MANY claim that neither Enoch nor Elijah ever died, and that they
remain alive today. It is said that both were taken to heaven, and that they
remain there even at present, living in the very presence of God Himself. Various Jewish
and Christian legends, some of them quite ancient, have been handed down in support of
these traditions. The scriptural record itself, however, does not substantiate such
Very little is known
concerning Enoch. He was the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah (Gen.5:18,21; not
to be confused with Enoch, son of Cain, mentioned in Genesis 4:17). He was a member of the
line of descent through Seth by which the knowledge of God was preserved. The expression
walked with God is used only of Enoch (Gen.5:24) and Noah (Gen.6:9) in the
early chapters of Genesis.
Elijah was the
ninth-century B.C. prophet of Israel, the northern kingdom of the
divided monarchy during the reigns of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram. The episodes recorded in
Scripture in the life of Elijah, are basically concerned with the clash between the
worship of Yahweh and Baal. Ahab fostered a Phonecian variant of Baal worship (which was
the nature-religion of Canaan) after his marriage with the Tyrian princess Jezebel; but it
was Jezebel who was chiefly responsible for the systematic extermination of the worship of
Yahweh and of the propagation of the idolatrous worship of Baal in Israel (1 Kings
Since the word
heaven is used in reference to Elijahs removal, it is important that we
note which usage of this word is in view in 2 Kings 2:1, concerning Elijah. But since
in the case of Enoch, nothing at all is said of heaven, it is foolhardy to
claim that since God somehow transferred him somewhere, for a period of unspecified
duration, He therefore doubtlessly transferred him into the celestial realms themselves,
so that he might remain in the divine presence even unto today.
In approaching this
theme, may we, first of all, intensely believe the words of the Lord Jesus in which He
declares: And no one has ascended into heaven except He Who descends out of
heaven (John 3:13). Our Lords statement is explicit and correctly rendered;
hence it must stand. Heaven, in this case, must be defined according to the preceding
context (John 3:12), the celestial regions which are in contrast to the earth.
In the Scriptures,
heaven is sometimes applied to the vast regions of interstellar space; and, it
is used as well in reference to the atmosphere immediately surrounding the earth.
Concerning Enoch, we
will do well to believe that all the days of Enoch were three hundred
sixty-five years (Gen.5:23), while noting as well that Enoch is included among the
all these who died in faith, as recorded in Hebrews 11 (cp
vs.5 and 13).
Earlier, God had
taken Enoch (Gen.5:23), and transferred him, so that he would not
be being acquainted with death (Heb.11:5; note the incomplete verb
form, as indicated by the superior vertical line in the CV). Yet eventually he died; for
all of his days were 365 years.
We are not told
where Enoch was taken, or transferred to. But we are informed that Gods purpose in
transferring him was in consideration of his having pleased Him well, and so that he might
not be being acquainted with death (Heb.11:5; cp Gen.5:22b). It may be that God
transferred Enoch from one place to another so as to put him beyond the reach of wicked
men who were seeking his soul. The environ to which he was relocated is not specified in
Scripture. But there is no reason to suppose that he was transferred even to the ends of
the earth, much less to the celestial sphere.
ascended heavenward in a tempest (i.e., a violent storm, 2 Kings 2:1,11), it
is evident that the atmospheric heavens are in view. For that matter, this would be clear
enough from the AV rendering whirlwind, since such a disturbance is as much an
atmospheric phenomenon as is a tempest. The atmospheric heavens are the heavens in which
birds fly over the earth, on the face of the atmosphere of the heavens (cp
Gen.1:20). Indeed, the word into (into heaven, AV, 2 Kings
2:1) is added; there is no preposition in the Hebrew. It is simply that thus, by a
tempest, Yahweh removed Elijah heavenward.
This was done so
that Elisha might assume the office of prophet which Elijah had formerly held
(2 Kings 2). From a consideration of the nature of the case in the letter which
Elijah wrote which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15 (concerning events which
themselves had not yet occurred at the time of Elijahs removal from the earth by
means of the tempest), it seems clear that this letter was written, on earth, some ten
years after the time of that occurrence. Thus we would conclude that after having been
removed from the presence of his associates by means of the tempest, Elijah was evidently
transported to some other locale, for further divine service, though no longer as a
Elijahs death is not specifically recorded, there is no more reason to suppose that
he never died at all and remains alive today, than there is to suppose this of any other
biblical figure whose death is likewise not recorded in Scripture.
Moses death is
recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5,6. When Moses and Elijah are seen by the
disciples on the mount of transformation (Matt.17:3), their visage is presented as part of
a vision (Matt.17:9), which is a mental sight, not a true or actual
occurrence (cp Acts 12:9).
Let us not presume,
however, on the grounds that, at present, Moses and Elijah are dead, that this precludes
their being returned to life, in the conclusion of the eon, should it be the will of God
for them to serve as the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3 in that day. Conversely, let us
be mindful that we are not told whether the two witnesses really are Moses and Elijah.
What we can say is that their ministry will be conducted in the spirit and power of Moses
and Elijah, as they withstand the rule and religion of the man of lawlessness (cf
our article, The Two Witnesses).
May these present
considerations increase our faith, affording us further assurance that Christ alone
has immortality (1 Tim.6:16).
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