Made to Walk with God
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
It has been a long time since I have had a dog, and I can’t begin to describe how much I miss it.
When our dog, Inky, died almost 15 years ago, Annette said she never wanted another dog. The experience of losing that wonderful part of our family was just too hard for her.
So, now we have a cat, and let me tell you — cats just don’t hold a candle to dogs.
Try teaching a cat to fetch. Or to shake hands. Or to accept belly rubs. Or to take long walks on a leash.
I know that SOME cats can be trained to do SOME of those things. But even the dumbest dog takes to these things as if it’s what they’re made to do.
Inky used to go with me everywhere. We’d hop in the convertible, put the top down and just drive, and she’d have her head stuck out of the car from the back seat, barking at just about everything we passed.
And when we finally got to wherever we were going, I’d hook up Inky’s leash, and we’d be off for the next part of the adventure, and she’d be running along ahead of me to explore whatever was ahead, or she’d be stopping to sniff at something exciting she’d found in the grass or pulling my arm as she ran into a yard to try to meet the people we passed.
Walking with Inky was an exploration into all the wonders of the world.
Today, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, nearly 2,000 years ago on the first Easter Sunday, I want to show you how the pivotal moments in earth’s history — His death on a cross and His resurrection from the dead — took place so that we might be able to do what the prophet Micah said in the passage I read in today’s call to worship, “to walk humbly with your God.”
To do so, we must start, as is so often the case, back at the beginning, in a garden created by God and populated by birds and fish and animals and two people whom God created in His own image.
You all know the story. God created Adam and Eve, and He told them they could enjoy everything in the garden, but they must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So, of course, that’s just what they went and did. And everything changed for them in that moment. We read about it in Genesis, chapter 3:
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
What I want you to see here is what’s between the lines. What can we tell about the kind of fellowship Adam and Eve had with God before they sinned against Him?
Well, He apparently had a habit of walking around the garden in the cool of the day, and they knew it, so they were close enough to know His schedule.
And they knew they had done something wrong, so they knew His character as the God who is good. They were afraid to face Him in their fallen state, so they knew He is righteous.
There were clearly some important things they did not know about God that they would soon learn — that He is gracious and merciful, for instance — but what had happened in the moment when Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit was that they suddenly found themselves cut off from fellowship with God.
And the story of Scripture is the story of God working to restore fellowship with sinful and fallen mankind, to restore the type of relationship that Micah described as “walking humbly with your God.”
There are two other men in the Book of Genesis who are described as walking with God.
One was Enoch, and here’s almost everything we know about Him:
Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Enoch was the great grandfather of Noah, the other man described as walking with God in the Book of Genesis.
That man was Noah, and you’ll remember him as the one who built the ark that sheltered him and his family and two of all the animals when God sent the great flood that wiped out the earth.
You see, things had degenerated very badly since Adam and Eve had set loose sin and death upon the earth in their great act of rebellion against the God who had created them to be in fellowship with Him.
In fact, Scripture said that God was sorry he had made man on the earth and that He was grieved in His heart about what had become of the earth and those who had been made in His image.
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord,” it says there in Genesis 6. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”
So here, we get a slight clue about what it means to walk with God.
In the context of this verse, where Noah is described as righteous and blameless, we might think that it means being without sin.
But the word that’s translated as “blameless” here comes from a Hebrew word that also means “complete,” and I think that word speaks of the fullness of Noah’s life as one who walked with God.
And in Scripture, when the word “righteousness” is applied to man, it’s always imputed righteousness, the righteousness of a a perfect and holy God given to unrighteous man in response to faith.
The fullest description of walking with God that we get in the Old Testament comes in the Book of Malachi, where God describes the relationship He had with Levi, from whom the priests of Israel would be descended.
In the context of describing how He would discipline the wayward priests of Israel — those men who had been consecrated to being the representatives of Israel before their God — we read this about Levi:
“Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.
Levi revered God — he stood in awe of God’s Name. He instructed Israel in God’s truth. He did not lie about God’s character or about the character of his people. He walked in peace and uprightness, and he turned many away from sin.
And because Levi did those things, God made a covenant of life and peace with Him. He consecrated Levi’s descendants to service in the temple and decreed that He would be their inheritance.
Significantly, these are the same promises that we who have followed Jesus Christ in faith have today. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
There’s one important thing to note about God’s covenant with Levi: It was a conditional covenant. And it did not take long for his descendants to break their end of the covenant.
1 Samuel records the event when the worthless sons of the priest Eli were taking the best parts of the sacrifice for themselves and sleeping with prostitutes outside of the tabernacle.
A man of God came to Eli with the word of God and with God’s promise that Eli’s sons would die on the same day, in the prime of their lives, with no heirs.
“Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the Lord declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.
The priests had failed their nation, and the nation of Israel would suffer for it.
It’s interesting to me that of all the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, of all the judges and the kings and the heroes of faith that we can find in those pages, there are only three after Adam and Eve who are described as walking with God.
Certainly, we have the greatest patriarch, Abraham, and the greatest king, David, who are both described as walking BEFORE God.
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
There’s that word “blameless” again. Walk before Me and be complete, God said. Walk before me, and be the fullest representation of the man I created you to be, because of your relationship with me. Be in true fellowship with Me.
King David, too, was described as walking before God, and that verse is useful to our understanding of what God was doing in the redemptive story He tells through what we know as the Old Testament.
In this verse, David’s son, Solomon, is praying at the dedication to the temple he had built to God in Jerusalem.
“Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’
The problem for the nation of Israel was that none of the kings after David walked before God as he had walked. And so, the nation suffered. Their kings had failed them.
Abraham and David walked BEFORE God, and Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, whom God named Israel and made the father of that nation, wrestled with God.
And after that long night of wrestling, God touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it. Then God said,
Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there.
God knew Jacob’s true name. Israel. It means “he who strives with God,” and it was the perfect representation of Jacob’s character as one who would scheme and connive to get whatever he could, including the blessing of God.
But Jacob didn’t know God, at least not on what we would call a first-name basis. Clearly, Jacob didn’t walk with God. And so, we see that the nation of Israel was failed once again, this time by one of its patriarchs.
But what of the nation itself, this nation named for a man who strived with God?
We see Israel walking BEHIND God after He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt and sent them on their way to the Promised Land.
The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
We see God in their MIDST in the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle that was set up within the camp as they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years.
But what we never see is a nation that stands in awe of God’s name and God’s truth. We never see a nation that walks in peace and uprightness and turns from sin. Instead, we see a nation that grumbles and worships idols and falls into every sin known to man.
They have failed God, and they have failed themselves, and they pay a great price for their failures.
Even the man who is, perhaps, the greatest and godliest character of the Old Testament, Moses, Israel’s greatest Old Testament prophet, is not described as walking with God.
What we see of Moses is that GOD walked BY him.
“Show me Your glory,” Moses prays to God.
Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
And so, even the greatest of the Old Testament prophets failed to walk with God, failed to experience the true fellowship with God for which we were all created.
And when we reach the end of the Old Testament, it appears that all hope is lost for mankind to recover what had been lost in the Garden of Eden.
But God had a plan, from the foundation of the world, to reconcile mankind to Himself, and He would do it by sending the One who had walked with Him for eternity, His unique and eternal Son, Jesus Christ, to live as a man, to show mankind the very character of His Father, and to show us what it looks like to walk with God.
The kings of Israel, and the priests of Israel, and the patriarchs of Israel, and the prophets of Israel had all been given to this nation to do just that. In fact, God had created this NATION to do that for the world.
All of them had failed.
But Jesus would not fail. Jesus had walked with God all His life. In fact, He had walked with God for all eternity.
The Apostle John wrote this of Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
And Jesus said:
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Walk with Jesus and you walk with God. But God’s plan was that ALL could come to walk with Him, and for that to happen, the problem of sin had to be dealt with in the only way it could.
Jesus lived a sinless life, and then He gave Himself as a sacrifice on a cross at Calvary, taking upon Himself the sins of all mankind — even those who crucified Him — so that those who would put their faith in Him as their only means of reconciliation with God might have eternal life.
Just as with Levi, we are promised life. We who had been enemies of God, in rebellion against Him in our sins, are promised peace with God. He promises to be our inheritance in eternity.
And then, to prove not just His great love for His Son, but also to prove He has the power to keep that conditional promise of eternal life, God raised Jesus from the dead on that first Easter morning, nearly 2,000 years ago, and then, 40 days later, took Him home to heaven, where He waits to come again and receive to Himself all who have followed Him in faith.
It’s interesting to note what Jesus said to His disciples about why He had to leave them. He had died on the cross. He had been resurrected. Surely now the Kingdom of God could come in all its glory.
The disciples had been walking with Jesus, the Son of God Himself, for three years. How could they bear to think of the rest of their lives without Him?
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
When Jesus left, the Helper — the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth — would come, and all who would follow Jesus in faith would receive the Holy Spirit and have God WITHIN them.
From the moment that you first put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are given the Holy Spirit as a down payment on God’s promise of eternal life.
For the lost world, the Holy Spirit is He who convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
But for the Christian, the Spirit is the One who guides in all truth. He is the one who makes it possible for us to walk in truth, to walk with God.
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” That’s how the Apostle Paul put it. And as you walk by the Spirit you will begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
But we Christians fail just as surely at walking with God, at being in true fellowship with Him, as did all those Old Testament characters we talked about earlier. Just like my old dog, Inky, we’re constantly tugging this way and that at the leash.
That’s the whole point of the Book of 1 John, where John writes about how we can test the depth and genuineness of our fellowship with God.
But there will come a time — and it could be this very day — when Jesus returns for those who have followed Him in faith, and soon after that He will return to judge the earth in a terrible judgment, and then death itself will be cast into hell, along with Satan and all who have followed Him by rejecting Jesus Christ.
And then, God has planned something truly wonderful for those who have followed Jesus in faith. We read about it in Revelation, chapter 22.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
Finally, we will see God face to face. Finally, we will be who we were created to be. Finally, we will have true and complete fellowship with the God who made us in His own image to have perfect fellowship with Him.
He will be inside us by His Holy Spirit. He will be around and before and behind us. Every step we take there will be taken with Him. He will be the very light that lights the world.
Even before Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, God knew that mankind would sin against Him and break the fellowship for which it would be created.
But even before that first sin, God had a plan to restore fellowship with man. God had a plan to reconcile those whom He knew would rebel.
From the beginning — from BEFORE the beginning — that plan included His own Son’s death on a cross. But it also included the empty tomb. It included Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
How much does God want to be in fellowship with you? How much does He want to walk with you?
So much that He sent His Son to die on a cross — to suffer that unimaginable physical suffering and that unknowable spiritual pain of the separation of Jesus from the Trinity that had existed in perfect harmony and communion for all eternity.
How much does God love you?
So much that He made Jesus the firstfruits of the resurrection, the example of what we who have followed Him in faith will experience after we die.
So much that He gives us His Spirit so that we can walk with Him and have perfect fellowship with Him, even in this mortal life.
You were made to walk with God. He is calling you to that today.
How will you respond?