WHO WOULD HAVE BELIEVED?

WHO WOULD HAVE BELIEVED?

Jefferson Vann preaches about biblical faith from Isaiah 53:1-12 NET

This month we are talking about repentance and faith. We are looking at the Old Testament to fill in some or the gaps about what repentance and faith entails. Last week, we looked at Hosea 14 for a description of biblical repentance. This week we are looking at Isaiah 53 for a description of biblical faith.

Isaiah predicted a Messiah who was hard to believe (1-3).

1 Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the LORD’s power revealed through him?
2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
3 He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

Isaiah’s people were a despised lot. No one would have expected the Son of God to make his appearance among men as one of the Israelites. But that is exactly what Isaiah predicts. And just to show that God rejects all our deceptive assumptions, Isaiah predicts that when the Messiah does show himself, he will be despised and rejected by those same people. He will appear weak, struck down and afflicted. But this beating he would take would be as a substitute for the transgressions of the world.

Before we run off with this idea as it relates to Christ, and his suffering on the cross, we need to see the message from Isaiah’s standpoint. He was speaking to a group of people who had deceptive assumptions about themselves. He was trying to encourage them to stop believing those lies. The truth is, God did want to work though them. Example: the Messiah himself would be seen as a beaten, condemned criminal. But God would work in that reality to save us all.

Isaiah asks the question “who would have believed what we just heard? God has a plan, but it is going to show up way out in left field. God is not going to use a mighty warrior to accomplish his purpose. He’s going to use a root out of parched soil. Roots don’t grow well in parched soil. Mostly dry soil just stays dry soil. When the rain comes — if the rain comes — then we can expect something to happen.

My series of sermons this month is on repentance and faith. This passage tells us something about the faith that reaches God. It is a faith that dares to see him doing what no one would expect. The focal point of that faith is Jesus Christ.

The world doesn’t really mind it if we have faith. But the world has a fit when we dare to tell everyone that we have put our faith in Jesus Christ. There is no saving faith outside of Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.”

Isaiah predicted that when Jesus appeared there would be no significant evidence that he was the one the universe needed. It would have to be taken on faith.

Yes, the crowds folllowed hm, but before long the crowds were shouting “crucify him.” They wanted someone to overthrow Rome, not someone who would be executed as a criminal by Rome.

Isaiah predicted a ministry that was hard to believe (4-6)

4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.
6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the LORD caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

We know all about that ministry today because we have had two thousand years to ponder the significance of the cross. We call it the docrtrine of substitutionary atonement. It involves four particular things that Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.

By dying on the cross, Jesus purchased forgiveness for sinners so that we can be justified — decalred righteous in God’s sight.

By dying on the cross, Jesus reconciled us to God, so that we could become his friends instead of his enemies.

By dying on the cross, Jesus served as our substitute, taking upon himself the penalty of death that we deserve.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

1 John 4:10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

By dying on the cross, Jesus absorbed the full wrath of God for all those who put their faith in his finished work. That does not keep any of us from dying the first death, but it will prevent us from experiencing the second death.

Isaiah also mentions in this amazing section that the Messiah would do this while people looked on, thinking that he was suffering for his own sins. Verse 4 say “we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.” The cross was for criminals — but here is the sinless Son of God walking the via dolorosa and getting nailed to the cross — not for a real crime but as a sacrifice to purchase deliverance for us.

Isaiah predicted a faithfulness that was hard to believe (7-9)

7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.
8 He was led away after an unjust trial — but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
9 They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.

Note the silence of Jesus before his accusers and judges during his trials. Note his refusal to lash out at them or those taunting him.

Matthew 26:62-63 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer? What is this that they are testifying against you?” But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Matthew 27:13-14 Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?” But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.

Isaiah predicted a victory that is hard to believe (10-12)

10 Though the LORD desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the LORD’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.
12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

Now Isaiah predicts a victory that assumes two things. First, he predicts that the suffering servant will accomplish restitution.

But verse 10 says something that is not quite made clear in the NET translation. The phrase “once restitution is made” is actually im tasim asam nafsho (‎אִם־תָּשִׂ֤ים אָשָׁם֙ נַפְשׁ֔וֹ) in Hebrew. The WEB (World English Bible) translates that phrase more literally, “When you make his soul an offering for sin.” Christ’s whole being died, not just his body. He did not appear to die. He died — completely. When Jesus said “it is finished” that is what was finished. He accomplished the purpose for which he came into the world. That is the first part of the victory. His resurrection was the proof of this accomplishment.

The second thing that Isaiah predicts is a profound exaltation. Isaiah says the Messaiah “will see descendants and enjoy long life” which is a bit of understatement. All of the saved of all time will enjoy eternal life with him — as a result of his victory for them. With victory will also come the spoils of victory. Ultimately, the prophet is talking about eternity in the new universe. The king of kings and lord of lords is going to take his throne. Under him will be every other king and every other lord. He will have gone from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high.

The Servant shall be high and lifted up and exalted.

Isaiah 52:13 “Look, my servant will succeed! He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted.”

But first he will be despised and rejected by men.

Kings will be shocked by his exaltation (52:15).

But first he must go to the cross with his own mouth shut, like a lamb led to the slaughter (53:7).

He will know eternal life and prosperity , but first he must allow God’s will to happen, which means he will be crushed (53:10). He will make many to be accounted righteous (53:11), but first he must pour out his soul to death, and be numbered with the transgressors (53:12).

Who would have believed such a thing? This was God’s plan. Yet there is something still more unbelievable. God has done all this for us through Christ, yet there are still people who say they don’t believe. There are still some who refuse to put their faith in Christ.

Repentance is half of the foundation. Faith is the other half. We must turn to God, ready to tell him all the things we have done against him. But then we must also turn to God in faith.

LORD, thank you for the ultimate sacrifice: infinite purity made into a sin offering to rescue us from our own defilement. We choose to believe in Jesus Christ the one you sent.

JONAH’S GRATEFUL PRAYER

JONAH’S GRATEFUL PRAYER

Jonah 1:17-2:10 NET

1:17 The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

2:1 Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish

2 and said, “I called out to the LORD from my distress, and he answered me; from the belly of Sheol I cried out for help, and you heard my prayer.

3 You threw me into the deep waters, into the middle of the sea; the ocean current engulfed me; all the mighty waves you sent swept over me.

4 I thought I had been banished from your sight, that I would never again see your holy temple!

5 Water engulfed me up to my neck; the deep ocean surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 I went down to the very bottoms of the mountains; the gates of the netherworld barred me in forever; but you brought me up from the Pit, O LORD, my God.

7 When my life was ebbing away, I called out to the LORD, and my prayer came to your holy temple.

8 Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs.

9 But as for me, I promise to offer a sacrifice to you with a public declaration of praise; I will surely do what I have promised. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

10 Then the LORD commanded the fish and it disgorged Jonah on dry land.

This month’s theme is God’s heart for the nations – piggybacking on the message Penny shared on October 31st from Matthew 24:14. God’s heart is to redeem the lost from all the nations, so Jesus commissioned us to go to all the nations and preach the gospel to them. We have a job to do, and nothing should distract us from it – not even our expectation that we are at the end of the age. In fact, the closer we come to the end, the more evangelizing we must be doing.

Jonah had a job to do. He was sent to the capital city of the nation of Assyria – Nineveh. He didn’t want to do it, so he boarded a ship going far away from Nineveh. But as we saw last week, God has ways of getting us back on track when we decide to go the wrong way. Jonah wound up being thrown overboard, and God provided alternate transportation to get him to Nineveh: he was swallowed by a big fish.

Jonah prayed from the stomach of the fish (1-2).

I used to think that Jonah’s prayer from the stomach of the fish was a prayer of repentance. I now realize that I was wrong.

I made a mistake in my interpretation of this text. I want to share with you today the fact that I was wrong and had to change my interpretation. But I also want to trace the process that I used to come to the wrong interpretation. We need to be honest with each other about our fallibility. God’s word is infallible, but we are not. His word is inerrant, but we are going to make errors when we interpret it. We need to be honest about that.

So, here is the process I went through when I first read Jonah 2 – and came up with a wrong interpretation. The first thing I noticed was how Jonah said that he had prayed from the belly of Sheol.

Sheol (שְׁאוֹל) is one of the Hebrew words that the writers of the Old Testament used for the state of being dead. It’s not the only word they use for this state. Sometimes they use the word death. Sometimes they use the word destruction. Sometimes they use the word grave. Sometimes they use the word pit. But the biblical authors often use these words to express the idea that they are in danger – that they are close to dying.

When the Hebrew writers actually talk about Sheol, they describe it as a deep, dark, silent place where everyone goes when they die, and rest without any conscious awareness until they are woken by resurrection.

But often the biblical authors talk about being near Sheol as being in great danger – as being almost dead. Here are some examples of that:

“O LORD, you pulled me up from Sheol; you rescued me from among those descending into the grave” (Psalm 30:3 NET).

“The ropes of Sheol tightened around me, the snares of death trapped me” (Psalm 18:5 NET).

“But God will rescue my life from the power of Sheol; certainly he will pull me to safety” (Psalm 49:15 NET).

That is what Jonah meant when he said that he had called out to God “from the belly of Sheol.” That part I got right.

But what confused me was that the text says that Jonah prayed from the stomach of the fish that had swallowed him. I thought the stomach of the fish was the belly of Sheol. This passage actually uses two separate Hebrew words to make it clear that…

Jonah was in the belly of Sheol before he was swallowed by the fish (3-7).

In verse 3, Jonah says that God – not the pagan sailors – threw him into the deep waters, into the middle of the sea. He said the ocean current engulfed him; that all the mighty waves God sent swept over him. In other words, he had been buried at sea while still alive. He did not expect to stay alive long.

In verse 4, he said that he thought he had been banished from God’s sight, that he would never again see God’s holy temple. In other words, he did not expect to be rescued from that watery grave.

In verse 5 he said that water engulfed him up to his neck; the deep ocean surrounded him; seaweed was wrapped around his head.

The Hebrew word for “neck” is nefesh (נֶפֶשׁ). That’s the word that lots of translations render “soul.” But it’s not what people call a soul. When people think of a soul they think of something immaterial that survives the death of the body. But Jonah’s nefesh was his neck. He was nefesh-deep in the water, and the seaweed was wrapped around his head, forcing him under the water. Jonah was about to drown.

Then he went under. In verse 6, Jonah says that he went down to the very bottoms of the mountains. The NET says “the gates of the netherworld barred me in forever.” That’s not a good translation. Jonah is not talking about the netherworld. The ESV states it better: ” I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever.” Jonah is using prison language. He says that he sunk to the bottom and was being held there permanently. He was going to that watery grave. He was going to Sheol, with no hope of rescue.

Then the rescue happened. Jonah says that the LORD brought him up from the Pit. Remember that the Pit (the Hebrew word here is shachat (שַׁחַת)) is a synonym for Sheol. Jonah was in the belly of Sheol when he was drowning in the water – before he was in the stomach of the fish.

In verse 7, Jonah says that when his life was ebbing away, he called out to the LORD, and his prayer came to God’s holy temple.

Jonah’s prayer from the fish was not a prayer for help, it was a prayer of gratitude (8-10).

The fish was not Sheol. The fish was God’s gift to Jonah. It was his means of rescue from the grave. Jonah’s prayer from the fish was not a prayer for help, is was a prayer of gratitude because God spared his life.

In his prayer, he thought about those pagan sailors who had thrown him into the ocean to save their lives. He said in verse 8 that those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs. Actually, those sailors had not turned back to their pagan idols. They had offered sacrifices to Jonah’s God because of the power he displayed.

And in verse 9, Jonah promised to do the same thing. He had learned his lesson. In verse 10, we learn that the LORD commanded the fish and it disgorged Jonah on dry land. Jonah went from a grateful prayer for salvation to a grateful life of service.

That is what is supposed to happen to us as well. We are saved to serve. We are rescued to obey the great commission. The God whose heart is for the nations sends someone to our nation to preach the gospel to us. We believe in the gospel and are saved. Then, we are supposed to go to someone else, somewhere else, so that they too have the opportunity to be saved.

Now, Jonah could have prayed this prayer, and then gone back to his own life, and forgotten about the call to Nineveh. But he didn’t do that. His gratitude produced a commitment to follow his commission.

Now, I submit to you that you and I have been rescued from a worse fate than that of Jonah. He was rescued from drowning and going to Sheol – the grave. But we have been rescued from the second death – destruction in Gehenna. We have been rescued from the death from which there is no resurrection. Jonah was rescued from a temporary grave at the bottom of the sea. We have been rescued from permanent destruction.

Jonah had the good sense to high tail it to Nineveh after he got burped up on the beach. He was not perfect – he still had some lessons to learn. But the God who saved him – sent him. He was going to preach to those Ninevites.

Brothers and sisters, the God who saved us has also sent us. Jesus said, “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”

” (John 20:21). It is a great thing to praise the Lord for rescuing us from hell. It is an even greater thing to show our gratitude like Jonah did – by seeing to it that other lost people get an opportunity to be saved.

LORD, make us grateful and obedient servants like Jonah.

video

WORSHIP CORRUPTED





WORSHIP CORRUPTED

2 Kings 21:1-16 NET

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Hephzibah. 2 He did evil in the sight of the LORD and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the nations whom the LORD drove out from before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he set up altars for Baal and made an Asherah pole just like King Ahab of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the stars in the sky and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the LORD’s temple, about which the LORD had said, “Jerusalem will be my home.” 5 In the two courtyards of the LORD’s temple he built altars for all the stars in the sky. 6 He passed his son through the fire and practiced divination and omen reading. He set up a ritual pit to conjure up underworld spirits, and appointed magicians to supervise it. He did a great amount of evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7 He put an idol of Asherah he had made in the temple, about which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon, “This temple in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will be my permanent home. 8 I will not make Israel again leave the land I gave to their ancestors, provided that they carefully obey all I commanded them, the whole law my servant Moses ordered them to obey.” 9 But they did not obey, and Manasseh misled them so that they sinned more than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed from before the Israelites. 10 So the LORD announced through his servants the prophets: 11 “King Manasseh of Judah has committed horrible sins. He has sinned more than the Amorites before him and has encouraged Judah to sin by worshiping his disgusting idols. 12 So this is what the LORD God of Israel says, ‘I am about to bring disaster on Jerusalem and Judah. The news will reverberate in the ears of those who hear about it. 13 I will destroy Jerusalem the same way I did Samaria and the dynasty of Ahab. I will wipe Jerusalem clean, just as one wipes a plate on both sides. 14 I will abandon this last remaining tribe among my people and hand them over to their enemies; they will be plundered and robbed by all their enemies, 15 because they have done evil in my sight and have angered me from the time their ancestors left Egypt right up to this very day!'” 16 Furthermore Manasseh killed so many innocent people, he stained Jerusalem with their blood from end to end, in addition to encouraging Judah to sin by doing evil in the sight of the LORD.

We have been studying what the Bible says about worship. We understand that worship is very important to Jesus. It is not something we can do without. We saw last week that worship is something we should do regularly, but we should reserve our worship for God alone.

Jesus affirmed this when he was being tempted by Satan. He said to the devil “You are to worship the LORD your God and serve only him” (Matthew 4:10). We can appreciate others and even respect them. But worship is exclusive to God.

One of the reasons for this is that God’s character and power are flawless. His glory is above all others. For that reason, Moses commanded Israel to worship God exclusively. But he knew that they would fail to do that.

God told Moses that “after I have brought them to the land I promised to their ancestors – one flowing with milk and honey – and they eat their fill and become fat, then they will turn to other gods and worship them; they will reject me and break my covenant” (Deuteronomy 31:20).

Worship would become corrupted.

This happened many times in the history of God’s people. Today’s text highlights how worship was corrupted during the reign of King Manasseh of Judah.

Manasseh corrupted the worship in Judah by copying the religions of the nations (1-5)

Notice that Manasseh’s father – King Hezekiah – had torn down the high places that the pagans had used for worship. So Manasseh cannot claim that he was just doing what his father did before him. He chose to undo Hezekiah’s reforms. His father had taken steps to purge Judah of its idolatry, but Manasseh reversed his policies.

Manasseh invited other gods and goddesses to take their place in Jerusalem, which God had specifically designated as his home. How would you feel if someone came into your home uninvited by you? Manasseh had no business inviting these other gods into the Lord’s home.

God had warned his people that if they tried to be like all the nations around them, they would suffer the same fate as those nations. Some of those nations had been destroyed when the Israelites came into the promised land. The Lord had warned Israel that if they became idol worshipers like those nations…

“I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars, and I will stack your dead bodies on top of the lifeless bodies of your idols. I will abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will refuse to smell your soothing aromas. I myself will make the land desolate and your enemies who live in it will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and unsheathe the sword after you, so your land will become desolate and your cities will become a waste” (Leviticus 26:30-33 NET).

When it comes to worship, God does not want us to be like everyone else. He wants us to worship him exclusively and he wants us to worship him differently than all the other religions worship their gods.

In this modern age, there are two major ways we can follow in the footsteps of Manasseh and corrupt biblical worship. One is that we can borrow worship practices from other religions. We can sometimes be tempted to borrow practices from non-Christian religions and Christianize them. We need to be careful that we examine the origins of certain practices.

But there is another way we can corrupt our worship as Manasseh did. The most prominent religion of today is atheistic secular humanism. We can build our high places to the god of human progress. If it replaces our devotion and loyalty to the God of the Bible, it corrupts his worship.

But Manasseh went even further than this.

Manasseh corrupted the worship in Judah by encouraging demonic practices (6-11).

The king passed his son through the fire (in other words, he sacrificed one of his sons to the pagan god Molech) and he also practiced divination and omen reading. He set up a ritual pit to conjure up underworld spirits, and appointed magicians to supervise it.

He opened the door to every kind of demonic activity that the Lord had labeled detestable. If he had published newspapers, he would have put the daily horoscope in them. He hired palm readers, and people to hold seances. He had his own royal magicians. These were not illusionists and sleight-of-hand magicians. It was practitioners of the magic arts. When it came to corrupting worship, Manasseh boldly went where no man had gone before. He plunged his nation into the darkness.

Because Manasseh corrupted the worship of Judah, the LORD pledged to wipe Jerusalem clean (12-16).

God could not let this sacrilege continue. But notice that God was not only going to judge Manasseh. Since the king led the nation into corrupted worship, the whole nation would have to suffer.

Since Manasseh has invited false gods and Satanic magic into God’s house – God was going to have to do some house cleaning. He likened it to cleaning a plate on both sides. It doesn’t make sense to just clean a plate on one side, because if you stack the plate afterward, and it is still dirty on the bottom, it will dirty the next plate on the top.

God said he will destroy Jerusalem the same way he did Samaria and the dynasty of Ahab. He will wipe Jerusalem clean, just as one wipes a plate on both sides.

He used foreign empires to take away the kingdoms from those kings. He did that because he could not and cannot tolerate hypocrisy. He cannot allow those who worship other gods to pretend to worship him too.

James tells us to draw near to God and he will draw near to us. He tells us sinners to cleanse our hands. He tells us double-minded people to make our hearts pure (James 4:8). God hates all sin, but he particularly detests corrupted worship.

LORD, we come to you confessing that we have failed to worship you exclusively. Forgive us, LORD, and show us how to clean our hands of this sin-stain. Show us how to make our hearts pure, and our minds singular. We want to worship you the right way.

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THE MAN WHO WAS TAKEN AWAY

THE MAN WHO WAS TAKEN AWAY

Hebrews 11:5-6 (Disciple’s Literal New Testament)

“By faith Enoch was removed, so as not to see death: “And he was not found because God removed him”. For before the removal, he has been attested to have pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For the one coming-to God must believe that He is, and He becomes the rewarder to the ones seeking Him out.”

I am returning to the series on the heroes of faith that I started on November 15th of last year. In that sermon, I looked at Abel, whose story is told in Hebrews 11:1-4. He was a man who had a very short life, but he did not throw away his one shot. When he had the opportunity to demonstrate faith, he did it.

Today I am going to talk about Enoch. Now, there are three myths about Enoch, and the first time I wrote this sermon, I spent the whole time dispelling them. I dumped that sermon, and rewrote it yesterday. Every thing I said in it was true, but it is just not what I need to say about living a life of faith. Here is a summary of that message:

• Enoch did not go to heaven. The Bible says that no one has gone to heaven except Jesus. Neither Genesis nor Hebrews claims that Enoch was an exception.

• Enoch did not become immortal. The Bible says “in Adam all die” and that includes Enoch, who was the seventh generation from Adam. In fact, not one of these heroes of faith mentioned in this chapter became immortal. Hebrews 11:13 said “All these died in faith” – including Enoch. Enoch was removed so as not to see death – not his own death, but the death of his descendants in the flood.

• Enoch was not sinless. His personal righteousness was not what made him different from everybody else in his day. Genesis 5:24. says he “walked with God.” To walk with God is to have a relationship with him. How did Enoch get that relationship? Genesis does not say.

But Hebrews does. Hebrews 11 says that Enoch pleased God because of his faith. The gospel tells us that we too can please God by putting our faith in him. All you have to do is believe that God exists, and believe that he rewards the ones who seek him out.

The question I want to address in today’s sermon is this: What choices did Enoch make that set him apart from his generation as a person of faith?

Enoch chose to believe in God.

Our text says that “the one coming-to God must believe that He is” and Enoch did that. He lived in a generation that was turning its back on its creator, and he chose to acknowledge God instead.

All of these Heroes of faith that the author of Hebrews lists are remembered for different reasons. But one thing that is true of each one of them is that he or she chose to believe in God when others chose to ignore or reject him.

The disciples saw Jesus curse a fig tree. They saw the tree wither and die before their eyes. Peter thought “wow, look at that.” Jesus said “Have faith in God.” It’s not about a dead tree. It’s about a living God. That’s why Jesus used that opportunity to teach them about praying to God and expecting forgiveness from God. The same power that can destroy a tree and remove a mountain can also forgive sins. He is God, and our first choice must be to believe in him.

Enoch chose to seek God.

Our text refers to “the one coming-to God” and “the ones seeking Him out.” When his generation was seeking everything but God, Enoch was seeking the God who created everything. Ours is a generation very much like that in which Enoch lived. We have scientists who dedicate their lives to knowledge so that they can solve the world’s problems. But these very same people have often turned their back on the one who holds everything together by his wisdom and power.

The Wise Men came to Herod seeking Jesus, but soon discovered that he was not there, so they set out for Bethlehem. If they had turned back and returned home after Jerusalem, we would not know about them. They were truly wise men because they kept seeking for Jesus until they found him.

Enoch was like that. He heard about God from his parents. He heard stories about God passed on by oral tradition. But he was not satisfied with that. He wanted to have a personal experience with God.

Brothers and sisters, please don’t let family or tradition be your only reason for identifying as Christians. Seek a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ!

Enoch chose to please God.

Our text says that “he has been attested to have pleased God.” When the generation all around him were choosing to disappoint God, he was choosing to please God.

The apostle Paul told the Roman Christians that those who are in the flesh cannot please God because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7-8). He commended the Thessalonians because they were living by the instructions that he gave them, and that obedience was pleasing God (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

So, we learn from both testaments that pleasing God is possible. But in Paul’s generation and in Enoch’s generation, the natural inclination of people’s hearts was against it. Pleasing God will not come naturally. It has to be a conscious choice to go against the grain.

Enoch chose to be faithful to God.

Genesis tells us that Enoch “walked with God.” His generation had chosen to walk away from God. They had the opportunity to have a relationship with their creator and to leave a legacy of blessing and hope. But it was not to be. Their refusal to walk with God would bring death and destruction.

But Enoch’s choice to walk with God meant that he would be removed. By God’s grace, he would not live to see the devastation and destruction cause by his generation’s rebellion.

But what did it mean for Enoch to walk with God. He did not have the Bible. He did not have a church or temple. He did not have the Law or the gospel.

What did he know about walking with God? He only knew that his ancestors had heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they had hidden themselves from his presence among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8). Sin had kept Adam and Even from seeking God and from walking with him.

Enoch chose to come out of hiding and walk with his God. He faced his own fears and guilt and decided that his own imperfections were not going to keep him from fellowship with the Perfect One.

That is walking by faith. It is being faithful to the God who wants us to walk with him. God’s presence in the garden was an invitation. Sin kept Adam and Eve from answering the invitation. Faith enabled Enoch to answer God’s invitation for a walk.

Enoch chose to trust God for his eternal destiny.

Enoch believed that God “becomes the rewarder to the ones seeking Him out.”

Besides Genesis 5, the genealogies, and Hebrews 11, the only other biblical reference to Enoch is a prophesy he gave about the Lord coming in judgment. That prophecy is recorded in the book of Jude. So, Enoch had the spiritual insight to understand that some day God was going to judge the world.

We don’t know what Enoch believed about his personal destiny. But if he believed that the ungodly were going to be judged, he must have also believed that the faithful would be rewarded. In today’s text, the author of Hebrews gives Enoch as a witness to God as a rewarder.

One day, Enoch is going to walk with God again – and forever. God offers you and me the same invitation. He knows we have sinned and fall short of his glory. We don’t deserve to have fellowship with him. But he has sent his Son as a sacrifice to atone for our sin, so that we can once again not only enter his presence, but walk with him.

Jesus instructed John to write a letter to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. He said that the city had a few people who had not stained their clothing by hypocrisy. He promised them that he would not erase their names from the book of life, but confess their names before his Father. He also promised them that they would some day walk with him in white clothing.

We were created to go for a walk, and for that walk to never end. Have you started your walk with God yet?

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