, what fellowship was that! What an opportunity to gain wisdom, to build up and round out and ennoble a man’s Character! How easy to be good and do good! How life must have almost burst with fullness of gladness! Walking with God! Talking with God! Communing with God! Having mutual sympathy with God entering into a union with God as intimate as the union of the bay with the sea; and all this by faith, by simple trust, by childlike confidence. This was Enoch’s reward and it may be yours, my brother, my sister, if you will meet the conditions as Enoch did.