A visitor writes,
"I know there are many different interpretations of this, but I was wondering what yours was. Genesis 5:24 'And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.'"
Enoch That is a difficult one. It is a difficult question primarily because we have so little information. Let's see what we do know and then make some inferences from the information we can gather:
- Enoch did not go to heaven because of John 3:13
- If he didn't go to heaven what happened to him? The record says that "he was no more" (NRSV, Tanakh Jewish translation of the Old Testament). That indicates to me either that he died or that he was taken out of harm's way.
- Hebrews 11:5 says: "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." "Pleased God" is the Greek Bible's translation of the Hebrew "walked with God."
- "Not found" indicates to me that someone was looking for him. Perhaps to do him harm?
- He was one who was especially close to God - a prophet? He "walked with God" - the Elohim or angels (like Moses did?).
- For other occurrences of this phrase "Walked with God" see Genesis 6:9 -Noah; Micah 6:8 - those would do good (cp. this verse with Matt. 23:23 where Jesus quotes this verse. Jesus changes "walk humbly with thy God" to "faith" thus giving us the best definition in scripture of what faith is); Malachi 2:6 (Levitical priests who taught the people properly).
- Was he like Elijah, who was taken away because of persecution? What happened to Elijah? He was taken up into the sky by a "whirlwind" 2 Kings 10:11,12; and Elisha saw him no more. A similar phrase to Enoch "and he was no more."
- 2 Chronicles 21:12 (not too long after Elijah's whirlwind experience) the king of Judah, Jehoram, received a letter from Elijah. This indicates that he was still alive but had been taken to a safe place which nobody knew about in order to escape the persecution of the rulers of Israel.
- The word in Hebrews 11:5 to describe Enoch's "taking away" is "translated" and means literally to be carried or transported - like Elijah? In the same way Philip is caught away by the Spirit in Acts 8:39 (different word though).
Ok, what do we conclude from all this information? We know that Enoch was taken away only half-way through a normal life span for his era. He is especially commended for his closeness to God. I think that either God terminated his life early just as the angel took Moses to the mountain and showed him the Promised Land whereupon Moses died and was buried - no one knows where - he "was no more." Or perhaps, like Elijah, he was taken out of adversity to safety once the mission God had given him was complete.
I hope this helps