The second reading in the book of Genesis is named after Noah. In Hebrew, the name Noah is spelled Noach. The word Noach is related to the Hebrew word for “rest.” Genesis 5:29 says that his parents named him Noah (Noach, נח) because they hoped their son would give them rest (nacham, נחם) from their toil. The contents of section Noah tell the story of Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel and the beginning of the Abrahamic line.

Let’s look at the first verse in today’s Parsha.

Genesis 6:9  These are the genealogies of Noah. Noah was a righteous man. He was blameless among his generation. Noah continually walked with God.

Look at the last few words.  “Noah continually walked with God”.  How many times do we find similar wording in the Bible?  Before we get to those verses, let’s look at what the word walked means.


What is the word that is translated as “walk?”  It is the Hebrew word ‘halakh’ or halakha.  The root word means to walk or to go or to travel.  In all the examples cited above the Bible uses one form or another of the word halakh, heh, lamed, kaf.  The word halakha come to mean much more than just a description of motion using our feet.

Over the centuries volumes of commentary on the Torah have been written to explain every aspect of Jewish life, culture, thought and custom based on the Torah itself as oral traditions handed down from generation to generation.  In essence, halakha has come to mean an all encompassing word to describe how to live an authentic Jewish lifestyle.

The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said “The central underlying proposition of the halakhah is that it articulates, within the limits of human understanding, the will of God as set forth in the Torah.”

With that thought in mind, let’s looks at some Bible verses regarding walking with God.

Adam walked with God in the Garden.

Genesis 3:8  They heard the voice of Adonai, God, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, so the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Adonai, God, among the trees in the garden.

Even though it doesn’t say that Adam walked with God in the garden of Eden, it does say that God walked in the garden in the evening.  So I’m going to make an assumption that Adam tagged along.  What was God’s will for Adam in the garden?  We know he was given work to do.  Adam was not created to sit on the bank of the river in his birthday suit all day long, contemplating his navel.

He was created to praise and worship God.  He was given the task to tend the garden and to name all the animals.  Adam had work to do.  So do we.  God did not create us for a life of leisure and luxury.  He gave us work to do.  Yeshua’s parting words before his ascension was a charge to go into the world and make disciples of all men.  Walking with God does not mean sitting on the couch playing video games or watching soap operas.

In last week’s Parsha we read about Enoch.  Enoch walked continually with God

Genesis 5:22-24  Now Enoch walked with God continually for 300 years after he fathered Methuselah, and he fathered sons and daughters.  (23)  So all of Enoch’s days were 365 years.

(24)  And Enoch continually walked with God—then he was not there, because God took him.

There are literally thousands of sermons based on those three verses regarding Enoch.  For centuries, preachers have been pontificating and inventing character traits for Enoch based solely on 31 Hebrew words in verses 22-24.  Amazing sermon fodder to the inth degree.  But we know that Enoch must have been quite a man for God to take him to eternity without dying


Noach walked continually with God

Genesis 6:9  These are the genealogies of Noah. Noah was a righteous man. He was blameless among his generation. Noah continually walked with God.

We have already looked at this verse regarding Noah.  We know from the Parsha that Noah was not idle.  He worked for 120 years building the ark.  But I would like to point out something.  Although Noah walked uprightly before the Lord.  He was a Tzadik, a righteous man, he was not a leader.

Now why do I say that?  In the 120 years that he was building the ark, there is no record of him ever leading anyone to repent of their wicked ways.  He himself was righteous but led no one else to righteousness.  In that regard, Noah failed in his walk with the Lord because certainly it was God’s desire that men would repent and change their ways.


Abraham walked before God

Genesis 17:1  When Abram was 99 years old, Adonai appeared to Abram, and He said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Continually walk before Me and you will be blameless.

The language here is a little confusing.  Abram walked before the Lord?  Does this mean that God followed Abram around?  Of course not, but you wouldn’t believe how many commentaries I’ve read making some kind of thing about how if we walk in righteousness, then God will follow us and make us successful and prosperous.  That is total baloney.  All it meant was that Abram walked in the presence of God similar to soldiers on parade who march in front of the generals who sit in a reviewing stand.  They march before the generals.  Abraham lived his life as if he was being viewed and inspected by God.  Did he make mistakes?  Did he get out of step sometimes?  Yes he did, but don’t we all?  How many of you have never missed a step and stumbled?  I know I have.  And yet God was there to pick me up, dust me off and set me back on track to accomplish His mission for me in life.

It may also have meant that Abraham leaned constantly into ADONAI as an infant is continuously supported by his father, as he learns to take baby steps in trust.


Requirement for Israel

Deuteronomy 10:12  “So now, O Israel, what does Adonai your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

There are many such verses addressed to Israel and Judah regarding walking in His ways, in God’s ways.

The Believer’s walk with Yeshua is a walk of imitation.

It may be the most classic recurrent gag in screen history. One character asks another for directions. The second character helpfully responds, “Walk this way,” and starts leading. The first character obligingly mimics his guide’s weird manner of walking.

Imitation is at the core of discipleship. If we are disciples of Yeshua, then we should copy him.

Our Master himself said,

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Paul told the Corinthians,

“Be imitators of me, as I also am of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

As everyone ought to know, Yeshua was an observant Jew. Like other observant Jews at the time, he would have followed the Torah’s dietary laws, such as those found in Leviticus 11. He would have refrained from work on the Sabbath. Tzitzit would have adorned his four-cornered cloak, and he certainly would not have worn the combination of wool and linen.


Yeshua’s original disciples were also Jews. But when Gentile disciples entered the picture, the apostles considered the possibility that they would need to become Torah-observant Jews as well:

Acts 15:5-6  But some belonging to the party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the Torah of Moses.”  (6)  The emissaries and elders were gathered together to examine this issue.

The apostles would already have understood that some commandments apply to all humanity. For example, God instructed Noah that societies must hold murderers accountable (Genesis 9:6). But should Gentile followers of Yeshua keep special laws given to the Jewish people, such as wearing tzitzit?

The apostles concluded that Gentiles do not need to become like Jews. Rather, when Gentiles turn to God as members of their own nation and tribe, it fulfills messianic prophecy.


They issued a clear ruling that imposed only a minimal set of additional rules on Gentile disciples:

Acts 15:28-29  It seemed good to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and to us not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials:  (29)  that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. By keeping away from these things, you will do well. Shalom!”

The apostles’ ruling creates a conundrum, however. How can Gentile disciples imitate their Jewish Master without living as a Jew? To answer this, we must realize what it means to walk as he walked.

Paul was already an observant Jew before he was called into discipleship. He kept kosher and observed the Sabbath. His clothes bore tzitzit and were not made of combined wool and linen. If he did these things before knowing Yeshua, in what ways did he imitate his Master? What about his life changed due to his encounter with the risen Messiah?

Acts 5:14 speaks of the many Jewish women who became disciples. Even though Yeshua is male, surely they did not begin to observe the Torah as if they were men like him. How did these women apply their responsibility to imitate their Master?

Acts 6:7 tells us that many priests also became disciples. The Torah lays several obligations on descendants of Aaron that do not apply to others. Surely, they did not begin neglecting their priestly duties in imitation of Yeshua. What then did discipleship add to their lives?

Yeshua’s obligation to the Torah is based on the circumstances of his birth. As an adult male who is Jewish but not a Levite or descendant of Aaron, he shares his set of Torah obligations with everyone else in that demographic. To mechanically adopt those responsibilities as a Jewish male would be missing the point of what it means to imitate him. It would be like limping because someone told you to “walk this way.”

Imitating Yeshua, as a disciple, means evaluating the principles that guided his choices. It means discovering and applying his values, his priorities, his goals, and his purposes. As disciples, we are to focus on the issues he spoke about and the message that impassioned him, rather than the incidental circumstances he was in. Like every person, he was handed a certain set of obligations—but what did he do with those obligations?

For example, we know that he was fully observant of dietary laws in a manner that was normative for observant Jews in his society. On the other hand, we have no evidence that he had strong opinions about the details of dietary law. On topics ancillary to dietary law, such as ritual purity and tithing, he expressed the firm opinion that one must not use those external observances as a pretext for hatred or a diversion from our duty to love. This is a principle for all disciples to apply.

Yeshua observed the commandments in the Torah. He also issued commandments to his disciples; that’s what makes him our Master. He commanded us to give without seeking repayment, pray persistently, and lay down our lives for one another. Yeshua’s “word”—an idiomatic term meaning his message to the world—was that all should repent in anticipation of the coming kingdom.

Commandments such as these are what John meant when he wrote:

1 John 2:4-6  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  (5)  But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this—  (6)  whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked.


This morning we have looked at some of the ways in which Biblical characters walked with God.  Some seemed to be very adept and successful in that endeavor.  Others struggled to keep up.  That is one thing that I appreciate about God’s word.  It is not a record of perfect people who never failed but always triumphed.  On the contrary.  The Bible is a real life book about real life people just like you and me.  We try, we fail.  We get up and try again and succeed.  Next time we might win or we might lose.  Regardless, the point is to keep getting up and walking with the Lord.  We might fall, but our Messiah is right there alongside us to pick us up and set us on the right track again.  Don’t give up walking just because you stumble and fall.  Imitate Yeshua as best you can and you will never go wrong.