Enoch


Enoch beat the system.

I have always found this man to be a particularly intriguing figure from the Bible, not just because of what the Bible tells us about him, but also because of how little it tells us.

In Genesis chapter 5, there is a list of people descended from Seth, Adam and Eve’s son after Cain and Abel. The text is an archive of names of descendants and their ages at death. But in the midst of it, at the sixth generation or so, we find this line that has no death in it: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not there, because God took him”—Genesis 5:24.

Poof. Enoch walked with God. And so God did something else with him other than allow him to experience bodily death.

We aren’t given further information about him beyond this little bit. Enoch was the first of four people in the Bible described as apparently doing something more than “listening to God” or even “obeying God.” They were in motion. Enoch “walked with God”—and this fact about him was significant enough that God highlighted his life by elevating him in full view of everyone reading this passage of scripture.

Consider the choice of words. The verse doesn’t suggest he was bounding ahead with God. it doesn’t say he was following God or marching before God, either of which would suggest a different picture. It certainly doesn’t say he was flying, gliding, or sailing with God. Enoch walked with God, and walking is a particular type of movement.

What is walking? It is the most universal form of locomotion. It is the means of movement most basic to our experience. If this fundamental physical act provides a picture of a life lived well and fully with God, then what does that picture show us?

At least two things:

1. Walking is inherently off-balance. Study your act of walking, and you will discover that it is arrested falling. You lean your body past the tipping point, and your leg steps forward to catch you. Presumably, then, the way of advancing with God entails being off-balance as well. It entails repeatedly and regularly leaning just past your boundaries of control and certainty as a precondition of making progress.

2. Walking is one step at a time. Every episode of the arrested falling described above, every trusting step, needs to be caught completely before the next step can begin. This is how we walk: lean and catch, lean and catch. This is not how we roll. Walking is characterized by steps, suggesting the way of life that Enoch found must be characterized by steps as well. Refuse to take the next step and progress halts. Refuse to patiently take the steps in their proper sequence, and progress halts in an awkward fall.