30 July 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 1)

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)
So, where did God take Enoch? Why did He take Enoch?

The answers do not lie in what we hold as the canonical Old Testament scriptures, but such answers can be found in books like the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch, ancient Jewish writings, that for one reason or another were rejected (or missing) when the canon was decided upon. But do these books hold any truth to the happenings of the time, or are they just fictitious stories for the fanciful minds of Jewish children?

I "discovered" and read through the Book of Enoch a few years ago. I found it very fascinating, and while I found it answering many questions as well as filling in spots of my thinking that I had previously considered, I still took the book with a grain of salt.

As I continued reading not only the Scripture, but other Jewish history writings and general histories of the Jewish people, I found myself drawn back to considering some of these writings as more than just folklore. As I found more and more quotes, terms and references in the New Testament, that come directly from Enoch, I had to consider the weight of the matter. Whether the book is to be considered canonical or not, it is definitely worth our time to read it, because it is evident that not only was it widely known by Christ and the Apostles (enough for them to quote from), but the language itself is a precursor to the very language we find throughout prophecy writings, especially those in Revelation.

Some examples of NT quotes/references to the Book of Enoch:

For if God spared not the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment; - 2 Peter 2:4

And the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great Day - Jude 6
Both verses refer directly to stories found in directly in the Book of Enoch. For those of you totally unfamiliar with Enoch and the story behind where this fits in, let me give a brief background. Enoch shows up in Genesis 5, being the great-grandfather of Noah. When you jump into Gen. 6, you find:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God ("angels of God" in the Septuagint) saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took for themselves wives of all whom they chose. There were giants on the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagining of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. And the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for I repent that I have made them."
Many commentators have gone to great lengths to dispell the thoughts that these "sons of God" were actually angels, but in doing so, leave verses like those from 2 Peter and Jude just hanging out there with less explanation. The fact that the term "sons of God" can be interpreted to mean angels, and the fact that the Septuigint translates it as "angels of God" should give us reason enough to stop and consider this avenue of thought.

It is during this time that Enoch was taken by God, and during this time, after these sons of God procreate and create giants, that "GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth." What is the connection between these "giant" offspring, and the sudden pronouncement of the wickedness of men? Only the details of the Book of Enoch give clarity to the situation.

The Book of Jasher also gives a much more detailed background story of the life and times of Enoch, and how he was very righteous and a sought after teacher of the things of God. It tells of his calling by God, and his removal to heaven to stand as a sort of judge/mediator for these fallen angels who procreated with women. The Book of Enoch expounds on the happenings once he was taken to heaven, and all of the dealings with these fallen angels and the Lord. The judgment brought by God upon these angels is what is being directly quoted by both Peter and Jude above. But the Jude section goes further in establishing this fact:

...even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, in like manner (to the angels) giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Both the angels and Sodom and Gomorrah are described here condemned for "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh," so unless we can find other Biblical examples of angels leaving their habitation to give themselves over to this kind of fornication and thus being bound in chains till judgment, then it adds that much more creedance to the story of Enoch.

Going even further into Jude though, we also find:

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all who are ungodly among them of all their godless deeds which they have godlessly committed, and of all the harsh speeches which godless sinners have spoken against Him." Jude 14-15
So, all I am saying for now is, that the Book of Enoch has been quoted directly in Jude, was referenced/quoted by Peter and Jesus, it also contains a very impressive parable/prophesy of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70, as well as giving us a "behind the scenes" working of angels, fallen angels, evil spirits, judgment and a foundational prophetic terms that appear throughout the New Testament scriptures. It was commonly known among not only by the Apostles and Jesus, but for the first couple hundred years of church history, was still in circulation and wildly read. I feel it is well worth reading in our day and age based on these points alone.

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8