Book of Enoch - Enoch's Journey to the Lake of Fire Explained - (Chapters 17-18)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Book of Enoch, we’ll be taking a look at the events after Enoch has served both the Watchers and the Nephilim with their sentences. Not only is he seemingly lifted up into the heavens by the angels, perhaps a reward for his good work, but he is also shown the more desolate places in the universe including an ominous barren land, a prison for the angels and of course, the great lake of fire. 

After the judgement of both the Watchers and the Nephilim, we see Enoch rather unceremoniously snatched from the earth, presumably by the angels under God’s instructions, where he is taken to a place of darkness. There, he bears witness to a strange set of beings - those who appeared like flaming fire, but that when they wished, could also appear as men. Unfortunately, he does not elaborate on what these beings were, nor do the angels who have taken him appear to explain it to him either. All he tells us is, “And they took and brought me to a place in which those who were there were like flaming fire, and when they wished, they appeared as men.” With this, one might speculate that these were spirits, or perhaps, damned spirits given that they were held in this place of darkness. It might also be suggested that these were the Seraphim, those who were high ranking angels that were also dubbed as the ‘fiery ones.

We had already seen Enoch encounter a cherub before meeting with God, so it would not be so outlandish to think that Seraphim were within his reach too. Enoch continues, “And they brought me to the place of darkness, and to a mountain the point of whose summit reached to heaven. And I saw the places of the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars and of the thunder and in the uttermost depths, where were a fiery bow and arrows and their quiver, and a fiery sword and all the lightnings.” Here, we see that the angels take Enoch to a mountain top, though whether this is in the mortal plane or a plane beyond our comprehension is not specified.

We learn that here, at the summit of heaven, Enoch sees the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars, which might be interpreted as the riches of God, those that glistened with such an intensity that they were comparable to the stars themselves. Alternatively, it might be said Enoch was taken to such a high altitude, that he really was beholding the stars themselves and was stunned by the intensity of the light. Interestingly, he also reports seeing a fiery bow and arrow as well as a fiery sword that appears amongst streaks of lightning. It is unknown here what relevance that these elements have, though it might be said that given how high Enoch was, that these weapons belonged to God, or were representations of his power - possessing weapons made of one of the most destructive elements of fire.

We then see Enoch taken to what he describes as the ‘living waters’ and to the ‘fire of the west’, though these areas are not detailed beyond this. It might be said that the living waters were in reference to the seven seas, or perhaps an aquatic area featured in the divine landscape. The ‘fire of the west’ meanwhile, could have been yet another reference to hell, or perhaps a more direct relation to the sun setting in the west. He continues, “And I came to a river of fire in which the fire flows like water and discharges itself into the great sea towards the west.” Yet again, we cannot be sure if Enoch is being shown a vision of hell, or whether this is merely another landscape which exists in the realm of God.

Many might draw similarities between the river of fire seen here and the lake of fire as seen in the Book of Revelations, that which we understand is reserved for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and liars. Revelations further confirms that this is something of a ‘second death’ given that those sinners will burn for eternity in the lake that burns fire and sulfur. Enoch continues that, “I saw the great rivers and came to the great river and to the great darkness, and went to the place where no flesh walks. I saw mountains of the darkness of winter and the place whence all the waters of the deep flow.

I saw the mouths of all the rivers of the earth and the mouth of the deep.” Once more, it is unclear exactly which rivers Enoch is referring to, nor whether these are rivers found on the earthly realm or the one in heaven. Yet, it could be determined that he is referring to the rivers that were said to flow from Eden, those which were then separated into four rivers upon the earth, as told to us in Chapter 2 of Genesis. Here, we understand that “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

The name of the first is Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The Gold of that land; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:10-14). Given that Enoch tells us he sees the mouths of all the rivers of the earth and sees the place from whence all the waters of the deep flowed, it could be suggested that he was taken to Eden. In chapter 18, he continues on his journey and tells us that he saw treasuries of all the winds and saw how God had furnished the foundations of the earth with them.

He sees the cornerstone of the earth, those which he deemed were four winds that bore the earth and the firmament of heaven. It is these very winds, that Enoch describes as stretching out of the vaults of heaven and are station between the earth and heaven, forming what we know as the pillars of heaven. He tells us specifically, “I saw the treasuries of all the winds: I saw how He (God) had furnished with them the whole creation and the firm foundations of the earth. And I saw the corner-stone of the heaven. And I saw how the winds stretch out the vaults of heaven, and have their station between heaven and earth: these are the pillars of heaven.” These pillars he refers to could be in reference to the pillars of cloud and fire which are first mentioned in chapter 13 of the Book of Exodus, after Moses leads the Israelites out of their captivity in Egypt.

In this part of the bible, we are told that the pillar of cloud went ahead of them by day to guide them on their path, whilst the pillar of fire appeared at night to give them light. We later see this pillar of cloud sabotage the pursuit by the Pharaoh who was chasing the Israelites and we see God stand upon both pillars as he looks down to drown Pharaoh and his men after Moses departs the red sea. However, another idea suggests that these four winds - or four pillars that Enoch sees - are actually in reference to the four winds as seen in the bible; these being the East Wind, the West Wind, the North Wind and the South Wind. We see these winds mentioned in the bible, where they are associated with some rather tremendous events. For example, we see the winds churn the great sea and we see them decimate and scatter people - sometimes even empires.

In fact, we even see the combined power of the four winds in the Book of Jeremiah, where the nation of Elam is battered by the winds in an effort to disperse its people. We even see the four winds channel life back into those who were slain in the book of Ezekiel, when Ezekiel finds himself in the valley of dry bones. With Enoch seeing these four winds, from a symbolic point of view, it might be said that he was seeing an indescribable amount of power or simply, beholding the power of God that could not be put into any other words.

It’s possible that Enoch had no comprehension of what he was actually seeing and simply chalked up his surroundings to that of the four winds - those which were also interchangeable with the four corners of earth, or the four corners of heaven. With this, it could be taken to also mean that Enoch saw the whole earth in all of its entirety. He does continue, “I saw the winds of heaven which turn and bring the circumference of the sun and all the stars to their setting. I saw the winds on the earth carrying the clouds: I saw the paths of the angels.

I saw at the end of the earth the firmament of the heaven above.” Believers might get a sense of Enoch’s excitement in this passage, where he lists so much of what he sees, that it’s almost quite difficult to keep track, let alone assign much meaning to his words without taking some liberties. As mentioned, it’s possible Enoch had seen all of earth in all of its entirety, and so it’s not so outlandish to say that he came to understand how earth worked in terms of its place within the cosmos. He recognized the role of the sun and the stars and appears to understand the circumventive way in which planets move in accordance to the sun.

He also notes that he sees the clouds being moved, perhaps hinting another level of understanding in how our ecosystem functions and how the elements work in tandem with each other, but again it’s hard to say this without speculation. He claims very briefly that he sees the path of the angels, implying that from where he was and from the knowledge he gained, he understood the celestials in a way that no man had understood before and could see them perhaps just as clearly as they could see us.

He concludes that he saw at the end of the earth the firmament of heaven, suggesting that he gained some understanding as to how the oceans were separated on the earth. He then continues, “And I proceeded and saw a place which burns day and night, where there are seven mountains of magnificent stones, three towards the east, and three towards the south. And as for those towards the east, was of colored stone, and one of pearl and one of jacinth, and those towards the south of red stone.

But the middle one reached to heaven like the throne of God, of alabaster, and the summit of the throne was of sapphire.” Here Enoch appears to be describing a place that is constantly illuminated, regardless of the time of day and there in this place, there were seven mountains made from magnificent stones. The ones in the east however were made of colored stone, with one being pearl, one being of jacinth and one being red.

In between these mountains, Enoch describes seeing the middle one reach to the heavens and that it reminded him of the throne of heaven, where at its apex, was the color of sapphire. Again, it’s hard to specify exactly what Enoch is describing without speculation, but mountains in the bible have been considered to be places that were closest to God and still hold much significance in both Christian and Jewish cultures.

Though, the mountain which Enoch describes here does not seem to be congruent with any of the mountain mentions in the bible. It is therefore possible that Enoch was seeing this mountain in another plane of existence, perhaps somewhere between heaven and earth, especially given that these mountains appear to be made from gems by his descriptions.

He continues, “And I saw flaming fire. And beyond these mountains is a region at the end of the great earth: there the heavens were completed.” It’s unfortunate here that Enoch doesn’t go into more detail as to what he is seeing given that whilst we know enough from biblical accounts as to how the earth was created, we seldom see much into how the heavens were created.

What we understand from this is that beyond the mountain that Enoch sees, there was a region somewhere in what he calls ‘the end of the earth’ and it was here that he declares that heaven was created, implying on some level that God had built heaven on earth. But things take a sudden dark turn when Enoch tells us about the place he is taken next.

He declares, “And I saw a deep abyss, with columns of heavenly fire, and among them I saw columns of fire fall, which were beyond measure alike towards the height and towards the depth.” This place - this deep abyss - is certainly not somewhere you’d wish to find yourself, especially considering that Enoch tells us he sees the columns of heavenly fire fall. These columns of fire might again be likened to the pillar of fire as seen by Moses and the Israealites - that which served them as a night-light in their escape from Egypt.

With this pillar falling, it would imply that this was a godless place and that the light of God did not reach this particular area, or perhaps more likely, that God refused to illuminate it. For whatever reason, it could be reasoned that this, bleak as it seems, is merely a staging area to a region that is far more desolate. Enoch continues, ‘And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of the heaven above, and no firmly founded earth beneath it: there was no water upon it, and no birds, but it was a waste and horrible place.” This stark and barren land appears to be yet another location that gives Enoch the creeps, and with good reason too when we consider what this place actually is.

You see, Enoch does notice seven stars burning like great mountains in the distance, perhaps the only signs of life here, but he cannot make sense of them. So with this, he turns to the angel who had been accompanying him through his adventure and asks him exactly what this place is. The angel, which as we learn is archangel Uriel, tells him - “This place is the end of heaven and earth: this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven.

And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. And he was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated (even) for ten thousand years.” Unfortunately, Uriel does not give Enoch a specific answer either, but his words can be interpreted to mean a dark reality.

You see, the stars were considered by some to be the fallen angels themselves and in this context, could have been the Watchers. In this ‘prison of the stars’, it could be said that Enoch was actually standing in the custodial quarters of those very angels who had turned against God, by defiling the mortal women, teaching men the secrets of heaven and fathering the Nephilim. It might also be said that this prison of these fallen angels was the ‘Duadel’ that was mentioned in the previous chapters that Archangel Raphael binds Azazel to.

This underground void that was thought to have been located in East Jerusalem and certainly seems like the type of place that one may consider a ‘prison of the angels’ to look like and given the forsaken environment, definitely reflects the disdain that God held for them. Yet another idea proposes that the angels who revolted with Lucifer fell from the heavens like falling stars and with this metaphor, it might be suggested that these very angels also resided here in this dark and sterile land, agonisingly awaiting their date with the lake of fire.

However, given that Uriel also refers to this place being the dwelling for the ‘Host of Heaven’, it could be argued that this was merely reserved for the angelic army, or the ‘lesser angels’, who had a much less diverse impact in the world and the greater plan. I only mention this because in the next few chapters (and in the next episode), we’ll be looking at yet another prison of the angels, one that is constantly emblazoned by pillars of fire and one that Uriel tells Enoch, traps rogue angels forever and ever.

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