22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Enoch walked with God and God took him. In an era when men were living to ages of over nine hundred years, Enoch only lived to be 365. Was this good for him or not?
Genesis 5 tells of the blessings of God poured out on mankind. Even though humanity had rebelled against God and rightly should have been under his wrath, God continued to allow the race to be fruitful and to multiply. With each major entry into the lineage of Adam’s children through Seth, God also saw fit to have Moses record for us the ages that each man attained before his death.
And again I ask, did Enoch get a good deal? Take the numbers, which are ten times the life spans of people today, divide them by ten, and tell me what you would think if you heard this story today. A man is a follower of God, faithful to the very core of his being. He is committed to God and to the growth of God’s kingdom on earth. God takes him home at age 36 while many of his peers are living into their nineties.
When we pause to think about the Enoch question in the way described above, we actually have to check our hearts and see if we believe a few things to be true about God. If I asked a Christian about these truths, he or she likely would affirm them very quickly. However, when the rubber hits the road, not as many would still come along and agree with the truths they proclaim.
For Enoch to be taken home to be with God at age 36 in a normal human life span would stir up images of tremendous regret and sorrow in the lives of many Christians. (Yes, I recognize that I’m not dealing with the aspect of God simply taking Enoch but rather am treating his situation as an early death; however, this is useful as an exercise.) Can you imagine the statements that would be made by his friends and family. “What a loss?” “What a tragedy?” “How could God do this?” “How could a loving God do this?” “I don’t understand, he had such a bright future ahead of him.” “He won’t be able to see his grandchildren.” “He had only begun his ministry.”
All of those quotes would reveal one thing about the hearts of Enoch’s friends and family who would mourn his loss in our fictional example: They are thinking in a this-worldly way. Enoch had been taken by God out of a world of pain, suffering, and sinfulness to enter into the highest possible joy in the presence of the all-glorious, all-loving, all-beautiful God who created him. Enoch, who had served God for the early years of his life before it was cut short was spared much pain and much sorrow. He was ushered immediately into a place of total peace, total happiness, total perfection. Yes, he would miss out on certain temporal joys in this life, but none of those joys would ever, even for a minute, make him regret the fact that he stood in the presence of his Almighty Lord.
Did Enoch get a good deal? Oh my, for the Christian who truly hungers for God and longs to be in his presence, Enoch got a wonderful deal. The apostle Paul knew that it would be better by far for him to be taken out of this life and to be brought into the presence of the Lord Jesus (c.f. Phil 1:21-23). And we, if our claims of belief in Christ are true, must allow the reality and joy of heaven to far outweigh any temporal blessings that a young man like Enoch would have experienced because he had entered into the glory of heaven.
Now, let me be clear, God is the one who determines when we should come home to him, not man. We should do nothing to end our lives in order to enter more quickly into eternity. Such action is sinful. So don’t think that I’m suddenly leading us down a, “Let’s drink the Kool-Aid and escape this world” sort of philosophy. God does not want us to escape this world, but to live in it, glorify him, and change it by spreading the joy of knowing him to all peoples.
What I am arguing for this morning is simple. We need to let our theology of heaven cause us to long for that time and to rejoice when a believer of any age is brought home to Jesus. Of course we will mourn the loss of any of our friends, family, or children; but let us never mourn as though they have lost something. I believe that no Christian who enters into heaven is regretting what he or she leaves behind here. No young Christian is sitting around in heaven today saying, “I only wish I had gotten married.” No, those in the presence of the Almighty are filled with joy and total satisfaction. So we mourn our loss, but not theirs.
In this I mean no harsh words for parents who have lost children or others who have lost loved ones. My heart is not to cast condemnation on anyone who has, for a moment, lost sight of eternity in his or her grief. Instead, my desire is to offer encouragement for us all to have an eternal focus. There is great joy in realizing that the death of any Christian of any age is the opening for that Christian of a portal into the greatest glory imaginable.
Christians, today check your heart and ask yourself how you would respond if you knew of a young Enoch who was taken home by the Lord. Would you rejoice at his entrance into God’s glorious presence? Would you celebrate his total joy? Or, would you feel sorry for him because of the things of this world that he would be missing out on? Let’s be sure that we understand that there is no way that Enoch thought he was getting a raw deal.