Elijah and Heaven
(EDITORS NOTE: This article is in reply to one written by Brother Carl Finley of Columbus, Ohio. See Brother Finley's article in the January, 1963 issue of TRUTH MAGAZINE.)
Enoch and Elijah did not go to heaven, the eternal abode of the redeemed. Still this does not mean Enoch just changed his ways and that Elijah moved to another town. The letter from Elijah mentioned in 2 Chron. 21: 12- 15 could be answered by: (1) It was a posthumous message written by the foreknowledge of God; (2) It was written by Elisha in the spirit of Elijah (2 Kings 2:15); (3) A question of the chronological order of 2 Kings.
It is true that Heb. 9:27 states that, "it is appointed unto man once to die..." But what is death? The scriptures refer to physical death as a separation of body and soul. Spiritual death is a separation between man and God. One can leave this world without being buried in a hole in the ground. Jesus referred to death as a sleep (John. 11:12-14). Paul also uses this expression in 1 Thess. 4: 14, and says those that are "asleep in Jesus" (dead) shall arise. He further declares that those that are "alive and remain shall be caught up." These shall not have been buried, but must also conform to Heb. 9:27. Paul shows how this will be done in 1 Cor. 15: 50-53. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit heaven," but even those that do NOT sleep (die) shall be changed. This corruptible body (physical, material) shall put on incorruption (a spiritual body) in the twinkling of an eye. (Will they see death?) Thus the soul and body shall have separated (died), and thus will Heb. 9:27 be fulfilled.
Where did Enoch and Elijah go? In Luke 23:43 Christ told the thief that "today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Yet three days later he said that he had not yet ascended to the Father (in heaven), but that he would do so later (John. 20:17). Where did Christ and the thief go "today"? It seems that they went to a place called "paradise," as Jesus had said they would. This place was "even to" (2 Cor.12 2-4--A. S. V.), not in the third heaven God's home. This was the same place where the rich man while in torment saw Lazarus and Abraham (Luke 16:19-31). It also was the abiding place of the "souls that were slain for the word of God" (Rev. 6: 9-11) and of all the righteous who have died from the beginning of time. Yes, the place into which Enoch was translated and Elijah was taken.
It is of interest also to note in 2 Kings 2: 16-19 that fifty men (prophets) spent three days searching for Elijah or his body, and did not find it. It also should be noted that the writer of Hebrews selected Enoch as an outstanding case of faith, which faith he had shown before his "translation" (Heb. 11:5).
Truth Magazine VII: 7, pp. 1b