Enoch Believed That God Is
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is. (11:6a)
Absolutely nothing from men can please God apart from faith. Religion does not please God, because it is essentially a system developed by Satan to counteract the truth. Nationality and heritage do not please God (cf. Gal 3:28–29). The Jews thought they pleased God just because they were descendants of Abraham. But most of the time they were displeasing to Him. Good works in themselves do not please God, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20). Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
The first step of faith is simply to believe that He is. This Enoch did. God is pleased with those who believe in Him, even with the first step of believing that He exists. This belief alone is certainly not enough to save a person, but if it is a sincere conviction and is followed up, it will lead to full faith.
In his book, Your God is Too Small, J. B. Phillips describes some of the common gods that people manufacture. One is the grand old man god, the grandfatherly, white-haired, indulgent god who smiles down on men and winks at their adultery, stealing, cheating, and lying. Then there are the resident policeman god, whose primary job is to make life difficult and unenjoyable, and the god in a box, the private and exclusive sectarian god. The managing director god is the god of the deists, the god who designed and created the universe, started it spinning, and now stands by far away watching it run down. God is not pleased with belief in any of these idolatrous substitutes.
Believing that the true God exists is what is pleasing to Him. Mere recognition of a deity of some sort—the “ground of being,” the “man upstairs,” or any of the man-made gods just mentioned—is not the object of belief in mind here. Only belief in the existence of the true God, the God of Scripture, counts.
We cannot know God by sight. “No man has seen God at any time,” Jesus said (John 1:18). Nor can we know God by reason. Two chapters of the book of Job (38–39) are devoted to God’s forceful and colorful illustrations of how man cannot even fathom the operations of nature. How much less can we understand God Himself by our own observations and reasonings.
God gives much evidence of His existence, but it is not the kind of evidence that men often are looking for. He cannot be proved by science, for example. At best, scientific evidence is circumstantial. Paul Little wrote, “But it can be said with equal emphasis that you can’t prove Napoleon by the scientific method, either. The reason lies in the nature of history itself, and in the limitation of the scientific method. In order for something to be proven by science, it must be repeatable. One cannot announce a new finding to the world on the basis of a single experiment. But history is, by its very nature, unrepeatable. No one can rerun the beginning of the universe. Or bring Napoleon back. Or repeat the assassination of Lincoln or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But the fact that these events can’t be proved by repetition does not disprove their reality.”
The point he is making is that you cannot apply the scientific method to everything. It does not work. You cannot put love or justice or anger in a test tube either, but no sensible person doubts their existence. By the same reasoning, God’s existence should not be doubted merely because it cannot be scientifically proved.
Yet many things learned from science give evidence of His existence. The law of cause and effect, for example, holds that for every cause there must be an effect. If you keep pushing further and further back for causes, eventually you will end up with an uncaused cause. The only uncaused cause is God. This is the argument used previously by the writer of Hebrews: “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (3:4).
Philosopher J. H. Stirling said, “If each link of the chain hangs on another, the whole will hang and only hang in eternity unsupported like some stark serpent unless you find a hook for it. You add weakness to weakness in any quantity and you never get strength.”
According to the law of entropy, the universe is running down. If it is running down, then it is not self-sustaining. If it is not self-sustaining, then it had to have a beginning. If it had a beginning, someone had to begin it, and we are back to the uncaused cause. There must be a first cause, for which only God qualifies.
The law of design also indicates that God is. When we look at plants and animals in all their marvelous intricacy, we see hundreds, thousands of amazingly complex designs that not only function beautifully but reproduce themselves perfectly. When we look at the stars, the planets, the asteroids, the comets, the meteors, the constellations, we see them kept precisely on their courses by centrifugal, centripetal, and gravitational forces. Such massive, marvelous, complex, and wonderfully operating design demands the existence of a designer.
We learn from science that water has a high specific heat, which is absolutely essential to stabilize chemical reactions within the human body. If water had a low specific heat, we would boil over with the least activity. Without this property of water, human and most animal life would hardly be possible.
The ocean is the world’s thermostat. It takes a large loss of heat for water to go from liquid to ice, and a large intake of heat for water to become steam. The oceans are a cushion against the heat of the sun and the freezing blasts of winter. Unless the temperatures of the earth’s surface were modulated by the ocean and kept within certain limits, we would either be cooked to death or frozen to death. How could such intricate, exacting, and absolutely necessary design come about by accident? It demands a designer.
Even the size of the earth gives evidence of design. If it were much smaller, there would be no atmosphere to sustain life. Earth would then be like our moon or Mars. On the other hand, if it were much larger, the atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, as do Jupiter and Saturn, which also prevents life. The earth’s distance from the sun is absolutely right. Even a small change would make it too hot or too cold. The tilt of the earth’s axis ensures the seasons. And so it goes.
Science cannot prove God, but it gives overwhelming evidence of a master designer and sustainer, which roles could only be filled by God.
Like science, reason cannot prove God. But also like science, it gives a great deal of evidence for Him. Man himself is personal, conscious, rational, creative, volitional. It is inconceivable that he could have become so by accident or that his Creator could be anything less than personal, conscious, rational, creative, and volitional. To think that personal, thinking, decision-making man somehow could have developed from slime to amoeba and on up the evolutionary chain does not make sense.
Studies by anthropologists show that man is universally God-conscious. This does not mean that there is no man who does not believe in some sort of god—much less in the true God—but that men in general do. The fact that some men do not believe does not disprove the rule, any more than a one-legged man proves that men are not two-legged creatures.
The very idea of God lends substance to the fact that He is. The fact that a man can conceive of God suggests that someone has given the possibility of such conception and that there is someone who corresponds to this conception.
But with all the many natural, scientific, and rational evidences of God, acknowledging Him is still a matter of faith. The proof comes after belief. “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself” (1 John 5:10). Even the scientist receives proof after faith. When he develops a hypothesis, his faith becomes greater and greater as evidence for the hypothesis mounts. It is his commitment to the hypothesis, his faith in it, that eventually leads to proof, if the hypothesis is true. The witness of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is infinitely greater proof of God’s existence than the conclusions of a laboratory experiment for the validity of a scientific theory ever could be.
Enoch Sought God’s Reward
He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (11:6b)
It is not enough simply to believe that God exists. In order to please Him it is also necessary to believe that He is moral and just, that He will reward faith in Him. We must recognize God as a personal, loving, gracious God to those who seek Him. Enoch believed this within the revelation he had. He did not believe God was merely a great impersonal cosmic force. He believed in and knew God in a personal, loving way. You cannot “walk” with a ground of being or a first mover or an ultimate cause. For three hundred years Enoch had fellowship with the true God, a God whom he knew to be just, merciful, forgiving, caring, and very personal.
It is not enough merely to postulate a God. Einstein said, “Certainly there is a God. Any man who doesn’t believe in a cosmic force is a fool, but we could never know Him.” Brilliant as he was, Einstein was wrong. We can know God. In fact, in order to please Him, we must believe that He is personal, knowable, loving, caring, moral, and responds graciously to those who come to Him. It is not enough even to believe in the right God. Many Jews to whom the letter of Hebrews was addressed acknowledged the true God, the God of Scripture. But they did not have faith in Him; they did not trust in Him. Enoch knew the true God and trusted the true God.
Both testaments are filled with teachings that God not only can be found but that it is His great desire to be found. David said to his son Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9). “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth!” (Ps. 58:11). “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me” (Prov. 8:17). “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Jesus was very explicit: “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10). It is not enough just to believe that He is. We must also believe that He rewards those who seek Him.
The reward that God gives for faith is salvation. “Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). In other words, every good thing that God has, including eternal life, constitutes the reward for belief. For faith we receive forgiveness, a new heart, eternal life, joy, peace, love, heaven—everything! When we trust in Jesus Christ, we become mutual heirs with Him. All that God’s own Son has is ours as well.
Enoch Walked with God
Believing that God exists is the first step toward faith. Believing that he rewards those who trust in Him is the first step of faith. Trusting fully in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is only the beginning of the faithful life in God. To continue pleasing God, we must fellowship with Him, commune with, “walk” with Him—just as Enoch did. In the four verses in Genesis (5:21–24) describing Enoch, he is twice spoken of as “walking with God.” In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) this phrase is translated “pleased God,” using the same Greek word (euaresteō, “to be well-pleasing”) that is used twice in Hebrews 11:5–6. Walking with God is pleasing God.
The term walk is used many times in the New Testament to represent faithful living. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, … so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” (Eph. 5:2). Christ even speaks of our fellowship with Him in heaven as a walk: “They will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4). Like Enoch, every believer should walk with God every day he is on earth. When we get to heaven, we will walk with Him forever.
The first thing implied in Enoch’s walk with God is reconciliation. “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3, niv). The point is obvious. Two people cannot really walk together in intimate fellowship unless they are agreed. Walking together, then, presupposes harmony. If Enoch walked with God, he obviously was in agreement with God. Rebellion was over for this man of faith. Since Adam fell, every person born into the world has been in rebellion against God. We do not grow into rebellion or fall into rebellion; we are born into rebellion. Our very nature, from before birth, is at enmity with God. We are all “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). The purpose of salvation is to reconcile men to God, to restore the relationship broken by sin. Because of his faith, Enoch was reconciled with God; and because he was reconciled with God, he could walk with God.
a corresponding nature
The second truth implied in Enoch’s walk with God is that Enoch and God had corresponding natures. Some animals can become very good companions to men. They may have great loyalty and sensitivity to their owners, and a close relationship can develop over the years. But man cannot fellowship with even the smartest and most devoted animal. Our natures are far too different. Animals can offer companionship but not fellowship. We can take a walk with a dog, but we cannot “walk” with a dog, in the sense of having fellowship with him. It is just as impossible for an unbeliever to have fellowship with God (2 Cor. 6:14–16), and for the same reason—his nature is too different from God’s. Even an unbeliever is created in God’s image, but that image has been so shattered by sin, his nature so corrupted, that fellowship with his Creator is not possible—there is no common sphere in which he and God can be agreed.
When we are saved, we become citizens of a new domain. We are still on earth, but our true life, our real citizenship, is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). As Peter says, we “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). In Christ we are given a heavenly nature, His own nature, and we can therefore have fellowship with God. Because Enoch walked with God, he must have had a nature corresponding to God’s.
moral fitness and a judicial dealing with sin
Walking with God implies moral fitness as well as a judicial dealing with sin. We could not have a new nature unless God took away sin. Because a person walks with God means that his sin has been forgiven and that he has been justified, counted righteous by God. Only when sin has been dealt with can we move into God’s presence and begin walking with Him. God will not walk in any way but the way of holiness. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice 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” (1 John 1:6–7). The only persons God walks with are those who are cleansed of sin. Since Enoch walked with God, he had to have been forgiven of his sin and declared righteous by God.
a surrendered will
Walking with God implies a surrendered will. God does not force His company on anyone. He only offers Himself. God must first will that a person come to Him, but that person must also will to come to God. Faith is impossible without willingness to believe. Just as walking with God presupposes faith it also presupposes willingness—a surrendered will.
A surrendered will is a surrender in love. Willing surrender is not abject submissiveness, a determined resignation to the Lord’s way and will. It is what might be called a willful willingness, a glad and free surrender. “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 6).
Enoch walked with God for three hundred years! Small wonder that the Lord went for a walk with him one day and just took him on up to heaven. The New Testament refers to this sort of living as walking in the Spirit. We are to live continually in the atmosphere of the Spirit’s presence, power, direction, and teaching. The fruit of this walk in the Spirit are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).
Walking in the Spirit is allowing Him to pervade your thoughts. It is saying, when you get up in the morning, “Holy Spirit, it is Your day, not mine. Use it as You see fit.” It is saying throughout the day, “Holy Spirit, continue to keep me from sin, direct my choices and my decisions, use me to glorify Jesus Christ.” It is putting each decision, each opportunity, each temptation, each desire before Him, and asking for His direction and His power. Walking in the Spirit is dynamic and practical. It is not passive resignation but active obedience.
The New Testament describes walking with God in many ways. Third John 4 says it is a truth walk; Romans 8:4 calls it a spiritual walk; Ephesians 5:2 describes it as a love walk, 5:8 as a light walk, and 5:15 as a wise walk.
It would have been wonderful to have had Enoch as an example—or Noah, Abraham, or any of the other faithful heroes of Hebrews 11. But we have an even greater example—our Lord Jesus Himself, the One who supremely walked with God. He did nothing, absolutely nothing, that was not the Father’s will. The beloved apostle reminds us that “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we want to know how to walk, we need simply to look at Jesus. From childhood He was continually about His Father’s business, and only His Father’s business. He constantly walked with God.
Finally, a person cannot walk with God unless he has first come to God by faith. Just so, he cannot continue to walk without continuing to have faith. Walking with God is a walk in faith and a walk by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith” (Col. 2:6–7).
Enoch believed God, and he continued to believe God. He could not have walked with God for three hundred years without trusting in God for three hundred years. Enoch never saw God. He walked with Him, but he did not see Him. He just believed He was there. That is how He pleased God.
Enoch Preached for God
And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, 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.” (Jude 14–15)
That Enoch preached for God we learn only from the book of Jude. Judging from this account, his message on ungodliness was brief and perhaps repetitious, but it was inspired. We have no hint as to how effective it was, but Enoch’s purpose was to be faithful, not effective. He did what God required of him and left the results to Him. One thing is certain: because of his faithful preaching and faithful living, no one who heard Enoch or lived around him had any excuse for not believing in God. Whether any of these people believed or not, the influence Enoch had on them must have been powerful.
Jude’s report of Enoch’s preaching contradicts any notion that Enoch lived in an easy time for believing. He was surrounded by false teachers and false teaching. We do not know if he had the fellowship of any fellow believers, but we know that he lived in the midst of a host of unbelievers. He could not possibly have preached as strongly as he did without considerable opposition. He battled against his own generation in the same way that Noah would later battle against his. He let them know they were ungodly, and he let them know God was going to judge them. I believe God was pleased with Enoch because his faith was not just something he felt in his heart. It was heard on his lips and seen in his life. His faith was active and dynamic, vocal and fearless.
Faith Pleasing God
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb. 11:5–6)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism is famous for its first question, “What is the chief end of man?” and its answer, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Of all the people depicted in Scripture, apart from our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no one whose description more closely attains this standard than that of Enoch, the seventh in the line from Adam. So dear was this man to the heart of God that he took Enoch to himself without demanding that he suffer the pains of death. It is no surprise, therefore, to find Enoch in this procession of heroes of the faith.
Interestingly, the account of Enoch’s life in Genesis 5 makes no mention of his faith. Yet his faith seems to motivate the statement of Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please God. The idea is that we can be sure Enoch was a man of faith, because otherwise he never could have pleased God the way he did.
Hebrews 11 presents its heroes of the faith in chronological order as they are found in the Bible, yet several commentators point out that there is probably more at work than a historical progression. Specifically, it appears that there is also a topical progression to the points their stories make about the life of faith. That is especially true of the three men who lived before the great flood—Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
Andrew Murray, for example, describes them as Abel, the sacrifice of faith; Enoch, the walk of faith; and Noah, the work of faith. Certainly that is a progression supported by the Bible: first we are brought into a right relationship with God by trusting the sacrifice he has provided in the blood of Christ; second, having been brought into relationship with God, we then walk with him by faith; and third, only then do we perform the works of faith, the practical good deeds that follow as a result of God’s grace.
Arthur Pink sees these three figures combining to provide “an outline of the life of faith”: “Abel is mentioned first not because he was born before Enoch and Noah, but because what is recorded of him in Genesis 4 illustrated and demonstrated where the life of faith begins. In like manner, Enoch is referred to next … because what was found in him … must precede that which was typified by the builder of the ark.” Pink’s outline traces faith’s worship in Abel, faith’s walk in Enoch, and faith’s witness in Noah.
It is hard to say whether the writer of Hebrews had this kind of explicit outline in mind, since he does not put it that way himself. It seems that he is mainly following the biblical order, with each portrait making a particular point about faith. However, it does seem that the Divine Author has placed them together in such a way as to build the progression of which Murray and Pink speak. Pink reminds us of the importance of a biblical ordering of the Christian life: “Witnessing and working (‘service’) is what are so much emphasized today. Yet dear reader, Heb. 11 does not begin with the example of Noah. No indeed. Noah was preceded by Enoch, and for this reason: There can be no Divinely-acceptable witness or work unless and until there is a walking with God!… And this, in turn, must be preceded by Abel’s worship of faith.”
Enoch, Who Walked with God
In the last chapter we saw that Abel was declared righteous by faith, since he came to God through the blood of Christ. Now we turn to the walk of faith with the life of Enoch. The Bible says very little about this man. All that we have comes from the genealogy in Genesis 5: “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:21–24).
What we know about Enoch, therefore, is that he was the seventh patriarch in the line of Adam through Seth. When he was 65 he had a son named Methuselah. He lived a total of 365 years, after which he mysteriously departed from the earth without dying. Considering all the information we do not know about this man, this doesn’t seem to be much of a biography. But the Bible tells us one vital fact that speaks volumes. Twice in these verses we are told, “Enoch walked with God.” This wouldn’t make a bad inscription on a gravestone. It tells us much about the character and the pattern of this man’s life. Far more important than the job titles he held or his attainments in life was his walk with God.
What does it mean to walk with God? First, this speaks of a living relationship, a companionship between a man or woman and God. It implies personal knowledge, an ever-increasing understanding of the one with whom we walk. It implies agreement of mind and heart. The prophet Amos rightly asked, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3). There are an intimacy, a fellowship, and a joy of company between two who walk together. When it is God with whom we walk, there is a hierarchy, just as when the disciples walked with our Lord Jesus Christ. One is Lord; the other is disciple. One is teacher; the other is student. One is Father; the other is child.
There can hardly be a more beautiful description of the Christian life than the idea of walking with God. The great Puritan Thomas Watson said:
To walk with God is to walk by faith. We are said to draw nigh to God (Heb. 10:22) and … to have fellowship with him. “Our fellowship is with the Father” (1 Jn. 1:3). Thus we may take a turn with him every day by faith.… “They shall walk in the light of thy countenance” (Ps. 138:5). “Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord.” It is like walking among beds of spices, which send forth a fragrant perfume.
Peter Lewis tells the story of a Chinese pastor who was imprisoned in a labor camp for his faith. His captors put him in charge of cleaning and emptying the contents of the camp latrine. Every day he would take the foul excrement out and distribute it in a field as fertilizer. The smell was so bad that the guards drew away and gave him plenty of space as he did his work. For that reason, the pastor came to love his lowly occupation, because in the resulting solitude he could talk and sing to God aloud, both of which were otherwise forbidden. He joyfully named the dung-heap in which he worked his garden and sang:
I come to the garden alone,
while the dew is still on the roses.…
And he walks with me and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own,
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.
This is what the Christian life is intended to be: a walk of faith, abiding fellowship with our loving God. His presence transforms even the worst circumstances into beds of roses, simply because he is there with us. What glory this is, that when God calls us to faith in him, he invites us to walk by his side! So every day—ordinary days, difficult days, joyful days—are days with God, a foretaste of heaven: to be with him, to know his love, to see his light and feel the warmth of his pleasure.
Walking with God is its own destination, yet at the same time we are indeed going somewhere! We are growing in our knowledge of the infinite and divine; we are growing more like him in character as he guides us; we are realizing progress in spiritual things. This is the Christian life! It is not a bare knowledge of facts, or a grim recitation of doctrines. To be a Christian is to walk with God, to know him and to live in the light of his presence.
Interestingly, Hebrews 11:5–6 does not focus on the idea of “walking with God” but rather on “pleasing God.” The explanation for this is that the writer of Hebrews is quoting from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) and not from the Hebrew original. This Greek version, which so many apostolic writers used, is noted for its reluctance in using anthropomorphisms, that is, descriptions of God in human terms. The Bible speaks of God’s arm or God’s hand or the eyes of the Lord, all of which are anthropomorphisms. Literally, of course, God has no body and no hands, but his functions and activities are described in human terms for our benefit.
Because of its hostility to this way of speaking, the Septuagint often removed anthropomorphisms in its translation from Hebrew into Greek. The passage from Genesis 5 on Enoch’s life provides a classic example. Instead of saying that he walked with God, the Septuagint says, “Enoch pleased God.” Following that translation of Genesis 5, the writer of Hebrews comments that Enoch was pleasing to God and therefore must have lived by faith.
We need not be troubled by this human interference in the divine Word, for the New Testament, which is divinely inspired, sanctions this reasonable interpretation of Enoch’s life. We may rightly take this idea of pleasing God as a working definition of what it means to walk with him. If we want to enjoy God’s fellowship and to feel God’s pleasure, it is going to result from obedience to his Word. Jesus talked about this with his disciples shortly before his departure. “Abide in me,” he said, “and I in you.… If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:4, 10). While walking with God involves more than simple obedience to his commands, obedience is necessary and integral to any life lived in fellowship with God.
Two Elements of Faith
The main point of our passage is yet another proof of the necessity of faith. Enoch pleased God and therefore was taken by God even before he died, which surely would have been impossible without faith. The writer goes on to point out two vital components of genuine faith: “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
The first of these statements points out that faith must have an object. Today we often hear about the power of faith without anything being said about the object or content of that faith. Mainly we are told to believe in ourselves, and it is true that self-confidence will help you accomplish many things. A baseball player is more likely to hit a fastball if he thinks he can. A salesman is more likely to close the deal if he believes in his ability to do so.
But the faith the writer of Hebrews is describing differs greatly from that. At first glance it may seem that he is asking people to believe only that God exists, to hold at least some abstract assent to the idea of God. On closer study, however, he is being much more specific. A literal translation of the Greek would read this way: “It is necessary for anyone who comes to God to believe that he is.” This wording points to the confessional or doctrinal aspect of faith in a way the original Hebrew audience surely would have noticed. The wording here is reminiscent of the basic creed of Israel, called the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). The Shema was the great confessional statement of the Jewish faith, as it still is, and the original Hebrew readers would have understood this as a way of saying, “Anyone who comes to God needs to have straight just who God is.”
At a minimum, the original Jewish-Christian audience could not help but see a connection to the great statement God made to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. Having just been told to go down to Egypt and confront mighty Pharaoh, Moses asked God, “What is your name?” God answered him, saying, “I am who I am.… Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” Again, in the Greek translation used by the early church, the link is even more explicit. In the Septuagint, Exodus 3:14 says, “Tell them I am the one who exists.” Pointedly using that very language, our writer says, “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists.”
Therefore, this first element of faith has to do with its content and doctrine. Faith must identify the God of the Bible, the Lord who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, as the one true God. Faith must be in him if it is to be saving faith. Over and over he says, “I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 46:9). Faith must first agree with God’s affirmation and turn to him as the only true God.
This element of faith also corresponds to the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God.… You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2–3). This is a warning against all forms of idolatry, and especially philosophies and theologies that compete with the Bible. Whoever draws near to God, our passage says, must believe that the God of the Bible is the One and the true God, putting no others in his place.
First, then, we have the content or object of faith. Second comes the motivation of faith: “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We must believe not only that this is the true God, but also that we have to deal with him, that he is the Judge and Arbiter of our destiny and fortune.
As soon as we speak of God giving out rewards, some people get upset; they perceive a threat to the clear biblical teaching of salvation by grace alone. “If salvation is a matter of getting your reward, then we must be talking about works-salvation,” they reason. However, that is very far from the case. This particular statement simply asserts the reality that God is the One who determines blessing versus condemnation. To have faith, we must realize and accept that we have to deal with this God, that his judgment about us is the vital one, and that we had better seek him; that is, that we had better gain his favor.
By calling this second element the motivation of faith, I mean that faith must turn to God as the One who saves; it must come to him seeking reward, seeking favor, seeking his grace. The alternative is to ignore him, to think that it doesn’t matter what God thinks of us, what he intends for our future. This is what unbelief is all about. Few people deny the existence of God, but many deny the relevance of God, the need to seek him for salvation. This is demonstrably true in our own day. The vast majority of people agree that God must exist, yet they are not seeking him. Instead, they are serving other worldly gods as the source of the rewards they so highly covet.
This begs a vital question: “Do I have to deal with God? Do I need to pay attention to him, to listen as he speaks, to open my heart to a relationship with him, to let him change the way I live, to make him the great hope for the whole of my life? The answer, according to God’s own revelation in the Bible, is Yes!
Although there are many reasons why we must come to God in faith, I will give just two. First, God tells us that he is a holy judge who will surely punish every sinner. God says that at the end of days he will bring everyone to stand before him for judgment. Revelation 20:12 paints the picture: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.… And the dead were judged by what was written in the books.”
People deceive themselves that they will fare well on that day, since they are by their own assessment “basically good people.” But the Bible renders a far different verdict, according to God’s standard of perfect holiness. Romans 3:23 puts it directly: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 tells us the consequences: “The wages of sin is death.” Every person who stands guilty of sin—and that includes every one of us—is in dire peril of this condemnation. For this reason, we had better seek God, to find out how we might gain his favor.
This is one reason why we must deal with, as Francis Schaeffer put it, “the God who is there.” A related and positive reason, and one we are confronted within the record of Enoch, is that there is a life after this one, with a God to be known and enjoyed with awe. There is a life after death, where God himself awaits us.
Perhaps the most interesting point about Enoch is one that we have not yet considered. Enoch never died. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.” One day this godly man was there and the next he could not be found. People looked for him, but he simply wasn’t there. They may never have known what happened to Enoch, but we do. God took him out from this life and into the next without having to die. There are only two people of whom this is recorded: Enoch and the prophet Elijah, the latter of whom God swept up in a chariot of fire. The amount of speculation devoted to these matters has literally filled books, but these are the bare facts Scripture tells us, and further speculation is useless.
The point is that Enoch’s record tells us of a life after death, and of God’s ability to reward his own with everlasting life. Indeed, this is the way we should think about rewards from God—namely, what he himself said to Abraham: “I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen. 15:1 niv). What greater reward could we ever desire than God himself? F. F. Bruce rightly observes, “The reward desired by those who seek him is the joy of finding him; he himself proves to be their ‘exceeding joy’ (Ps. 43:4).”
Our reward is the one Enoch received, namely, everlasting life with God—his free gift to all who turn to him in faith. Earlier I quoted Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23, which begins with the first reason we should seek after God: “The wages of sin is death.” But that sentence is completed with the second reason: “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We see this gift in the experience of Enoch, the man who pleased God by faith, and that is the greatest motive for seeking the Lord. Just as in Abel we saw the power of Christ’s death to restore us to God, so in Enoch we see the power of his resurrection life, the new life we too may enter by faith in him.
Seeking and Finding God
God is a rewarder of those who seek him. What, then, does it mean to seek God? It does not mean that we search him out the way a scientist seeks out knowledge. We are not left to follow an obscure trail of clues, eagerly seeking to piece together a workable theory. No, God is all around us; the evidence of his being is before our eyes this very second. The whole universe is a display, as Paul says, of “his eternal power and divine nature.” God is, Paul concludes, “clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20).
Seeking God therefore means seeking his favor, seeking a relationship with him. For sinners it means seeking forgiveness. It means coming to him, confessing that we are sinners, the way David did in Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.… For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:1–7). Hyssop was a plant the priests used as a brush to sprinkle the sacrificial blood. “Purge me with hyssop” is David’s way of saying that he was coming to God, seeking forgiveness through the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of all who come through faith in him.
But seeking God means more than seeking his favor and forgiveness, which he freely gives in Jesus Christ. It also involves a relationship with him. It means making him the God of your life: your King, your teacher, and your Lord. It means, as Enoch shows us, to walk with God and to offer your life for his pleasure. It means seeking that which is the chief end for our lives, the purpose for which we were made, namely the glory of God and the enjoyment of him.
Seeking God is just another expression for living by faith, which is what this great chapter in Hebrews is all about. Andrew Murray says this:
Faith seeks for God; it believes that He is; it keeps the heart open towards Him; it bows in humility and hope for Him to make Himself known. To know God, to see God in everything and everywhere, in our daily life to be conscious of His presence so that we always walk with Him—this is the true nobility of man; this is the life that faith lives; this is the blessedness Jesus has now fully revealed in the rending of the veil. Faith can walk with God.
What, then, will you find if you do seek after him? Enoch gives the answer. You will find life. Eternal life. That means a life that goes beyond the grave, a life in heaven. But it also means heaven in this life, in this world. It means the answer to the problem of death. God spared Enoch death because by faith he was pleasing to God. For us it means a similar triumph over death; it means that death will lose its sting. Death shall be an open door to the fullness of the life we begin here by faith. Death will mean the perfection of what here is only imperfectly attained, to walk with God, to rest in him, to delight in him, and to know his pleasure, which is faith’s greatest reward.
This leaves but one last question: If you seek, can you be sure to find him? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Our passage says God “rewards those who seek him,” not that you have to find him on your own. If you seek God, he will respond to your seeking. “No one can come to me,” Jesus said, “unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). This means that if you seek God, he has in fact been seeking you, and therefore you will find him. God is drawing you into the arms of his love for the purpose of the eternal life that comes through faith in Christ. Those who seek him he rewards with himself, and those who walk with him in this life he brings to himself in the next, conquering the grave, for a fellowship of joy that will last forever.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 306–314). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 413–423). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.