Genesis 5: Enoch Walked with God
“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
Genesis 5 is filled with a lot of words like “begot” and names like “Cainan” or “Mahalalel” and “Lamech.” People are living hundreds of years. That’s pretty distant stuff. But, in the middle of all this is a brief account of a man named Enoch. Not much is given about his life, but one phrase is used that stands out—“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (v. 24). On the surface, that sounds like something we should be able to understand. But, the more we think about it, the more distant and bizarre it sounds as well. Of the eleven people mentioned in this chapter, representing hundreds or even thousands of years, he is the only one of whom this statement is made. So, what does it mean?
There are a couple of routes we can take in understanding this. One, that in some unusual way, he more literally walked with God, just as of Moses we are told he interacted with God “face to face” (Exodus 33:11). This seems to have some merit because his passing from this world suggests his exit was rather unusual as well. Repeatedly, we are told of each one listed, “And he died.” Only of Enoch are we told “and God took Him.”
Most agree, though, that it simply meant that he was a rare godly man in a world that was slowly spiraling deeper and deeper into unrepentant sin. In fact, when chapter 6 reveals mankind’s point of no return, we find the same statement made of Noah (6:9). Different variations of the phrase are found in other passages, either of people or as an admonition to people: Micah 6:8 speaks of walking humbly with God; Deuteronomy 6:8 of walking humbly in His ways; 2 Chronicles 7:17 of faithfully following God. Paul spoke often in his letters of our walk being our way of life (Romans 13:13; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:10, etc.); John speaks of “walking in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:6-7). If this is the case, then this passage isn’t as mystical or other-worldly as it seems at first. It is practical and doable for us as well as it was for Enoch. What does it look like? Walking with God means to be faithful, obedient and committed to Him. Or, as Micah wrote in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
So, we have two ways to look at this, both viable possibilities. Either this man was so godly that God had a special and very unique relationship with him. Or, that his walk spoke of his extreme devotion to God. This devotion made him stand out among the peers of his day. Let us determine to walk with God, in fellowship with Him, emulating Him (justice, mercy) and seeking to please Him in everything we do.
Let’s apply that to our lives.