We are all familiar with signs located at Police Stations listing missing persons. Someone suddenly disappeared on the way home from a Club or a child that has mysteriously disappeared. Rewards are frequently offered for information.
The Bible has a missing persons file and the reward for finding out what happened to them is a better understanding of what lies beyond the grave.
We know that all believers from this Church age, both living and dead, will one day disappear and the world will be faced with the greatest mystery of all time. Millions will strangely vanish in an instant of time from all over the globe. Some will be sleeping, others will be working in the field or in factories and homes. When Jesus spoke about signs of the last days He said,
In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left (Luke 17:34-36).
This will not be the first time that someone has disappeared from earth. Enoch and Elijah also disappeared.
Enoch, we read, “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen.5:24).
The New Testament tells us:
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him (Hebrews 11:5).
The word “translated” simply means “transferred”, removed”, or “carried”. Enoch simply disappeared and nobody has ever found him. He did not die from sickness or old age. No fatal accident terminated his life; he simply “was not” and nobody knew where he went. Even the Bible does not tell us where Enoch went.
Some Bible commentators assume that Enoch was taken to heaven but there are serious difficulties with that assumption.
If we assume that Enoch was physically taken to heaven then we must assume that he received a resurrection body for the Bible says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). That he disappeared and his body could not be found there is no doubt, but where he was taken and in what state, is not revealed.
One thing is certain and it is that Enoch did not receive a resurrection body for Christ is the “firstfruits of them that slept” and Matthew specifically states that the Old Testament saints came out of their graves “AFTER His resurrection” (Matthew 27:53).
Furthermore nobody went to heaven before Jesus rose from the dead. The Old Testament sacrifices offered under the Old Covenant could never take away sin but only foreshadowed Christ’s perfect sacrifice. When an Old Testament saint died his soul went to paradise (sheol) where the redeemed waited for the Lamb of God to come: Paradise was taken to heaven when Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives. This was only possible under the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood. Therefore there was only one place that Enoch could be taken and that was paradise.
The question remains: What happened to Enoch’s physical body? All we are told is that it was “not found”. His soul was translated to paradise and his body was “not found”. He didn’t “see death”; his soul was transferred to paradise but something must have happened to his physical body; it could not go to paradise.
We know that when Moses died God buried his body in a secret location so that nobody could find it.
We read that Moses was buried
in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day (Deuteronomy 34:6).
Likewise when Elijah was caught up by the angels in a chariot of fire, he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” and “they sought three days, but found him not“ (2 Kings 2:17).
What happened to Elijah’s body? Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The whirlwind took him away into heaven but that was the firmament of heaven and not the 3rd heaven where God dwells. His soul was transferred into paradise just as Enoch was and there he awaited the coming of Messiah to make the perfect sacrifice and then to rise from the dead.
On the Mount of Transfiguration both Moses and Elijah appeared with the Lord as He was glorified before Peter, James and John. Moses and Elijah did not have resurrection bodies. They had been recalled from paradise and their great interest was the Lord’s “decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31); their release from paradise (sheol) was imminent. When Jesus took His disciples to the Mount of Olives He “ascended up on high” (Ephesians 4:8) and they saw Him disappear in a cloud as He “led captivity captive” and took paradise into heaven.
We can take Enoch and Elijah off the missing persons list!