Whoever walks with God enters heaven sooner or later

Theme: /
Thema:
Whoever walks with God enters heaven sooner or later
Text: /
Tekst:
Genesis 5: 21-24
Textpart(s) to read: /
Tekstgedeelte(n)
Genesis 5 - 6: 4
Hebrews 11: 5-6
Jude 1-4 and Jude 12-16
By: /
Door:
Rev. Jac. Ophoff (minister reformed church -liberated- at Roden)
Ds. Jac. Ophoff (predikant gereformeerde kerk vrijgem. Roden)
Translated by:

Translation by Cor Hoff (CanRC)
Original Dutch version:
Gen05v21 - Wie wandelt met God loopt vroeg of laat de hemel binnen

Delivered at: /
Gehouden te:
Originally delivered in Dutch at Siegerswoude-Frieschepalen on 5th of October 1997 (regarding Contemplation weekend 1997)

Suggestions for the Order of Worship / Aanwijzingen voor de Liturgie

  1. Votum: Ps. 124: 8
  2. Salutation: 1 Corinthians 1: 3 or 1 Timothy 1: 2 or Revelation 1: 4-5a
  3. Congregational singing: Ps. 145: 1
  4. Reading of the Law: Exodus 20 2-17 or Deuteronomy 5: 6-21
  5. Congregational singing: Ps. 25: 2, 5-6
  6. Prayer. Confession of sins; prayer for forgiveness, renewal, and enlightenment.
  7. Scripture reading: Genesis 5 - 6: 4
  8. Congregational singing: Ps 34: 2-3, 5-6, 9
  9. Scripture reading: Hebrews 11: 5-6; Jude 1-4 and Jude 12-16
  10. Text for the sermon: Genesis 5: 21-24
  11. Sermon
  12. Responsive song: Ps. 27: 3, 5-6
  13. Prayer. Thanksgiving; and for all the needs of Christendom
  14. Offertory
  15. Closing song: Hymn 24: 1, 2, 5
  16. Benediction. From Numbers 6: 24-26 or 2 Corinthians 13: 14

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ

It does sound idyllic, does it not: "Enoch walked with God" and then all of a sudden he is gone because God has taken him up to heaven. That was quite exceptional, even in that time. We read in Genesis 5 that Enoch is an exception. For, time and again, we hear the terrible refrain: "and he died". Even though those people, because of their advanced ages, seemed immortal, in reality they were not.

"And he died", except Enoch, for he walked with God. It envisions an idyllic picture: lovely, but also: unattainable. Maybe you are jealous of Enoch. Why could he go to heaven in this manner? But why are you jealous? Because he was taken up by God, or because Enoch walked with God? Are you jealous because that does not happen anymore?

But then you are mistaken; we also can walk with God. And we have a much more elaborate road map than Enoch had at that time. Do not be jealous of him, for his life was not a fairy tale. And do not think that Enoch's life was rosy. It may seem like that a little bit when we hear that he walked with God; but then we perceive walking in the sense of going for a stroll.

Walking with God is quite different from going on a Sunday afternoon stroll to the park to watch the ducks and the geese in the water. To go for a stroll sounds relaxing and lovely and friendly and you chat about various things. One can picture a dad and a mom quietly strolling along with their three children. The youngest one walks between them hand in hand with mom and dad. That is certainly a beautiful picture. You can see all kinds of people taking advantage of a quiet refreshing walk in the park.

Such walking is without stress.

But that is not walking with God. And forget those nostalgic pictures of a Sunday walk, as the way Enoch was walking with God. Such a way of walking does not convey reality. The way Enoch walked with God reflected this, but also in another way.

Don't be jealous of Enoch, for his life was not as pretty as the stroller's life and moreover he was and is not the only one.

Whoever walks with God enters heaven sooner or later

In Genesis 5, many centuries pass by in a short review. It goes with leaps and bounds. And then al of a sudden, these few words seem to jump out: "and Enoch walked with God". This attention places him above the others. This does not mean that the others did not have faith in God. What it does mean is this: his faith was special; it was an exception.

Enoch lived in a time when many did not pay any attention to God. We can see that in the continuation of the family of Kain. The boasting of Lamech is ominous. At the beginning of Genesis 6 we read that the believers and the unbelievers blend into one. In this, in many ways a godless society, Enoch does remain steadfast in his faith. He does not dilute his faith by not becoming a 'half hearted' believer.

Enoch lived close to the Lord. That is shown clearly by the phrase 'walking with God'. He had an intimate relationship with God. This has nothing to do with an occasional stroll on Sundays. Nor being a 'Sunday Christian', but living an active, daily life with God.

In his regular way of life, his work, his marriage, his hobby, yes in the vigor and energy of his life, Enoch walked with God. Not just when he was old or when he had some extra time or when it looked as though he would soon die. Nor after a long and ripe old age, full of life's experiences, but at a young age!

He died very young. He was comparatively very young when his son was born. And considering that the people of those days became 12 times as old as today, Enoch would have been 30 years old when he disappeared from the world stage. Already then it was said about Henoch that he walked with God.

His course of life is typical in his alignment with society. Enoch loved the Lord. He let his life be controlled by God. God and Enoch had a very personal relationship. Enoch knew of no secrets before God. He knew the Lord well and spoke often with Him.

In the letter to the Hebrews, this is called faith. In Hebrews 11, it shows that Enoch was not the only one who lived by faith. His faith is presented to us as an example. It is a faith so intense, so personal, so amicable, that it can be regarded as 'walking with God'.

We do well to have a closer look at this personal relationship with God. Walking with God means: listening to Him. You don't just let God speak. You really listen to Him attentively, in love and with an open heart! This means that you follow God in complete obedience. This comes out clearly when we recognize that Enoch's life, while following his God, is in opposition to the maelstrom. Walking with God also means, suffering for and because of your faith. To show such faithful determination in your faith is not often accepted with thanks. It may cause people to laugh at you or mock you. However, God enjoyed the way in which Enoch lived. But that was not the case with most of the people.

Walking with God then means, that it is not your desire to receive appreciation from people but from God. We read in the letter to the Hebrews distinctly how God was pleased with Enoch. The Lord received enjoyment from him. The Lord finds it splendid when you totally entrust your life to Him; when you grasp the hand of God for guidance. Enoch traveled the road, God had laid out for him. That is the reason God could approve of his lifestyle and be glad in it.

To walk with God in this way, demands a life of combat. To remain steadfast in your faith and consequently and consistently love God does not come automatically. That only happens when you walk with God. And that will specifically be not so in a world of humanistic sounds and pride. Your life of faith will only be sustained, when you walk with God. That means that you continually remain focussed on God; the way a child walks with his hand safely tucked into his father's or his mother's hand.

So where is your direction for life? By letting God be the leader of your life. Lord, how should I live? How should I do this? Those who walk their dog, know that the dog has to stop at every smell and has to investigate everything he comes across. To our dismay he wants to follow every rabbit trail. Are we not sometimes in our behavior much like the dog, investigating this and that? Leaving the trodden path for new ways and ideas! Or when we follow our own thoughts and aspirations and emotions and then succumb to them.
That was now just typical of Enoch. He was a stranger in his society. He did not join the hustle and the bustle and the din and noise of the unbelievers. He was far removed from all that. He followed the route set out by God.

He was not preoccupied with his own daily pursuits. In everything, he lived with God. He was anything but a Sunday Christian! And don't think for a moment that Enoch was an eccentric, a peculiar person. He had not withdrawn himself as some kind of a monk or hermit. First of all, we read in Genesis that he had sons and daughters. He was a sexual being. That was for him not taboo. But it is reality that, when you walk with God, you let Him have a look in your family life, in your married life, in your bedroom. You are working, while God is right besides you. Then you conceive children and raise them, while God is watching. You are courting, while God is having an eye on you. Surely, you are walking with God are you not? And you do that everywhere and always do you not? Whoever walks in faith with God, does not say to Him: Lord, could you excuse me for a minute; I have something else to do for a moment!

Enoch does not shun confrontation. In the letter of Jude we read how he prophesied about God's judgement, which He would execute over all. "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgement on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things, which the ungodly sinners have spoken against Him".

Already Enoch announced that God, surrounded by thousands of His angels, would come down. And they would pronounce judgement over everyone who is disgruntled, complaining, discontented, unthankful, haughty and proud.

Enoch walked with his God openly and publicly. Everyone could observe and hear how he lived in faith. He was not in the least embarrassed. Embarrassment does not go together with trust and love, with faith and expectation. Yes, this also belongs to walking with God: 'expectation'. For you are enroute to somewhere. Just going for a walk in the park or around the block, is more like a quiet stroll. But walking with God, shows direction and purpose in your life

You do not do this by lounging around, but by running. Think of the biblical example of a race. With God, you are on the way to His goal, His destination. You are not confused by this reality in contrast with what appears to be so important in this life. Whoever walks with God, looks beyond the limitations of his own life. Because it is God who will carry you over those limitations.

Whoever lets himself be led by God's hand, is on the road to God's kingdom. Regardless of all the head winds and temptations we may encounter when we follow God's route. Regardless how small and difficult and lonely the road sometimes may be. However, you are never alone when you travel this road with God. That provides you with power, and if needed, empowers you to be different. It empowers you to continue on in a sinful society and a, sometimes, disappointing church community.

God will reward such a determined attitude of faith, for He takes immense pleasure therein. God delights in His children when they remain steadfastly true to Him, regardless of anything that may try to distract them from their faithful path. Enoch was such a believer. He was a solid believer, who lived day and night in everything, with the Lord. He clings to God, and lets Him be the leader through paths unknown and on to the final destination.

Then from a life, lived in this fashion, God draws His conclusion. Suddenly, Enoch is no longer around. He disappeared from the earth. At once the recurring refrain of Genesis 5: "and he died" is broken. Slowly but surely the cemetery will fill up. But there is one grave that will remain empty. Enoch got away 'scot free'; God had taken him up and away from the earth.

A new song resounds over the earth and overpowers the refrain: "and he died". The two seem so similar; "and he died" and "he was no more". But there is a world of difference.
There is a new song, for God is going to do new things. The gospel of God's triumph over death resounds. In a world destined for death, there is another way: the way of God. A long life does not offer comfort and surety. Not today when we do not turn past 80 nor in Enoch's days when people became 900 years old. "And he died" was the refrain. Even then, they did not possess eternal life.

A new reality and final destination become visible for those who walk with God. Walking with God results, in living with God in heaven. God was so delighted with Enoch, He took him home prematurely, while he was still very young. Enoch's walk turns into ascension.
Enoch's ascension was a harbinger of what will happen when Christ returns.
The believers who are alive at that time, will not die but in a moment of time, will be transformed, and together with those who have died and risen, will go to heaven.

Walking in faith will be rewarded. You could also put it this way: if every day you live, trusting in God's promises, you will not be disappointed. Even though living such a faith, may cause battles and difficulties, and you can not avoid problems and sorrows. We do not know our route in advance, and at times the road may seem impassable, unless we walk with God. When God can vanquish death, or rather, when God can skip death, then He can also help in all the difficulties of life.

The story of Enoch is not written in the bible to make us jealous, or something that today is unattainable. Also we can walk with God. Don't be mistaken and think that this is a higher or not necessarily a particular way of believing. And that you will arrive with a faith, that can not be described as 'walking with God'.

That kind of faith does not exist. Surely, believing is trusting God, loving Him, letting Him be the leader, obeying and following Him. You are enabled to do that, because you do not need be fearful of God. God Himself has found you, and He has stretched out His arms towards you.

Walking with God means that you are (no longer) fearful of Him. Whoever is fearful of God, keeps God at a distance and draws back. We saw the extreme in this when Adam and Eve hid from God after the fall. We still have Christians who hesitate to know the directions of God, and who do not dare to give themselves over to God. They doubt, whether God loves them. There is absolutely no doubt, that they would love to serve God, were it not for the insecurity. And yes, that is also the way they teach their children. They will tell them of their distance between God and their insecurity, their fear and their negative feelings.

Believe that God, thanks to Jesus Christ, loves you, and loves to bring you to the final destination. That faith ensures you a relaxed walk in God's nearness. He fully supports you, and while on the way, you can discuss all kinds of things with Him. Such faith is not routine or ordinary but a very personal relationship with God.

Walking in this way does not carry the promise that everything comes easy. Sometimes, strong storms may blow, and everything seems to go against you. Perhaps it may be so bad that it is enough to bowl you over. It can happen that you and your family are walking with God, when, all of a sudden, one of you is no longer here. Taken away, not like Enoch, but by death: your husband, your wife, or your child.

Walking with God: yet sometimes, while on the way, you need to cry. It comes from your heart, because of what others have done to you, or are doing to you; or it is because you miss someone, or you are so lonely. At times it may appear as though you walk in a dessert: there is nowhere to rest. Or it is a walk in the dark and nowhere can you see light.

Walking with God will continue, when you lay on your deathbed; when the storms roar around you and you are tossed to and fro. Just at that moment, remember the purpose of your walk, and don't pay all your attention to the downpour. Because God will not leave you in the lurch.

Walking with God, means reading His 'travel directory', which is the best book He has ever published. It has been printed for the umpteenth time without any corrections or changes. In it, He continues to point the way to the Great City. There is no entrance fee, but in order for you to get there, you should be willing to travel a long and arduous walk.

Walking with God is possible by faith. Right through the dessert and the cursing and the hustle and bustle of the unbelievers.

Walking with God, who knows about our suffering. Who counts your tears and saves them. Who sees your desires, and when you are mourning, does not close His eyes. He knows your fears, and it does not escape Him that inwardly, you are being destroyed by cancer.

Walking with God does not mean that you have to be stalwart, or not show any emotions. That is nonsense. It is quite okay to have difficulties with life's problems.

Walking with God gives you the opportunity to confide in Him. You may cry before your God. You may ask Him your questions. And above all, don't forget that walking with God is also walking with Jesus Christ. He has in His life, put a stop to all our human frustrations. That is so very important for us to remember while on the way.

Walking with a mighty Person is possible in faith and in trust. In all your weakness, you then stand strong. God's power conquers all our difficulties, our cares, our sins and animosity we encounter. As long as you hold on tightly to His hand, and let not anyone confuse you.

Why walking with God can often be so difficult, if you consequently live a life of faith, I can not answer. I do know however, that God is not making a fool out of you. He rewards those, who seek Him earnestly. We recognize that reward in the life of Enoch: taken up by God.

Sometimes, there is nothing left for you to do but firmly grasp the hand of your heavenly Father. You tightly hang on to Gods hand: so tight you almost squash His hand. This is pleasing to God. And He will never say: let go of Me for a moment.

On the contrary, do you know how God will react when you squeeze His hand so tightly? He shall briefly squeeze your hand in return, you know, with an encouraging squeeze: I love you and together we will make it.

Or after you have for a while walked your own route. Perhaps you committed a serious sin, or after a period of indifference, and you then return to God. And you kind of sneak back because you barely have the courage to once again press your hand in His. And then God will pick you up in His arms and say: I am glad you are back! And for a moment He tightly hugs you. Then you continue to walk together again and you know for sure that all is well again. Walking with God: once in a while you will squeeze your own arm and ask yourself: is it real, am I not dreaming?

No, you are not dreaming. Go and pick up your roadmap. In it, you will see the road to travel. But there is more in it than a guide for your travels. It will also encourage you. For you will read in the bible stories about people like you. People who had faith and who experienced: God will reward royally, those who seek Him. And there will be no more tears, no wheelchairs, no migraines, no empty places, no fear or depression, no sin! This is for sure: whether young or old, at some point in time, you will walk with God into the New World.

For everything shall become new: just quietly wait for it. Yes, there is still much that will make you cry. "And he died", and she died, and your mother, and your father, and so did your child. There will be the empty place at the table. There will be an empty bed and an empty cradle causing you so much pain.

Hymn 65 (Book of Praise) states it so beautifully:

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us
And guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

Already at the beginning of your travels, the Lord shows you, that death has no longer the power, to make you fearful of it.

Who walks with God will not be immune to tears. But, whoever cries to God, may hide with God. He walks right besides you. And walking with God also means that, if you are no longer able to walk, God will say to you: I will lift you up and carry you. And then there will be one set of footsteps in the sand.

Amen.

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