‘Walking with God’? – Fresh light from distant stars

‘Walking with the Lord’ is common Christian parlance. But, like any popular phraseology, it can roll off the tongue while by-passing the brain. It is biblical, yet mentions of it are relatively sparse. But those few references are enlightening.

            [] ‘Enoch walked with God’ (Genesis 5:22,24)

And ‘Noah walked with God’ (Genesis 6:9). Fascinatingly, Enoch’s walk with God seems to have been initiated by his becoming a father for the first of several occasions: ‘Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah, and did so ‘for 300 years and had other sons and daughters’ (Genesis 5:22). This chapter uses an invariable formula for eight men who each: ‘lived for [x] years, he fathered [a son], … and he died’. Enoch and Noah are two exceptions to this pattern: Enoch because he apparently did not die – rather ‘he was not [found, margin], for God took him’ (Genesis 5:24) – and Noah because he was still very much alive. So, was it that Enoch’s sheer wonder on becoming a father caused him to view God as being his Father? And if God delighted in his offspring, then Enoch would endeavour to get to know him day by day as God’s faithful son.

            [] ‘Enoch pleased God’

The Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) renders Enoch’s walk with God as ‘pleasing God’, as does Hebrews 11:5-6, By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’ So, walking with God means: (a) to ‘please God’, (b) to ‘draw near to God’ and (c) ‘seek him’ (d) ‘by faith’ – trust in the invisible God who is beyond all the capacities of human senses (Genesis 5:1,3,27), and ‘hope’ in the ultimate reward that he will bestow, beyond time, on all who trust him (Genesis 5:1,9,14,16,18,20,22,26,35).

            [] ‘… the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day’

Rebellious Adam and Eve, when ‘they heard the sound’ of God’s walk – not as footfalls but ‘in the cool [Hebrew ‘wind’] of the day’ (Genesis 3:8 margin) – ‘hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God’, thus leaving him to walk alone towards them and stand before them. Previously, it would appear that, on perceiving the daily walk of their invisible Creator, his heavenly robes rustling the foliage as he approached, they would stroll with him through ParadisePark enthusing about every newly discovered fragrance, colour, sound and taste. Now they no longer ‘walked with God’ or ‘pleased God’ and must face the consequences of their rebellion.

            [] A covenantal walk     

When addressing idolatrous Israel, Amos asked nine successive questions about causes-and-effects (Amos 3:3-8), starting with: ‘Do two walk together, unless they have agreed? (Amos 3:3) – most translations adding such words as ‘agreed to meet or ‘agreed on the direction. But Amos is referring to God’s agreed [covenanted] relationship with his prophets who speak on his behalf (see Amos 3:4,7-8; Genesis 18:17; 20:7). Amos had to roar like a lion because God had warned him of impending ‘disaster’ and he had covenanted with God to warn the nation to repent. Now, that is walking with God!

[] Two disciples ‘discussing together’ (15) ‘as [they]walk’ (17) to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35 reverses such disloyalty as that of David’s ‘familiar friend’ with whom he had ‘walked … together … within God’s house’ and had shared a covenant meal (Psalm 55:13-14; 41:9) but, like Judas Iscariot (John 13:18), had betrayed him. Jesus walked with them and opened their understanding of his death and resurrection in Scripture. Then as he broke bread they recognised his nail-ravaged hands, ran back to their brothers in Jerusalem to share their mutual fellowship of the risen Jesus. That’s still the essence of Christian fellowship and walking with the Lord anywhere on earth!

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