“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”[Genesis 5:24]
Tucked nicely within the genealogies of Genesis 5 is a glaring anomaly. Every patriarch in Adam’s lineage is classified as living a full life and having many sons and daughters before dying, except one — Enoch.
Instead of dying a natural death, Enoch apparently was taken by God and translated into heaven. The Biblical text gives few details about this peculiar encounter, but we can draw some conclusions about Enoch from what the Scriptures provide.
Enoch Walked By Faith
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible – the Septuagint – renders Genesis 5:22 this way. “And Enoch was well-pleasing to God after his begetting Mathusala…” Genesis 5:24 says that Enoch walked with God and then was no more because God took him.
Although it is possible that Adam and Eve physically walked with the LORD in the garden before the fall, Enoch’s walking with God is best interpreted as navigating on a spiritual journey of faith in a sin-cursed world. There is nothing in the Biblical account that implies that the LORD walked with Enoch in physical form [theophany]. This is not unlike our own “walk” with God as described in the New Testament, as Pauls says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:25]
In other words, Enoch walked by faith, not by sight. Like his great grandson after him, Noah, Enoch was set apart in his generation by his faith in God. Enoch exercised his faith in such a way that the LORD was pleased with him and graciously decided to bring him into his immediate presence.
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”[Hebrews 11:5-6 – ESV]
Enoch Did Not Taste Death
“So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”[Matthew 24:33-34]
According to God’s word, there are only two men who have ever lived who did not die a natural death. One is the prophet Elijah, who was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind on chariots of fire [2 Kings 2:11]. The other is Enoch.
The general rule and universal consequence of the fall is that it is appointed for every man once to die and then face judgment. But for whatever reasons, the LORD graciously spared both Elijah and Enoch of tasting the bitterness of physical death.
One possibility is that Enoch and Elijah were foreshadows of what is to come in the last days at the return of the Jesus. According both to Jesus and Paul, the generation of believers who are alive on the earth during the Second Coming of Christ will not taste death but instead will be translated like Enoch.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”[1 Corinthians 15:51-52]
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words[1 Thessalonians 4:16-18]
After all, Jesus does say that just as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.
ENoch WArned of The Coming Judgement
During the Second Temple period of Judaism — approximately 516 B.C. to 70 A.D. — there were many familiar extra-biblical sources of both written and oral tradition that would have been circulated and well read. These writings would have helped the Jews formulate a more informed and robust Biblical worldview. Although not universally recognized as inspired Scripture, these extra Biblical sources provided historical and theological significance within the community of faith, which is why many of them are included in the Apocrypha.
The Book of Enoch is perhaps the most popular of these extra-Biblical writings, primarily because of its elaboration of the mysterious Genesis 6 account, where the Watchers rebelled against God, descended to Mount Hermon, and took human wives, producing an evil hybrid race of giants on the earth called the Nephilim [Genesis 6:1-5]. The Book of Enoch answers many questions and provides many plausible explanations about what really was happening to mankind before the flood.
I encourage all believers to read and become familiar with the Book of Enoch because Jesus and the New Testament authors were quite familiar with it.
This leads to another reason the Book of Enoch is often taken more seriously than other extra-Biblical works. The New Testament authors clearly make reference to it, even quoting it verbatim. Both Peter and Jude refer to Enoch as being a prophet before the flood who was given a specific message of judgment for the fallen sons of God.
Peter and Jude use language that clearly draws directly from the traditional Book on Enoch.
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly …”[2 Peter 2:4-5]
“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire…”[Jude 1:6-7]
Jude even quotes directly from the Book of Enoch.
“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”[Jude 1:14-15]
We cannot be certain that the historical Enoch, who lived before the flood is the genuine author of the book that bears his name. Most scholars would say that the Book of Enoch is Pseudepigraphic in that the true author is unknown. But there is at least a good possibility that oral traditions or written compilations were preserved and passed down after the flood and are directly connected to Enoch himself. Either way, Enoch remains both a significant and enigmatic character in the Biblical narrative.
The Two Witnesses
“But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered the two witnesses, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell upon those who saw them. And the witnesses heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Come up here.’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched them.”[Revelation 11:11-12]
I would be remiss if I wrote about Enoch without mentioning the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11. There are several possible interpretations about the identity of these two witnesses, and because they are not mentioned by name, it leaves room for speculation.
But I am convinced that the identity of the Two Witnesses can be narrowed down to no more than three historical figures — Elijah, Moses, and Enoch.
Elijah is the most certain candidate for at least one of the witnesses for several reasons. First, he never died a natural death. Second, the miraculous powers given to the witnesses — such as shutting the sky — directly points back to Elijah’s earthy ministry. And finally, the prophets all predicted that Elijah would return as a forerunner before the coming of Messiah [see Malachi 4:5-6].
The identity of the second witness is more difficult to determine. I see a correlation with Moses as the prophet of God who also was given the authority to turn waters into blood and strike the land with plagues [Revelation 11:6]. I also see the connection to the Mountain of Transfiguration [Mt. Hermon] where the two witnesses seen with Jesus were Moses and Elijah. And then there is some mystery about why Michael the Archangel and Satan were disputing over the body of Moses [Jude 1:9].
However, Enoch is also a likely candidate because like Elijah, he never died a natural death, and his prophetic ministry is connected to the coming judgment and the return of the Son of Man in glory. Enoch also is linked to the pre-flood world and the unleashing of the spiritual forces of darkness, which Jesus correlated with the generation that will be alive at His coming.
Maybe the LORD does use Elijah and Enoch as His witnesses in the great tribulation and allows them to suffer persecution and ultimately death in their own proper time. Either way, we all would do well to walk by faith in the boldness of Enoch who was unashamed to preach the coming judgment to a wicked and perverse generation.