Where Are Enoch and Elijah?
Bulletin Article -- Sunday, October 18, 2020
When Jesus was teaching Nicodemus about the nature of God’s spiritual kingdom and how we get into it, He revealed some information about His own nature and relationship with God in heaven. (Note: In the NKJV pronouns are capitalized when referring to Deity, as opposed to humans.)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:11–13).
A similar passage is Ephesians 4:10. “He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”
Is Jesus the only human who has been in heaven? If so, where are Enoch and Elijah? These two men God chose to take from this earth without dying. If they’re not yet in heaven, where are they?
Heaven is not mentioned in connection with Enoch. The verse says, "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). There is similar wording in Hebrews 11:5. “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
In Elijah’s case, the Bible says, “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind…” (2 Kings 2:1). Again in verse eleven, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
We need to take into consideration that there are three different “heavens” in scripture. The first is the sky where birds and airplanes fly. There’s the second which is further out into space with the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies. Then there’s the place Jesus went to prepare for us in the presence of God (John 14:2-4; Revelation. 7:13-17; 21:4-8; 22:3-5).
Does this “heaven” mean Elisha watched as Elijah was taken up into the sky and disappeared into the clouds and beyond? Or does it mean Elijah went directly into the very throne room of God in heaven?
If Enoch and Elijah were taken from the earth without going through the dying process and the resurrection, they would need to be changed from a physical mortal existence to a spiritual immortal one. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Is Enoch and Elijah a preview of the new body the rest of us will have in the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:49-51; John 5:24-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)?
In the meantime, the souls of those who have died wait in Hades—the faithful in "Paradise" (Abraham’s bosom) and the wicked in “Tartarus”. We can read a fuller description of the realm of the dead in Luke 16:19-31; 23:43 and 2 Peter 2:4.
If the only one who has ascended into God’s home in heaven is Christ, then Enoch and Elijah must be in Paradise. Where else would they be, but with Abraham, Moses and the rest of God’s faithful who wait for judgment and their new heavenly bodies.
If Enoch and Elijah did go into heaven where God is, and we know Jesus did not present a contradiction, then there’s an alternative meaning to what He told Nicodemus. “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
Jesus Christ, who is the very nature of God/Deity (John 1:1; Phil. 2:6), is the only one who has been in heaven with God, and on earth as God and the Son of Man. Therefore, as the Teacher who came from God, He is the only one who can explain the heavenly nature of the kingdom and the spiritual birth that puts us into it. —Chris