What is your view on Enoch and Elijah? Did they escape death?

Untold millions of Christians (and others) have been taught that the ancient patriarch Enoch, and the later great prophet Elijah, did not die as the rest of humanity must die. Rather, for one reason or another, God decided that they should escape death and be translated directly into heaven to be with him. We shall see for ourselves that this story is nothing more than fable. For, Our Lord Yeshua — who really must be our final authority when it comes to any myth of this nature — seems to indicate otherwise. In fact, he said emphatically on at least one occasion, “No man has ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven [Yeshua himself] — even the Son of man” (Jn 3.13).

That seems to preclude either Enoch and Elijah from heaven. The Messiah is our highest authority and we should all be accepting of everything he had to tell us, if we indeed love and appreciate the biblical revelation. So, if they did not go to heaven, did they die? Or, were they translated to some place else? What on earth happened to Enoch (Gen 5.21-24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2.1,11)?

The prophet Malachi (the scribe Ezra) predicted that Yahweh would send his messenger, Elijah, to both purify the restored priesthood and to warn the world of the impending destruction of civilisation at the advent of the Messiah (Mal 3. 1-3; 4.5,6). In the intertestamental literature of the Second Temple period it was understood that Elijah was to return in person to announce the coming of the Lord. (So too, the original Messianic Assemblies expected Elijah to usher in the End of Days. Cf Rev 11.3-13.) Consider:

“Then stood up Elias [Elijah] the prophet as fire, and his word burned like a lamp. He brought a sore famine upon them, and by his zeal he diminished their number. By the word of the Lord he shut up the heaven, and also three times brought down fire. O Elias, how wast thou honoured in thy wondrous deeds! and who may glory like unto thee! Who didst raise up a dead man from death, and his soul from the place of the dead, by the word of the most High: Who broughtest kings to destruction, and honorable men from their bed: Who heardest the rebuke of the Lord in Sinai, and in Horeb the judgment of vengeance: Who annointedst kings to take revenge, and prophets to succeed after him: Who was taken up in a whirl-wind of fire, and in a chariot of fiery horses: Who wast ordained for reproofs in their times, to pacify the wrath of the Lord’s judgment, before it brake forth into fury, and to turn the heart of the father unto the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob [Israel]. Blessed are they that saw thee, and slept in love; for we shall surely live. Elias it was, who was covered with a whirlwind: and Eliseus [Elisha] was filled with his spirit: whilst he lived, he was not moved with the presence of any prince, neither could any bring him into subjection” (Sirach 48.1-12).

The rabbinic sources inform us that both Elijah and Moses will return to Israel at the End of Days. It may well be this scenario which is played out in the sudden appearance in Jerusalem of “the Two Witnesses” of the Apocalypse. Amongst those believers who do accept that there is an EndTime expectation of the arrival of Elijah, there is also much discussion as to who will accompany him, as the second Witness. Some suggest Enoch, and some suggest others. But Moses is a candidate. Even the Jews see a reincarnated Moses as a suitable contender.

In Deuteronomy Rabbah 3.17 we find it written: “Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai…[taught that God] said, ‘Moses, I swear to you that in the time to come [the End of Days], when I bring Elijah the prophet to [Israel], the two of you will come together.”

This Messianic Jewish expectation is not grasped by many Christians but the possibility of it happening is certainly “on the cards.” But, let me say this about Enoch. We are given a list of biblical heroes in the “faith chapter” — Hebrews 11 — and we are told in this narrative that all these heroes of faith DIED without receiving their promise of eternal life (Heb 11.13). They await the resurrection of the righteous dead at the advent of the Mashiach, and they participating in that event along with us (and all the saints in Yeshua who have fallen asleep over the past 2000 years) will finally receive “the promise”  (Heb 11.39,40).

Now, notice that I mentioned that the writer of this letter to the Hebrews remarked that all these heroes DIED. Who are some on the list who DIED? Let’s see!

“Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, Samuel, all the prophets…”

Read the entire account in Hebrews 11 for yourselves. But, did you examine verse 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 has the testimony that he had pleased God.”

Enoch was “translated.” What does this word mean? Our modern word is “transported” with the sense of “transferral.” We are not told where Enoch went in order that he would “not see death.” But in verse 13, we are told BY THE SAME AUTHOR WHO WROTE VERSE 5, that Enoch DIED. “These ALL died…” THAT included Enoch! Really, Enoch was transported into an area where he would not “see death” — and the only region at that time that was so cut off from the world that its off-limits would prohibit those who lived within its borders from watching the violence that ruled the outside area was God’s Garden in Eden. That Garden (Paradise) continued to exist until it was destroyed in the Noachian Deluge. Enoch was transferred to that sacred Land where his sight was kept from observing the rampant evil and violence and resultant bloodshed that flourished in the immediate generation prior to the Flood! It was in Paradise here on Earth that “God walked” (Gen 3.8). It is also written that Enoch “walked with God” (Gen 5.22). (We highly recommend the book 101 Bible Secrets That Christians Do Not Know by Dr Ernest L. Martin — ASK Publications. While we do not agree with some of the late Dr Martin’s sectarian views which are found within its covers, he was one of my mentors and greatly appreciated by the Rebbetzin and I as both our brother in Mashiach and our friend.)

The biblical revelation makes its patently clear that Enoch abruptly “up and disappeared” from human society. The text says “Enoch was transferred that he should not SEE death.” He was transferred to the Garden in central Eden, which was guarded by menacing extraterrestrials armed to the teeth with awesome technological power and weaponry. Enoch was so pure and righteous, God did not want him to be tainted with wickedness or to have to handle Godly sorrow over events that were then occurring. Small wonder he was “suddenly” teleported from one geographical area to another — the very holy and sacred place where God Himself dwelt on earth. 

Hebrews 11.5 talks of a TRANSLATION, but the TRANSLATION of TRANSLATION is a wrong TRANSLATION. If we do our homework circumspectly, with a Hebrew-English concordance, we will find that its most popular usage is “remove” or “transfer.” Further, the writer did not say that Enoch would not die. Far from it. He said, “That he should not see death.” A more appropriate translation would be, “That he should not be acquainted with death.” It is our interpretation that is at fault, not the Bible in this instance.

As for Elijah, a heavenly chariot seized the great prophet and he ascended in it up into the clouds above. That is what is simply recorded by the writer of 2 Kings. It certainly appears to be a clear-cut event. And indeed it was. He was taken up into heaven in the sight of his student, Elisha.

But which heaven was it?

There are three definite heavens mentioned in Scripture. There are seven designations for heaven also included in Scripture, and on this fact the ancient sages concluded that there are in fact 7 different heavens. Kabbalistic rabbis recognise a total of at least 955 heavens, or existing intradimensional strata. What are the three heavens revealed in holy Scripture concerning which we can definitely delineate?

[1] The first is our immediate atmosphere (Gen 1.20). It is called heaven.

[2] Then there is space (Gen 1.14-17). In this region the heavenly bodies reside including our star, the Sun.

[3] Thirdly, there is heaven where Yahweh resides (2 Cor 12.1,2).

So, let’s look seriously at the internal evidence which the Bible gives us and see why Yeshua was so adamant that no man had yet gone to heaven. This would, of necessity, include Enoch (whom the writer of the letter to the Hebrews  assures us DIED) as well as Elijah.

In brief, the Kings narrative speaks of a righteous man by the name of Obadiah (this is not the prophet after whom a scroll of the Minor Prophets is designated) who believed that Elijah would be taken away “by the Spirit of God…whither I know not where” (1 Kgs 18.12). So the departure of Elijah was clearly anticipated or expected by the prophets. But notice that none of them thought he was taken into God’s heaven!

However, having said that, it is interesting that the School (College) of the Prophets refused to entertain the thought that God was intending to take Elijah to heaven to be with him (2 Kgs 2.16,17). But God DID take Elijah in a heavenly chariot up above the clouds. That is a fact.

What was this chariot of fire? Well, let me just say that Ezekiel experienced a similar incident in his life involving a fiery craft. He was anything but cooperative with those who operated the “chariot” and he tried in vain to resist them (Eze 3.12-14). So emotionally devastated was Ezekiel by the incident of forcible abduction, it took the prophet a full 7 days, after landing, to recover his previous composure (Eze 3.15).

Such intriguing episodes are not limited to the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Messianic Scriptures, Philip the evangelist experienced the phenomenon of being transported or transferred from one spot to another on the globe — indeed from an area near to Gaza and over to Azotus a few miles away (Ac 8.39,40). John the apostle was taken into the End of Days — immediately ahead of us now (Rev 1.10). Precisely because the End of Days has not yet arrived, in one sense John is still travelling (remember that time is One according to Einstein and therefore “past,” “present,” and “future” are artificial mental constructs. This is made plain in our series of lectures on the Apocalypse which are located on the BRI/IMCF International Internet Yeshiva Private Members Discussion Board).

Now listen, and listen well! Exactly SEVEN YEARS after his flight by “chariot” into heaven — the first heaven — Elijah writes a letter to the King of Judah! It can be safely said that Elijah was then alive and well and living somewhere in the Kingdom of Judah. He certainly was well aware of recent events. Notice it now:

“Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem… In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and they set a king over themselves. And Jehoram went over with his captains, and all the chariots with him; and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites who had surrounded him, and the captains of the chariots. But the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time from under his hand, because he had forsaken Yahweh the God of his fathers. Moreover he made high places on the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit cultic prostitution, and compelled Judah [thereto]. And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet saying, Thus says Yahweh, the God of David your father: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the [apostate] kings of Israel… Yahweh will strike you and your people, and your children, and your wives, and all your possessions with an enormous calamity” (2 Chron 21.5,8-14).

Both Elijah and Enoch were transferred from one geographical region to another geographical region on this earth. In fact, as far as Enoch is concerned, his death very likely occurred just seconds before the cherubim launched into the sky. With his death and the exit of the heavenly cherubim, the heavens opened, the earth began to break up, bringing upon itself the Deluge of Noah which engulfed the entirety of the planet.

This included the most holy and sacred place in all the ancient world — the Garden of Eden.

Both men died, and the biblical revelation — and the Authority of Yeshua the Messiah — make that point plain (Heb 11.13; 9.27).v