Believing That God Is

The writer of Hebrews commends to us Enoch, who “by faith was translated (transferred) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.  For, before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11.5).

I wonder why the word for is there.  “For, before his translation…”  That seems to be the emphasis of the Spirit-inspired writer.  Enoch was translated because before he was translated he pleased God.  But then the writer goes on to say:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11.6).

Meaning, if Enoch had the testimony that He pleased God, it could only be because he was walking by faith.  For without faith it is impossible to please Him.  Enoch was translated because in his day-by-day walk with God, he entered into a faith that enabled God to do something very powerful, transcendent, prophetic.

The other day I was dwelling on this passage and wondering if there wasn’t more to believing that God is than merely believing He exists.  It seems so obvious we must believe He exists that it hardly needs stating.  Suddenly the “light bulb” came on.  It’s easy enough to believe that God was.  What about believing God is?  We have countless testimonies from the past of the wonderful and mighty things God did in a previous day.  Our present-day denominations are proof that God was.  He was the God who restored justification by faith to His church; He was the God who restored baptism by immersion. He was the God who moved mightily in the days of the Wesleys; He was the God who returned Pentecost to His people—the baptism of the Holy Spirit; He was the God who opened His heavenly storehouse and lavished the gifts of the Spirit on His people—the charismata.  We love to read the stories of the mighty healing evangelists of yesteryear.  In more recent decades He raised up powerful ministries of teaching.  All this and more was opened up for our enrichment by people who in their day believed that God is.  They believed.  They sought Him diligently.  They were rewarded for their faith and seeking.

But the same God who to Christians of a previous day was the God who is… do we have the same expectation of faith in our own day?  Or has God become for most of us the God who was.  All around us we see churches that owe their existence to the God who was.  And we are thankful for what God has done in the past, and rejoice in it.  But it was with a plaintive note that the psalmist came to God reminding Him of what He had done in the days of his fathers:

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old (Ps. 44.1).

In other words, what about my day, Lord?  What about  today?

It’s interesting how the Genesis account about Enoch reads.  It says, “Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah” (Gen. 5.21).  Then it goes on, “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years…”  This is a dramatic change from what is recorded of the other patriarchs.  Of them it reads only that they lived after they begat an heir… not that they walked with God.  The record of Enoch stands out in blinking lights.  Enoch, we read, “walked with God after he begat…” (Gen. 5.24).

This has to imply that Enoch was not just living life as it came along like the others were.  When he woke up in the morning he expected to walk with the living God—and who knows the potential involved in this.  He believed in a God who is… day after day after day.  Enoch’s God was not confined to yesterday’s revelation, nor to yesterday’s experience.  The God with whom Enoch walked yesterday… he continued to walk with Him each new and unfolding day.

God was pleased with him because of it.

Let this same desire to please the living God be our own pursuit.  Let us believe that He is.  Let us seek Him.  He will reward us.  We’ll still rejoice for what He did yesterday.  But we’ll be rewarded with what He greatly longs to do today.

And what does He long to do today?  The answer to this question will be discovered only by those who come to Him, believing that He is, and therefore diligently seeking Him.

4 responses »

  1. I more often then not think and speak of God delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt. And the main event to me is the parting of the Red Sea. What an experience that must have been. And near the end of the traveling when they crossed the Jordan River they had taken 12 stones and set them as a memorial and were told to tell their children of what took place. Joshua chapter 4.
    These are very important moves of God that should be spoken of, to be remembered so that we can know who our God is. And expect to walk with this same closeness as Enoch.
    Oh father teach me to surrender all so that you can be my all.
    Tim

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    • Hi Tim. The children of Israel were continually looking back to that memorable God-revealing event. It was God defining to them, and defined who they were as well. But by the days of Isaiah, and later Jeremiah, they had largely lost touch with their famous God. They thought of Him in the past tense. Isaiah had to admonish them to get Him into the present tense. “Remember ye not the former things,” he told them, “neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a NEW thing…” (Isa. 43.18,19). Isaiah says this immediately after having reminded them of the greatness of their God in leading them through the sea. What was before them would eclipse what was behind them. They would no longer need to look over their shoulder into the past to see who their God was.

      Years later Jeremiah spoke to them along the same line. “Therefore behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But the LORD liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them…” (Jer. 16.14,15). Greater things were before them than were behind them! Remembering, of course, that what was immediately before them was the destruction of their city and temple, and their deportation to this “north country”–Babylon. However, this would become, the prophet said, the backdrop of an even greater revelation of their God.

      …Which ought to encourage us in our day, considering what is before us.

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  2. I should be real careful of how much looking back I do. That is encouraging, putting it the way you have Allan
    Tim

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    • You and me both, Tim. In another place Jeremiah calls us to “ask for the old paths” (Jer. 6.16). That is, so we can return to the Pathway in which we are walking with the God who IS. He is ever moving forward in the fulfillment of His purposes.

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