In continuing with my study on Genesis 48, I want to spend some time looking at a concept that my study had me look into fairly in depth. That is the concept of walking with God.
In Genesis 48, Joseph is summoned to Jacob’s bed because he is ill and is presumably dying. Joseph brings his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When they arrive at Jacob’s bedside, Jacob gets up and proceeds to bless them. This blessing appears to be a common thing when a family patriarch is on his deathbed, as I looked at earlier in the blessing of Jacob and Esau by their father Isaac. During his blessing of Joseph and his sons, Jacob says “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.” (v. 15-16, emphasis added). What did Jacob mean when he claimed that his forefathers, Abraham and Isaac, walked before God? What does it mean to walk before God or to walk with God? After looking up many verses as outlined by my study, I believe the following points can be drawn about walking before the Lord.
- Walking before/with God is a way of life. The term walking as used here means “to conduct oneself in a particular manner” or to “pursue a particular course of life” (Dictionary.com: walk). In other words, instead of physically walking with God by their side, those who are said to have walked with God lived in such a way as if God really was walking by their side – they lived openly and transparently to God, trying to please him with how lived. Many are said to have walked with God throughout the Bible. The first was Enoch – in Genesis 5:21-24, it briefly mentions Enoch and that he “walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” I’m not sure if this means Enoch didn’t die but was just taken off to heaven without tasting death, but the wording is definitely an anomaly compared to that around it. Later, in Genesis 6:9, it mentions Noah and says that he walked with God, and in Genesis 17:1, God tells Abraham to “walk before him and be blameless…” In Deuteronomy 30:16, God commands that we walk in His ways, and in Micah 6:8 it says that the Lord requires us to walk humbly with Him. Looking at these examples and the commands laid out by God, I think we can conclude that to walk with Him, it requires that we make it a lifestyle, as opposed to perhaps a once-a-week visit to our local church.
- Walking with God requires certain things of us. To be considered to have “walked with God” in your life, you must display certain characteristics. In the account of Noah mentioned above, before it says that he walked with God, it said that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time…” When God commanded Abraham to walk before Him in Genesis 17, he didn’t just say walk before Him, but to “walk before [Him] and be blameless…” So the first trait we can assume is necessary is to be righteous and blameless – which for those in Christ means that we place our belief and trust in Him. Other traits that are mentioned in relation to walking with God include
- obedience (Deuteronomy 30:16 – “For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess”).
- Act justly, mercifully, humbly (Micah 6:8 – “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”).
- Be humble, gentle, patient, and a peacemaker (Ephesians 4:2-3 – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”).
These are only a fraction of what is listed in the Bible as commands for living before our God. I was sure to list the verses with humility in them twice for emphasis – the man who probably walked the closest to God in all of scripture was Moses, and the Bible says that “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3).
- The best way to walk with God is to imitate Him. What better way to get closer to someone than to be like them or share similar interests? The same applies to our relationship with God. Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” To me, this is saying that we should be like God, specifically in how Christ was willing to love us sacrificially. 1 John 2:5-6 says “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” So here, we have the same metaphor of walking as a way of living, but in this case it should be a way of living that imitates Jesus.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to walking with God. For me, it is only by His grace that I am even allowed to be called His child. But as His child, I do want to please Him, and living in such a way that pleases Him is on my priority list. This study was a great reminder of what those priorities should be.