Two men in the Old Testament went to Heaven without dying: Enoch and Elijah. Elijah went up in a fiery chariot, but how about Enoch? He walked into Heaven. Here is his story.
Enoch walked with God,
and then he was not,
for God took him.
The seventh in descent from Adam, Enoch was the first man to walk and talk with God as Adam had. Enoch had a large plantation located to the east of Eden, adjacent to the wall of fire surrounding the Garden. He was a walker, and often in the light of evening or early morning—times when the fire barrier seemed less intense—he would walk as far as he could to the north, or to the south, wondering if he might find some break in the wall or some way around it. This fire was a most curious thing, for it did not burn; none of the trees or plants in its path were consumed, only illumined in unearthly light, as though dressed in garments of flame. Enoch loved these walks, when all the labor and cares of the day before him, or behind him, fell away and he was filled with a radiant peace, almost as if the strange fire had clothed his soul.
Enoch had always enjoyed a lively prayer life. But at twilight, when he walked the wall of fire with his soul ablaze, even prayer fell away, like some childish habit he could not remember having practised. For now he was prayer, the thing itself. Now, without words, without so much as a thought or an image in his mind, he communed directly with the Lord of his life. And for this he lived.
One morning, when the firelight seemed especially enchanting, more like a wall of flowers than of flame, Enoch met an angel—a being with immense wings that disappeared up into the sky as though reaching even to Heaven. The angel held a sword, immense as the wings, which turned slowly back and forth, its flashes seeming to enkindle the surrounding flames. Before such glory, Enoch fell facedown.
“Rise, favored one,” said the angel, whereupon Enoch arose, imbued with a strength and a composure not his own.
In a voice like fire the angel announced, “I am the Cherub Glaivenor, Chief Sentinel of the Gate of Eden. Bow your head, Enoch, and enter.”
Enoch did as he was bidden, and when he felt free to lift his eyes, he beheld a sight which every mortal dreams of yet knows it cannot endure: beauty so perfect, so hallowed, that before it one’s unworthy soul and body seem calcined to ash.
Collapsing to his knees, Enoch wept for his sins. But then a hand touched his, lifted him up, and a voice said, “Enoch, your sin is atoned for. Come, walk with Me. Long have I desired this.”
Enoch knew that voice, knew who this was; yet he could not look at his Lord. All he could do was to accept the gentle clasp of that holiest of hands, drawing him forward as the two began to walk together.
On this first occasion, that was all that happened. Enoch saw nothing; all the glory of the Garden—he could not take it in. Afterwards he could not even recall what else the Lord had said, or whether He said anything at all. There was only the feel of that Hand in his, as though a sunrise, a bright river, or a starry sky had taken on flesh.
A few months later this happened again, and again a few weeks after that, until soon it was a regular occurrence, almost every morning and evening. And just as Enoch before this could not have lived without prayer, so now he could not live without these daily walks and talks with his Creator. By now he was able to look around at the Garden and to drink in all its delights, but for him this was never the attraction. Always he was completely absorbed in his Lord.
He never looked at the Master. He only listened. Who can say why? Certainly it was not from fear, or shame, or even shyness. Perhaps it was just because he found the Divine Voice alone so entrancing that he never thought to look.
Each time they met, the Lord led Enoch further and further into Eden. And so things continued for a hundred years, until one evening Enoch found himself so deep in the Garden that he began to wonder if he would ever return. For the first time in these excursions, he faintly missed his earthly life.
“Lord,” he said, “it’s getting late and I have many duties at home. Shouldn’t we be heading back?”
“Don’t worry, Enoch,” said the Lord. “We’re much closer to My house than yours. Why don’t you just come home with Me?”
And at that, as simply as sitting down to supper, Enoch entered eternity.
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