Enoch is a unique character in the Bible who peeks our interested more than others simply because the mysteries revolving around him due to the silence and undeveloped explanation in the Bible. He has captured the interest and caused fanciful imaginations to become fertile while attempting to fill in the gaps left in the Bible’s exposition of him. The three Pseudepigraphical books that carry the name of Enoch may be completely useless to us, but, they may contain interesting Jewish traditions that offer insights to the New Testament’s expression of the rapture.
Th Bible tells us, “all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24). Genesis gives no explanation of what it means that “God took him” (Hebrew לָקַ֥ח), but the New Testament elaborates, “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 had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). From this we understand that the Jewish tradition was that Enoch was raptured (or “translated” as following the Septuagint terminology μετεθηκεν of Genesis 5:24) to heaven without dying. This was common Jewish knowledge as the book of Hebrews was written to Jews and we also know from other extrabiblical sources that this was the understanding of the brief reference to Enoch being taken by God in Genesis.
1 Enoch does not have much to say about the rapture experience, but simply states, “Before these things happened Enoch was hidden, and no one of the children of the people knew by what he was hidden and where he was” (1 Enoch 12:1).1) The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 19 One intriguing mention worth noting in this context is that 1 Enoch 91:11-17 and 93:1-10 import language reminiscent of Daniel 9:24-27, with prophecies expressing weeks of years. The Daniel passage is one of the most important passages to understand the rapture for Dispensationalists. Charles Ryrie explains, “Classic dispensationalism used the words parenthesis or intercalation to describe the distinctiveness of the church in relation to God’s program for Israel. An intercalation is an insertion of a period of time in a calendar, and a parenthesis in one sense is intervening or interruptive period (which in turn is defined as an intervening of interruptive period). So either or both words can be appropriately used to define the church age if one sees it as a distinct interlude in God’s program for Israel (as clearly taught in Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks in 9:24-27).2) Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Moody Press (Chicago, Illinois: 1995), p. 134 Many other expressions in 1 Enoch show its dependence on the book of Daniel but is not needed to be developed here.
In the Second book of Enoch, the tradition is further elaborated. Enoch is raptured on two occasions as he is needed to return to earth to relate revelation to men. At the second rapture event it is described as: “the LORD sent the gloom onto the earth, and it became dark and covered the men who were standing and talking to Enoch. And the angels hurried and grasped Enoch and carried him up to the highest heaven, where the LORD received him and made him stand in front of his face for eternity. Then the darkness departed from the earth, and it became light. And the people looked, but they could not figure out how Enoch had been taken away. And they glorified God.” (2 Enoch 67:1-3)3)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 194 This is similar to the Transfiguration of Christ when a cloud overshadowed the disciples and when they were able to see again Moses and Elijah had vanished (Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). It also relates to the darkness over the earth during the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45) which the Jew around were expecting Elijah after misunderstanding the words of Christ (Matthew 27:47-49). Jews had these images in their minds connecting to the rapture events of Enoch and Elijah.
Further information of Enoch’s rapture is identified with dates. “Enoch was born on the 6th day of the month Tsivan, and he lived for 365 years. And he was taken up to heaven in the month Nitsan, on the 1st day. And he remained in heaven for 60 days, writing down all those notes about all the creatures which the LORD had created. And he wrote 366 books and he handed them over to his sons. And he remained on the earth for 30 days, talking with them. And then he was taken up to heaven again in the month Tsivan on the 6th day, on the very same day on which he was even born, and at the very same hour.” (2 Enoch 68:1-3)4)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 196 Here the Jewish months Nisan would be equivalent to the middle of our month mid-March to mid-April, and Sivan would be equivalent to mid-May to mid-June. Many Christians throughout history attempting to place dates on the rapture have found both these months as probable speculations. Nisan is the Jewish month for barley harvest and when they celebrate the Passover; Sivan is notably the festival of Pentecost. If Enoch’s rapture is a type for Christians being raptured as some people have attempted to indicate, this could imply that the rapture could occur on the day which could be considered the birthday of Christianity. Of course, when one would assume the birthday of Christianity is debated with the majority holding to Pentecost, other views would consider the Resurrection of Christ after Passover. Other will ignore this reference altogether setting Christianity back to John the Baptists. Such a tradition should not cause any to speculate on dates for the rapture as we are clearly told to not set dates (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). It should be noted also that the calculation in 2 Enoch does not add up correctly. Enoch was rapture first on Nisan 1st, remained in heaven for 60 days which would cover the full month of Nisan and Iyyar, returns to earth for 30 days which would span across the entire month of Sivan so could not possibly conclude with his second rapture being on the 6th of Sivan. It would set his second rapture closer the beginning of the month Tammuz which is the month of the grape harvest.
In 3 Enoch, the apocalyptic genre is minimized as a text advocating Merkabah Mysticism, which is developed from the Chariot visions of Ezekiel and applied to the Rapture of Enoch by the chariots involved with the rapture of Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). Early Jewish texts warn against any attempts to expound the passages about the Chariots. The Mishna states, “The forbidden degrees may not be expounded before three persons, not the story of Creation before two, nor the chapter of the Chariot before one alone, unless he is a Sage that understands of his own knowledge.” (m. Hagigah 2:1).5) The Mishna (Trans Herbert Danby) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1933, 2016), p. 212-213 Merkabah mysticism was alleged description of multiple tiers of the heavens, chariots, angels, and the throne of God through ecstatic visions.
In the book of 3 Enoch, Enoch is glorified into an angelic being named Metatron. Enoch or Metatron describes his rapture experience to Rabbi Ishmael who supposedly wrote the book as his vision having been in heaven. “The angle Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, said to me: When the Holy One, blessed be he, desired to bring me up to the height, he sent me Prince ‘Anapi’el YHWH and he took me from their midst, before their very eyes, and he conveyed me in great glory on a fiery chariot, with fiery horses and glorious attendants, and he brought me up with the Sekinah to the heavenly heights” (2 Enoch 6:1).6)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 261 Here we see the similarity with the chariots that received Elijah introduced into the Enochian tradition. 3 Enoch continues, “So I have taken up my Sekinah from their midst and brought it up to the height. And this one whom I have removed from them is the choicest of them all and worth them all in faith, righteousness, and in fitting conduct. This one whom I have taken is my sole reward from my whole world under heaven.” (2 Enoch 6:3).7)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 261 Note also how the removal of the Shekinah is connected with the rapture of Enoch. This will be developed further.
The next chapter further elaborates, “When the Holy One, blessed be he, removed me from the generation of the Flood, he bore me up on the stormy wings of the Sekinah to the highest heaven and brought me into the great palace in the height of the heaven of ‘Arabot, where the glorious throne of the Sekinah is found…” (3 Enoch 7:1).8)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 262 This is unique as it was the Lord Jesus Christ who also connected the generation of the Flood with His coming (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-27). Enoch was removed before the judgment of that generation came which offers a strong premise for a pre-tribulation rapture. The word “shekinah” is from the root word sheken שָׁכַן which means “to dwell” or “dwelling.” Out of the 129 times it is used, 43 times it is referenced to God’s dwelling presence Exodus 24:16; 25:8; Numbers 9:17; Psalm 74:2; Zechariah 8:3; etc.,9) Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 2, p. 925 so the Shekinah is a reference to God’s dwelling presence in some manifestation of His glory being vissible. However, what also makes interesting connection is the phrase “wings of the Sekinah,” which is derived from Ruth 2:12. The Babylonian Talmud uses this phrase to identify gentiles converting to Judaism. It records an event of a Gentile converted by Hillel who returns to thank him. “He came before Hillel and said to him: Hillel the patient, may blessings rest upon your head as you brought me under the wings of the Divine Presence. The Gemara relates: Eventually, the three converts gathered together in one place, and they said: Shammai’s impatience sought to drive us from the world; Hillel’s patience brought us beneath the wings of the Divine Presence.”10)The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a; https://www.sefaria.org/Shabbat.31a.9?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en Discussing in the context whether Gentile converts need to be merely circumcised or both circumcised and immersed in water, the Talmud returns answer that where immersion was not mentioned for proselytes it should be assumed and inferred and thus necessary. “The Gemara answers: It is based on logical reasoning, as, if so, that they did not immerse, then with what were they brought under the wings of the Divine Presence? Therefore, they also must have immersed.”11)The Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 46b; https://www.sefaria.org/Yevamot.46b.6?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en So the Shekinah being removed at the rapture is united with the idea of gentile converts in Jewish thought.
3 Enoch tells us that the Shekinah was dwelling in the Garden of Eden before the Flood prior to the removal from earth. “From the day that the Holy One, blessed be he, banished the first man from the garden of Eden, the Sekinah resided on a cherub beneath the tree of life…. The first man and his generation dwelt at the gate of the garden of Eden so that they might gaze at the bright image of the Sekinah…” (3 Enoch 5:1-3)12)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 259 It relates the following about Enoch’s rapture and the removal of the Shekinah.
When I saw that the men of the generation of the Flood were behaving corruptly, I came and removed my Sekinah from their midst, and I brought it up with the sound of the horn and the shouting to the height above, as it is written,
God went up to the sound of horns,
The Lord went up with a fanfare of trumpets. [Ps. 47:5]
“I took him”—Enoch the son of Jared, from their mist, and brought him up with the sound of the trumpet and with shouting to the height, to be my witness, together with the four creatures of the chariot, to the world to come.” (3 Enoch 48C 1-2)13)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 311
The comment of the rapture has much in comparison to the many passages from the New Testament. “Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16).
The most interesting is the correlation with 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 which talks of the “Restrainer” withholding the antichrist from being revealed. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The normal dispensational interpretation of this passages identifies the Restrainer as the Holy Spirit who is removed from earth at the rapture of the saints allowing the antichrist to be revealed. Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson expressed the grammatical factor that lead to this conclusion.
The word “restrain” (Greek, katecho, “to hold down”) in both verses 6 and 7 is a present active participle, but in verse 6 it appears in the neuter gender (“what restrains”) while in verse 7 it is in the masculine (“he who restrains, holds down”). Such usage also occurs in reference to the Spirit of God. The Greek word for “spirit,” pneuma, is a neuter gender word, but the masculine pronoun is used when referring to the person of the Holy Spirit. The one doing the restraining, then, in all likelihood, is the Spirit of God.14)Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, Harvest House Publisher (Eugene, OR:2006), p. 455
Charles Ryrie, also noting the shifting of grammatical genders notes the commonality of masculine and neuter in reference to the Spirit (Ephesians 1:14; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14), says, “the restrainer must be God.”15)Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Revised and Expanded), Moody Press (Chicago, IL: 1965, 1997), p. 80 Thomas Constable asks, “How does he do it? Through Christians, whom He indwells and through whom He works in society to hold back the swelling tide of lawless living. How will He be taken out of the way? When the church leaves the earth in the Rapture, the Holy spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique lawlessness-restraining ministry through God’s people will be removed (cf. Gen. 6:3). The removal of the Restrainer at the time of the Rapture must obviously precede the day of the Lord. Paul’s reasoning is thus a strong argument for the pre-tribulational Rapture: the Thessalonians were not in the Great Tribulation because the Rapture had not yet occurred.”16)Thomas L Constable, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament (Ed. John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck), Victor Books (1987), p. 719
Henry Clarence Thiessen taught, “He [the Holy Spirit] does the restraining of evil, often through the church; for, because of his presence in them, believers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). When the church will be caught up, the salt and the light will be withdrawn.”17)Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Revised by Vernon D. Doerksen), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Grand Rapids, MI: 1949, 1979), p. 354 J. Dwight Pentecost noted what makes this passage relevant to 3 Enoch which refers to the Shekinah (God’s “dwelling” presence) being removed with Enoch at the rapture on his birthday.
This age is in a particular sense the “dispensation of the Spirit,” for He works in a way uncommon to other ages as an abiding Presence within the children of God…. The church age commenced with the advent of the Sprit at Pentecost, and will close with a reversal of Pentecost, the removal of the Spirit.18)J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI: 1958, 1978), p. 262
Herman Hoyt followed this argument of the Holy Spirit coming and departing as defining the church age, but also stated, “there is only One who performs that function [of restraining] in relation to sin, and that is the Holy Spirit (Gen. 6:3; cf. John 16:8-11). Moreover, He performs that function through the people of God.”19)Herman A. Hoyt, The End Times, BMH Books (Winona Lake, IN: 1969, 2006), p. 97
In all this we find a common ancient Jewish belief behind what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. This shows that those who have attacked this interpretation of the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 have erred in not identifying the historical-grammatical method of hermeneutics. As it has been shown in other articles, the rapture doctrine has great historical support in the ancient world20)see Heath Henning, “The Rapture as Taught by the Early Church,” June 6, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/rapture-taught-early-church/ contrary to those who commonly claim it was invented in the 1800s.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 19|
|2.||↑||Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Moody Press (Chicago, Illinois: 1995), p. 134|
|3.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 194|
|4.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 196|
|5.||↑||The Mishna (Trans Herbert Danby) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1933, 2016), p. 212-213|
|6, 7.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 261|
|8.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 262|
|9.||↑||Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 2, p. 925|
|10.||↑||The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a; https://www.sefaria.org/Shabbat.31a.9?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en|
|11.||↑||The Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 46b; https://www.sefaria.org/Yevamot.46b.6?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en|
|12.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 259|
|13.||↑||The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 311|
|14.||↑||Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, Harvest House Publisher (Eugene, OR:2006), p. 455|
|15.||↑||Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Revised and Expanded), Moody Press (Chicago, IL: 1965, 1997), p. 80|
|16.||↑||Thomas L Constable, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament (Ed. John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck), Victor Books (1987), p. 719|
|17.||↑||Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Revised by Vernon D. Doerksen), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Grand Rapids, MI: 1949, 1979), p. 354|
|18.||↑||J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI: 1958, 1978), p. 262|
|19.||↑||Herman A. Hoyt, The End Times, BMH Books (Winona Lake, IN: 1969, 2006), p. 97|
|20.||↑||see Heath Henning, “The Rapture as Taught by the Early Church,” June 6, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/rapture-taught-early-church/|