As preached at the PCC prayer meeting by bro Linus Chua on 28 June 2002

In Genesis 3:15, we find the first declaration of the gospel in Scriptures. There, we see the first rays of gospel light penetrating into this dark and fallen world. Indeed, God was very merciful to man after the fall. He did not destroy them immediately after they sinned against Him. He also gave them that gracious promise of a Saviour, who would someday come to crush the devil and deliver His people. But even though God showed mercy to man that day, He did not remove the consequences and effects of sin from this world. God said to Adam in Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Since then, death, like a mighty sickle, has swept across all mankind cutting down everyone in its way, and unless the Lord Christ comes again in our life time, each one of us will also be cut down someday. I like the way R.C. Sproul puts it,

Death is a divine appointment. It is part of God’s purpose in our lives. God calls each person to die. He is sovereign over all of life, including the final experience of life…. We have different vocations with respect to jobs and tasks that God gives us in this life. But we all share in the vocation in death. Every one of us is called to die. That vocation is as much a calling from God as is a “call” to the ministry of Christ. Sometimes the call comes suddenly and without warning. Sometimes it comes with a notification in advance. But it comes to all of us. And it comes from God.

I like that phrase—“[God] is sovereign over all of life.” His sovereignty over life and death is especially seen in the lives of two persons that once walked upon the face of this earth, but who now walk in a far better country—Enoch and Elijah, the only two saints whom God plucked out of this earth, bypassing the ordinary experience of death. We want to look at the first of these two.

The Bible doesn’t tell us very much about Enoch. Besides Hebrews 11:5 and Genesis 5:21–24, the only other place in Scriptures that tell us something about Enoch is Jude 14–15. That’s all the biblical data we have on this man. In fact, we can summarise the life of Enoch under three simple points. Enoch: (1) the man who walked with God, (2) the man who witnessed for God, and (3) the man whowent to God. I’ll like to focus our thoughts on this third aspect of Enoch’s life, namely—the man who went to God, and share with us some simple lessons from his translation. But before that, it’ll be good if we briefly review the biblical account of Enoch’s going to God.

The Biblical Account of Enoch’s Translation

Genesis 5:24 gives us the summarised account while Hebrews 11:5 gives us the expanded account. Look first at Genesis 5:24. There we have Enoch’s translation stated both negatively and positively. Enoch walked with God: and he was not (negatively); for God took him (positively). What does the phrase “and he was not” mean? Well, a simple illustration I can think of is that of a magician who performs a “magic trick” and makes something disappear. Perhaps he puts a coin in his hand, closes it and when he opens it again, it has vanished—the coin was not. When God took Enoch, Enoch vanished from this earth. And it wasn’t a magician who made Enoch disappear. Oh no, God who took him.

It’s interesting that this word “took” in Genesis 5:24 is the same word used to describe Elijah’s departure from this earth? 2 Kings 2:3, “And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?” (italics added). Just as God took Elijah up to heaven, so He took Enoch from this earth.

Hebrews 11:5 gives us a little more detail on Enoch’s going to God. Here, we have two negative and one positive statements. Enoch was translated that he should not see death (the first negative), and was not found (the second negative), because God had translated him (the positive statement). Let’s look at each of them. Firstly, Enoch did not see death. He didn’t go through that frightening and terrible experience in which a person’s soul is separated or rent from his body. That’s what death is about—the breaking up of that mysterious, yet real, union of body and soul. Just as divorce dissolves that bond between a man and a woman, so death dissolves the bond between one’s body and soul. But Enoch knew nothing of that frightening experience of dying and of death itself. He did not see death.

The second negative statement is “Enoch… was not found.” This phrase suggests to us that sometime after Enoch was translated, a search party was sent out to look for him. (After all, you don’t say that something was not found unless you had first been looking for it.) Again we see a parallel in Elijah. Some time after Elijah was taken to heaven, some of the sons of the prophets came to Elisha and said,

Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? (2 Kgs 2:16–18).

We are told that a search party went out to look for Elijah. Similarly, there were people who went looking for Enoch after he was translated. Perhaps they went to those places where Enoch was known to have spent seasons of intense prayer and fasting and seeking of God’s face; times when the burdens of living in this sinful world was too much for him to bear and he would go out somewhere alone to pour out his heart to God and have communion with Him, as anyone who walks with God would. Perhaps, but whatever it is, we know that Enoch was sought out by those who knew him, but they could not find him.

Lastly, we look at the positive statement in Hebrews 11:5, “God had translated him.” In modern English usage, we normally think of the word “to translate” or the word “translation” to mean the bringing of words from one language to another. But the word “translate” also means to move or change one’s position or condition. Perhaps a more helpful word for us than “translate” is the word “transport.” Enoch was transported from earth to heaven. He was transported, taken up, both body and soul, into another world. One moment he was standing on terra firma and the next he was gone from this earth. God took Enoch away. God translated him.

Well, this is all that the Scriptures tell us about Enoch’s translation. How was Enoch translated? Did anyone see him when he was taken up? Did Enoch himself know before hand, as Elijah did, that he was going to be translated? Did he have time to bid farewell to his wife, his children and his other relatives and friends before he went? There are many questions that we may ask concerning Enoch’s going to God, but the Scriptures give us no hint of an answer. Well I’m sure that when we meet Enoch in heaven someday, we can ask him all the questions we want. For now we must wait patiently till then to find out.

But while we remain on this earth, there is one question that we must ask concerning Enoch’s translation: What is God teaching us from the biblical record of Enoch’s translation? In other words, why did God take Enoch the way He did, and what does Enoch’s translation have to do with us today? Well, I trust that we may, without fancy, draw some important lessons from Enoch’s translation.

Lessons from Enoch’s Translation

Firstly, Enoch’s translation reveals to us the gracious purposes of God in redemptive history. Enoch’s translation is a very important milestone in the history of redemption. He was translated almost a thousand years after the fall of mankind. The record of Adam and Eve’s sin and God’s dealings with His fallen creatures is found in Genesis 3. Then in chapter 4, we read of the first murder that ever took place in this world, and we are also introduced to that godless line that began to populate this world. Genesis 3:15 describes that line as the seed of the serpent. Then in chapter 5, we read of the godly line that descended from Seth, whom God had appointed in place of Abel. As we read chapter 5, we immediately notice that something is wrong—that while people were living for many hundreds of years, yet a time still came when each had to die. First Adam, then Seth, then Enos, then Cainan, then Mahalaleel, then Jared. For six generations this phrase, “and he died,” is repeated again and again.

So apart from Genesis 3:15, God doesn’t reveal anything more to mankind concerning His great plan of redemption, until we come to Enoch in Genesis 5:24. During those 1,000 years after sin entered into this world, the human race had witnessed time and again those words of God to Adam, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” But the most significant death up until that point must surely have been that of Adam himself. It must have been a most poignant and moving moment in human history when the head of the human race himself was finally laid to rest in the earth. Perhaps hundreds, if not thousands, of Adam’s extended family gathered together that day to witness his burial. The only one whom God personally formed from the dust of the ground, was now returning to the dust—“for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Many, no doubt, would have heard Adam telling them of the enmity that God injected, the enmity that God was perpetuating, and the enmity that God would someday consummate with the coming of the woman’s seed to crush the head of the serpent. Yes, the gospel was handed down from one generation to another. But one question must have pressed itself upon the minds of the godly when they saw their first father buried in the earth—will the dead live again? Does the body have any part to play in God’s redemptive plan or does redemption only involve the soul? Will our bodies, when we die, return to the dust forever? What will become of those who believe God’s promise in Genesis 3:15? Will they rise again from the dead?

Enoch was alive when Adam died. Then 57 years after that, long after Adam’s body had seen decay and corruption, Enoch was translated that he should not see death. No doubt many of those who were around when Adam died and was buried, were still alive when Enoch was translated. And so when God took Enoch, the seventh from Adam, He was showing His people that there is indeed a place in His redemptive plan for their bodies. Enoch’s translation was a pledge that God was going to redeem, not a part, but the whole of a person—body and soul. As an aside, isn’t it wonderful that God reveals His plan of redemption both by word and by deed! By word, He spoke Genesis 3:15. By deed, He took Enoch, body and soul, unto Himself.

Listen to John Owen’s comments on Enoch’s translation,

And this was a divine testimony that the body itself is also capable of eternal life. When all mankind saw that their bodies went into the dust and corruption universally, it was not easy for them to believe that they were capable of any other condition, but that the grave was to be their eternal habitation, according to the divine sentence on the entrance of sin, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” But herein God gave us a pledge and assurance that the body itself hath a capacity of eternal blessedness in heaven.

Secondly, Enoch’s translation reveals to us the importance of walking with God in this life. In Enoch’s life and translation, we see the end of one who walked with God during his time on this earth. Many Christians today think that a consistent walk with God in the ways of God, is only for the more spiritual and serious believer like Enoch, and not for the “ordinary” Christian. But make no mistake, only those who walk with God in this life, as Enoch did, will go to God when they leave this earth. “They must walk with God here who design to live with him hereafter… they must please God in this world who would be blessed with him in another” (Owen). “In Adam God would give the world a pledge of the fruit of sin, which is death; and in Enoch, God would give a pledge of the fruit of holiness, and that is immortality and eternal life” (Thomas Manton). So we see very clearly that the fruit or the result of sin is death, but the fruit of holiness is life eternal. Though walking with God does not earn us a place in heaven, it is nevertheless an unmistakable evidence that we are true believers and are headed for the celestial city.

Said Balaam, that strange character, in Numbers 23:10, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” But sadly, he was unwilling to live the life of a righteous Enoch, and so instead, he died the death of the wicked. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7–8).

While studying in college, I knew a fellow Christian who placed a lot of emphasis on a Christian’s personal walk with God and I always appreciated his timely reminders. “How’s your walk with God?” he would often ask. “Are you still walking in the ways of God?” This friend of mine knew the importance of walking with God. I’ll like to put that same question to you: How’s your walk with God? Have you been walking with God today? Have you been walking with God yesterday, or last week? It’s important to ask ourselves regularly whether we’re walking with God or not, remembering that if we don’t walk with God in this life, we’ll not go to Him, as Enoch did.

Thirdly, Enoch’s translation reveals to us the reality of the world to come. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14–15). Enoch lived in a world not very different from ours, an ungodly generation where people generally didn’t give much thought to their life or to the life to come. “Eat, drink and be merry” was their motto. The thought of judgment, of sin, of hell, of things unseen, of things in the spiritual realm, yea even the very thought of God Himself was snuffed out of their minds. All that was real to them was what could be seen and felt and tasted and smelt and heard. It was a sensual and fleshly age that believed only in the realities of this present world and disregarded those things that were to come.

And so, it was in such an ungodly and unbelieving generation that Enoch witnessed for his God. Enoch preached, as Paul preached to Felix, of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, but the world would hear nothing of it. Enoch said, “The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all….” The world responded, “What is this fool saying? Where is the Lord? Where is His judgment? There is no God. There is no judgment to come. These things are nothing but the ravings of a man gone mad!”

But what was God showing that wicked and perverse generation when He took Enoch out of this world? God was both vindicating His servant and validating his message. It was as if God was saying, “Look here, my servant has been preaching to you about a world that you can’t see and about a whole spectrum of realities that you can’t perceive with your physical senses. But you despise his preaching, and act as if these things don’t exist. Well, I’ll show you that there is another world. I’ll take him from among you into that other world.” And so on a given day, God took Enoch unto Himself.

There is another world besides the one in which we now live. There is a judgment to come. These things are real, not imaginary. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. What we do in the body will meet us again on judgment day.

Are we walking with God? And are we witnessing for God? Indeed, this ungodly and unbelieving generation needs to hear the same message that Enoch preached in his day. This world needs to hear about the translation of that man from this world to another—that there is a world which Enoch is in right now, body and soul, in the perfect enjoyment of God; but that there is also a world in which unbelieving sinners will ultimately go to—a place of ever-lasting torment in hell.

Again Owen says,

I am fully satisfied from the prophecy of Enoch, recorded by Jude, that he had a great contest with the world about faith, obedience, the worship of God, with the certainty of divine vengeance on ungodly sinners, with the eternal reward of the righteous. And as this contest for God against the world is exceeding acceptable unto him, as he manifested afterward in his taking of Elijah to himself, who had managed it with a fiery zeal; so in this translation of Enoch upon the like contest, he visibly judged the cause on his side, confirming his ministry, to the strengthening of the faith of the church, and condemnation of the world.

Lastly, Enoch’s translation reveals to us the hope and comfort that all believers may have in this life. “Enoch was not merely translated for his own benefit and comfort, but for the comfort of other patriarchs against the fear of daily crosses in this life and against the terrors of death” (Manton).

I am persuaded that Job got his doctrine of the resurrection from Enoch’s translation, and that he took much encouragement from it, especially during his great trial. Why? Because Enoch’s God was his God, Enoch’s faith was his faith, Enoch’s walk was his walk, and Enoch’s going to meet God in the body would someday be his experience too. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25–26).

There were many other saints like Job, who walked with God, but who nevertheless saw death at the end of their life. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, etc., these all walked with God, yet they died. What was so special about Enoch? Why did God translate him and not the rest? Perhaps the answer has something to do with the fact that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Consider this: that after six generations of saints who laboured and toiled under the yoke and burden of sin, God took the seventh from Adam unto Himself, bypassing the ordinary experience of death, to encourage all subsequent generations of saints that they too, after their six “days” of labour and suffering, will one day enter into that eternal Sabbath rest. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Ex 20:9–11). And that is why the Sabbath is so precious to us even today, for the Sabbath is an emblem and type of that eternal Sabbath rest, which Enoch has already entered into, body and soul.

In Enoch’s translation, we see the words of our Lord Jesus Christ springing alive, giving us great hope, comfort and joy, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (Jn 11:25–26; italics mine).


Enoch’s translation reveals to us four things: firstly, the gracious purposes of God in redemptive history; secondly, the importance of walking with God in this life; thirdly, the reality of a world to come; and lastly, the hope and comfort that all believers may have in this life. I’ll end by quoting George Whitefield’s concluding words on the life of Enoch:

Does he not speak to us, to quicken our zeal, and make us more active in the service of our glorious and ever-blessed Master? How did Enoch preach! How did Enoch walk with God, though he lived in a wicked and adulterous generation! Let us then follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ, and ere long, where he is there shall we be also. He is now entered into his rest: yet a little while and we shall enter into ours, and that too much sooner than he did. He sojourned here below three hundred and sixty five years; but blessed be God, the days of man are now shortened, and in a few days our walk will be over. The Judge is before the door: he that cometh will come, and will not tarry: his reward is with him. And we shall all (if we are zealous for the Lord of hosts) ere long shine as the stars in the firmament, in the kingdom of our heavenly Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

 21 July 2002