The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

The Book of Enoch: Let’s All Obsess Over Angels

There are only two men who are mentioned in the Old Testament records as departing from this world without physically dying or leaving behind a corpse.  The prophet Elijah was whisked up to Heaven by God in some kind of fiery tornado. We know a fair amount about Elijah. Then there was Enoch: the great grandfather of Noah of whom we know very little.

Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him. (Gen. 5:24)

To “walk with God” meant to be faithful to God.  So we know that Enoch chose to respond to God well on a soul level.  We know that he disappeared at 365 years of age.  That sums up Enoch.

Now when a guy has a reputation of being miraculously whisked off to Heaven, well, that’s just too tempting for some people to leave alone.  There’s a form of forgery which involves writing a document using someone else’s name–usually a famous person–as a way of gaining instant credibility.  This was a popular practice in ancient times, which makes it quite challenging to try and sort out which epistles that are signed “the Apostle Paul” were actually written by Paul and which were penned by posers.  This was one of those little headaches Christian leaders had to deal with when trying to decide which books to include in our New Testament canon.  There was an ocean of documents produced by the early Church.  Which were authentic and which were phony?  There was nothing simple about sorting that mess out.

The Book of Enoch (also known as 1 Enoch) is long collection of musings and prophetic words which were supposedly written by the Enoch–that guy who lived thousands of years ago before the Flood wiped mankind off the face of the map.  And since Noah’s family were the only survivors, there are limited options for how any of Enoch’s works could have survived.  Either Noah entered the Ark with a roll of scrolls under his arm, or the man had an exceptionally clear memory for all the long yarns great-grandad use to tell.  If we’re looking at oral history, then we’re looking at stories being passed down from generation to generation until someone finally picked up a pen.  Or we could try and imagine that in all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the world to end, Noah couldn’t stand parting with certain family records so he brought great granddad’s documents onto the ark with him.

One glaring problem with accepting The Book of Enoch is dates.  The oldest parts of the book seem to date back to around 300 BC–that’s a mere 300 years before the birth of Christ.  Yet Enoch departed somewhere around 3121 BC, which leads us to ask why his written works are so shockingly young.

But documents can be copied and recopied over time, so the date argument alone isn’t enough to throw Enoch aside.  The real reason we want to strike the match on this pile of baloney is because of the content.  The thing is one long glorification of angels and certain human individuals, and it was clearly written by someone who was obsessed with the idea of angelic beings hobnobbing with humans on earth.  Now since the real Enoch was pleasing to God, and God detests the glorification of any being other than Himself, there’s no way we could ever accept the absurd theory that the real Enoch would ever pen the kind of nonsense we find in the book which he’s been blamed for.  To give you an idea of how absurd this thing is, check out this account of Noah’s birth.

After a time, my son Mathusala took a wife for his son Lamech.

She became pregnant by him, and brought forth a child, the flesh of which was as white as snow, and red as a rose; the hair of whose head was white like wool, and long; and whose eyes were beautiful. When he opened them, he illuminated all the house, like the sun; the whole house abounded with light.

And when he was taken from the hand of the midwife, opening also his mouth, he spoke to the Lord of righteousness. Then Lamech his father was afraid of him; and flying away came to his own father Mathusala, and said, “I have begotten a son, unlike to other children. He is not human; but, resembling the offspring of the angels of heaven, is of a different nature from ours, being altogether unlike to us. His eyes are bright as the rays of the sun; his countenance glorious, and he looks not as if he belonged to me, but to the angels.” (Enoch 105:1-4)

Enoch’s son was named Mathusala (your bible might spell it Methusala).  Mathusala’s son is Lamech.  Here we find a description of Lamech’s wife giving birth to some freakish humanoid with supernatural powers.  The kid comes out of the womb both white and red (whatever that means), with a long mane of white hair and eyes as bright as the sun.  And of course he can talk.

Naturally Lamech, the freak child’s father, finds all of this alarming.  So he runs to daddy Mathusala for advice.  We’re told that at this time Enoch’s “residence is with the angels” (En. 105:6).  But hey, no sweat because everyone knows where that is.  Mathusala goes running to “the extremities of the earth” (En. 105:7), and there his father Enoch is ready and waiting to cast pearls of wisdom to his frazzled son.

Enoch explains to Lamech that this freak child with the blinding eyes will grow up to have three sons, and they will be the only ones to survive an epic flood that God will be sending on the world.  So you see it was Enoch, not God, who tipped Noah off about the flood.  This book should have been titled “The Exaltation of Enoch” for all of the idolatrous guff we have to wade through.

Now though 105 chapters sounds daunting, some of these “chapters” are only a couple of verses long.  But long or short, the chapters are filled with obvious lies and a phony attempt to fake prophecies about things that had already come to pass in lifetime of the original author.  For example, we find a reference to God coming to Mt. Sinai, and a reference to God referring to Christ as “My Son”–something He would certainly not do while claiming to be the only God in existence.  Let’s check out some more verses that demonstrate how irreverent this testy little book is.

I swear to you, ye righteous, that in heaven the angels record your goodness before the glory of the mighty One. (En. 103:1)

Here we’re supposed to believe that it is angels, not God, who are tracking our good deeds on earth.  Well, no, the angels are not our judges, nor does God bother with record keeping in Heaven.  Our delusional author now goes on to do a little self-promotion.

Now will I point out a mystery: Many sinners shall turn and transgress against the word of uprightness. They shall speak evil things; they shall utter falsehood; execute great undertakings; and compose books in their own words. But when they shall write all my words correctly in their own languages, they shall neither change or diminish them; but shall write them all correctly; all which from the first I have uttered concerning them.

Another mystery also I point out. To the righteous and the wise shall be given books of joy, of integrity, and of great wisdom. To them shall books be given, in which they shall believe; and in which they shall rejoice. And all the righteous shall be rewarded, who from these shall acquire the knowledge of every upright path. (En. 103:7-11)

The first “mystery” is that this book of foolishness will be preserved perfectly because, well, it’s magic.  What foolishness.  And yet how can we prove this “prophecy” wrong when no one actually knows what the original Enoch said?  Oh, that’s right, he didn’t say anything–at least nothing like the garbage in this book.

The second “mystery” is that the righteous are going to be avid readers of some set of glorious books which will mysteriously impart to them some kind of special knowledge.  It’s painfully clear that our author wants us to view his work as one of those amazing tomes. Since when does God reward us for being well-read?  God rewards us not for acquiring heaps of knowledge, but for responding well to Him in our souls.

But now I swear to you, ye righteous, by the greatness of his splendour and his glory; by his illustrious kingdom and by his majesty, to you I swear, that I comprehend this mystery; that I have read the tablet of heaven, have seen the writing of the holy Ones, and have discovered what is written and impressed on it concerning you.

I have seen that all goodness, joy, and glory has been prepared for you, and been written down for the spirits of them who die eminently righteous and good. To you it shall be given in return for your troubles; and your portion of happiness shall far exceed the portion of the living. (En. 102:1-2)

Now we’re supposed to believe that there is some magical tablet in heaven which human Enoch has laid his eyes on.  It says we’ll all end up in a glorious place if we die “eminently righteous and good.”  Eminently means “exceedingly”.  So how does this work?  Strive and strain and hope you impress God enough?  Notice how it’s all about works, and there’s no mention of soul attitude or faith.  Your “false teaching” alarm should be ringing loud and clear by now.

Some of you have heard of the Nephilim.  This term is used in Genesis to describe the resulting offspring when “sons of God” had sex with “the daughters of men” on earth.  “Nephilim” means “the fallen ones.”  And because God has told us not to obsess over supernatural beings or worship created things, what do we do?  We make up a ludicrous tale about angels (aka “the sons of God”) coming down to earth and having sex with women.  Really??  So now angels have human genitals and human sperm?  You’d be surprised how many people need to believe that humans can procreate with non-human beings.  Many ascribe to the theory that the Nephilim were gigantic human-angel hybrids (because no half-angel could be of average height) who used to roam the earth in pre-Flood days.  Because the timeframe of the Nephilim story fits within the lifetime of Enoch, the author of The Book of Enoch spends many chapters giving us a blow-by-blow about how this angel-human orgy took place.  You see, Enoch was right there in the middle of it all, playing messenger boy for God, who is not at all happy about His angels (or “Watchers”) leaving their stations in the sky to get it on with those sexy earth babes.

I, Enoch, was blessing the great Lord and King of peace. And behold the Watchers called me Enoch the scribe.

Then the Lord said to me: “Enoch, scribe of righteousness, go tell the Watchers of heaven, who have deserted the lofty sky, and their holy everlasting station, who have been polluted with women. And have done as the sons of men do, by taking to themselves wives, and who have been greatly corrupted on the earth; that on the earth they shall never obtain peace and remission of sin. For they shall not rejoice in their offspring; they shall behold the slaughter of their beloved; shall lament for the destruction of their sons; and shall petition for ever; but shall not obtain mercy and peace.” (En. 12:3-7)

Here God supposedly tells Enoch (that righteous scribe who is revered by all) that he needs to tell those bad angels off.  Enoch delivers the speech in the next chapter, and of course all those horny angels tremble in dread before the righteous scribe as he announces God’s judgment on them.  But then the angels beg Enoch to write them some kind of apology letter to God so that maybe He’ll let them off the hook.

Beseeching me to write for them a memorial of supplication, that they might obtain forgiveness; and that I might make the memorial of their prayer ascend up before the God of heaven; because they could not themselves thenceforward address him, nor raise up their eyes to heaven on account of the disgraceful offense for which they were judged.

Then I wrote a memorial of their prayer and supplication, for their spirits, for everything which they had done, and for the subject of their entreaty, that they might obtain remission and rest. (En. 13:6-7)

At this point the angels are too sinful and damned to address God directly, but righteous Enoch, well, he plays the part of some kind of holy intercessor, penning some grand plea for mercy that God just won’t be able to turn down.  Unfortunately, God does turn it down, which we find out in the next chapter.  So here’s a question: how come some dot of a human is playing judge over these angelic beings?  Well, because Enoch is special.

As [God] has created and given to men the power of comprehending the word of understanding, so has he created and given to me the power of reproving the Watchers, the offspring of heaven. I have written your petition; and in my vision it has been shown me, that what you request will not be granted you as long as the world endures. (En. 14:2)

It’s clear that whoever wrote The Book of Enoch was utterly enamored with the concept of Enoch and was determined to make this total unknown into a larger-than-life figure.  In real life, we know nothing about who Enoch was.  But by the time our imaginative author is done spinning out his fantastic yarns, we’ve got some mighty scribe who God has endowed with super powers and exalted as the judge over naughty angels on earth.

Things get even better in Chapter 15, as Enoch is whisked up to God’s heavenly throne room where God wants to talk to him about this business of angels (the Watchers) asking Enoch to pray on their behalf.  As far as God is concerned, the angels are supposed to be praying for humans, not asking a human to pray for them.

Then addressing me, He spoke and said, “Hear, neither be afraid, O righteous Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness: approach hither, and hear my voice. Go, say to the Watchers of heaven, who have sent thee to pray for them, You ought to pray for men, and not men for you.” (En. 15:1)

In the first place, we should never be praying for angels.  In the second place, God would never command angels to pray for us.  God doesn’t do this third party stuff: He deals with each soul directly.  This is such rot.  Yet God will spend the rest of the chapter going on at length about how these angels–who He claims are non-physical beings (yet somehow they had sex with women)–were super naughty to go get it on with earth babes, and now their giant offspring (the Nephilim) are going to have to live on earth as evil spirits.

“Now the giants, who lave been born of spirit and of flesh, shall be called upon earth evil spirits, and on earth shall be their habitation. Evil spirits shall proceed from their flesh, because they were created from above; from the holy Watchers was their beginning and primary foundation. Evil spirits shall they be upon earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven; but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth.” (En. 15:8)

This thing reads like the script to a low budget sci-fi movie that someone wrote while they were high on drugs.  After this it’s a blah, blah, blah about Enoch flying here and there in his ridiculous visions until he finally talks to the angel Uriel (there are many named angels in this book) who explains that it’s really angels who made human beings sin.

Then Uriel said, “Here the angels, who cohabited with women, appointed their leaders; and being numerous in appearance made men profane, and caused them to err; so that they sacrificed to devils as to gods. For in the great day there shall be a judgment, with which they shall be judged, until they are consumed; and their wives also shall be judged, who led astray the angels of heaven that they might salute them.” And I, Enoch, I alone saw the likeness of the end of all things. Nor did any human being see it, as I saw it. (En. 19:1-3)

This is nothing more than a human author arrogantly making humans out to be the center of the universe.  As much as we’d like to blame angels for our rebellion, angels don’t force us to worship anything–idolatry is a voluntary decision on our part.  And as much as we want to act like angels fell away from God because they found us so utterly irresistible, they were already in trouble with God before this earth was ever created.  So no, we’re really not some central theme in the existence of angels.  Angels don’t have sex with women, humans can’t successfully mate with non-human beings, and poor Enoch’s good name is being raked through the mud by this absurd little document.  But this thing is more than some idiot’s harmless imaginings.  Whenever God is being intentionally misrepresented and misquoted, it’s a very serious matter.

Now in the New Testament epistle of Jude, we find a passage from The Book of Enoch being quoted.

 And Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about them:

“Look! The Lord comes with thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict them of all their ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against Him.” [En. 2:1] (Jude 1:14-15)

The fact that Jude considered such a blasphemous work to be worthy of quotation should have been enough to make us toss Jude’s epistle into the trashcan straight off.  But, alas, those fools who assembled the New Testament canon were clearly not listening to the Holy Spirit as they voted to keep Jude and other foolish letters preserved for all time.  And it’s because Jude so idiotically quotes The Book of Enoch that many Christians today assume the Enoch book must have some validity to it.  But no, it doesn’t.  As soon as we find evidence that a man is lying his face off about authorship and historical events we should lose all respect for both him and his writings.  As soon as we find descriptions of God saying and doing things that directly contradict His Character and priorities, we should be striking the match. So don’t get sucked into The Book of Enoch hype.  To date there have been countless God slandering works produced which borrow names, characters, and events from the modern Christian Bible.  You can’t just believe what you read because someone mentions biblical names.  The New Testament Jews were caught up in an unhealthy obsession with angelic beings.  The Book of Enoch would have encouraged their delusions and given them plenty of idolatrous concepts to fantasize about.  You don’t want to follow their idolatrous example.

FURTHER READING:
Angels in the Book of Daniel
Angel Q&A
How God Wants Us to Relate to Four Kinds of Beings
Genesis 6 in Context: Demystifying the Nephilim

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