The second parable in the Book of Similitudes (chapters 45-57) is a description of the eschatological judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. In many ways this is the most interesting section of the parables so I will break it up over three posts. The parable begins with a description of what happens to those who deny the name of the Lord of Spirits. Chapter 45 is a poetic introduction to the second section and describes “that day” when “my Elect One will sit on the seat of glory” (verse 3-4). Heaven and earth will be transformed and the righteous will dwell on the new earth.
Chapter 46 describes the Elect One and is one of the critical sections in First Enoch. He will have a head white like wool and have a countenance full of grace. This description is similar to the angel in Daniel 10, and the description of Jesus in Revelation 1. 1 Enoch likely stands in between these two descriptions; Revelation and 1 Enoch are dependent on Daniel 10. He will be born among human beings and have a face of a human, and is a “prototype of the Before-Time” (verse 3). He will be “that Son of Man” on whom righteousness dwells. This Son of Man will open up the hidden storehouses and is destined to be victorious before the Lord of Spirits (46:3). The Elect One will remove kings from their comfortable seats and strong ones from their thrones, loosen the reins of the strong and crush the teeth of sinners (46:4). The faces of the strong will be slapped and they will be filled with shame and have no hope (46:6).
This “reversal” may be important for the setting of the ministry of John the Baptist who describes the coming messianic age in terms of a “settling” of scores (Luke 2:7-19). Jesus’ extended condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 certainly has a “reversal” motif. Similarly, in Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus says that not all who are expected to be “in the kingdom” will be – even those who claim to do miracles in the Lord’s name (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13). While 1 Enoch clearly has the nations in mind, Jesus’ idea of reversal seems to operate on a spiritual level. Those who think they are spiritually prepared for the kingdom may not be and may find themselves on the outside when the kingdom comes.
The prayer of the righteous is recorded in chapter 47. The prayers and blood of the righteous go up to heaven before the Lord of Spirits all of the time. Enoch sees the “Antecedent of Time” sitting on his throne, with the books opened before him (Dan 7:10, 12:1, Rev 20:12-15). As the righteous worship him, he prepares to judge. In Chapter 48:1-2 Enoch sees the fountains of wisdom. Earlier in chapter 42 wisdom was searching for a place to dwell, now wisdom is pictured as a fountain in heaven from to which all may come and drink.
After this, the Son of man receives a name in the presence of the Lord of Spirits (48:3), but it is a name which is given to him from before the beginning of time. This Son of Man appears, therefore, to pre-exist, since we read in 48:6 he was chosen before the creation of the world. He will become a “staff for the righteous ones,” people may lean on him and not fall; he will be the hope of the sick and all who dwell on the earth will worship him (48:4-5, cf. 62:6, 9, 63, 90:37; Ps. 72:9, 11; Phil. 2:10.) He will be the light of the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, cf. Luke 2:32) and the righteous will be saved by his name (48:7).
There are many obvious parallels to the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah in the New Testament. As I suggested earlier, caution is necessary because this section does not appear in Dead Sea Scrolls. This means there is always the possibility of Christian editing of this text to give additional support to a particular view of Jesus. On the other hand, even this section of 1 Enoch stands in a stream of messianic expectations beginning in the Hebrew Bible. It should come as no surprise a Jewish apocalyptic movement like the earliest Christians should be similar to the expectations of 1 Enoch.
All these writers were reading the same prophets from the Hebrew Bible and attempting to apply those prophecies to their own experiences.