Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series on faith. Previous post. Next post.
What does a life that is pleasing to God look like? Every Christian wrestles with that question from time to time and in various ways. Hebrews 11 not only gives an answer to the question but also paints a picture through the life of Enoch, the man of faith whose life was well-pleasing in the eyes of God.
Enoch is an enigmatic figure in the Bible, mentioned only a couple of times. Very little is said about him, and yet he strangely appears in the “hall of faith” of Hebrews 11. Though little is said about him, the portrait that is drawn of him is actually a beautiful and inspiring one. The author of Hebrews clearly has Genesis 5 in mind when he speaks of Enoch. It is there that we learn how it is that Enoch earned a place among the heroes of the faith. Enoch was not simply a man who walked by faith; he was, in particular, a man who “walked with God” (Gen. 5:24). Enoch was pleasing to God because he not only lived his life by faith in the God of heaven and earth, but he also lived his life in intimate communion with God. To understand Enoch’s life of faith and communion with God more clearly, it is helpful to look at the backdrop against which the portrait of Enoch’s life is drawn.
By the time we meet Enoch in Genesis 5, a lot has happened. Not only has the work of creation been completed, but generations of post-fall humanity have been born and have begun to display the realities of sin. The first sibling set in history (Cain and Abel) embody the first scene of murder and martyrdom. Adam’s family portrait is a broken one, and Eve, the mother of all living, is also the mother of the brokenhearted. By God’s grace, however, there have been almost no repetitions of Cain’s depravity, and God’s grace is manifest even in the common vocational skills with which He has endowed man. Cities are built, music is made, and most importantly, “people began to call on the name of the Lord” (4:26). There is, however, a very clear exception.
Toward the end of Genesis 4 we encounter Lamech, an obtrusive figure who cannot be missed in any study of Enoch. Lamech is the antithesis of Enoch, yet Lamech and Enoch are intended to be viewed as actors on the same stage, continuing the tension first displayed in Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were not only the two sons of Eve, they were also the human beginning of what would develop into two opposing kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. In Cain and Abel, the tension between the two “offspring” or “seeds” of Genesis 3:15 is perpetuated. That tension continues to unfold on the scene of history as Lamech, the seventh son of Adam in the line of Cain, proudly and boastfully exalts himself. He is a kingdom builder of the worst kind, as his singular goal is to glorify and enjoy himself. His loud, self-exalting claim to have killed a man in Genesis 4:23–24 makes this perfectly clear. He is Cain perfected, so to speak, as is seen in his vow: “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold” (v. 24). Lamech, by his own proclamation, is ten times as proud, self-righteous, and murderous as Cain, and Lamech has sworn to take the law into his own hands and execute judgment as though he were God. Lamech, the seventh son of Adam, is truly in line with the seed of the serpent.