Saturday, March 11, 2017

Does the Bible Tell Us What Actually Happened to Enoch?

One of the great mysteries of the Bible is what happened to Enoch when God took him. Some time ago I wrote on Elijah, showing how, unlike the traditional teaching that he went to heaven, he could not have gone to heaven for he was still on earth ten years after he was taken away in the whirlwind. What seems to have been misunderstood was to which heaven he was taken away. It was the first, as nobody could go to the third heaven where God is, before Christ did, according to Scripture. The only place people went when they left this life was to Paradise. Christ explained that both in the parable of Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man, and when He told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that day in Paradise. When Christ ascended, He led captivity captive, or emptied Paradise of the righteous dead and took them to heaven. We are told that nobody ascended to heaven (God's abode) before Christ. Proverbs 30:4a “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?” John 3:13 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” As it is doubtful that God left Enoch stranded on another planet, (the second heavens) it seems the only answer is that he was either transported somewhere on earth as Elijah, Ezekiel, and Philip were, or he was taken to Paradise. More information on Paradise and the three heavens can be found in my article on Elijah here.

We are told everything there is to know about Enoch in a few passages. Genesis 5:18-24 “And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

Luke 3:37 “Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,”

Jude 14-15 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

The entire content of Enoch's life is that he was born of Jared, had a son named Methuselah, that all the days of his life were three hundred and sixty-five years, (that was his age when he disappeared, so that is as old as anyone knew he was) that he walked with God, that he was a prophet who warned of God's wrath to come, specifically the Second Coming of Christ, not the Flood (as far as we are told) and that God “took” him so that he should not see death, so God “translated” him.

The mystery in all this comes in that it says that he did not see death, that God took or translated him. The Hebrew word for “took” means “to carry away”. The Greek word for “translated” means “transport.” So Enoch was removed to another place, so that nobody knew where he went. The questions seem to be to where was he removed, and did he receive a glorified body, stay in this body, or die and go to paradise (the place of the dead before Christ ascended – to know more on this read the above article on Elijah).

Most people say he went to heaven, but it does not say that, and clearly that is not possible for we are told in Scripture, as already quoted above, that nobody could ascend to heaven before Christ ascended after His death. So we know that he didn't go to heaven, as in God's abode. That is a clear fact from Scripture. But it didn't say that he went to heaven, it merely says that he was transported somewhere, so that he would not see death. So there are two choices, he either stayed on the planet where he lived out his natural life, (it is doubtful God removed him to another one somewhere in the universe), or God sent his spirit to Paradise. We are told that all the days of his life were 365 years, but that is because nobody knows what happened to him. He was that age when he disappeared, so that is the age he achieved as far as anybody but God knows. But God does inspire Scriptures, so unless God doesn't want us to know differently, there is a distinct possibility that he died at that time.

In Hebrews 11 a few verses later, in the list of people who died in faith, he is among those who are clearly stated to have died in faith. Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” So that would seem to clinch the deal that he died at some point, whether or not it was immediately upon being taken or later after disappearing. And further, not only in John are we told he could not ascend to heaven, but here we are told that he (and all the rest) could not receive the promise of eternal life that they were looking forward to (in resurrected bodies in God's kingdom - Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”) until we receive it too. Hebrews 11:39-40 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Everybody gets eternal life (and the resurrected body) and the rest of the promises at the same time, at the first resurrection. So we can rule out Enoch getting a glorified body. He was not “translated” in the sense of getting a new body like at the rapture.

But, the objection is made, he walked with God so was exempt from death. No, Scripture will not back that up. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” All have sinned, and all must die, so that they can receive eternal life in a new body. Now the objection is made that some will not have to see death, but will be raptured, so why shouldn't he. The difference is, before they are raptured, the resurrection has occurred, so as Hebrews 39-40 points out, everybody gets the promise at the same time. Nobody gets to jump the gun, as it were. It was be the equivalent of making Enoch the firstfruits of the resurrection, and he is not. Christ is. So again, he could not have been translated in the sense of getting a glorified body or going to heaven. Scripture rules out both of those options.

So given that Scripture shows us that he had to have died, we then ask, where did God take him, and how is it that he didn't see death, if he had to die? Isn't that a contradiction. Now we have to interpret these things in the light of what we know to be true from Scripture. The death referred to cannot mean that he did not die. He had to have not seen some other sort of death. There are several possibilities as to what “death” is in this verse. The word “see” in Greek means “behold, perceive, be aware of, and have knowledge of.” The Bible does not tell us when the sons of God came down and married the daughters of men, but the apocryphal book of Enoch (which is quoted in Jude) tells us that this happened in the days of Jared, Enoch's father. For the moment we will go along with that, as the timing seems right. As Jared lived almost 600 years after Enoch went missing, it is quite possible that this incursion happened after Enoch was taken. Had they come down when Enoch was alive, it would seem that his name would have been the one used to pinpoint the time, as he is a far more important person in Bible terms than his father, and it would also pinpoint the time of the incursion far more closely than saying it was during Jarod's life.

Enoch prophesied about the Second Coming of God's wrath, not the wrath of God through the Flood. That always seemed strange to me, given that God's wrath was about to fall on the world and wipe it out back then. It would seem that he should have been prophesying about that instead. However if the incursion had not yet happened when God removed him, he would not be prophesying about the Flood, because he wouldn't know about it. Instead he was prophesying about the wrath of God on the world when the Messiah would come. That was all part of the plan of salvation which Enoch obviously knew about, so that is what he preached. Up until that point, most people lived very long lives, and death was probably not known for the most part, as it was very rare for a person to die. They were used to animal death for sacrifices, but hardly anyone had died. We only are told of three people up to that time, although there could have been more. In fact the only patriarch in the list from Adam through Seth down to Enoch to have died by the time Enoch left this earth was Adam. He died when Enoch was 57 years old. Seth was still alive, as were his descendants. Abel would have been killed before well before Enoch came along as Seth was not born until after Abel died. There was a rule against murder after Cain killed Abel, but that didn't stop Lamech (Cain's descendent). He killed someone also. It is likely that since Cain left the area when God punished him and having founded a city elsewhere, his descendants and Seth's descendants did not interact a lot so Enoch probably was not aware of this death either.

So the only death that we can be sure that Enoch had probably seen was Adam's. There is the possibility of other unrecorded natural deaths or even murders, but the Bible does not indicate any. Death for people was virtually unknown to man at this point. Very few probably died, given the length of life at that time. So to take Enoch so that he would not see (behold, be aware of, or have knowledge of) death could simply mean that he was taken before death really started occurring or became the normal state of things, as it is for us today. To take Enoch at that time, would be to take him before all the death and destruction of the incursion of the fallen angels had occurred as well, as they did bring death and destruction with them, with all the violence they perpetrated over the centuries until the Flood. So if it is meant that Enoch did not see death in the world, it could be he was transported to a remote location to live out his life in solitude and peace away from the violence and sin, and die from natural causes before the Flood, or the alternative is that God took his spirit from his body at that time and just sent him to paradise.

Another interpretation might be that “death” is meant to mean being put to death by someone else, or killed, not death from natural causes. The Bible tells us that the violence and evil was so great that by the time Noah came along God had to destroy the world to save it. If Enoch was around for the incursion, and even before that, his prophesying God's wrath upon a wicked world (the world was not all righteous even before the incursion) would not have been accepted with much tolerance. Given that prophets were usually martyred, it is not far-fetched to assume that Enoch would have been hunted down to be killed as was Elijah. In that case we can hypothesize that God didn't want him to be tortured or murdered, and again either removed him to a remote part of the planet where they could not reach him until he did die, or God took his spirit and buried the body, so that it could not be found and mutilated by those who hated him. It could mean that God wanted to remove his life force so quickly that he wasn't even aware he was dying. He just took him straight to Paradise. In this case he was translated from life to Paradise without going through the painful process of death.

It says Enoch was “translated.” Some like to equate this with the rapture, as in a moment we are “changed”, so they say that he received a glorified body and went to heaven, but that was already dismissed as a possibility above. No man ascended to heaven before Christ, and nobody receives the promise until we can all receive the promise. The word “translated” means to be transported. It is the same word that is used elsewhere when talking about moving from one location to another here on this earth, such as when they moved Jacob's body in Acts 7:16. (“carried” is the same Greek word “metatithemi” that is translated as “translated” in Hebrews). Enoch was moved or transported somewhere else. There are only the two possibilities. He was moved to a remote location away from the rest of the world and what was going on, so that he would not see the carnage and destruction of death or be murdered, and he died of natural causes before the Flood, or God took his spirit and transported it to Paradise at that time, in which case he did not die a natural death, he was just transported out of his body to Paradise and did not see death in the sense that a normal person would. Either one of these theories can work, as either way he died, as it says in Hebrews that “all these died.” If one believes that the 365 years is accurate, and we should believe that God's Word is accurate, then the choice we should probably make is that God transported his spirit to Paradise without him going through the process of a natural death.

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