Faith Heroes: Enoch

Hebrews 11:5 speaks three times of Enoch’s translation by God, which is attributed to his faith in God. All the other heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 “died in faith” (v13); but “by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death” (v5).[1] Other Scripture references (Gen 5:21-24; Jud 14-15) give us further insight into the character of Enoch’s faith.

Faith’s Commencement

Enoch was 65 years old when his son Methuselah was born. The clear implication from Genesis 5:21-22 is that having “lived” for those 65 years, it was only after the birth of Methuselah that he then “walked with God,” and pleased God for the remaining 300 years of his life. The commencement of his faith was when he believed the word of God, expressed in the meaning of his son’s name, which indicated that “when he is dead, the judgment shall be sent.”

Through the birth of Methuselah, God communicated to Enoch concerning the coming judgment of the flood.  Simple arithmetic calculations (based on Gen 5:25-28; 7:6) show that Methuselah lived until the exact year the flood came; he may have died a very short time before the deluge commenced. Significantly, God, in all His rich grace and longsuffering, prolonged the life of Methuselah to 969 years, longer than any other man, before He then moved in judgment.

The birth of Methuselah was a conversion experience for Enoch, bringing him into relationship with God, and God only then found pleasure in Enoch, for “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6). For every true believer in the Lord Jesus there is a time when faith commences, when he or she believes the gospel of God’s grace concerning His Son and is brought into relationship with God, becoming a child of God (Joh 1:12).

Faith’s Conviction

Enoch had never before seen such a display of divine judgment upon the earth, but from that moment of Methuselah’s birth he believed God concerning the coming judgment. Faith honors God by believing His word, even when it speaks of an unprecedented event, for “faith is … the evidence [conviction, JND] of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). With absolute conviction, Enoch then began to boldly prophesy of righteous judgment upon ungodly sinners (Jud 14-15). This was not a message that people would have wanted to hear and it would not have made Enoch a popular person, but he felt obligated to warn ungodly men of the judgment to come.

When we preach the gospel, it is not a popular message to tell people that they are sinners before God and need God’s salvation or they will suffer the eternal judgment of God. But we preach with conviction and obligation because we believe it is the truth of God’s Word; like the apostle Paul we say, “For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1Co 9:16).

Faith’s Communion

Genesis 4 details the genealogy of Adam through Cain: the seventh in line from Adam is Lamech, a self-pleasing bigamist and a boastful murderer who defied God. In direct contrast, Genesis 5 gives the generations of Adam through Seth: Enoch is “the seventh from Adam” (Jud 14), who lived for 300 years consistently walking in fellowship with God (Gen 5:22,24), pleasing God (Heb 11:5), and allowing nothing to interrupt that close communion. A suggested meaning for the name Enoch is “dedicated,” and he lived in an ungodly world wholly dedicated to God. In our daily lives, we “ought to walk and to please God … more and more” (1Th 4:1) and not to please ourselves. Rather than being guided in our activities by rules and regulations, and asking, “Am I allowed to do this?” we would be better guided by asking, “Will this be pleasing to God, and enhance my communion with God?”

Faith’s Continuance

Enoch continued steadfastly in the faith, pleasing God up to the moment of his translation (Heb 11:5), as he bore public testimony for the truth of God, faithfully warning of the coming judgment. The NT frequently exhorts us to be marked by steadfast continuance and endurance in the pathway of faith – “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23).

Faith’s Consummation

The word in Hebrews 11:5 for Enoch’s translation is found also in Acts 7:16 (rendered “carried over”) in reference to the transportation of the bodies of the patriarchs who had died in Egypt. Enoch never died, because by faith he was bodily transported alive by God over to the other side of death. When Enoch was translated, “he was not; for God took him” (Gen 5:24). Hebrews 11:5 elaborates that he “was not found,” suggesting that men searched for him, perhaps even some of the sons and daughters he begat (Gen 5:22), but he was no longer found on the earth. It is possible that some who sought Enoch wanted to harm or even kill him because of his uncompromising message of coming divine judgment upon an ungodly world.

Centuries later Elijah was taken up to heaven without dying, witnessed only by Elisha. The sons of the prophets, against Elisha’s advice, sent out a search party of fifty men who sought Elijah for three days, “but found him not” (2Ki 2:17). Significantly, the record of Scripture is that both Enoch and Elijah could not be found after God had translated them. When the Lord Jesus comes again and the saints are taken home to heaven (1Th 4:15-17), they will for a time be sought by those left on the earth; search parties may be sent out, but the believers will not be found on the earth. This is very solemn relative to family members who will be divided eternally by the rapture of the Church.

But what a prospect for believers who are living when the Lord Jesus comes again and, like Enoch, never see death: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (Joh 11:26). Enoch’s translation before the flood pictures the completed Church being raptured before the tribulation judgment, whereas Noah being preserved through the flood typifies Israel’s passing through that period of “Jacob’s trouble,” and being “saved out of it” (Jer 30:7). The rapture will be the consummation of our faith, delivering us away from the coming wrath (1Th 1:10). Our faith will then give place to sight, “for we shall see him as he is” (1Jn 3:2).

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.