Tracing Enoch: successor, predecessor, and companion
Sometimes it helps to examine something closely. And sometimes a single word explains everything. This is the case with Enoch, this mysterious figure from the antediluvian period. This man has the directions for direct access to heaven.
“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” With these words from Genesis 5: 24 practically everything that is of any importance has been said about Enoch. Whoever wants to discover more has to go and search for it.
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam” (Jude 14) should not be confused with the (earlier) son of Cain or with Reuben’s (later) eldest son. Enoch was taken from this world relatively early: at the biblical age of 365 years, whereby generations before and after him lived 700 to 900 years. However, these 365 years—the number of days in a year—indicate that he had a fulfilled life.
Biblical and extra-biblical sources
Interpreter of dreams, astronomer, judge, and scribe, inventor of the art of writing and the solar calendar. Extra-biblical sources credit him with all these things. Three complete works are named after the language in which they were most fully preserved: the Ethiopian, the Slavonic, and the Hebrew Enoch. However, only one book managed to find its way into the canon of scripture recognised as sacred, and only by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Nevertheless, Enoch enjoys a great reputation. Sirach mentions him first in his praise of heroes of Israel’s past—ahead of Noah, Abraham, and Jacob. He cites him as an example for knowledge (in the Hebrew text) or repentance (in the Greek text). He comes to the conclusion: “No one to equal Enoch has been created on earth, for from the earth, he was taken up into heaven” (Ecclesiasticus 49: 14, REB).
The rapture in development
The Bible says nothing about his rapture, really nothing: there were no fiery chariots or horses, as was the case with Elijah; there was no ascending to heaven in a cloud, as was the case with Jesus Christ. Enoch was simply just not there any more.
Despite this there is a hint of an evolution. While Enoch’s world premiere remains without any witnesses, Elijah’s successor witnesses Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot. Ultimately, at the ascension of Jesus a whole group of disciples was present.
What is more, this development points to the future. While the rapture of both Enoch and Elijah as isolated cases simply refers to the fulfilment through Christ, the ascension of Christ allows us to foresee an even greater event: the rapture of the bridal congregation at His return.
Changeable: faith, works, nature
For a majority of human beings, this way has been paved alone through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it is Enoch who teaches us how to walk this path.
The doctrinal basis is provided by Hebrews 11: 5: “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death.” Walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7) is complemented in Ephesians 2: 10 by walking in good works, which God prepared beforehand. And together this leads to walking in the light of the nature of Jesus (John 8: 12).
The practical approach is provided by the small word “with”. Those who follow the Lord normally “come after” Him. A few, such as Abraham, walked “before” God (Genesis 17: 1). That means that He had a benevolent eye on them and took special care of them.
Being more venturous together
Only twice in the Bible do we read that someone actually walked “with” God: in the case of Noah (Genesis 6: 9) and here in the case of Enoch. This small word implies a very close and intimate relationship. Bible editions translate Genesis 5: 24 variously. Some say he lived with God. Others say he lived in close contact with God. Or he spent his life in fellowship with God.
What does it take for such a close relationship? Let us stay with the image of walking. This not only requires a common goal, but also the same way, as well as the same walking pace. Do you take direction from the will of God? Do you trust His leadership? Are you patient enough?
Walking together is not done in silence. Noah heard God and spoke with Him. Do you speak with God in prayer? Do you hear the words of God? Do you hear the words of Scripture, of preaching? And do you hear the impulses of the Holy Spirit, that quiet voice inside you that is so easily drowned out by the noise of everyday life?