Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And as it is appointed unto men ONCE TO DIE, but after this the judgment.”  Because we have all sinned, we all must die.  We read in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  Let’s look at the entrance of sin and death into the world.  We read of the Lord’s warning to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, “And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, `Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die.’” (Young’s Literal Translation).  Did Adam and Eve die when they ate of the forbidden fruit.  Yes!  They died spiritually and began to age and die physically because of their sin.

We read in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN, for that all have sinned.”  Physical death is promised to all, because all have sinned.  Thankfully, the Lord offers His free grace, forgiveness, and eternal life to all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but we do not escape physical death.  In the greatest sense, physical death is the instrument that the Lord uses to bring us home to Himself.  1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  Although we all die because we are “in Adam”, those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior are “in Christ” and will live forever with the Lord. 

There have been two exceptions to this rule…Enoch and Elijah, who were both taken to Heaven without seeing death.  We read of Enoch’s home going in Genesis 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”  We also read of Enoch in Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”  We read of Elijah’s home going in 2 Kings 2:11-12, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.” 

Why were these two men allowed to escape death, especially in the light of Psalm 89:48 which says, “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.”  I believe the Lord took Enoch so that he might be a ‘type’ for us to learn from.  Enoch was a ‘type, or picture’ of the church. When God poured out judgement on the world through the flood, Enoch was removed just before the rain started so that he would not see death nor face the judgement of a righteous God. That type shows us how the Lord will rapture the church before the judgement during the seven-year Tribulation period.  (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12). 

Perhaps Elijah was taken without seeing death so that he might return later to finish the work the Lord had given him to do.  We read in Malachi 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

Are there any more exceptions to the rule that we are all appointed to die?  Yes, there is another great and wonderful exception that could happen to every believer alive today.  We read in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”  When the Lord returns to rapture out His church, all believers alive at that time will be spared from the act of physical death. 

So, yes, we must die before we can go to Heaven, but there have been a few exceptions to this rule.  How wonderful it would be if the Lord came for His church soon and we would be taken to Heaven ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ without experiencing death. (481.2)