If I were to ask you who is the first prophet mentioned in the Bible, would you be able to come up with the answer? I’ll give you a hint: he isn’t mentioned as a prophet until the New Testament! It isn’t Moses, or Abraham.… It was Enoch!
I’ve been thinking a lot about Enoch recently. In Genesis, we read the familiar verse “and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (5:24, ASV). This is in stark contrast to the rest of the individuals mentioned in Genesis 5, who are noted as having died—which was the normal natural order after the curse. The Living Bible puts a little more flesh on that verse: “Enoch was sixty-five years old when his son Methuselah was born. Afterwards he lived another 300 years in fellowship with God, and produced sons and daughters; then, when he was 365, and in constant touch with God, he disappeared, for God took him!”
What a testimony! What makes it even more incredible is the time in which he walked with God: shortly before the Great Flood. The Bible describes those antediluvian days like this: “When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them” (Genesis 6:5-7 HCSB.) In the midst of this environment, Enoch walked with God.
It’s interesting to note that in Jude 14-15 we read of Enoch’s prophecy: “And Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about them [the people of his time]: “Look! The Lord comes with thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict them of all their ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against Him.” (Jude 14-15, HCSB).
How true those words are of our own time! It’s also interesting to note that Adam was 622 years old when Enoch was born. It would be eye-opening to know what knowedge of God Adam was able to pass on to Enoch before Adam died at age 930. However Enoch may have learned about God and His ways, he certainly clung to them and lived them out in such a way that despite the sins of the age, it is written that Enoch “walked with God.” Sadly, Enoch’s warnings to others did not bear much fruit, as they went about living self centered lives until God sent the flood to wipe them out 669 years later.
Matthew 24:37-39 says: “As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be” (Matthew 24:37-39 HCSB).
We don’t know the effect of Enoch’s warnings. We do know that he wasn’t able to stem the downward tide, and God ultimately sent the Great Flood in which only eight people were rescued. Among them was Noah, who was himself a “preacher of righteousness” as mentioned in 2 Peter 2:5. In the short term, both he and Enoch might be considered failures. But in the long term, Enoch’s character and commitment shine as bright beacons for us to follow.
What does this mean for us, living in a similarly hostile environment? First, I think God notices those who refuse to succumb to the spirit of the age we live in and cling to something better: God’s ideas and God’s ways. Second, we shoudn’t be afraid to speak up for God when the Holy Spirit prompts us. We certainly can’t control the outcome, but the Holy Spirit will use whatever efforts we make. Third, we should be willing to be different. Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world around us (see Matthew 5:13-16). Salt and light don’t act out and do anything of themselves. They can only be what they are, wherever they are put. We are to be Christian artists, Christian plumbers, and Christian students. God can use that!
It all boils down to being advocates for the King and His Kingdom. While there is a wide variety of perspectives on what is wrong with the world and how to fix it, we men can be ambassadors for the One who has a plan for the redemption of the world. That plan includes an earthly Kingdom, and He’s moving forward with it in His time. What a privilege it is to cooperate with Him in it.
–Nathan is pastor at Quail Hollow Chapel in the town of Wesley Chapel.