Enoch—Fearless Against All Odds
FOR a good man, it was the worst of times. Ungodliness saturated the earth. There was a steady decline in the moral condition of mankind. In fact, it would soon be said: “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.”—Genesis 6:5.
Enoch, the seventh man in the genealogical line from Adam, had the courage to be different. He stood firm for righteousness regardless of the consequences. Enoch’s message was so tormenting to ungodly sinners that he came to be marked for murder, and only Jehovah could help him.—Jude 14, 15.
Enoch and the Universal Issue
Long before Enoch’s birth, the issue of universal sovereignty was raised. Did God have the right to rule? In effect, Satan the Devil said no. He maintained that intelligent creatures would do better if they were independent of God’s direction. Satan tried to build his case against Jehovah God by craftily maneuvering humans to his side. Adam, his wife Eve, and their first son, Cain, are notorious for siding with Satan by choosing self-rule rather than God-rule. The first human pair did this by partaking of fruit God had forbidden, and Cain did so by willfully murdering his righteous brother, Abel.—Genesis 3:4-6; 4:8.
Abel had courageously stood on Jehovah’s side. Since Abel’s integrity had promoted pure worship, undoubtedly Satan was delighted to see Cain vent murderous rage upon him. From that time on, Satan has wielded the “fear of death” as an intimidating weapon. He wants to strike fear in the heart of anyone inclined to worship the true God.—Hebrews 2:14, 15; John 8:44; 1 John 3:12.
By the time of Enoch’s birth, Satan’s view that humans would not uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty likely seemed well supported. Abel was dead, and his faithful example was not being followed. Yet, Enoch proved himself to be an exception. He had a firm basis for faith, for he was well acquainted with the events that took place in the garden of Eden.a How he must have cherished Jehovah’s prophecy indicating that a promised Seed would bring an end to Satan and his devices!—Genesis 3:15.
With this hope ever before him, Enoch was not intimidated by the historical Devil-inspired murder of Abel. Rather, he kept walking with Jehovah, pursuing a lifelong course of righteousness. Enoch kept himself separate from the world, shunning its independent spirit.—Genesis 5:23, 24.
Furthermore, Enoch courageously spoke up and made it clear that the Devil’s evil works would meet with failure. Under the influence of God’s holy spirit, or active force, Enoch prophesied regarding the wicked: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.”—Jude 14, 15.
Because of Enoch’s fearless proclamations, the apostle Paul, in writing to Hebrew Christians, included him among the great “cloud of witnesses” who set a sterling example of faith in action.b (Hebrews 11:5; 12:1) As a man of faith, Enoch persevered in a course of integrity for more than 300 years. (Genesis 5:22) How Enoch’s faithfulness must have irritated God’s enemies in heaven and on earth! Enoch’s stinging prophecy elicited Satan’s hatred, but it brought Jehovah’s protection.
God Took Enoch—How?
Jehovah did not permit Satan or his earthly servants to kill Enoch. Instead, the inspired record says: “God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) The apostle Paul describes matters this way: “By faith Enoch was transferred so as not to see death, and he was nowhere to be found because God had transferred him; for before his transference he had the witness that he had pleased God well.”—Hebrews 11:5.
How was Enoch “transferred so as not to see death”? Or as rendered in the translation by R. A. Knox, how was Enoch “taken away without the experience of death”? God peacefully terminated Enoch’s life, sparing him the pangs of death from either sickness or violence at the hands of his enemies. Yes, Jehovah cut short Enoch’s life at the age of 365—quite a young person in comparison with his contemporaries.
How was Enoch given a “witness that he had pleased God well”? What evidence did he have? Likely, God put Enoch into a trance, even as the apostle Paul was “caught away,” or transferred, evidently receiving a vision of the future spiritual paradise of the Christian congregation. (2 Corinthians 12:3, 4) The witness, or evidence, that Enoch had been pleasing to God could have entailed a visionary glimpse of the future earthly Paradise in which all those living will support God’s sovereignty. Perhaps it was while Enoch was thus experiencing a rapturous vision that God took him in painless death to sleep until the day of his resurrection. It appears that, as in the case of Moses, Jehovah disposed of Enoch’s body, for “he was nowhere to be found.”—Hebrews 11:5; Deuteronomy 34:5, 6; Jude 9.
The Prophecy Fulfilled
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses declare the essence of Enoch’s prophecy. From the Scriptures, they show how it will be fulfilled when God destroys the ungodly in the near future. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) Their message makes them unpopular, for it differs greatly from this world’s views and goals. The opposition they encounter does not surprise them, for Jesus warned his followers: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name.”—Matthew 10:22; John 17:14.
Like Enoch, however, present-day Christians are assured of eventual deliverance from their enemies. The apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Peter 2:9) God may see fit to remove a problem or a trying situation. Persecution may come to an end. If not, though, he knows how to “make the way out” so that his people can endure their tests successfully. Jehovah even supplies “power beyond what is normal” when necessary.—1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7.
As “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him,” Jehovah will also bless his faithful servants with everlasting life. (Hebrews 11:6) For the vast majority of them, this will be eternal life in an earthly paradise. Like Enoch, may we therefore fearlessly proclaim God’s message. In faith, let us do this against all odds.
a Adam was 622 years old when Enoch was born. Enoch lived on some 57 years after Adam’s death. Hence, their lifetimes overlapped for a considerable time.
b The rendering “witnesses” at Hebrews 12:1 comes from the Greek word marʹtys. According to Wuest’s Word Studies From the Greek New Testament, this word denotes “one who testifies, or can testify, to what he has seen or heard or knows by any other means.” Christian Words, by Nigel Turner, says that the word means one who speaks “from personal experience . . . , and from conviction about truths and views.”
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God’s Name Profaned
About four centuries before Enoch, Adam’s grandson Enosh was born. “At that time a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah,” says Genesis 4:26. Some Hebrew-language scholars believe that this verse should read “began profanely” to call on God’s name or, “then profanation began.” Concerning that period in history, the Jerusalem Targum says: “That was the generation in whose days they began to err, and to make themselves idols, and surnamed their idols by the name of the Word of the Lord.”
The time of Enosh saw widespread misuse of Jehovah’s name. It is possible that men applied the divine name to themselves or to certain people through whom they pretended to approach Jehovah God in worship. Or they may have applied the divine name to idols. In any case, Satan the Devil had the human race securely entangled in the snare of idolatry. By the time of Enoch’s birth, true worship was rare. Anyone like Enoch, who lived the truth and preached it, was unpopular and therefore the object of persecution.—Compare Matthew 5:11, 12.
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Did Enoch Go to Heaven?
“By faith Enoch was transferred so as not to see death.” In their rendering of this portion of Hebrews 11:5, some Bible translations indicate that Enoch did not really die. For example, A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt, states: “It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven so that he never died.”
Some 3,000 years after Enoch’s day, however, Jesus Christ stated: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13) The New English Bible reads: “No one ever went up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man.” When Jesus made that statement, even he had not ascended to heaven.—Compare Luke 7:28.
The apostle Paul states that Enoch and others making up the great cloud of pre-Christian witnesses ‘all died’ and “did not get the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 11:13, 39) Why? Because all humans, including Enoch, have inherited sin from Adam. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) The only means of salvation is through the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. (Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:1, 2) In Enoch’s day that ransom had not yet been paid. Therefore, Enoch did not go to heaven, but he is asleep in death awaiting a resurrection on earth.—John 5:28, 29.
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Reproduced from Illustrirte Pracht - Bibel/Heilige Schrift des Alten und Neuen Testaments, nach der deutschen Uebersetzung D. Martin Luther’s