The Mystery of Those Who Never Died in the Bible: Enoch, Elijah, and Melchizedek

The Mystery of Those Who Never Died in the Bible: Enoch, Elijah, and Melchizedek

While many know the famous expression "nothing is certain except death and taxes," it turns out that the Bible does in fact mention some individuals that never experienced death. While many may initially think of Jesus as an example, it is a central belief in Christianity, as per the gospels, that Jesus did indeed die before his resurrection from the dead. However, the Bible actually gives us the names of three individuals that never saw death.

The third person is the subject of one of the biggest mysteries in the Bible:

1. Enoch, the first man in the Bible to be said to have never died, was one of Adam's descendants, not from Cain or from Abel, but from Adam and Eve's third son. He was also Noah's great-grandfather and bore lineage to other notable figures in the Bible. Now, in an era where God had not yet set a 120-year life limit as mentioned in Genesis 6:3, many individuals lived well beyond a century. However, Enoch defied expectations and became a father at 65 and ultimately lived to the ripe age of 365. During this tumultuous period before the great flood, most people didn't walk faithfully with God - they went their own way down the crooked path of sin. However, Enoch stood out by walking faithfully with God and developing a profound relationship with him. In Genesis 5:22 and 24 we read, "Enoch walked with God and he was no more, for God took him." This passage indicates Enoch's close bond with God and the extraordinary fact that God chose to bring him to heaven without him experiencing physical death. Luke mentions Enoch in his list of Jesus's ancestors in Luke 3:37 going all the way back to Adam. Hebrews 11 also mentions Enoch in a list of the ancient Israelite ancestors who are commended for their great faith. Hebrews 11: 5-6 reads, "For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

Throughout the Bible, the phrase "God took him" is repeatedly used when referring to Enoch. The book of Hebrews clarifies that this phrase isn't just symbolic - it signifies that Enoch didn't experience death as we typically do. Hebrews 11:5-6 reinforces this, stating, "By faith Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God." Enoch was also blessed with the gift of prophecy as he prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ. This instance is depicted in Jude 1:11-14 to 15, which reads, "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." But Enoch's legacy didn't end with him; his great-grandson Noah also walked faithfully with God due to his righteousness, only Noah and his family surviving the catastrophic great flood. Enoch's life is a powerful testimony to faith, obedience, and truthfulness, which pleased God to such an extent that he chose to take him from this earthly life.

2. Elijah, the most popular figure in the Bible that did not die, was a prophet during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in Israel. He was known for his boldness in speaking out against the idols and false gods that the people of Israel had begun to worship. He also performed many miracles, such as bringing fire down from heaven to prove that the God of Israel was the true God (2 Kings 1:10-12). He was used by God to bring about repentance and reform in Israel. During this time, the Israelite nations strayed from the faith of their forefathers, forsaking God to worship pagan idols. This shift towards idolatry was instigated by the wicked King Jeroboam. Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, was particularly devoted to idol worship and influenced her husband to build a temple for the pagan god Baal. This move led many Israelites astray from the true God's worship. Witnessing the spiritual decline of his nation, the prophet Elijah took a stand against King Ahab's impiety, urging him to repent and return to the God of Israel. However, the king remained obstinate and unwilling to heed Elijah's counsel. In response, the prophet Elijah prophesied that there would be a severe drought as a punishment, with no rain or dew falling upon the land until he prayed for its end. For three and half years, the heavens remained closed, causing widespread drought and famine throughout the entire land. The story of Elijah not dying and going straight to heaven is even more dramatic than Enoch's. Elijah's assistant was forewarned of his departure in 2 Kings 2:3, which reads, "Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Alicia and said to him, 'Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?'" On the day chosen by God, Elijah departed from Gilgal accompanied by Alicia. They arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, followed by 50 young prophets from Jericho who stood at a distance observing. Elijah took his cloak and, folding it like a staff, struck the water, causing it to part. The prophets crossed the river on dry ground, walking alongside Alicia through the divided waters. Elijah inquired if there was anything Alicia desired before God took him away. Alicia expressed his wish for a double portion of his master's divine spirit. Elijah assured him that while it was a significant request, it would be granted if Alicia witnessed his master's ascent to heaven. As they continued their conversation, a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses suddenly appeared, separating them. Elijah ascended to heaven in a whirlwind as depicted in 2 Kings 2.

3. Melchizedek: Few mysteries of the Bible have attracted more interest than the enigma of the identity of Melchizedek. This is widely considered to be the biggest mystery in the Bible. In Hebrews 6:19-2, you'll find that Jesus Christ, following his resurrection, holds the position of a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. The NIV translation puts it more straightforwardly, stating that Jesus holds an equivalent status with Melchizedek, described as with the rank of. So who is Melchizedek? First, it's worth noting from both the Old and New Testaments that the enigmatic figure Melchizedek served as a priest of the most high God, as detailed in Genesis 14. During this time, there was a war between a number of ancient city-states in Canaan and Mesopotamia, and Abraham's nephew Lot and his family had been captured. When one of Lot's people managed to escape and deliver this news to Abraham, Abraham took action by arming 318 of his own servants and pursuing the invaders. He tracked them down and succeeded in rescuing Lot and his family, safely returning them to the Canaanite cities. Upon Abraham's return from this daring rescue mission, a mysterious figure suddenly appears on the scene. It was Melchizedek who came forward to minister to Abraham. Here is the account in Genesis 14:18-20, "And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God most high, and Melchizedek blessed Abraham and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God most high, maker of heaven and Earth, and blessed be God most high, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything." That is a tithe of all, for a tithe means a tenth. Notice that Melchizedek was king of Salem - that is, the city of Jerusalem. Salem comes from the Hebrew word meaning peace, which would make Melchizedek the king of peace. The Hebrew name Melchizedek itself means king of righteousness. The same individual is mentioned in Psalm 110:4, speaking prophetically of Christ. David stated, "The Eternal hath sworn, and will not repent, 'Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.'" This verse is quoted again in Hebrews 5:6-10. Hebrews 7:3 states, "Melchizedek had no father or mother, and there is no record of his ancestors; he was never born and never died, but his life is like that of the Son of God - a priest forever." This is our proof from the Bible that he never died.

But this still does not solve our mystery. So again, who is he? Who really knows? Many people believe Melchizedek was Jesus Christ. Let's explore this narrative a bit. In Hebrews 7:20-21, God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest forever. The text reads, "The Lord has sworn and will never change his mind, 'You are a priest forever, with the rank of Melchizedek.'" Also, his name being king of righteousness is one point many stand on to make this claim. Jesus himself said in Matthew 19:17, "There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Jesus' name was king of righteousness as well. Back to Hebrews 7, remember that this man was the king of Peace - Salem, from which Jerusalem was named, means peace. And remember, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, meaning no human being could be the king of peace. Romans 3:10-17 tells us that there is none righteous, and the way of peace have they not known. So how can a man be both the king of righteousness and peace? Furthermore, the fact that Melchizedek was without mother, without father, without descent, or, as the Philip's translation renders it, "he had no father or mother and no family tree," means he was not born as human beings are. This does not mean that Melchizedek's records of birth were lost, without such records human priests could not serve, as depicted in Ezra 2:62. The scripture also reveals that Melchizedek is continually a priest. We also know that God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, and his priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek. Could they be the same person?

This is where this narrative, however, gets a bit tricky. We do know that in the future of the New Testament, Jesus has a father and mother and dies and resurrects. So could Melchizedek really be Jesus, even though Jesus had a father, a mother, and died? Who really knows? The folks on the other side of the aisle make a claim that the author of the book of Hebrews was speaking figuratively and that he rather meant Melchizedek was like Jesus or resembled Jesus. They also make the claim that in virtually all other appearances of God in the Bible, the person who is meeting with God has some awareness that they have been in the presence of the Divine. But in the story of Melchizedek, there is no moment where Abraham acknowledges that he has been in the presence of God. True, Melchizedek abruptly appears and disappears from the narrative, but there is nothing in Genesis 14 that explicitly leads us to see that God himself has been present. Another point they make is that earlier in Hebrews 5:1, the author says that every priest is chosen from among men. The whole point of the priesthood is that a chosen and anointed human stands before God as our representative. However, these differences of opinion should neither distract us nor divide us. At the end of the day, what matters most is that we have a great high priest named Jesus - one who has paid for our sin, who pleads our case before God, and who loves us with an everlasting love.

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