Friday, March 30, 2012

Book of Mormon Lesson #14 "For a Wise Purpose"

Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

Here is my chart of the compilation of the Book of Mormon.  Hooray!  I was able to get Blogger to post it!  The post is too small to read, unless you have amazing vision, but you can click on it to pull it out of the blog, and then you can right-click and save it as a picture.  Then you print it as a full-page photograph.  (All the tricks we have to come up with to get around Blogger's and my limitations...!) 

(Thanks to our current ward Gospel Doctrine teacher who saved a copy of this from when I taught years ago!)


ENOS

The prophet Jacob, the brother of the prophet Nephi, stated at the beginning of his book the instructions given him by his brother.

“…Wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a commandment concerning the small plates, upon which these things are engraven.  And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephi.  For he said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.  And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.”  (Jacob 1:1-4)

When he passed the plates on to his son, Enos, he related those instructions.

“And, I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates.  And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands…”  (Jacob 7:27)

A side note:  A French word suddenly appears at the end of Jacob:  adieu.  Weird, huh?  Why would Jacob have used a French word?  Well, he didn’t, of course.  French wasn’t even around then.  It was Joseph Smith who used the French word.  In translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith had to find words that conveyed the meaning of the Reformed Egyptian words.  The word adieu was in common usage in New England at the time, and it meant “towards God,” sort of like "God be with you."  Joseph obviously felt it a fitting equivalent to Jacob’s farewell in Reformed Egyptian.

Enos kept the commandment that his father had given him, and he chose to write about a specific personal revelation he received.

“And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.”  (Enos 1:2)

THE EFFECTS OF FAITH

The Book of Enos is a short study in faith:  How it is obtained, how it is used, and the effect it has upon a person.  Let’s work backwards to discover the process in Enos' life:


“And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest.  And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my father.  Amen.”  (Enos 1:27)

So we see the effect of great faith in a man at the end of his life:  He felt fully confident of receiving peace and joy in the next life and of hearing the welcoming praise of Jesus Christ at the judgment.  Wow!  Wouldn’t this be a great way to exit mortal life? 

Backing up just a little, we can see one effect faith had in the life of Enos:

“And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ.  And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.”  (Enos 1:26)

His faith, which led him to preach the gospel all of his days, brought him great joy in his life, greater than the pleasures the world offers.

Enos had preached and prophecied because he had a great love for his people, the best definition of love being “seeking for the spiritual development of another.” 

“…I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.”  (Enos 1:9) 

The Lord assured him that he would bless the Nephites “according to their diligence in keeping the commandments.”  So then, Enos’s heart went out in love to his enemies.

“And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long struggling for my brethren, the Lamanites.

“And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.”  (Enos 1:12)

ASKING AND RECEIVING

Enos had asked that if the Lamanites should outlast the Nephites so that there was no more hope of the Nephites helping to convert them, that at least this record of their preachings and prophesying might be preserved and eventually reach them to bring them back to the Lord, “for at the present our struggling were vain in restoring them to the true faith.  And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers.” (Enos 1:14)

“Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever things ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.”  (Enos 1:15)

Really?  Anything we ask, we will receive?  Is prayer like a genie in a bottle, granting us all our wishes?  Not quite.  We must ask “in faith,” and “in the name of Christ.”  When we pray “in the name of Christ,” we are acting as his agents, praying for that which he would desire, just as if we had a power of attorney and were acting in the name of a relative who was out of the country, or as if we were a real estate agent and were making an offer on a home in the name of our client.  When we act in someone else’s name, we are doing what they would want done.

So if we are praying “in the name of Christ,” as Enos was, and we are praying for what Christ wants anyway, what is the point of praying?  Why did Enos have to cry unto the Lord “continually” over a long period of time?  The Bible Dictionary answers our question:

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.  The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”  (Bible Dictionary, p. 752-753)

Enos continued:

“And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.  And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest.

“And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine.”  (Enos 1:16-18)

FORGIVENESS BREEDS CHARITY

What made Enos care so much about the welfare of the Nephites and the Lamanites?

Enos, early in his life, had prayed for his own welfare, for a forgiveness of his sins, and was told by the Lord that he was forgiven (Enos 1:4-5).  His relief was immense and almost incredulous.

“And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.  And I said: Lord, how is it done?

“And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ…wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Enos 1:6-8)

Enos’s story contains the sequence found over and over in the scriptures:  As soon as one obtains a forgiveness of his sins and thereby is filled with the Spirit and the accompanying pure love of Christ, he is then immediately filled with a desire to help those in his sphere of influence, because that’s what the love of Christ is and does; he desires to bless others as he has been blessed.  (See for example Mosiah 28.)

Enos’s story also illustrates the truth that faith in Jesus Christ must precede repentance (see Article of Faith 4).  But beginner faith will do.  Enos’ faith is shown by the mere fact that he prayed for repentance and that he had some knowledge of God, for example he knew “that God could not lie.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF PARENTAL TEACHING

And now we are back at the beginning of the story, where we find out how Enos received this first bit of faith, this knowledge that changed his life and the lives of those who heard him preach and those who have read his words.

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart, and my soul hungered…” (Enos 1:3-4)

There is no way to know whether Enos was a rebellious or irreligious young man prior to this experience (we all have need of repentance), but his father Jacob planted words in Enos’s mind which came back to him at the time they were needed.  This was not an unlikely or unusual occurrence that has no relevance to our lives: it is a promise the Lord has repeatedly made to parents.

“If parents will continually set before their children examples worthy of their imitation and the approval of our Father in Heaven, they will turn the current, and the tide of feelings of their children, and they, eventually, will desire righteousness more than evil.”  President Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 208

“More than we can imagine, our faithful effort to offer to our family the testimony we have of the truth will be multiplied in power and extended in time.”  President Henry B. Eyring, April 1996 General Conference

“What a mother teaches a child doesn’t get erased.”  Sheri Dew, No One Can Take Your Place, p. 36

“If you mothers will live your religion, then in love and fear of God teach your children constantly and thoroughly in the way of life and salvation, training them up in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it.  I promise you this; it is as true as the shining sun, it is an eternal truth.”  President Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 206

Do remember the “old” part of that promise!  We don’t know how “old” our children may be when they finally cling to the gospel truths, in fact:

“Not all problems are overcome and not all needed relationships are fixed in mortality.  The work of salvation goes on beyond the veil of death, and we should not be too apprehensive about incompleteness within the limits of mortality.”  Elder Dallen H. Oaks, October 1995 General Conference

This knowledge can remove our terror of having “an empty chair in heaven.”  Things that are beyond our control as parents, are not beyond the control of Heavenly Father.

“Now, sometimes there are those [children] that are lost.  We have the promise of the prophets that they are not lost permanently, that if they are sealed in the temple ordinances and if the covenants are kept, in due time, after all the correction that’s necessary to be given, that they will not be lost.”  President Boyd K. Packer, Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Feb. 9, 2008

Sister Lant gave a beautiful summary of all the above promises, with which I will close:

“If our parenting is based on the teachings of the scriptures and of the latter-day prophets, we cannot go wrong…We will not be perfect at it, and our families will not always respond positively, but we will be building a strong foundation of righteous traditions that our children can depend on.  They can hold to that foundation when things get difficult, and they can return to that foundation if they should stray for a period of time…
“As we become ‘steadfast and immovable’ in keeping the commandments of the Lord, we will secure the blessings of heaven for ourselves and for our families.”  President Cheryl C. Lant, Primary General President, April 2008 General Conference

8 comments:

Trina said...

Are you okay with me crashing your blog? I LOVE it! What a great extra help before Sundays lessons.

Nancy W. Jensen said...

Trina, there's no such thing as crashing this blog, because it is for YOU! It's for anybody who wants to read it, and it's here mainly to help Sunday School teachers like yourself. I don't even have the Gospel Doctrine calling right now :( so "teaching" all of you gets me my fix :) Enjoy!

Unknown said...

Dear Nancy,
I just buried my sweet sweet father (age 93) last Saturday, the tender words of Enos bring a flood of tears to me. (1:27) I didn't know if I would have the courage to teach this week. When I saw that it was Enos - I couldn't stop myself. The Lord certainly knows the heart of a good and righteous man when He sees it. This just reminded me so much of my Dad. Thanks for all you do. Brenda

The White Silk Purse (Dana) said...

Thank you so much for taking time to write this blog. I happened upon it while preparing this lesson.

I, too, live in Cache Valley and am enjoying this new to me calling to teach Gospel Doctrine. I love and fear this calling all at the same time. I appreciate your insights as part of my preparation.

I will follow!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone have success in printing out a legible copy of "The Compilation of the Golden Plates?" What I got was so blurry I could not read it regardless of what size I printed it. If so, how did you do it?
Thank you, Nancy, for your insites. Your blog has really helped me prepare my lessons.
Janet

Nancy W. Jensen said...

It works on my computer if I save it as a picture and then print it as a full-page photograph.

Sillyhappykitty said...

I wasn't successful either. :-( But thank you for your lovely work.

Sillyhappykitty said...

Tried another way, and had much, much better results. Click on the jpg within the blog to enlarge. Then drag it onto your desktop or whatever you do with photos. Print it as a photo. I normally paste photos into my word doc, which may be what Anonymous tried too- that was very blurry. Hope this helps someone.