By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God. Hebrews 11:5
This chapter begins by telling the brief stories of two men from different, ancient civilizations. Abel dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. Enoch dates back to the time before Noah and the flood. Each was commended for their faith yet one was brutally murdered while the other was miraculously taken out of this world without having to die. It’s hard to understand the disparity. One death was horrific, the other was spared of death completely. Nowhere does it indicate that Enoch was more righteous than Abel. How did he get off so easily?
It’s a reminder that God’s plans are just God’s plans and cannot be reasoned out by mankind ~ even though we try. We dissect other’s lives, and our own life, and compare the proportions of their joys and sorrows with our own. When things are easier for us, we can feel guilty. Why are things so much harder for people we love? And when things appear harder for us than what others suffer, guilt is a common bedfellow. We believe we must have done something wrong to be in this position. (What further reinforces this is when others feel you must have done something wrong, too.)
Back to Enoch and our assumption that he got off easy. I’m sure it wasn’t a cakewalk for him to walk with God in the midst of pre-flood evil. The world had fallen into debauchery the likes of which we’ve never seen. One of the main reasons for this is that man lived many centuries as opposed to 60-70 years. He had that much more time to feed his wayward appetite. Think of an elderly person of today. Unrighteous traits, without Jesus, only intensify with age.
Many care for their parents and have an extremely difficult time managing unrighteous traits that have only magnified with age. In the days of the flood, multiply this sowing and reaping phenomenon by 300-400 more years. The imaginations that conceived evil were so much more debase. In this time period, whatever evil thing man thought of in his heart, he went and did. There was no pause, no restraint. Nothing was off limits. I try to imagine what it took for Enoch to walk with God and keep himself pure. The loneliness. The jeering. The persecution. We’ll never know but perhaps Enoch had it far more difficult than Abel.
Without understanding any of this fully, I need to remind myself that God just chooses to entrust some people with more pain. Period. I may never know why. It’s certainly not because he loves one person more than another. And while some pain is experienced as consequences of earlier choices, that’s not always the case. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.”
Enoch is in the hall of faith. So is Abel. Whether I understand the reasons why is immaterial. They were God’s possession and He knew all the things we don’t. Scripture, His inspired and inerrant Word, captures their honor for all to read. That is enough.
When things are hard, don’t let me forget any of this. Amen