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A life-of-Faith Exemplified! Part 2
(Part 2 — Hebrews 11:5-7)
In the last article we entered through the doors of the Faith Hall of Fame and began to look carefully at the exhibits of certain Old Testament men and women who walked by faith. As with any Hall of Fame, a person gets there because they have excelled in something, i.e., baseball, football, soccer, music, etc. So it is with the Faith Hall of Fame; the ones who were chosen to be there excelled in living-by-faith. When we entered the doors we made the decision to not move too quickly through the exhibits lest we miss important life changing truths. As we move forward that is still our goal. We do not want to simply admire them because they “made it”, but we want to learn what there was about their life of faith that caused them to stand out. Admiration is not our goal, emulation is! So far we have learned what FAITH is:
“Faith is a DEEP IMMOVABLE TRUST in God that He WILL FULFILL what HE HAS PROMISED, and responds in OBEDIENCE to what He commands.”
We have looked at two exhibits and gleaned two FAITH FACTS — One from Creation, the other from Abel.
Faith Fact #1 — Creation – (Hebrews 11:3) – Faith Believes what God says and does not try to change it!
Faith Fact #2 — Abel – (Hebrews 11:4) –Faith demonstrates a righteous life that God approves of!
It’s time to move forward to the next exhibit —
Exhibit C — ENOCH — (Hebrews 11:5-6)
Faith Fact — Enoch – Faith desires to please God in all of life!
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; forhe obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
There is not very much recorded about Enoch’s life. According to the New Testament writer, Jude, we know that he was “in the seventh generation from Adam,” and that he “prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’” We also know from the Old Testament account that he was the father of Methuselah and he lived for 365 years (Genesis 5:22-23). By far, the most important thing about his life is that “he was pleasing to God!,” and he “walked with God!” (Genesis 5:24). It is interesting to notice that his “walk with God” began after he was 65 years old and had a son he named Methuselah. We are not told what happened in Enoch’s life at that time that changed him into a man of faith, but some Bible scholars believe God revealed to him that the judgment of the flood was coming. They glean this from the name he gave his son. Methuselah is derived from the Hebrew root muth, which means “death,” and translate the name “His death shall bring (it).”1 I believe they are right because he “prophesied” that God was going to “execute judgment” upon ungodliness.
It is important to remember that Enoch lived close to the time when God brought the flood upon the earth. At that time the “wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” (Genesis 6:5) and that “the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). He saw the corruption and ungodliness of the people and spoke out against it! He not only refused to participate in their evil deeds, but he actively spoke out against them — thus, he pleased God!
We have no way of knowing if Enoch was on Paul’s mind when he wrote to the believer’s in Ephesus, saying, “Therefore, do not be partakers with them (i.e., sons of disobedience) ...trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, and do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness , but instead even expose them ...” (Ephesians 5:7, 10-11), but his life certainly exemplified what Paul wrote! God is pleased with such a life because it is a life lived by faith! In fact, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, based upon Enoch’s life, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (11:6)! Beloved, only a life lived by faith can be a God-pleasing life because it is lived in an “immovable trust” in the One who will fulfill what He has promised! It is a life that believes that God, not man “is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Enoch was such a man. Are we?
God was so pleased with Enoch’s life of faith that He “took him up so that he should not see death” (11:5). The word “see,” in this phrase, is the Greek eidon which can be understood to mean to “experience something.”2 (see Mark 2:12; John 3:36; Luke 2:26; and Hebrews 11:5 for examples). Enoch, like Elijah, was translated into the presence of God without experiencing death. God has not promised us that we will not see death if we live by faith, unless we are alive when Christ comes in the Rapture, but Enoch experienced it as a “witness” to us that God is pleased with a life of faith! The important question is, “Is my life, like Enoch’s, lived by faith so that I am pleasing God?”
In verse 7 the spotlight moves from Enoch to Noah. Let’s stop and ponder.
Exhibit D — NOAH — (Hebrews 11:7)
Faith Fact — Faith seeks to live in obedience to God out of reverence For God!
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.
If ever there was a man who lived by faith, it was Noah! God asked him to prepare something he had never seen – an Ark, and experience something he had never experienced – rain resulting in a flood! Yet, he did not question or doubt God! Rather, in faith responded in obedience to do what God asked because of his “reverence,” or devotion to God. The Greek word translated, “reverence,” eulabetheis, is rare in the New Testament and usually means to be “devoted”.3 (see Luke 2:25, Acts 2:5; 8:2, and Acts 22:12 where it translated “devote”).
Noah was so devoted to God that he responded in faith to do what God asked him to do, even though he had never seen or experienced what was in the request. By being obedient he accomplished three things: 1) he delivered (saved) his family from the flood waters in the Ark, 2) he “condemned the world,” and 3) he “became an heir of the righteousness which
is according to faith.” The phrase, “condemned the world” “may rightly visualize the mockery and jeering which Noah must have daily faced as he built a huge ship. He was a hundred miles from the nearest ocean, with a ship many times too big for his own needs, and when he had finished, he filled it with animals! Had he lived in our day he would have been dubbed, ‘Nutty Noah’!” 4
In spite of the resistance he received from the unsaved people, he did not waver in his faith. He pressed on in faith and “became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Years earlier another man, Abel, through faith, “obtained the testimony that he was righteous” (Genesis 11:4), and now Noah, through his life of faith, joins him to be called a “righteous man,” and, like Enoch, was also given the great recognition that he“walked with God!” (Genesis 6:9). Would God refer to me as “ righteous” in our daily living because He sees my life of faith in my obedience to Him?
I can say with great confidence that God will never ask any of us to do the things that he asked Noah to do (He has promised never to destroy the world with a flood), but that does not lessen the faith fact, namely that a life of faith will “seek to live in obedience to God out of reverence for God!” Are we, like Noah, so devoted to God that we will obey Him in all He asks us to do without reservation?
Beloved, God will never ask us to do what He asked Noah to do, but His Word is full of imperatives (commands) given to us that require obedience out of devotion to Him. Here are a few examples: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15), or “. . . put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:8-9), or “. . . put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:12-14), or “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2), and the list could go on, but let’s start with these!
In closing, take a moment to reflect back upon our definition of faith. Remember it includes these words, “. . .and responds in OBEDIENCE to what He commands.”
Two questions need to be asked that only you can answer: “Like Noah, does my obedience to God’s Word reflect a life of faith?” Secondly, “Is my life, like Enoch’s, lived by faith so that I am pleasing God?” If you are living by faith the answer will be, “Yes!”1 The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Hebrews, Ray Steadman
2 Kittle’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words
3 According to Kittle’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words.
4 The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Hebrews, Ray Steadman