ENOCH had lived a long time. It might be hard for us to imagine, but that man’s life stretched back for some 365 years—more than four very long life spans by today’s standards! But he was not truly old, not in the world of his time. Back then, over 50 centuries ago, people lived far longer than they do today. Adam, the first man, had been living for over six hundred years when Enoch was born, and Adam lived on for another three centuries! Some of Adam’s descendants lived even longer than that. So at 365, Enoch may still have looked fairly vibrant, like a man who had much of his life yet ahead of him. In fact, though, he did not.
Enoch was likely in grave danger. Picture him on the run, unable to put out of his mind the reaction of the people to whom he had recently spoken a message from God. Their faces were twisted with rage. Those people hated him. They despised his message, and they loathed the God who had sent him. They could not strike out at Enoch’s God, Jehovah, but they could certainly strike out at this man! Perhaps Enoch wondered if he would ever see his family again. Did he think of his wife and daughters or of his son Methuselah or of his grandson Lamech? (Genesis 5:21-23, 25) Was this the end?
Enoch is a somewhat mysterious figure in the Bible record. Only three short Bible passages deal with him at any length. (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14, 15) However, those verses provide, in effect, enough brushstrokes to paint a picture of a man of great faith. Do you provide for a family? Have you ever faced the struggle of standing up for what you know to be right? If so, you may learn much from the faith of Enoch.
“ENOCH KEPT WALKING WITH THE TRUE GOD”
Mankind was in a bad way when Enoch came along. It was the seventh generation in the line of Adam. Granted, humans were much closer to the physical perfection that Adam and Eve had once possessed and lost. That is why people still lived so long. Yet, they were in a terrible condition morally and spiritually. Violence was prevalent. That trend had started in the second generation, when Cain murdered his brother Abel. One of Cain’s descendants seems to have been quite proud of being even more violent and vengeful than Cain! In the third generation, a new evil arose. People began calling on the name of Jehovah, but not as a reverent act of worship. They were evidently using God’s sacred name in a blasphemous, disrespectful way.—Genesis 4:8, 23-26.
That kind of corrupt religion was likely in full sway during Enoch’s time. As Enoch grew up, then, he faced a choice. Would he fit in with the crowd of his day? Or would he search for the true God, Jehovah, who had made the heavens and the earth? He must have been deeply moved to learn about Abel, who had died as a martyr because he worshipped Jehovah in a way that pleased Him. Enoch decided to take a similar stand. Genesis 5:22 tells us: “Enoch continued to walk with the true God.” That remarkable expression singles out Enoch as a godly man in a godless world. He is the first human the Bible describes in that way.
The same Bible verse says that Enoch continued to walk with Jehovah after he fathered his son Methuselah. So we see Enoch as a family man when he was about 65 years old. He had a wife, unnamed in Scripture, and an unspecified number of “sons and daughters.” If a father is to walk with God while raising and providing for a family, he must try to care for his family in God’s way. Enoch understood that Jehovah expected him to stick faithfully to his wife. (Genesis 2:24) And he surely did his best to instruct his children about Jehovah God. With what result?
The inspired record offers only tantalizing hints on that score. It says nothing about the faith of Enoch’s son Methuselah, whose life span became the longest in the Bible record, ending in the year that the great Deluge came. However, Methuselah fathered a son named Lamech. Lamech’s life overlapped with that of his grandfather Enoch for over a century. And Lamech grew up to show notable faith. Jehovah inspired him to utter a prophecy about Noah, Lamech’s son, and that prophecy came true after the Flood. Noah, like his great-grandfather Enoch, was singled out as a man who walked with God. Noah never met Enoch. But Enoch left a rich legacy. Noah could have learned of that legacy from his own father, Lamech, or from his grandfather Methuselah or perhaps even from Jared, Enoch’s father, who died when Noah was 366 years old.—Genesis 5:25-29; 6:9; 9:1.
Think of the contrast between Enoch and Adam. Adam, though perfect, sinned against Jehovah and left his descendants a legacy of rebellion and misery. Enoch, though imperfect, walked with God and left his descendants a legacy of faith. Adam died when Enoch was 308 years old. Did Adam’s family mourn that profoundly selfish forefather? We do not know. In any case, Enoch “kept walking with the true God.”—Genesis 5:24.
If you are providing for a family, consider what you can learn from the faith of Enoch. Vital though it is to provide for your family physically, there is no need more important than the spiritual kind. (1 Timothy 5:8) You fill that need not only by what you say but what you do. If you choose to walk with God as Enoch did, letting God’s inspired standards guide you in life, you too will give your family a rich legacy—a priceless example for them to imitate.
ENOCH “PROPHESIED ABOUT THEM”
Enoch may have felt lonely as a man of faith in such a faithless world. But did his God, Jehovah, take notice of him? He did. The day came when Jehovah communicated with this faithful servant of his. God gave Enoch a message to deliver to the people of his day. He thus made Enoch a prophet, the first one whose message is revealed in the Bible. We know of this because Jude, a half brother of Jesus, was inspired to write down Enoch’s prophetic words many centuries later.*
What was Enoch’s prophecy? It went as follows: “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) Now, the first thing you may notice is that Enoch spoke in the past tense, as if God had already done what the prophecy describes. That is a pattern that many prophecies thereafter followed. The idea is this: The prophet is speaking of something that is so certain to occur that it may be described as if it has already happened!—Isaiah 46:10.
What was it like for Enoch to deliver that pronouncement, perhaps by preaching it to all who would hear? Notice how forceful the warning was—four times it used the word “ungodly” to denounce the people, their deeds, and the way they carried out those deeds. The prophecy thus warned all humans that the world they had built up since the expulsion from Eden was corrupt through and through. That world would face a cataclysmic end when Jehovah would come with his “holy myriads”—legions of mighty angels in battle array—to bring destruction. Enoch fearlessly shared that divine warning, and he did it alone! Perhaps young Lamech watched, in awe of his grandfather’s courage. If so, we can well understand why.
Enoch’s faith may move us to ask ourselves whether we see the world in which we live as God sees it. The judgment that Enoch bravely proclaimed still stands; it applies to today’s world just as it did to the world of Enoch’s day. In harmony with Enoch’s warning, Jehovah brought the great Deluge against that ungodly world in Noah’s day. But that destruction set the pattern for a greater destruction yet to come. (Matthew 24:38, 39; 2 Peter 2:4-6) Today, as then, God stands poised with his holy myriads to bring a righteous judgment against an ungodly world. Each of us needs to take Enoch’s warning to heart and share it with others. Our family and friends might stand apart from us. We may feel alone at times. But Jehovah never abandoned Enoch; neither will he abandon his faithful servants today!
“TRANSFERRED SO AS NOT TO SEE DEATH”
How did the end come for Enoch? In a way, his death is even more mysterious and intriguing than his life. The Genesis account simply says: “Enoch kept walking with the true God. Then he was no more, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) In what way did God take Enoch? The apostle Paul later explained: “By faith Enoch was transferred so as not to see death, and he was nowhere to be found because God had transferred him; for before he was transferred he received the witness that he had pleased God well.” (Hebrews 11:5) What did Paul mean by that phrase “transferred so as not to see death”? Some Bible translations say that God took Enoch to heaven. But that cannot be. The Bible shows that Jesus Christ was the first one ever resurrected to heaven.—John 3:13.
In what sense, then, was Enoch “transferred” so that he did not “see death”? Jehovah likely transferred Enoch gently from life to death, sparing him any pangs of death. But first, Enoch received “the witness that he had pleased God well.” How? Just before his death, Enoch may have received a vision from God, perhaps one showing him the earth as a paradise. With that vivid sign of Jehovah’s approval, Enoch fell asleep in death. Writing about Enoch and other faithful men and women, the apostle Paul stated: “In faith all of these died.” (Hebrews 11:13) Thereafter, his enemies may have searched for the body, but it was “nowhere to be found,” perhaps because Jehovah disposed of it, preventing them from desecrating it or using it to promote false religion.*
With that Scriptural reasoning in mind, then, let us try to imagine how Enoch’s life might have ended. Picture this scenario, remembering that it is only one possibility. Enoch was on the run, nearing exhaustion. His persecutors were after him, seething with rage over his judgment message. Enoch found a place to hide and rest for a while, but he knew that he could not escape for long. A violent death loomed very near now. As he rested, he prayed to his God. Then a profound sense of peace came upon him. A vision, as vivid as if Enoch were really there, took him far away.
Imagine that a view opened before him, showing a world wholly different from the one he knew. It seemed to him that it was as beautiful as the garden of Eden, but there were no cherubs guarding it to keep humans out. Men and women—all full of health and youthful vigor—were numerous. Peace reigned among them. There was no trace of the hatred and religious persecution that Enoch knew only too well. As for himself, Enoch sensed Jehovah’s assurance, love, and approval. He felt sure that this place was where he belonged; it would be his own home. As peace stole over him, Enoch closed his eyes and drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.
And there he remains to this day—asleep in death, carefully preserved in the limitless memory of Jehovah God! As Jesus later promised, the day will come when all those who are in God’s memory will hear Christ’s voice and come out of the grave, opening their eyes to a beautiful and peaceful new world.—John 5:28, 29.
Would you like to be there? Imagine the thrill of meeting Enoch. Think of the fascinating things we could learn from him! He could tell us if our imaginary scenario about his final moments was close to the truth. But there is something we urgently need to learn from him right now. After discussing Enoch, Paul went on to say: “Without faith it is impossible to please God well.” (Hebrews 11:6) What a powerful reason for each of us to imitate the courageous faith of Enoch!
Some Bible scholars assert that Jude quoted an apocryphal work called the Book of Enoch, but that book is a fanciful work of uncertain origin, falsely attributed to Enoch. It contains an accurate mention of Enoch’s prophecy, but that may have been drawn from an ancient source now lost to us—whether a written document or an oral tradition. Jude may have used the same ancient source, or he may have learned about Enoch from Jesus, who witnessed Enoch’s life course from heaven.