by Kenneth M. Hoeck 03/01/99
Did they enter into Heaven?
There are many people, even some Theologians, who believe emphatically that Elijah was taken to God's throne in Heaven. It is believed that the biblical examples of Enoch and Elijah show that we will also be in Heaven with God after we die. Well, What about Elijah? Or Enoch? Weren't they taken to heaven? Well, let us find out about these two men of God and of their "translation". Let us begin with Elijah and also let us rely on the scriptures to give us the "big picture" of what really happened with him. We need to gather a little information before we go to II Kings to "witness" the "translation" of this servant of God.
(Read Carefully) 1Kings18:7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? 8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10 As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD'S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. 15 And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
These passages let us realize that Elijah was "translated" many times before! Look carefully at verse 10"...there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there;". Whenever the enemies of God came to look for Elijah , after reported "Elijah sightings" they could never find him! It is apparent that Elijah had a habit of "disappearing" and that it was known amongst the people of God that the Lord did this thing (v.12).
II Kings 2:12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. This passage has been misunderstood by many theologians. They claim it to be a prophecy of Elijah being taken to heaven. This could not be further from the truth. If this were a prophecy, and it was from God, then Elijah would have been taken away BEFORE Obadiah had brought King Ahab to meet him as the "...as soon as I am gone from thee" clearly states. I Kings 18:16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? We see here that Ahab DID indeed see Elijah at this time which shows that this was not a prophecy - for it came not true.
Obadiah's understanding was that Elijah always was "whisked away" whenever his life might be in jeopardy. Whenever the King's men came to apprehend Elijah God picked him up and took him away from the imminent danger, so he should not see his own death. Elijah would appear in some other city to witness for the Lord until the time that he "wore out his welcome" again. The knowledge of this phenomenon was widespread among the children of God.
Notice the leading text that is read just prior to Elijah being "taken". II Kings 2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. These people KNEW what was going to happen because it had happened before. This time was to be a bit different. Elijah's active and dangerous ministry was coming to a close. Many people still sought to take his life. They also knew that Elisha would "have his master" taken from him and that he would no longer be just Elijah's servant but the prophet of the Lord. They had contemplated this "passing of the torch" if I may use that term.
And again in II Kings 2:4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. 7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
Now, retaining and understanding all we have read we continue in II Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. Elijah knew that his "retirement" was nigh. He knew that he would be leaving Elisha to the office of the servitude of God as His prophet of warning and witness (see II Kings 2:15).
II Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. We see that Elijah went up to a place called heaven and out of sight of Elisha. Was this the third heaven, the place of God's throne?
God tells us through scripture in John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. Elijah was taken up into the air, the atmosphere of this very planet earth, this is the first heaven (see Are you Going To Heaven?) . He was not taken to God's throne or the third Heaven (refer to II Co 12:1) . Where did this "chariot of fire", this whirlwind take him to? We will investigate further as we continue.
II Kings 2:16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. 17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. 18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?
Notice that the onlooking people went off to look for Elijah. Why would they go on a three day journey through the countryside to find a man who has not even on earth? These people KNEW that Elijah was "transported" from one earthly location unto another. They were not sure where he ended up but they knew he was returned to this earth.
This is made clear in the scripture because about seven years later (7 yrs by comparing II Kings 3:1, I Kings 22:42, and II Kings 8:16) we find Elijah still on earth having written to the King of Judah, Jehoram . II Chronicles 21:12 And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,- The word rendered writing is "miktab" [Strong's # 4385] meaning a letter, a thing written, a document, a writing. So we see that the scripture shows that Elijah continued to live on earth.
Josephus Antiquities Of The Jews 9:2:2 " Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the Deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared; but so nobody knew that they died."
Do you remember that no one saw Moses die either? Yet he did die even though the Lord took him and they saw him no more.
Deuteronomy 32:49-52 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 34:1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, Deuteronomy 34:5-6 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
Elijah was picked up bodily and placed down in a different location. The prophet Ezekiel experienced the same phenomenon in his day (Ezekiel 3:12-14) and even, the man of God, Philip was identically transported bodily through the air, from a spot between Jerusalem and Gaza, unto the city of Azotus a few miles away (Acts 8:26-28 and Acts8:39,40). Now maybe we should believe John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Let us examine briefly the "translation" of Enoch in light of what we have learned.
To begin with let us clear up what is meant by the term "walked with God" as found in Genesis 5:22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
This "walking with God" refers to the living of one's life in a manner that is pleasing to God (refer to Hebrews 11:5), to OBEY God's commands, to exercise the fruit of the spirit of God within you. Leviticus 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then .....12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. Speaking of Christ John said in I John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. This is summed up in a concise manner in Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Now we look at Enoch's disappearance in Genesis 5:23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Notice that it does not say God took Enoch to Heaven. As the Scripture says: "He was not [found by men]; for God took him [transported him elsewhere]." This complements all the scriptural proofs concerning Elijah's transportation as well.
Further evidence can be viewed in Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated [Strong's #3346- metatithemi- to transport, carry over, translate] that he should not see death ; and was not found , because God had translated him : for before his translation [Strong's #3331- metathesis-transport, transferral, change] he had this testimony , that he pleased God. The same Greek word for "translated" here is rendered in Acts 7:16 as "carried over", and refers to the transporting of Jacob's dead body to Sychem ( Shechem ).
"...Enoch was translated that he should not see death.." You need to understand that Enoch walked the way God instructed him to. This means that Enoch, as Elijah would later also do, confronted the people with God's truth. He warned them of what would befall them if they did not turn from their evil ways ( which they did not always see as being evil, mind you.) and turn to the true God, creator of heaven and earth. We find collaborating evidence of this in the book of Jude.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
What happens when prophets of God preach against wickedness and of the coming of Christ to exact judgment upon the unrepentant? Martyrdom! That is correct, martyrdom, the people invariably attempted to destroy God's prophets as they were not willing to hear sound doctrine or acknowledge their sin. The truth of the matter is that God took Enoch away to live out his last days elsewhere or maybe even to die immediately elsewhere, but not at the hands of the wicked who sought to kill him for his preaching against them. This was also for stirring the hope of the people who might repent to think that God would also protect them in their hour of need.
We know that Enoch, a mere man, did eventually die. Hebrews 11:13, in referring to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Sarah, says that Heb 11:13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." These men and women of God all died and must await their reward at the resurrection when Christ returns.
In conclusion, we have found that the Word of God is true and that no man has went up into (third) heaven to be with God except Jesus Christ who came down fron Heaven.
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