The Bare Soul
September 18, 2011
Obtaining the Witness
Hebrews 11:5 - 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.
Years ago, there was a saying that when a person felt smitten over someone special, that they were "taken" for that guy or gal. It is more a colloquialism, I suppose, from simpler days when a young man fell "head over heels" for a young woman, or vice versa. We may have heard it put like this: "I sure am taken with her!" The implication is an abandonment of all sense, that somehow the object of their affection has stolen their heart in a romantic sort of way. This might appear to happen unexpectedly and without design by either party. Or does it? Often, there is a drawing or a wooing that causes this sudden "taking" of emotions. The taken may feel like they are coaxed into this romantic interlude, having merely responded to the taker's attention. In a very real sense, the one being wooed has received the proverbial nod that they are pleasing to the other. The dynamics of our encounters on this earth are merely natural expressions of how God woos us to that place of communion and fellowship with Him. Like Enoch in our lead verse, it is possible while on this earth and living in sinful flesh to "obtain the witness" that we are pleasing to God. It would serve us well to look at the makeup of this man and others in the Bible of similar character to better understand how we might obtain a similar witness from our Heavenly Father.
The first mention of Enoch is in Genesis 5:18 where it states: Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch. The next three verses tell us seemingly little about this man of God, except that he becomes the father of Methuselah at the relatively young age of 65. Remarkably, however, verse 22 tells us that ... Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah. This simple statement of protracted worship by a mortal is not to be rivaled anywhere else in scripture. Even Noah, who lived hundreds of years like his predecessors, did not obtain a witness such as Enoch received. Did Enoch suddenly turn toward God after the birth of his son, or was he a committed follower of the Lord before? All the scripture tells us is that for 300 years after the birth of Methuselah, this man walked with God. To walk with his Maker in undisturbed fellowship for three centuries must have thrilled the heart of the Father. Only a few generations prior, God walked with the original couple in that garden called Eden. Before the Fall, God was taken with Adam and Eve as He fellowshipped with them continually. Now, He had found a man that desired a similar reciprocal relationship of unbroken love. They were quite literally taken with each other. However, there was a difference. The first couple were in that place of innocence as they trusted God as their Father. Enoch, on the other hand, was born of sinful flesh yet walked in humility and brokenness before the Lord. He undoubtedly knew that a Savior would come someday to redeem Him from the predicament of sin. However, the one thing this man of God had on his side was time. Three hundred sixty five years is a long time in our minds to live upon this earth, but maybe it seemed like nothing to Enoch and it certainly wasn't a factor for Yahweh. We know from reading verse 24 that a quite remarkable thing happened. It states that God quite literally took him! This is extraordinary if one considers the significance of this event. If the implication is not certain in the Genesis verse, that suddenly Enoch ... was not, for God took him, it becomes very clear by the text in Hebrews that the man of God disappeared because ... he was not found. How or why this happened, we can only speculate. Did Enoch receive a resurrected body? Quite possibly, since we know that no sinful flesh can dwell in God's presence. Regardless, the point the scripture makes here is that Enoch was pleasing to God and he obtained the witness of God's pleasure by God drawing him home to Glory.
Appropriately, the transliteration of Enoch's name in the original Aramaic text is "dedicated." We might say that this early descendent of the first man was only the first of many throughout the scriptures who likewise obtained the witness through their dedication to the Lord. While none walked in the manner of Enoch, we know that Noah (previously mentioned) along with Job and Daniel were witnessed to by God Himself as being upright men. In Ezekiel 14:14 the Lord mentions through the prophet that these men were righteous before their Maker. Both Samson and Samuel were dedicated to the Lord as infants with a Nazirite vow, obtaining the witness of God's pleasure as judges of Israel (Judges 13:7; I Samuel 1:11). Of course, the greatest example of someone walking this earth with God and obtaining the witness was Jesus Christ Himself. As Peter declared to the house of Cornelius, all the prophets bore witness of the coming Messiah and the forgiveness of sins through His redemption (Acts 10:43). Remarkably, the Holy Spirit appears to have borne witness to the words that He was uttering through the apostle's mouth that He indwelt all those present as a result. They too, obtained the witness of the Father (John 5:37) and were taken by God to fulfill His purposes through the spreading of the Gospel to the "uttermost parts of the earth." Unlike the Old Testament saints, all believers in Jesus Christ had the opportunity to be taken for the purposes of God. There was nothing separating men and women from sharing in the presence of God except unbelief. The message to us through this chapter of Acts and the rest of the New Testament is that God desires to take as many as who would believe in His Son. Whoever would believe in the Son will share in the Holy Spirit and thereby obtain the witness.
Heaven looks on this very day to see what our response might be in regard to His wooing. There is loving relationship waiting to be born within us all by the One who created us. As that great "cloud of witnesses" surrounds us, urging us to commit to His care, may we allow Him to take us with abandon (Hebrews 12:1). Our only requirement is to walk with Him, even as Enoch walked with undeniable humility and understanding of our great need for Jesus Christ. And then, like Enoch, we can be taken by our God to live an extraordinary life. Are we smitten with God? Are we free to relinquish our life of unfulfilled desire and walk with Him forevermore? If so, don't be surprised how he takes you, for He most certainly will. It is the promise of obtaining the witness of His pleasure.
Lord, may we obtain the witness by obediently walking with You, day in and day out. May we believe that by the blood of Jesus we are worthy to receive Your Holy Spirit who bears witness of Your eternal love for us all. As we give ourselves more and more to You, everyday, may You draw us irresistibly to Your presence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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