“The righteous shall be victorious in the name of the Lord of Spirits and He will cause the others to witness this that they may repent and forgo the works of their hands. They shall have no honour through the name of the Lord of Spirits yet through His name they shall be saved, and the Lord of Spirits shall have compassion on them, for His compassion is great. And He is righteous also in His judgement, and in the presence of His glory unrighteousness shall also not maintain itself: at His judgement the unrepentant shall perish before Him" [Enoch ch50 Charles translation]
If you have been following this timeline since its inception you will know that 90%+ of my posts concern the bible, not ex-canonical Enoch. Yet it does have a role in helping our understanding of canonical scripture, which for many remains something of a puzzle. The Book of Enoch’s opening verse indicates why it was providentially excluded from the biblical canon. It was not intended for the Church through her history but for the final generation of Christians: “The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and the righteous who will be living in the day of tribulation when all the wicked and godless are to be removed [Enoch ch1 verse 1]
The key point I am highlighting from Enoch chapter 50 is that there are not two but three categories of people identified at the end-of-age judgement. The same eschatological trichotomy is implicit in the last chapter of the New Testament with respect to the New Jerusalem. Rev21 describes this mystical entity as a bride adorned for her Husband.
THE NEW JERUSALEM
The city is enormous in size and the saints of God are its inhabitants – they are the bride. Yet we also read in verse 24 that “the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it”. Or as some versions/manuscripts render it “the nations of those that are saved…” (e.g. KJV). These cannot be the saints of God who are the “wife of the Lamb” and who inhabit the city. The likes of the Apostle Paul, Moses and Elijah do not “walk by New Jerusalem’s light” or pay occasional visits.
No, the group being referred to are those who have been saved (spared from punishment) through the compassion of God and in view of their willingness to repent and bow the knee to the King of Kings aka “the Chosen One” as the Book of Enoch describes the Son of Man.
As Paul indicated, others (a third category) who refuse to believe the Good News of Christ even after it has been made clear to them (which has not been the case for most in the current age) are to be ignominiously dealt with (“set ablaze”) at Christ’s appearing (2Thes1:8).
FINAL JUDGEMENT ACCORDING TO ENOCH
Likewise in Enoch’s prophecy there are three groups. Firstly, the elect righteous, sometimes referred to as “the chosen ones”. They are those who had been “victorious in the name of the Lord of Spirits” and who shall receive honour and praise, even from the angels (40:5) [If you are uncomfortable with that idea then you should observe how Jesus describes His elect in Revelation (3:21) – for the LJC regards His faithful disciples as His own kith and kin and corporate bride-to-be, indicating the elect are to attain both royal and divine status (cf. Heb2:10-11)].
As should be evident from Scripture as a whole, this group are, proportionally speaking, a minority. Given the world’s cultural and religious formation, not to mention the catastrophic historical ecclesiological fracture brought about by the “Reformation”, most human beings have never received an accurate account of the path to glory, still less embarked and persevered along it.
THE ROLE OF NATURAL LAW
Hence the divinely ordered but confusingly depicted “natural law”. For as I have previously explained, it pertains to that which is spiritual and to Christ as Logos as much as to any laws of nature. An effectual role for such was acknowledged by the earliest Christian writers such as Irenaeus (pupil of Polycarp, the pupil of the apostle John) and Eusebius (3rd century Church historian) who through his explicit references to natural law indicated such had been understood within the Church up to that point. But (typically) such divine benevolence was rejected by 4th /5th century Augustine and much later by the Protestant Reformers who built on that fearsome Western Father’s “theology of sovereign grace”.
For natural law in this context (outlined below) infers a benevolence on God’s part and an underlying goodness on humanity’s part that such theologians and their adherents regard as abhorrent. It undermines “the gospel” as they understand it. Satan would despise it also (the clue is in the meaning of his name – the Adversary). He will have been more than happy for the Creator to be presented as incomprehensibly harsh and unjust from a human perspective, and for men and women to be regarded as virtually depraved by nature, with gospel evangelism adapted accordingly.
THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH
Second century Christian writers knew better, not because they were superior biblical exegetes but because they had received the full deposit of faith in written AND verbal form (2Thes2:15KJV), either from the apostles themselves, their proteges such as Timothy, Titus and Philemon or those men’s immediate successors – which takes us into the early 2nd century.
Hence, Justyn Martyr had spoken of God’s benevolence towards all who endeavour to walk uprightly and in accordance with right reason; God, he wrote, is One who accepts those who imitate His own qualities of temperance, fairness and philanthropy and who exercise their free will in choosing what is pleasing to Him. Irenaeus, also 2nd century, recognized that God in His providence is present with all who attend to moral discipline” paying heed to the natural precepts of the law by which man can be justified.
THE LIMITATIONS OF NATURAL LAW
To such men, God was comprehensively and comprehensibly adorable. He was just, He was good, He was compassionate, just as human beings understand those terms. And that is why the Creator has ensured that every human being has been provided with the innate ability ultimately to be united to Himself, but NOT to be delivered from the corrupting influence of mortal flesh in the present except they encounter the grace of Christ in the gospel – Rom7:24-25). Only such are “saved” in the gospel sense. Unlike everyone else, the true Christian has no reason to dread the coming “Day of wrath”, for (s)he shall not have to face it (Lk17:34-36; 1Thes4:17).
Yet through the faculty of conscience, most people have an internal urge to do what is right. They admire what is noble and virtuous even though they usually fail to live up to their own moral aspirations (cf. Rom7:22-23). The architect-in-chief of Western theology on the other hand asserted that man by nature could do “absolutely no good thing, whether in thought or will, affection or action”. That is an affront to divine providence as much as it is to humanity.
CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL
Yet there are some to whom Augustine’s description does apply: the twice dead (in mind AND spirit– Jud1:12). These are the theologically eluded category threes: children of the devil. In Enoch’s language they are the wicked and godless. In the secular world they are akin to psychopaths, whether criminal or respectable. Such peoples’ universally observed characteristics closely align with Scripture’s presentation of those who, like their archetype Cain are not “of God” (1Jn3:12). They are devoid of a functioning conscience, lacking compassion and empathy, and with no compulsion whatever to speak the truth. This eluded soteriological category of people is typically lumped in with “the unsaved”. The Little Book of Providence (chapter six) elucidates.
THE THREE SOTERIOLOGICAL CATEGORIES
So, returning to the Judgement, in Enoch’s parable there are likewise three categories. Firstly, the righteous; secondly, those who witness the vindication of the righteous and repent of their own wrongdoings. They are saved (i.e. spared from punishment) through God’s compassion. But they are not honoured to the degree of those who had obeyed the gospel. For only those who have partaken of the means of grace and been formed by divine teaching have souls fitted for immediate magisterial service in Christ’s Kingdom.
Thirdly, there are those who refuse to repent and shall “perish before Him”. One might wonder who on earth WOULD refuse to repent knowing the fate that awaits them. Likewise in New Testament accounts, who would NOT be willing to bow the knee to Jesus Christ when He is revealed to the world in His majestic glory? Category threes will already know the answer. For Jesus Christ is the summation of all that is good. He is therefore an abhorrence to them (for familial reasons – 1Jn3:12). They cannot “repent” any more than a goat can become a sheep or tares become wheat. They cannot become something they no longer are. That is, a human being who in any measure reflects the image of God, being the personification of love.
COMPLETING THE SCRIPTURAL JIGSAW
Be assured, the theology I have outlined does not derive from the Book of Enoch. It is the New Testament – the teaching of Jesus and Paul in particular. And all has been reconciled and integrated with the teaching of the whole bible in The Little Book of Providence. Nevertheless, the Book of Enoch helps fill out the detail and complete the jigsaw. Otherwise, aspects of the bible would remain a puzzle, such as the rationale for the universal flood. Also, the existence of gigantic hybrids referred to in the OT relating to the conquest and ethnic cleansing of Canaanite territories.
Thereby can God’s justice and judgements be clarified and vindicated. For sure, mankind’s contribution to the woes and evils of this world is substantive. But it is secondary to that of fallen members of the angelic realm. That reality is more clearly presented in Enoch than canonical scripture. That is in view of the greater detail provided concerning the judgements and destinies of the respective parties.
THE FOCUS OF THE BIBLE
That in part is because canonical Scripture’s focus is the salvation history of the world. It is centred on Christ and His peculiar peoples – the Jewish nation and the Church. It was never intended to be a comprehensive account of God’s creation. The origins, history and destiny of the angelic realm are a prime example. Enoch, albeit often obscurely, goes into more detail. Likewise, God’s providential intentions towards creation as a whole. These are alluded to in the bible, but often cryptically so. They are passages that typically biblical theologians label as difficult or anomalous.
Not so this “armchair theologian”, who is no theologian at all in any academic sense. I am merely someone who has received revelatory insights concerning biblical interpretation. And especially those that impact upon the context of Israel and the Church within God’s broader benevolent providence. I believe also that such an eventuality together with this writing has been prophetically foretold; most clearly but not exclusively in the Book of Enoch.