I love reading about the heroes of the faith. I wish I had lived in a time and in such a way as to have made it onto the list in Hebrews 11 where some of the great men and women are commended for their faith. The list features legends like Noah, Moses and Joseph and their stories of faith, bravery and obedience are amazing. But one name stands out from that list in Hebrews: Enoch. The passage says:
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
Noah, Moses, Joseph – yes, their stories are famous and their place in the hall of fame seems obvious. But Enoch – who was he?! He was so special that God didn’t let him experience death which means he’s one of only two people in the whole Bible who God did that for. While some of the others on the heroes list have chapters and even whole books of the Bible dedicated to them, everything we know about Enoch’s life is summarised in these three verses from Genesis 5: 21-24:
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
That’s all we know about him. There’s no great story of his bravery and adventure. No great tales of his obedience and lengthy details about his life. So why was he a hero? He was faithful to God. That’s all we know. We’re given no more details about how he was faithful and what he did and I love that we don’t know anything else. In our culture we prize celebrity and want to know everything about everyone in the public eye. We want to tell everyone everything about our lives too. We can’t watch a TV programme without telling people what it is and what we think of it. Everything has to be announced, everything has to be shared, and everything we do has to be made public.
The inclusion of Enoch in this list of heroes tells us something really important: you don’t have to have an impressive story to be counted among the saints, you just have to be faithful. That was how Enoch pleased God. We can assume he was just an ordinary, faithful person who followed God. He also provides us with a challenge: are we willing to invest in obscurity? To serve others when no one else may ever know? Are we happy to be obedient to God in the secret places, choosing to do his will out of obedience, rather than because it will get us some earthly credit? In Matthew 6 Jesus talked about the importance of doing things in secret knowing that our father sees and will reward us. There’s something sacred about giving and serving in the secret place where no one knows. If you’re anything like me then it will require a huge amount of discipline not to announce it to the world! But there’s a joy in having something that’s just between you and God; it creates and deepens an intimate relationship to have things that aren’t shared with everyone. We need to be praying, giving, fasting and serving in the unseen places. We need to learn from Enoch who can proudly take his place in the roll call of heroes of the faith just for being faithful.