I have a fascination with Enoch and Elias. Enoch (or Henoch) is the inspiration for the apocalyptic work called “1 Enoch” cited by Saint Jude in his epistle. Elias (or Elijah) is considered to be the Old Testament founder of the Carmelites and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets before Saint John the Baptist. Best of all, neither of these prophets ever died!
Scripture only knows two men who never experienced natural death. (The Blessed Virgin Mary did experience death before her glorious Assumption, as explained in this post.)
Enoch lived before the great Flood. We read the following about him:
“And all the days of Henoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And he walked with God, and was seen no more: because God took him.” (Genesis 5:23–24, D-R)
Concerning Elias we read that he was taken up in a Chariot of Fire:
“And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold, a fiery chariot and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11, D-R)
As you can see, these two men did not die. According to St Thomas Aquinas, they are preserved in the atmospheric heaven (which is identified with earthly paradise), but not in the empyrean heaven (Heaven proper). See Summa theologiae III, q. 49, a. 5.
Saint Thomas, in agreement with the Church Fathers explains why Enoch and Elias are waiting out there in outer space. Saint Thomas writes these two men will return at the end of time to do battle with the Antichrist. It is unthinkable that these two men would never die since this is contrary to the Apostolic teaching:
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27, D-R)
Enoch will evangelize and organize the Jews who will seek baptism and convert to the Catholic Faith during the reign of the Antichrist. Elijah will evangelize and organize the last wave of Gentiles that will convert to Christ during the Antichrist’s reign of terror. Both prophets will be slain, rise again, and ascend to Heaven as explained in Apocalypse chapter 11.
I cannot help but wonder about the identity of “atmospheric heaven.” Saint Thomas Aquinas sees it as synonymous with “earthly paradise.” This could be a location in “outer space.” It could be a place hidden on earth. Or perhaps it is the Garden of Eden transferred to another place. There state, I imagine, would be one of natural paradise without the beatific vision.
Question: Do you have any thoughts on this puzzle? WHERE are these two prophets given what we know about the geography of outer space and the atmosphere? You can leave a comment by clicking here.