Hebrews Chapter 11, the chapter of faith, emphasizes and illustrates the importance of faith. Verse 6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]. And after giving us the definition of faith, the whole chapter is filled with examples of Old Testament men and women of faith. These are meant to be an encouragement to us in our faith as we live by faith in a fallen world.
The apostle Paul, in Galatians 1:8-9, also draws attention to the importance of faith, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not the result of works, so that no one may boast. This tells us three important things about faith. First, we are saved by God’s grace through faith. Secondly, faith is the gift of God. And thirdly, faith does not come from ourselves or as the result of any works we do. As God’s gift to us, all we have to do is humbly receive the gift of faith.
We have taken a look at the faith of Abel who offered the acceptable sacrifice and Enoch who walked with God. The next example we are given in Hebrews 11 was a great grandson of Enoch who also walked with God - Noah. Genesis 6:8-9 tells us that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (KJV), that he was a righteous man blameless in his time, and he walked with God
Noah lived in a time when God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and….that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,…… and He was grieved in His heart (Genesis 6:5-6). But Noah was different from other men. Hebrews 11:7 reveals, By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7). When God warned Noah about a coming flood and destruction of every living thing on the earth, Noah believed God’s warning. Because he believed, Noah revered God, listened to God, and acted upon God’s words. By faith, Noah drew near to God and became an heir of righteousness. The term “heir of righteousness” does not mean that Noah inherited righteousness from his ancestors. It means, because he believed, God regarded him as an heir, and therefore treated him like a righteous man.
In 1 Peter 3:20, the apostle tells us the result of Noah’s faith. After being warned by God and commanded to build the ark, Noah began construction, and the patience of God kept waiting until it was completed. Thus, Noah and his family, a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Peter also tells us that Noah was not just a builder, he tells us Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). We don’t know if Noah warned the wicked people of his day by proclaiming God’s Word to them or if his actions of building the ark were a living sermon. Probably both. Either way, there is no doubt the wicked unbelievers mocked him because their hearts were evil (Genesis 6:5-5), and they did not listen nor turn and repent. This is what the writer of Hebrews alludes to in writing that Noah, condemned the world (as in Hebrews 11:7 above). Noah and his family and the animals they took aboard the ark were the only survivors of the flood.
When you think about it, Noah’s faith seems so simple. All he did was believe God’s word. Then, because he believed, he acted on it. Are you reading God’s Word? Are you listening to what He says? Do you believe Him? Your response to His Word is the answer to that last question. If you believe, you will obey Him, and along with Noah, you will be an heir of righteousness by faith. And you will be called to be a preacher of righteousness by your life and by your words. Because whatever God calls you to do, you will obey His Word.
My prayer is that the example of Noah will be an inspiration to all of us and that we will follow his example, though the world around us may mock us and think us foolish. And much of it will. May we stand strong, with integrity, and proclaim, along with the apostle Paul, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
What is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see. By faith the men of old received God’s approval (Hebrews 11:1-2 NEB). In other words, faith is the essence of what it means to be a Christian. Above all, first and foremost, a Christian must have faith. There is no such thing as a believer without faith. The lives of godly people in the Old Testament attest to that. But what does it actually mean to have faith? How does faith work itself out in our lives? We have already seen that Abel’s faith was evident in the sacrifice he offered to God (Hebrews 11:4). It was by faith that he offered a sacrifice that was pleasing to God. And the apostle Paul tells us the sacrifice pleasing to God today is the sacrifice of ourselves (Romans 12:1).
The second example of faith given in Hebrews 11 is Enoch. Genesis 5:21,22 and 24 tells us that Enoch was sixty-five years old when he became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. God took Enoch! Enoch walked with God for 365 years and then one day as he was walking with God, God took him home to be with Him. Enoch walked right out of this world and into glory! Hebrews 11:5-6 tells us what happened. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
Enoch had faith, he demonstrated his faith by walking with God, and that was pleasing to God. So what does it mean when the Bible says Enoch walked with God?
First of all, we can understand a bit from our own human experience. When two people decide to walk together, they both need to commit to going in the same direction and walking at the same pace. That is obvious. So when you walk with God, you need to commit to go in God’s direction. You fall in beside Him and you don't wander off. And you do that by faith - you believe that God is going in the right direction, in the best direction, and in the direction He has planned for you. Then you walk at God’s pace. You don’t run ahead because you get impatient or lag behind because you’re unsure or a little lazy. You go at the pace God sets for you because you have faith in His plan and purpose for your life. That’s what Enoch did.
Secondly, we know that Enoch walked in agreement with God because Amos 3:3 asks the rhetorical question, Can two walk together except they be agreed? (See also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.) Enoch may have had some questions for God, but he didn’t argue with God or insist on his own way. He aligned his mind with God and agreed with God -- with His plan, His direction, and His timing.
Thirdly, Enoch walked in surrender to God. Micah 6:8 calls us to walk humbly with your God. Quite a few years ago I went to a stadium event put on by Anne Graham Lotz and Angel Ministries. In her talk, Anne challenged us, a stadium filled with women, to surrender to God. We all stood and humbly sang together the words of the hymn, “I Surrender All”. Women took hankies or tissues out of their purses and waved them in the air - an act of surrender. I still have my tissue folded in the back of my Bible - a reminder of my need and commitment to surrender to God. This means I surrender my body, my brain, my heart and my will to God. I leave myself behind and follow Him wherever He leads me. I am no longer mine. I am His. See Galatians 2:20.
Fourth, Enoch walked in fellowship with God. Walking with God was his way of life. The fellowship Enoch enjoyed with God was not an on again, off again thing, but an ongoing way of life. He did it for over 300 years. In 1 John 1:3 the apostle John calls us, as believers, to walk in the light and in fellowship with God, indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. When we walk with Him, we walk in the light and our fellowship is sweet and true.
So we see that those of faith walk with God. We do not walk by feeling but by faith, for without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6) and Enoch walked with God by faith and pleased God (Hebrews 11:5).
I’d like to close with a little story about my husband, Barry. His favorite person in the Bible was Enoch, partly because he was intrigued that Enoch walked with God and then one day he just did not go home but kept on walking with God, beyond the confines of this fallen world. He could envision that. The other reason was that he wanted to be like Enoch. He wanted to walk with God every day, in step with God, in agreement with God, in surrender to God, and in fellowship with God. He was committed to that. He read and studied God’s Word and memorized it and taught others. He fellowshipped with other Christian men and they held each other accountable in their thoughts, words, and actions. He served God humbly and joyfully in ministry where God called him. Then one morning my husband went out for a run, as he did every morning. And he never came home. The doctors called it “sudden cardiac death”. I knew it was just that he had continued on his walk with God that day and now he walks with Him in glory. Some day I will walk with him again.
So, what about your own walk? Are you walking with God? Or are you expecting God to walk with you and fit into your plans and desires and timetable. Will you humble yourself like Enoch and deliberately fall into step with God and let Him take control of your life? Will you walk by faith with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, trusting His will, His timing? Will you wave your flag of surrender today?
May your walk of faith, pleasing to God.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.