Q&A: The Meaning and Significance of Enoch
I have a couple of questions concerning Enoch (the seventh from Adam).
1) As Hebrews 11:5 makes clear, Enoch “was translated that he should not see death” – in your understanding, why did God do this with Enoch?
My thinking is that it must have something to do with that “old world” the “world of the ungodly” that existed prior to the Flood. And that God did what He did with Enoch as a witness and a testimony to that ungodly world perhaps concerning the issue of eternal life and resurrection and that he “walked with God” and “pleased God” in stark contrast to the ungodliness of that “world that then was.”
2) Along with this issue – how does God translating Enoch so that he should not see death not become a problem to either Romans 5:14 (“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, …”) or Hebrews 9:27 (“As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”)?
My thinking is that in regard to the Romans 5:14 passage, God can certainly “take” a man to be with Him (or translate him that he should not see death), and yet death still did reign, was reigning at the time, and continued to reign until the cross-work of Christ when grace reigned superior to death. And in regard to the Hebrews 9:27 passage, it may be that what is stated there is a general rule, but Enoch is an exception to that rule. (Although, I must admit that I’m a little uncertain to the “exception to the rule” type things).
It’s interesting that you’ve got similar type situations in 1) the time before the Flood: Enoch; 2) the time in God’s program with Israel: Elijah (although he’ll come back and eventually see death); and 3) Paul in our dispensation of grace (being stoned at Lystra and taken to the 3rd heaven, but eventually seeing death himself). Is there any connection with these three? or no?
No rush, but if you could give me your understanding I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you so much for your time.
1.) The answer is two-fold. One, there is the testimony he was to the “world that then was”. But two, and more importantly, there is why he is being brought to the attention of the remnant in the Lord’s Day. He was “taken” somewhere and was not “found” (Heb. 11:5; Rev. 12:9). Because of this he did not “see death”. The remnant will be brought into the wilderness and preserved unto “the end”. He was/is kept alive by eating of a certain tree which God denied access to after the curse (Gen. 3:24; Rev. 2:7; 22:2). This is the tree that will show up with Christ when he brings all the “saints” with him as prophesied by Enoch (Matt. 24:13; Luke 21:19;36). Those living at that time will also not see death in connection with being given access to that tree. While the resurrection aspect of eternal life is obviously implicated, it has more to do with “not seeing death”. This is something which it does not appear the “world that then was” knew about Enoch. They only knew they couldn’t “find” the intolerant prophet of judgment, which means they were looking for him (like Elijah). That violent ungodly world subsequently perished in a world changing cataclysm, and Noah’s family (another type) was preserved through it to populate the new world. Unlike what you might expect, Enoch does not return to earth after this judgment. He will only show up in the kingdom after the judgment he prophesied about takes place.
2.) I don’t see any alternative to the general rule conclusion, nor any reason to look for one. It is clearly not the case in any absolute sense. Some men in scripture die more than once. Some men don’t die at all.
Elijah could conceivably qualify as he will end up dying (though it seems a stretch to say he is keeping his appointment as a man in the way God apparently means it as a consequence of the curse). He will die, but only because God has him come back and be killed.
Moses will apparently show up again, and die again (assuming he is one of the two witnesses).
Then of course there is obviously Enoch who doesn’t see death.
Then you have several individuals who have been resurrected throughout scripture only to eventually die natural deaths again.
Believers alive at the rapture will never die.
The remnant of Israel alive at Christ’s return will never die.
Many people during the Millenium will never die.
Scripture constantly assumes the exception principle. This is the way God talks. This is what is divinely “appointed” for man in connection with death and the curse. This is absolute in this sense. This is why any deviation from this requires a special intervention on God’s part. Hebrews itself will point to the “exception” of Enoch, and indeed it is notable for precisely that reason. It is seen in light of the “appointment”, not as negating its truth. Scripture does not feel any need to explain this as it sees no contradiction. Miracles are miracles by definition. They assume a non-miracle status quo. Neither side negates the other, it only strengthens it. As the old saying goes, “the exception proves the rule”. The exception in this case, however, is no mere accident or happenstance like a baby being born without ten fingers and ten toes. This is man’s fate in connection with the curse, but God is obviously well aware of the exceptions he has made, which he points to in the same book of Hebrews. It is “appointed” unto men, but not all men have kept that appointment. Death reigns physically because God denies access to his tree (Gen. 3:22). This is tied to sin, which is given strength through the law (1 Cor. 15:56).
As for the three examples:
1.) See my answer above for the significance of Enoch.
2.) Elijah is significant in that he appears with Moses on the mount of transfiguration where the disciples get a taste of Christ’s kingdom glory and the feast of Tabernacles to be celebrated at that time. They signify both the law and the prophets, as well as the two groups of saints in Israel’s program, those who will be resurrected for the kingdom and those who will go into the kingdom and never see death.
3.) Paul is two in one. He is a picture of both the living and the dead at the rapture, and makes the odd point of telling us he doesn’t know which one he was to drive this pattern home. He is our pattern for when we are “caught up” in connection with the first and last trump.
That is my understanding anyway. I hope it is of some help to you. Until next time…
Seated in heavenly places with Him, -DWB