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Enos is a one chapter book in the Book of Mormon, but it is powerful in its brevity.
We know from Jacob 7 that Enos is a son of Jacob. We also know that Enos is of the covenant, or else Jacob would not have chosen him to pass down the records and write the things of God. Enos opens with a tribute to his father Jacob, calling him “a just man – for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – and blessed be the name of my God for it” (verse 1).
What a blessing, like Nephi’s gratitude for “goodly parents”, for Enos to give his father. This is a precious gift of honor he gives, acknowledging the contribution of his parents to his own faith.
But Enos has also done the work to make his parents’ faith his own.
Specifically, Enos says he wrestled before God, before receiving a remission of his sins (verse 2).
He tells a story of going about his normal daily activities, and during that time pondering “the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints” (verse 3). These thoughts “sunk deep into my heart”, he said (verse 3).
This is such an important piece of what Enos did to develop his own faith. Our beliefs become faith when we act (do something!) in response to our beliefs. We develop faith by learning who God is, and by aligning our lives with His. It is then upon this faith that the Lord reveals line upon line until that faith becomes knowledge, which is testimony. This whole process is dependent upon the external work of reading Scriptures daily, praying un-cease-ing-ly, studying the words of prophets (old discourses, General Conference talks, BYU discussions, Fireside talks, Sacrament meeting talks, etc… all of it counts!), as well internal work of thinking, pondering, memorizing, reflecting, and asking for more.
He will reveal to us as much as we are willing to receive.
We demonstrate our willingness through study, prayer, obedience, and pondering.
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens” (verse 4).
Enos wanted it.
Enos feasted on the words his father taught him, the scriptures and words of the prophets, until he hungered for more.
It was then, when he was hungry to know more, when he was willing and ready to apply what he had learned, it was then that he humbled himself and prayed, submitting to the will of the Lord.
This is a sacred moment, one so sacred it almost feels intrusive to be watching through his written description of the experience. It is powerful.
“And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed” (verse 5).
These are private, deeply sacred, powerful moments of repentance, with the Lord keeping His promise to cover those who repent with His at-one-ment.
This is an at-one-ment moment.
“And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away” (verse 6).
When we do wrong things or bad things or fail to do good, we should feel bad. That isn’t false guilt. We really are guilty, and feeling guilt is the correct response. But getting stuck in the guilt would leave us helpless and hopeless, drowning in our own self-imposed shame without chance of recovery. But “hopeless and helpless” is not of God. The Savior is our hope, and His great atoning sacrifice empowers us to receive help. Enos asks how this hope and help come (verse 7).
“And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen” (verse 8). Enos has faith in Christ, that Christ will come, even though at this time in history Christ had not yet been born. This is great faith, to trust the teachings of the prophets and the teachings of his father.
And then verse 8 closes with an interesting statement:
“go to, thy faith hath made thee whole”
It reminds me of John 8:11, with Jesus telling the hotshots to cast the first stone if they are without sin, and then watching them all crawl away, each with their own guilt. Then the Savior looks at the woman and says,
“Go and sin no more”.
They are related in repentance, though Enos is further along.
The woman must “go and sin no more”, which is part of repentance in that when repentance is real, the sin is not repeated. It leads to the restitution piece of repentance. The woman is in process.
But Enos has completed the process: “thy faith hath made thee whole”.
This “whole”-ness is what it means when other verses talk about how we should be perfect. They do not mean we should be perfect, as in without mistakes. They mean perfect, as in whole and complete.
So Enos teaches us that we can be made perfect (whole and complete) through faith in Christ, and by doing our part of repentance: the crying out to God with our whole souls, and the go-and-sin-n0-more. Then the atonement makes us at-one, and even our sins are forgiven. That’s the power of the atonement.
This was so huge, so transformative, that Enos wanted this for his people as well.
It’s like Lehi tasting the fruit and knowing he wants his family to also taste.
“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” (verse 9).
So again, it is the praying.
This is the praying we should do for the people we visit teach, and for those we love and serve, and for those we do not yet know they need our love and service.
But no matter how much we want it for them, they have to want it themselves.
The Lord answers Enos, saying that He will bless the people “according to their diligence in keeping my commandments” (verse 10). This is the “inasmuch”, or the “to the degree”. Yes, the Savior loves them – this is the unconditional part. But His presence and blessings are dependent upon the people trying, being obedient, being diligent in keeping His commandments.
“And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him…” (verse 11).
Only now he is not only praying for his people, but also for his enemies.
“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” (verse 12).
This was a powerful experience.
And so Enos went through the land, amongst the people, to teach what he knows about the Christ to come, and of the way the Lord works in our lives (verse 19).
So Enos led the Nephites in seeking “diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God” (verse 20). But the Lamanites refused, and sought to destroy the Nephites.
This is how the “murmuring” of Nephi’s brothers Laman and Lemuel, back in the day, led to this pattern of contention and destruction evident all through the Book of Mormon. It urges us to nourish life and heal wounds and forgive and ask for forgiveness and become an obedient, covenant people.
But the Nephites are becoming a “stiffnecked people”, refusing to submit to the laws of God (verse 21).
Because the covenant people were not acting like covenant people, the Lord sent them “many prophets” to teach and heal (verse 22).
These prophets had a rough job dealing with the “harshness” of the people, “preaching and prophesying of wars and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God. Enos hopes the people will listen to these prophets, which will help “keep them from going down speedily to destruction” (verse 23).
But the wars have begun, and now the Nephites and the Lamanites are officially fighting each other (verse 24).
And so the prophets do their work, as Enos has done in all his days (verse 26), testifying of Christ.
“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… he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father” (verse 27).