Enoch Walked With God in an Ungodly World
THE Devil contends that he can turn all humans away from God, and at times it must have seemed as though he was succeeding. For almost five centuries after Abel’s death, no one distinguished himself as a faithful servant of Jehovah. On the contrary, sinful and ungodly conduct had become the norm.
It was during that spiritually degenerate time that Enoch appeared on the scene. Bible chronology sets his birth at 3404 B.C.E. Unlike his contemporaries, Enoch proved to be a man acceptable to God. The apostle Paul included him among Jehovah’s servants whose faith stands as an example for Christians. Who was Enoch? What challenges would he have to face? How did he meet them? And of what relevance is his integrity to us?
In the days of Enosh, almost four centuries before Enoch’s time, “a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.” (Genesis 4:26) The divine name had been used since the beginning of human history. Hence, what began when Enosh was alive evidently was not a calling on Jehovah in faith and pure worship. Some Hebrew scholars hold that Genesis 4:26 should read “began profanely” or “then profanation began.” Men may have applied Jehovah’s name to themselves or to other humans through whom they pretended to approach God in worship. Or perhaps they applied his name to idols.
‘Enoch Walked With the True God’
Although Enoch was surrounded by ungodliness, he “kept walking with the true God,” Jehovah. It is not said that his progenitors—Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, and Jared—walked with God. At least they did not do so to the same degree as Enoch, whose way of life apparently distinguished him from them.—Genesis 5:3-27.
Walking with Jehovah implied a familiarity and an intimacy with God possible only because Enoch lived in harmony with the divine will. Jehovah approved of Enoch’s devotion. In fact, the Greek Septuagint says that “Enoch was well pleasing” to God, a thought expressed also by the apostle Paul.—Genesis 5:22, footnote; Hebrews 11:5.
Fundamental to Enoch’s good relationship with Jehovah was his faith. He must have exercised faith in the promised “seed” of God’s “woman.” If he was personally acquainted with Adam, Enoch could have obtained some information about God’s dealings with the first human couple in Eden. The knowledge he had of God made Enoch the sort of person who was “earnestly seeking him.”—Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 11:6, 13.
In Enoch’s case and ours, a good relationship with Jehovah requires more than just knowledge of God. If we particularly value intimacy with a certain person, is it not true that our thoughts and actions are influenced by his views? We avoid words or actions that would ruin that friendship. And if we contemplate making some change in our own circumstances, do we not also take into account how this would affect that relationship?
The desire to maintain a close relationship with God likewise has a bearing on what we do. A prerequisite is accurate knowledge of what he approves and disapproves. Then we need to be guided by that knowledge, striving to please him in thought and action.
Yes, to walk with God, we must please him. That is what Enoch did for hundreds of years. In fact, the form of the Hebrew verb indicating that Enoch “walked” with God denotes repeated, continuous action. Another faithful man who ‘walked with God’ was Noah.—Genesis 6:9.
Enoch was a family man who had a wife and fathered “sons and daughters.” One of his sons was Methuselah. (Genesis 5:21, 22) Enoch must have done all he could to preside over his household in a fine way. With ungodliness all around him, however, it was not easy for him to serve God. Lamech, the father of Noah, may have been his only contemporary who exercised faith in Jehovah. (Genesis 5:28, 29) Yet, Enoch courageously practiced true worship.
What helped Enoch to remain faithful to God? Undoubtedly, he did not associate with profaners of Jehovah’s name or with others who were unsuitable companions for a worshiper of God. Seeking Jehovah’s help in prayer must also have strengthened Enoch’s determination to avoid anything that could displease his Creator.
Prophecy Against the Ungodly
Maintaining high standards is hard enough when we are surrounded by ungodly people. But Enoch also delivered an uncompromising message of judgment against the wicked. Directed by God’s spirit, Enoch prophetically declared: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.”—Jude 14, 15.
What effect would that message have on perverse nonbelievers? It is reasonable to suppose that such stinging words made Enoch unpopular, perhaps eliciting jeers, taunts, and threats. Some must have wanted to silence him for good. However, Enoch was not intimidated. He knew what had happened to righteous Abel, and like him, Enoch was determined to serve God, come what may.
“God Took Him”
Enoch was apparently in mortal danger when “God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) Jehovah did not allow his faithful prophet to suffer at the hands of rabid enemies. According to the apostle Paul, “Enoch was transferred so as not to see death.” (Hebrews 11:5) Many say that Enoch did not die—that God took him to heaven, where he kept on living. However, Jesus plainly stated: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Jesus was the “forerunner” of all who ascend to heaven.—John 3:13; Hebrews 6:19, 20.
So, what happened to Enoch? His being “transferred so as not to see death” may mean that God put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated his life while he was in that state. Under such circumstances, Enoch would not experience the pangs of death. Then “he was nowhere to be found,” apparently because Jehovah disposed of his body, even as he disposed of Moses’ body.—Deuteronomy 34:5, 6.
Enoch lived 365 years—not nearly as long as most of his contemporaries. But the important thing for lovers of Jehovah is that they serve him faithfully to the end of their days. We know that Enoch did that because “before his transference he had the witness that he had pleased God well.” The Scriptures do not disclose how Jehovah communicated this to Enoch. Nevertheless, before Enoch died, he was given assurance of God’s approval, and we can be certain that Jehovah will remember him in the resurrection.
Imitate Enoch’s Faith
We can appropriately imitate the faith of godly humans. (Hebrews 13:7) It was by faith that Enoch served as the first faithful prophet of God. The world of Enoch’s day was like ours—violent, profane, and ungodly. However, Enoch was different. He had true faith and was exemplary in godly devotion. Yes, Jehovah gave him a weighty judgment message to declare, but he also strengthened him to proclaim it. Enoch courageously carried out his commission, and God took care of him in the face of enemy opposition.
If we exercise faith as Enoch did, Jehovah will strengthen us to declare his message in these last days. He will help us to face opposition courageously, and our godly devotion will make us very different from the ungodly. Faith will enable us to walk with God and conduct ourselves in a way that makes his heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) By faith, righteous Enoch succeeded in walking with Jehovah in an ungodly world, and so can we.
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Does the Bible Quote From the Book of Enoch?
The Book of Enoch is an apocryphal and pseudepigraphic text. It is falsely ascribed to Enoch. Produced probably sometime during the second and first centuries B.C.E., it is a collection of extravagant and unhistorical Jewish myths, evidently the product of exegetical elaborations on the brief Genesis reference to Enoch. This alone is sufficient for lovers of God’s inspired Word to dismiss it.
In the Bible, only the book of Jude contains Enoch’s prophetic words: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15) Many scholars contend that Enoch’s prophecy against his ungodly contemporaries is quoted directly from the Book of Enoch. Is it possible that Jude used an unreliable apocryphal book as his source?
How Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy is not revealed in the Scriptures. He may simply have quoted a common source, a reliable tradition handed down from remote antiquity. Paul evidently did something similar when he named Jannes and Jambres as the otherwise anonymous magicians of Pharaoh’s court who opposed Moses. If the writer of the Book of Enoch had access to an ancient source of this kind, why should we deny it to Jude?*—Exodus 7:11, 22; 2 Timothy 3:8.
How Jude received the information about Enoch’s message to the ungodly is a minor matter. Its reliability is attested to by the fact that Jude wrote under divine inspiration. (2 Timothy 3:16) God’s holy spirit guarded him from stating anything that was not true.
The disciple Stephen also provided information found nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. It concerned Moses’ Egyptian education, his being 40 years old when he fled Egypt, the 40-year duration of his stay in Midian, and the angelic role in transmitting the Mosaic Law.—Acts 7:22, 23, 30, 38.
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Enoch courageously delivered Jehovah’s message