Walking With God
By Robert I Holmes
All Scriptures NIV
We often hear the phrase "How's your walk with God?" bantered about in the church? But I wonder if we really understand what that means in terms of our relationship with Him? What kind of person walks with the Lord in intimacy, as one of His beloved, counted a friend of God?
There are many people in the Bible we might look to for example, but I wish to briefly touch on the lives of five individuals who reveal precepts of intimacy. Enoch, Moses, Elijah, David and John the apostle seem to have captured both the attention, and the heart-felt friendship of God. These individuals give us insight into the kind of person who will walk with God, and be His friend.
Little is said of Enoch except that he "walked with God, then he was no more because God took him away" (Gen 5:24). Only one other man was taken away before his death, but we shall get to him later. There is little from the account in Genesis to reveal why God walked with Enoch, but the writer of Hebrews, perhaps making reference to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, tells us that, "by faith Enoch was taken from this life... before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb 11:5, 6).
Here we see the principle of faith, without faith we can not be pleasing to God. We know that the pure in heart shall see God, but there we are told that without abiding faith, without trust and assurance in the character of God, we can not please Him. Enoch has faith toward the Lord, and He walked with Him, though He was yet unseen. This obviously pleased God because Enoch trusted Him, and had faith in Him. Jude points to the fact that Enoch was a prophet, and spoke of the time of the end, when men would walk away from God. To see so far into the future, must have taken great faith indeed. Enoch no doubt took the time to be with the Lord, so the Lord took time to be with Him. The wording of Enoch's account is reminiscent of Adam walking in the garden with the Lord. His heart was set to spend time with Him.
Of all the people in the Bible and of all the prophets, we see that Moses was treated quite differently from the rest. Prophets see the secret things of God, and He does nothing without revealing His plans to the prophets, Moses somehow captured the friendship of God. "With [Moses] I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord" (Num 12:8). We do not have to look far to see why.
We know that, "Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" (Num 12:3). Throughout Scripture the desperate need of humility is emphasized. It is critical that we come to a heart understanding of our utter failure, and our utter inability to please God, or do anything of worth without Him. In reaching the point of admission, in reaching the depths of who we really are, God can raise us up. Isaiah tells us that the one God looks for, the one He esteems is, "He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word" (Isa 66:2). A dear friend of mine has coined this passage into a simple phrase - humility, repentance and fear of God.
Why humility? We must remember that God is absolutely holy, absolutely righteous, absolutely powerful and full of majesty. We have no rights before Him, we have nothing to give Him which He does not already have. We are completely replaceable in His scheme of things. The only reason we can walk with Him is because He delights in it! He wants our friendship. But first we must admit our very great need of him. We are his servants first, and His friends second. But both dwell in His house. Isaiah captures this truth when he says that God, "lives in the high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit."
This aspect of character attracts God, because He Himself is humble. Jesus testified, "learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matt 11:29). Jesus, the Son of God, is humble in heart and He will walk with those who are humble and see their own desperate need of Him. Those who recognize their poverty of spirit obtain the kingdom of heaven, those who are meek shall inherit the earth, those who are pure in heart shall see God! (Matt 5:3-10).
Enoch was dearly loved by God, walked with Him and did not taste death. We see Elijah was akin in spirit to Enoch. Of all the Old Testament (OT) prophets, Elijah was transfigured with Jesus on the mountain (Matt 17:2). Of all those who walked the earth before the first coming of Christ we see it is Elijah who's spirit typified the one who exalts Jesus and makes way for Him. The greatest of the prophets was said to walk 'in the spirit and power of Elijah' and John the Baptist single handedly prepared Israel for Christ's coming (Luke 1:17).
Elijah's second coming, or the return of his spirit or mantle is a popular theme in the Jewish Mishnah [the collection of precepts forming the basis of Talmud- embodying Jewish oral tradition]. It is very much part of the Judaic expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Thus Jesus was thought perhaps to be Elijah come again (Matt 16:4) In fact the Lord promised through Malachi that we would see "the prophet Elijah before... the Lord comes [again] and he will return the hearts of the Fathers back to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 4:5).
So what was the character of Elijah. We must conclude from His rapture that He also walked with God, as Enoch did. But further to this we can draw a number of other startling conclusions about this man of God. Matthew Henry succinctly sums up Elijah by saying, "he was a man of great austerity and mortification, zealous for God, bold in reproving sin, active to call an apostate people back to God and bring reformation". It was in this zeal, this uncompromising fervor, this power that John the Baptist came. He was unswerving in his determination to call people to repentance from dead works and into a relationship with God. He literally turned the hearts of the children of Israel back to their Father and the heart of the Father back to the children. Perhaps his is another aspect of character that is pleasing to God.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus, the Son of God, chose to be born into the line of David. No not just the line, Luke tells us he was, "Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt 1:1). Jesus was the son of David! Why David? According to God's own covenantal promise, David's house and his kingdom (throne), "will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever" (2 Sam 7:16). Of all the families on earth, why does Jesus say He is the son of David? There was something very special about David, that made him so much a friend of God that the Lord chose to make his throne endure forever.
David was clearly a man after God's own heart, and the Lord, rather than judge by the outward sinfulness and struggles, looked upon that burning heart (1 Sam 16:7). It is said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Well David's heart must have been full of God, because his mouth spoke or sang hundreds of Psalms, now captured forever for us in the Bible. David was the kind of person who would rather worship God and minister to other's needs than meddle in the affairs of the nation (1 Sam 16:23). It is also said that where your treasure is, there your heart lies. David's heart was fully set upon the Lord. He cared more about what God thought of him than what men thought (2 Sam 6:14) and he well knew that friendship with the world meant enmity with God.
David feared God's word, and meditated on His righteous commandments (Psalm 119:10) such that he might not sin against the Lord. He earnestly desired to walk in the purity of holiness (Psalm 110). Is it any wonder then that David attracted the heart of God? We see that the Lord showed great kindness toward David because inside, "he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart" (1 Kings 6:3). To sum up the heart of David, he was set on Him, earnestly desired holiness, worshipped God with all his being and strived for righteousness in God.
John the apostle
We move then from the OT to the New Testament (NT). We could speak of John the Baptist who walked in the spirit of Elijah and was counted the greatest of all the OT prophets. We could speak of Mary who so moved and was so loved of Jesus.
But we look to his circle of disciples, the twelve. From them we look to the inner circle - Peter, James and John. And of these three we look to Christ's closest earthly companion, aptly named 'the one whom Jesus loved'. Though John was called a 'son of thunder' (meaning son of commotion or one who dwells amidst the noise of life) we see he was one whom Christ loved dearly (John 13:23). Here was an apostle full of passion and faith (Mark 10:35) who so desired to be with his master and obey his word that he laid his head on Christ's breast and heard the heart beat of God! (John 13:25). And hear the heartbeat of God he did! On Patmos he heard the entire truth of Revelation (Rev 1:1).
It is little known or understood, but the gospel of John was actually written last chronologically - even after he had scribed the Book of Revelation. John's heart was to encapsulate the truths of Scripture, sum up the NT writings circulating at the time. When we reflect on the kind of book the Gospel of John is, we can see his heart, and why it was pleasing to God. John sums up his reason for writing a fourth account as being that his readers might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, to bring them to Him and thus to eternal life (John 20: 30ff).
He wanted people to see that Christ is our only hope of life (1:4), our source of grace allowing us inheritance (1:12), the only way to the father (14:6), that He is the Son of God and therefore the only Christ - the only King, the only way of redemption (1:49). Johns singular focus is on Christ, and portrayal of Him as being everything we need. Was it not John who succinctly summed up prophetic ministry as being singularly focused on Christ? (Rev 19:10)
What kind of person attracts the heart of God? What kind of person is God well pleased with, with whom will He walk, and divulge the secret intentions of His heart? Whom shall He call His friend? If we wish to befriend God we will: take the time to walk with Him, we will have deep and abiding faith, we will realize our true state before Him and stay humble, have a healthy fear of His glory and power and we will often repent. The fruit of this kind of heart attitude will be readily discernible in our actions and words: taking boldness in reproof of sin, walking in the purity of holiness, shunning evildoers, being upright and beyond reproach, daily worshipping Him, and pressing others to come to know their desperate need of Him.
John summed up the
essence of friendship with God, just as Isaiah had done, by quoting Jesus,
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him
and we will come and make our home with him" (John 14:24). What better
way to express a relation with God, than to abide with Him, and have Him
abide with us? Is this not the aim of our walk, to know Him, and be known
by Him? Then let us allow Him to work change in our character, and nature.
Let us also make every effort do obey His teaching and walk in fear of
His commands. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and where
your treasure is, there your heart resides.
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