Walking With God
Part 1: Walking
'Let's go on a walk'. These words are more than an antidote to the chair-bound lifestyle marking office jobs in the 21st century; the invitation to go on a walk implies conversation and relationship. The same thing is true with God.
The first recorded episode of a human walking with God took place in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8); although this reference is after the fall, the fact that Adam recognises the Lord from the sound of his walking implies he was familiar with the sound. The picture of Adam and the Lord taking regular walks together fits with the picture of Edenic life described in Genesis 1 and 2.
In some ways, history is the story of human attempts to get back to the garden; we we were designed to walk with God, but sin disrupts the fellowship. In the Old Testament, walking in the ways of God is a metaphor for seeking God and living according to his standards:
- Psalm 81:13: Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!
- Psalm 128:1: How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.
Part 2: Enoch
But back in Genesis, we read about Enoch, who not only walk in the ways of the Lord, he walked with the Lord:
When Enoch had lived for 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah for 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24
In context, Genesis 5 is the build up to the flood in Genesis 6. By the time of Noah, we read that 'The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually'. Genesis 6:5. So the greatness of Enoch is not simply that he walked with God, but that he walked with God when almost everyone else was walking a different direction.
But more than direction, Enoch achieved such a quality of relationship with God that he was taken up by God, directly to heaven. What was this all about? In the book of Hebrews, we read this about Enoch:
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
Hebrews 11 lists many of the household names of the Old Testament - the faith heroes who by faith did amazing things for and with God. These are people like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David. These were powerful, get it done people.
So why is Enoch here? He pleased God. By doing what? Walking with God in the mundane routines of life.
The similarity between the Hebrews and Genesis accounts is that God took Enoch. The difference, however, is that Genesis indicates Enoch walked with God and Hebrews indicates Enoch pleased God. Why the difference? In short, in English Bibles, Genesis is translated from the original Hebrew (MT). But the author of Genesis uses the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) commonly used in synagogues through the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus and the apostles. The Greek translation of the Hebrew makes walked with God as pleased God.
(Hebrew Old Testament)
Enoch walked with God and he was not because God took him.
And Enoch pleased God and he was not found, because God translated him
What is clear, and the point made by the author of Hebrews, is that to walk with God is to please God. What is about walking with God that pleases God? We walk with God when we trust God, lean on God, and believe his promises in the mundane routines of life.
It is when we are getting our hair cut, changing a nappy, going to work, paying our bills, trying to choose a good avacado in the fruit and veg section of Tesco - it is in all these activities that we can walk with God. It is in the midst of the mundane routines of life that we lean on God for his help, believing his promises are true, trusting His grace and goodness to manifest to us.
So what is about this that pleases God? Faith.
Part 3: Faith
Back in Hebrews, we read the answer for what was special about Enoch:
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
There are two contrasting statements we can make:
- without faith it is impossible to please God;
- with faith it is possible to please God.
Why is faith so important? And what is it? It is important because it is the only means by which we can approach God. Faith simply means acting like God is not a liar; faith means believe His promises are true. So In simply terems, here is how we please God:
1. Believe He is
To believe He is refers to the He who actually exists, not one of our own imagination. The only God who exists is the one who actually exists, and He is the God who inspired the Bible and is the main protaganist in the Bible. Believe He exists means we believe in him as He is, and not as we want him to be. And because God does exist, any thought or question that he doesn't
2. Believe He rewards
The very nature of God is to reward. This may violate that part of us that says, 'It's wrong for me to want to be rewarded for doing what is simply right'. Fair enough - except that because God is a rewarder, it is right to believe He is a rewarder. It honour him when we expect him to act consistently with his character. We don't deserve his rewards, and we know that. But he is a rewarder and invites us to believe He rewards.
3. Seek him
It is those who seek him who get rewarded. With what? There are many rewards God dispenses to his people: forgiveness, eternal life, the fellowship of the Spirit, mercy, encouragement ... the list goes on. But we only receive those rewards if we seek him. Jesus said it like this:
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righeousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
So let's seek with all our hearts the God who is and the God who rewards by walking with him every day in the mundane details of life.