In your Update #128 you explained that Enoch did not go to heaven. You also stated that no one has gone to heaven, except Jesus Christ. What about Elijah? Does not the Bible state that Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2:11)?
Christ stated unequivocally that “no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13, NASB Version). This includes Elijah. However, we must realize that the Bible speaks of more than just one heaven. In our Update #97, we addressed in our Q&A the fact that there are three heavens. While the first two heavens are physical and refer to the earth’s atmosphere and the space beyond our atmosphere, the third heaven is composed of spirit. That is the heaven where God lives, and to that heaven no human being has ever ascended. In Update #97, we also addressed that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, where God’s throne is, but only to the first heaven. To quote from the Update:
“We read, in 2 Kings 2:1, 11, that Elijah was taken up ‘into heaven by a whirlwind.’ We also read that the disciples understood that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, as they were concerned that ‘the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley’ (verse 16). In fact, God transported Elijah to another place here on this earth, where Elijah continued to live until his death. He wrote a letter and had it delivered to king Jehoram, AFTER he ‘went to (the first) heaven,’ as Jehoram became king right at the time of Elijah’s disappearance (2 Kings 1:17; 3:1). 2 Chronicles 21:12-15 gives us the contents of the letter, referring to the evil deeds of king Jehoram that he had committed after Elijah had been taken away and transported through the air to another place here on earth.”
We know, then, from Scripture, that Elijah did not go to the third heaven, where God’s throne is. We also know that he was transferred, supernaturally, to another place here on earth. There are several Biblically recorded incidents where human beings were supernaturally transferred by God to another place here on earth (compare, for example, Philip’s transfer to another place here on earth, in Acts 8:39-40).
However, we also know from Scripture that Elijah died after this incident, as it is appointed to man once to die (Hebrews 9:27). We also read that God inspired Moses to write that “the days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off…” (Psalm 90:10). In rare circumstances, man can reach an age of 100 or perhaps even 110 years — however, there is no one we know of who reached the age of 150 since the time of Moses. Those who believe that Elijah is still alive today believe, however, that God kept him alive for over 2,500 years — a concept nowhere taught in Scripture.
Some say that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ; that he has returned or will return as the one who prepares the way for Christ’s Second Coming; or that he is one of the two witnesses still to appear. However, there is no Biblical evidence supporting any such claim.
Some believe that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ, as he appeared, in a glorified state, to three of the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, together with the glorified Moses and Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). We explain this account in detail on pages 14 and 15 of our booklet, “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” In that booklet, we show that the whole experience was a VISION — the disciples were given a foretaste of the kingdom of God in power. They saw, in a VISION, the time when Christ, Moses and Elijah would be powerful God beings in the Kingdom of God. Elijah and Moses are not glorified yet, as Hebrews 11:39-40 explains.They will receive the promise of eternal life and glory in the kingdom of God at the time of Christ’s return — not before then.
Some believe that Elijah was alive at the time of Christ, in the person of John the Baptist. Although Christ said that John the Baptist was the Elijah to come (Matthew 17:12-13), other Scriptures explain that John had come in the spirit and the power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) — not that he was the reincarnated Elijah, or that Elijah had never died and that he appeared now as John the Baptist (Note, too, that John was BORN as a little baby to Zacharias and Elizabeth).
To quote from the Worldwide Church of God’s booklet, “Where are Enoch and Elijah?”, copyright 1957, 1973:
“Luke said that John was ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah,’ NOT that he was literally Elijah. That Elijah had died centuries before. But John the Baptist was empowered by the same spirit which had guided the Elijah of old to point Israel’s eyes to the true God, and for much the same purpose.”
Some believe that Elijah is still alive and that he will return, perhaps as one of the two witnesses, just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. They point at Malachi 4:5-6, stating that “I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” We also read that Christ said that in addition to John the Baptist, another Elijah “is coming first and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).
These Scriptures do not say that God would send, just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, the literal ancient Elijah. Rather, Christ announced that God would send someone “in the spirit and the power of Elijah,” to fulfill that prophecy.
We have long understood that the Elijah commission is given to the end-time Church of God. Mr. Armstrong, the late human leader of the Church of God, fulfilled his part of the Elijah commission, but the commission is ongoing and did not stop, when Mr. Armstrong died. The restoration of all things has not occurred yet, and it will not have been accomplished at the time of Christ’s return. It is Christ, as Acts 3:21 points out, who will restore all things, but it is His Church who will help Him fulfill this task, throughout the Millennium and beyond (Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:18-21). In any event, the Bible does not teach that the ancient literal Elijah will appear, prior to Christ’s return, to restore all things.
It is correct, however, that the two witnesses will apparently have similar powers as Moses and Elijah had (Revelation 11:3-6). This does not say, however, that the literal Moses and the literal Elijah will appear as the two witnesses; rather, the two witnesses will receive the same kind of POWER from God that God had given to ancient Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) and Elijah. Note that it is reported in Scripture that Moses died; that God buried him; and that his grave is unknown (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Again, Hebrews 11:39-40 teaches that Moses will be resurrected from the dead, at the time of Christ’s Second Coming — and not before then. This means that he cannot be one of the two witnesses. The same is obviously true, then, for Elijah — he, too, died, and awaits his resurrection from the dead. He is not one of the two witnesses, either.
To quote, in conclusion, from the above-mentioned booklet, “Where are Enoch and Elijah?”: “Elijah is dead in the dust of the earth awaiting the resurrection of the just. Elijah, some years after being removed in the whirlwind, went to the grave, but will rise again to live forevermore!”