As you have gone through the first 11 chapters of Genesis, you probably noticed some genealogies. Some of you may have been tempted to skip over them or do a quick drive by. Even in our culture, where Ancestory.com and 23andMe has become the craze, we still hate seeing those list of names in our Bibles. It feels like a waste of time. And no, not all names have great significance, but there are treasures to discover. Let me show you.
When you read the genealogy in Genesis 5:3-32 you easily assume you are reading the same arrangement as in 11:10-29. But, there is one slight difference. Genesis 5 ends each listing, of almost every descendant this way, then he died. The writer does not do this in Genesis 11. This is a clue that something is going on. The answer is found in the description of Enoch.
Genesis 5:21-24, Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah. And after the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and fathered other sons and daughters. So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.
Ahhh, the author made sure to tells us everyone else in the list died in order to draw attention to none other than. . .you guesses it. . .Enoch. This is a big deal! Just two chapters before, we learned the fate of humanity – to return to the dust of the ground (3:19). Death was one of the horrible results of the curse. But Enoch didn’t die, he was taken by God. We are meant to think back to the Garden of Eden and the time before the Fall. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life (2:8-9). Enoch found a way back to the Tree (metaphorically speaking). The text says Enoch walked with God and then repeats it a second time for emphasis. This is the way to the Tree of Life.
But what does it mean to “walk with God”? The author does not give details here, but we are given more information as Genesis continues. You should have read that Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries: Noah walked with God (6:9). God doesn’t take him, like Enoch, but God does save him from the judgement and death of the wicked in the Great Flood. So again we ask the question, what does it mean to “walk with God”? Was it because he was a righteous man and blameless?
In Genesis 17 we learn about the amazing covenant God made with Abraham. It begins with this instruction:
Genesis 17:1, “I am the God Almighty [El-Shaddai]. Live in My presence and be blameless.
Other translations say “walk before Me” (KJV, ESV, NIV, NASB). To “walk before” means to live your life in the presence/face/in front of another. This was not about keeping a list of laws, like a checklist. Enoch, Noah and Abraham lived long before the Law of Moses. No doubt, they listened and carefully followed the instructions of God, but even more so, they lived by faith and trust in God. While we don’t know much about the life of Enoch, we are given more information about Noah and Abraham. One thing is for certain, they were not perfect. Right after the flood Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and is found naked in his tent (9:20-21). Abraham plotted deception and put his wife in jeopardy (20:1-18). They were not perfect men, but they walked with God. They never stopped.
We should aspire to be added to the names of Enoch, Noah and Abraham, as those who walked with their Creator. Right after the Apostle John introduces God as light, he says:
I John 1:6-7, If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Light is a common metaphor in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish literature for God’s perfection. God’s light shines out for the righteous. It is what defines our relationship with others and Jesus Christ.
I John 2:6, The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.
We keep God’s Word, not for legalistic purposes, but because we love and trust Him. We believe everything Jesus did and said was for our good. From the first pages of our Bible, we discover a God who wants to bless us. As believers in Christ, we walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), opposed to the desires of the flesh. The Spirit guides our lives (Gal. 5:18), which takes the kind of faith and trust we see in the lives of Noah and Abraham.
Walking with God allows us to return to the Garden. It is a promise of deliverance and blessings. Why would we choose to walk in darkness? It is a path the leads away from the presence of the loving Creator. It ends in a Great Flood, metaphorically speaking, of judgment. Death is a horrible thought. Enoch showed us that it does not have to be our destiny. One day God will take us. Yes, we are all destined to die, but Enoch is a picture of something beautiful. In Christ, death is no longer victorious because Jesus removed its sting.