In Sunday’s sermon from Genesis 4–6:8, “East of Eden,” we considered two ways to live outside the garden. We are not terribly surprised to discover the wandering way of Cain and the subsequent descent and spread of sin. We are caught off guard, however, by the record of Enoch, who “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (5:24). Banished from God’s presence, there is nevertheless hope of a walk with God; that is, friendship with God.
Allen Ross, in his commentary, Creation and Blessing, quotes this century-old yet timeless reflection on this important little phrase:
The phrase is full of meaning. Enoch walked with God because he was His friend and liked His company, because he was going in the same direction as God, and had no desire for anything but what lay in God’s path.
We walk with God, and when he is in all our thoughts; not because we consciously think of him at all times, but because he is naturally suggested to us by all we think of; as when any person or plan or idea has become important to us, no matter what we think of, our thought is always found recurring to this favorite object, so with the godly man everything has connection with God and must be ruled by that connection. When some change in his circumstances is thought of, he has first of all to determine how the proposed change will effect his connection with God—will his conscience be equally clear, will he be able to live on the same friendly terms with God and so forth. When he falls into sin he cannot rest till he has resumed his place at God’s side and walks again with him.
This is the general nature of walking with God; it is a persistent endeavor to hold all our life open to God’s inspection and in conformity to his will; a readiness to give up what we find does cause any misunderstanding between us and God; a feeling of loneliness if we have not some satisfaction in our efforts at holding fellowship with God, a cold and desolate feeling when we are conscious of doing something that displeases him. This walking with God necessarily tells on the whole life and character. As you instinctively avoid subjects which you know will jar upon the feelings of our friend, as you naturally endeavor to suit yourself to your company, so when the consciousness of God’s presence begins to have some weight with you, you are found instinctively endeavoring to please him, repressing the thoughts you know he disapproves, and endeavoring to educate such dispositions as reflect his own nature.
It is easy then to understand how we may practically walk with God–it is to open to him all our purposes and hopes, to seek his judgment on our scheme of life and idea of happiness—it is to be on thoroughly friendly terms with God …. Things were not made ready to Enoch. In evil days, with much to mislead him, with everything to oppose him, he had by faith and diligent seeking, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says, to cleave to the path on which God walked, often left in darkness, often thrown off the track, often listening but unable to hear the footfall of God or to hear his own name called upon, receiving no signs, but still diligently seeking the god he knew would lead him only to good.
For more reflection on the subject of friendship with God (and how it transforms our relationships), read, “The Great Friend,” the last chapter in Drew Hunter’s, Made for Friendship: The Relationship That Halves Our Sorrows and Doubles Our Joys. Yes, that’s my brother. In this project of recovering biblical friendship, he explores the incredible privilege that is our friendship with God.