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Enoch

Scripture: John 3:13-34, John 13:36, Matthew 5:12
Whatever happened to Enoch and Elijah? If John 3 seems to indicate that "no man has ascended to heaven" so how could Enoch and Elijah be in heaven? This talk focuses on explaining how only Christ has been from above and has come down and will go back up. But certainly the Bible shows there are those who have gone to heaven and will go to heaven.
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Today, and in our next broadcast, we are going to deal with a question which frequently comes to us from radio listeners. The question is: Where are Enoch and Elijah? Now the Bible is crystal clear on this question as we shall see. Probably, there never would have been a question raised about these two men at all except for another passage of scripture. That other scripture is John 3:13 which states that "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven."

Now the Bible indicated that God took Enoch and Elijah to heaven without seeing death. Is there a contradiction in these two verses of scripture? Let us look at John 3:13 and see. This is the record of a conversation between Jesus and a prominent Jewish teacher, Nicodemus.

The subject of conversation between Christ and Nicodemus centered in the mysteries of the Holy Spirit and the new birth. Nicodemus professed ignorance concerning the subject of conversion, and Jesus reacted with surprise. Then He said to Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you heavenly, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."

In other words, Nicodemus would have a harder time accepting Christ's words about heavenly things because no man had ever been there to come back and report on it. Jesus alone had come from there to testify about those heavenly things, and Nicodemus would have to accept it purely by faith. The question was: who is qualified to testify of those spiritual, heavenly truths? Jesus said, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and ye received not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things. And no man hath ascended up to heaven."

Throughout the chapter Christ harked back to the point of His own authority and credentials as a truthful witness of heavenly truth. "He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth: and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him." Verses 31-34.

Jesus assured Nicodemus that He was a reliable and true witness of the truth because He came down from heaven with the Father's words. No man could make such a claim, therefore a man could only speak of earthly things. Some have used these verses to support a theory that no one has been, or ever will go, to heaven. This could not be true because of texts to the contrary. The saints will certainly be there for 1,000 years before the Holy City descends to this earth. Here is the evidence:

1. John 13:36, 14:3. Here Jesus promised Peter that, afterwards, he would follow Him where He was going. Then Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you." All the saints will follow Jesus to that place in the Father's house, when He comes the second time.

2. Matthew 5:12. Jesus promised a reward "in heaven" to those who were persecuted for His sake.

3. 1 Peter 1:4. Peter spoke of the incorruptible inheritance "reserved in heaven for you."

4. Revelation 19:1. The Revelator "heard a great voice of much people in heaven." This group of people in heaven is later identified as the bride of Christ which is the church. Verses 7,8.

5. Revelation 4:12, and 5:1,9. These verses clearly describe a multitude in heaven who have been redeemed from the earth.

We have answered this question more fully in another broadcast. There is no contradiction in the Bible on this subject, when the texts are considered in their contexts.

Now, friends, let's get back to that question of what happened to Enoch? Genesis 5:24-25 tells us, "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."

So God's Word says that Enoch walked with God. This means that he lived such a faithful, obedient life for 365 years on this earth, that God was able to take him to heaven without seeing death. Paul records that same event in Hebrews 11:5: "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found because God had translated him." How clearly these verses describe the destiny of this righteous patriarch! Genesis says "He was not for God took him." Paul says "he was not found because God had translated him," and then, the most conclusive words of all, "that he should not see death."

Friends, no matter what else we may decide about these expressions, we have to concede that Enoch did not die. If words have any meaning at all, these verses teach that Enoch did not see death. In fact, that is exactly what the words say, "that he should not see death." Whether we like it or not, whether it agrees with our thinking and theology or not, is quite beside the point. The Bible says it and we ought to believe it.

"But," someone says, "there are other verses which seem to teach the contrary." Then let's look at them in their context and find out if there is a contradiction. For instance, what about the expression "all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years"? Does this mean that he died at that age instead of being taken to heaven? Of course not. If we concluded that all the days of his life were only 365, we would be precluding him from any life in the future also. When we speak in terms of a person living only sixty years or seventy years, we always, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, are referring to the years he lived IN THIS WORLD. We are not assuming in the least that he will not have more years in the Kingdom of God. The fact is that the Bible writer goes on to explain that very thing concerning Enoch. After saying that all his days were 365, he immediately says "for God took him." That explains why he only lived 365 years in this world!

But how did God take him? By killing him, or letting him die? Or, as some teach, by just removing him to another place to protect him? No. We need not speculate at all about the meaning of the term "God took him." Other verses explain how God took him. Paul's explanation is that God translated Enoch "that he should not see death." Now let's reason together for a moment concerning this statement. If God had merely taken Enoch to some other location, would that have provided "that he should not see death?" Of course not! Death would have come to him just like it would to all mankind. But, friends, all these verses about Enoch are given to us to show that he did not have the common experience of other men. This is why we do not read concerning others in the Bible that "he was not" or "he was not found" or "God took him" or "God translated him."

By the way, how foolish it would be to assume that God had to spirit Enoch away in some miraculous manner to save him from his enemies. (This is one popular explanation.) The truth is that we have no reason to think his life or safety was being threatened, and we limit God's power by such an explanation. It is hardly reasonable to think that God was unable to protect him where he was. The Scriptures teach, "A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh unto thee. There shall no evil befall them . . ." The Bible account gives not the slightest support to the fabrication that Enoch's life was being threatened by his enemies.

Another strained interpretation explains that Paul's statement simply means that Enoch was translated that he should not see the second death. But are we justified in adding that to the text?

Now it is true that the Bible speaks of two deaths. One is the death that befalls every mortal man by the decaying process of sin. Hebrews 9:27, "And it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment." This death is common to all, but there is a second death for all the wicked who refuse to let God give them eternal life. It is a final death, a complete eradication of sin and sinners. The second death is mentioned in Revelation 20:14. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death."

But why would God assert that he had translated Enoch spiritually, so that he would not taste of the second death? This is true of all the righteous of all ages. "Blessed and holy," says the Bible, "is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power." Why single out Enoch for this designation when it is true of all of God's people then and now?

The final objection to Enoch's translation to heaven is found near the end of the chapter in which Paul described how Enoch "should not see death." Hebrews 11:5. After describing a long list of faithful servants of God, including Enoch, Paul says "all these died in faith." Verse 13. Some claim that this would mean that Enoch died in faith also. But, friends, mark this point! Paul had already excluded Enoch from the experience of death by explaining in the context of the same chapter how he was translated "that he should not see death." Having already made an exception of Enoch, he did not need to explain again, just a few verses further, that Enoch did not die like the rest. When he said "all these," Paul's readers knew Enoch was not one of them because of his careful explanation of Enoch's unique translation "that he should not see death."

The crux of the matter, I repeat, is whether any people go to heaven or not. Again, if you would write for broadcast message #419 which explains the matter in detail, you would be most interested in further study of this subject.

Let's take only a moment now to prove that many have already gone to heaven, as exceptional cases. Do you remember what happened at the moment Jesus died? Let's read it in Matthew 27:50-53. "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. . .And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Now, friends, these were righteous people who had died once. But only the wicked die twice. Since these saints could not suffer a second death, what happened to them after they were resurrected? The answer is found in Ephesians 4:8. Reading from the New English Bible: "He ascended into the heights with captives in his train." These were the saints resurrected with Jesus! They were no longer captives to death; they were captives to Christ. How could they die again? They couldn't, because that would have been a second death. So they must have been the host of captives that Jesus took back to heaven with Him. Perhaps these are the twenty-four elders of Revelation 4 and 5. We read in Revelation 5:9 how they praised Christ with these words: "thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kingdom and tongue and people and nation."

Yes, friends, people have gone to heaven, many of them. And that is where faithful Enoch has been since God took him "that he should not see death."

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