Eternal Hope – Part 24

Eternal Hope – Part 24

Eternal Hope
Part 24


As each reader knows, we live in an age in which the queen of virtues is tolerance. Basking in the grace of God means that we need not concern ourselves with obligation. We are free in Christ. Obedience should not be obligatory – that is legalism. Therefore, an emphasis on a life of obedience is an expression of intolerance.

All people in all ages and cultures have believed that truth is absolute. You know this because everyone judges; they cannot help but judge. When you judge as wrong what another does, says, or thinks, you are insisting that not only is truth absolute, but you should be the one defining absolute truth; it is right or wrong not only for you, but also for the person you are judging.

If you argue that those who say Christians must obey the commandments of God are intolerant, then you are left with your own standard of right and wrong. You might say, for an example, “It is not wrong for a man to pray with his head covered, but it is wrong when my neighbor allows his dog to bark all night when I am trying to sleep.” As noted in the last two issues of this letter, such people rely on reason and conscience for their definition of truth. Understand, biblically, such people forfeit their right to an eternal hope, and should plan on spending eternity separated from God.

The Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament

Reflection on The Ethiopian Enoch

This is one of the most, if not the most important documents of the Pseudepigrapha for our study of eternal hope. For this reason, we will spend extra time exploring it.

The Ethiopian Enoch, also called 1 Enoch, differs from the Secrets of Enoch or 2 Enoch in that the former was probably penned in the second century BC, and the latter between 30 BC and 70 AD. “The Book of Enoch is for the history of theological development the most important pseudepigrapha of the first two centuries BC. Some of its authors – and there were many – belonged to the true succession of the prophets, and it was simply owing to the evil character of the period, in which their lot was cast, that these enthusiasts and mystics, exhibiting on occasions the inspiration of the O.T. prophets, were obliged to issue their works under the aegis of some ancient name. The Law which claimed to be the highest and final word from God could tolerate no fresh message from God, and so, when men were moved by the Spirit of God to make known their visions relating to the past, the present, and the future, and to proclaim the higher ethical truths they had won, they could not do so openly, but were forced to resort to pseudonymous publication.”[1]

“Nearly all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with [the Ethiopian Enoch], and were more or less influenced by it in thought and diction.[2] It is quoted as a genuine production of Enoch by St. Jude, and as Scripture by St. Barnabas. The authors of the Book of Jubilees, the Apocalypse of Baruch, and 4 Ezra, laid it under contribution. With the earlier Fathers and Apologists it had all the weight of a canonical book.”[3] Most Evangelicals, of course, do not accept it as canonical, due to the exclusion of all the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha from the canon by the Reformers.

Charles dates the two segments[4] of this work between 187 – 161 BC. The author deals with individual retribution rather than what happens to the nation of Israel. The righteous man suffers in this present life, just as the wicked prosper, but justice reigns in the life to come. “And thence I went to another place, and the mountain of hard rock. And there was in it four hollow places, deep and wide and very smooth. How smooth are the hollow places and deep and dark to look at. Then Raphael answered, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: ‘These hollow places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble therein…Then I asked regarding it, and regarding all the hollow places: ‘Why is one separated from the other?’ And he answered me and said unto me: ‘These three have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated…Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain till the great day of judgment and punishment and torment of those who curse forever and retribution for their spirits. There He shall bind them forever. And such a division has been made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners. Such has been made for the spirits of men who were not righteous but sinners, who were complete in transgression, and of the transgressors they shall be companions: but their spirits shall not be slain in the day of judgment nor shall they be raised from thence.’ Then I blessed the Lord of glory and said: ‘Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of righteousness, who ruleth for ever.’”[5] Note that the eternal condition of people is determined by the moral choices they made while living; I find no reference to people relating to God by grace. Each person’s eternal destiny is forever fixed by how they lived on earth.

God raises the wicked at the Day of Judgment and at that time they receive punishment and torment. It appears that their souls are raised for this event, but no mention is made of their bodies. “Then said I: ‘For what object is this blessed land, which is entirely filled with trees, and this accursed valley between?’ Then Uriel, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered and said: ‘This accursed valley is for those who are accursed for ever: Here shall all the accursed be gathered together who utter with their lips against the Lord unseemly words and of His glory speak hard things. Here shall they be gathered together, and here shall be their place of judgment. In the last days there shall be upon them the spectacle of righteous judgment in the presence of the righteous forever: here shall the merciful bless the Lord of glory, the Eternal King. In the days of judgment over the former, they shall bless Him for the mercy in accordance with which He has assigned them (their lot).’ Then I blessed the Lord of Glory and set forth His glory and lauded Him gloriously.”[6] This “accursed valley” may refer to Gehenna.

The second section of Enoch, which Charles considers written by the Essenes, was embraced by Christians and thus rejected by the Jews. “So thoroughgoing, indeed, was this rejection, that, although he was the chief figure next to Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic prior to 40 AD, in subsequent Jewish literature his achievements are ascribed sometimes to Moses, … Ezra or else to Baruch… It is to the Christian Church that we owe the preservation alike of Jewish apocalypses and of the Septuagint.”[7] It deals with the undeserved calamities of God’s people; how can a just God inflict such pain on His own? God answers by noting that although Israel sins, the undue severity of retribution comes, not from God, but the angels or shepherds into whose care He entrusted His people. “And He called seventy shepherds, and cast those sheep to them that they might pasture them, and He spake to the shepherds and their companions: ‘Let each individual of you pasture the sheep henceforward, and everything that I shall command you that do ye. And I will deliver them over unto you duly numbered, and tell you which of them are to be destroyed-and them destroy ye.’ And He gave over unto them those sheep. And He called another and spake unto him: ‘Observe and mark everything that the shepherds will do to those sheep; for they will destroy more of them than I have commanded them. And every excess and the destruction which will be wrought through the shepherds, record (namely) how many they destroy according to my command, and how many according to their own caprice: record against every individual shepherd all the destruction he effects. And read out before me by number how many they destroy, and how many they deliver over for destruction, that I may have this as a testimony against them, and know every deed of the shepherds, that I may comprehend and see what they do, whether or not they abide by my command which I have commanded them. But they shall not know it, and thou shalt not declare it to them, nor admonish them, but only record against each individual all the destruction which the shepherds effect each in his time and lay it all before me.’”[8]

In the last days, “While the struggle is still raging, God will intervene in person, and the earth will open her mouth and swallow them up (xc. 19, 16, 18). Then a throne will be ‘erected in the pleasant land’ (xc. 20), and first the lustful angels, who had wrought such woe through their sin with women, will be judged and condemned to the abyss of fire, which is full of fire and flame and pillars of fire, and likewise the seventy angels who had dealt treacherously with Israel (xc. 20-25). The apostate Jews are next judged, and cast into Gehenna (xc. 26, 27). With this last act the great Assize will close. Then God Himself will set up the New Jerusalem (xc. 28-29, and the surviving non-Jewish nations will be converted and serve Israel (xc. 30), and the dispersion will be brought back, and the righteous dead of Israel will be raised to take part in the kingdom (xc. 33). Then the Messiah will appear amongst them, and all the righteous will be transformed into His likeness (xc. 38); and God will rejoice over them.”[9] According to Enoch, only the righteous dead experience the resurrection, at which time they are transformed into the likeness of Messiah.

Note too that the author of Enoch has a developed concept of hell: “I tell you, ye sinners, ye are content to eat and drink, and rob and sin, and strip men naked, and acquire wealth and see good days. Have ye seen the righteous how their end falls out, that no manner of violence is found in them till their death? ‘Nevertheless they perished and became as though they had not been, and their spirits descended into Sheol in tribulation.’”[10] “Know ye that their souls will be made to descend into Sheol and they shall be wretched in their great tribulation. And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgment shall your spirits enter; and the great judgment shall be for all the generations of the world. Woe to you, for ye shall have no peace.”[11]

Enoch divides history into ten weeks of varying length.[12] “And after this, in the tenth week in the seventh part, there shall be the great eternal judgment, in which He will execute vengeance amongst the angels. And the first heaven shall depart and pass away, and a new heaven shall appear, and all the powers of the heavens shall give sevenfold light. And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever, and all shall be in goodness and righteousness, and sin shall no more be mentioned for ever.”[13] Enoch seems to suggests that because the angels sin and will be judged, God needs to create a new heaven as well as a new earth.


We noted as we began this issue that this work is probably the most strategic of the extra-biblical writings. For this reason, we will need to spend added time on it in the next issue.

Eager for His return,


[1] Op Cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 163.
[2] This is the reason we study the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Although not considered canonical by evangelical scholars, all scholars agree that they greatly influenced the NT writers.
[3] Ibid. Footnote, page 163
[4] Charles considers the two segments to be authored by two different people, about 20 years apart.
[5] Ethiopic Enoch 22:1-14
[6] Ethiopic Enoch 27
[7] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, p. 274
[8] Ethiopic Enoch 89:59-65.
[9] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, pp. 191-192
[10] Ethiopic Enoch 102:9-11.
[11] Ethiopic Enoch 103:7-8.
[12] He may very well have borrowed this idea from Daniels Seventy Weeks (cf. Daniel 9:20-27).
[13] Ethiopic Enoch 91:15-17.