Adam: 930 years. Seth: 912 years. Enosh: 905 years. Kenan: 910 years. Mahalalel: 895 years. Jared: 962 years. Enoch: 365 years. Methuselah: 969 years. Lamech: 777 years. You may notice that Enoch sticks out from this genealogical list. He exists on the earth for centuries less than his ancestors and descendants. Enoch does not see death. And, he is specifically noted as having walked with God.
My guess is that most of us would assume that if Enoch was the one who faithfully walked with God, then he would live the longest. We might typically assume that faithfulness would result in a longer existence on earth. But, as we take the next few moments to reflect on the nature of life, I think we see that the blessedness of life is not necessarily tied to a person’s longevity on earth.
Genesis 1-2 teaches us that we exist just because God desires for us to be. God is creator. We are creation. And, as creation, our lives continue to exist, only because God sustains them. If God were to cease caring for us and sustaining us, our existence would simply cease. It is only because God is continuing to act toward us — that we continue to be.
You see, life, from a theological perspective, is existence by the grace of God. It is a gift given by God. Life, essentially, is being with God. On the flip side, death is the lack of existence because of an absence of God’s grace sustaining it. Death, essentially, is not being with God (separation from God).
As we look at Genesis 5 and Enoch, we see that there is a difference between life and just existing. As we look at most of the people mentioned in Genesis 5, we see that, at the least, they are mostly characterized by just existing (they live, they have children, and then they die). They were not characterized by living. If they were, then they would be characterized as being close to God (walking with God / spending time with him). With Enoch, though, we see that he has life. He is characterized as walking with the one who gives life. With Enoch, we see that life is found in God’s presence. And with Enoch, we see that it is possible to be in God’s presence into eternity (i.e. “…he was no more, because God took him away.”).
What we see in the life of Enoch is that life is not calculated by the amount of time spent existing on earth. No. Life is calculated by how near we are to God. This is not to say that life is about escaping earth, as if being in God’s presence is only possible in some heavenly state. No. We even see this in the life of Enoch. Enoch experienced life in God’s presence on earth. The only difference between his existence and ours today, is that Enoch did not yet know what existence on earth could be like without sin. But, today, we now know about the victory over sin that Jesus secured for those who would faithfully follow after him. Because of Jesus, we have been given hope that we can experience life here on earth and into eternity, without the effects of sin.
Life is not about getting the most out of our time on earth. The world is chasing life by trying to get the most out of their time on earth. But they will eventually find out — and we find in ‘Genesis 5 — this is a mirage. It is a mirage (a false pursuit) because death is awaiting us all, since all have sinned; and the result of sin is death. But, if we are chasing life in the presence of God, then we are already experiencing the truest life there is; and, because of Jesus, that life will last into eternity.
To truly experience life, live as Enoch lived.
Live a life characterized by walking with God.