Thursday, March 26, 2020

Blessed Enos (Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon)

Blessed Enos

What is a hermetic text?
·       The author uses symbols to conceal full meanings from the uninitiated, but which fully inform the initiated
·       Each word or phrase can have multiple layers of meaning or be code for something else
What would it mean if the Book of Enos were a hermetic text?
·      If you have not experienced the things Enos has, you will read the words and think you understand them but you will not
·      But if you have experienced the same things as Enos, you will see his meaning with clarity
Why might Enos have written his book this way and not in more plainness?
·       He wrote, to the initiated, a book of his initiation
·     It was too sacred to share in plainness to those who were uninitiated, but to those who have also experienced what he is writing about, it is plain
·       The plates were almost full
Why are some things “too sacred to share” in plainness?
·     Some things, if shared, would endanger both the uninitiated and those that were affected by their actions once they learned the revealed mysteries
·       This implies that, like in science when conducting an experiment, the doing of a “spiritual” action may not be dependent upon the  righteousness of the individual or on God’s will but can be done by anyone once they understand how to do it (i.e. the higher level or “spiritual” science behind it)
·     And since God honors our agency but also requires natural consequences to happen, it is a mercy that we do not understand how to perform certain things because we could really be a danger to ourselves, others, and perhaps even to the world
·       Reading the text of Enos which is about his experience with God, the kinds of things that Enos might have hidden could include how to rend the veil and ask for information, power and blessings from those in the spiritual realm – and have those requests be granted
·    Modern apostles and church leaders use of the phrase “too sacred to share” when they are speaking about their relationships and experiences with Christ – specifically if they’ve seen and interacted with Him or not; but the Book of Mormon is full of these kinds of experiences and they go into some detail about what happened, so this must not be why Enos is using hermetic language

READ Enos 1:1 and 1 Nephi 1:1
What do we learn about Enos by comparing his verse to Nephi’s?
·     Enos followed the same formula for introducing himself: acknowledging parental worthiness/affluence, suitable teaching in the scriptures, and recognizing God’s hand in the writer’s life
·       Nephi emphasizes the afflictions that he suffered that brought him unto Christ
·       Enos emphasizes the nurture of the Lord first, and then the “admonitions” that the Lord made of him second
·      Enos seems to be a more positive a person than his uncle, Nephi – who was called to go through so much affliction and was shaped by it
·     Enos’ relationship with God has been more nurturing and guiding – less rough and dramatic than Nephi’s; Enos was probably born in the Americas, after the perilous Wilderness Journey experienced by his father and uncle, and maybe even after the separation into Nephite and Lamanite nations

READ Enos 1:2
What does Enos connote “wrestling” with?
·       Receiving a remission of his sins
Who is Enos wrestling “before” (“in front of”) and who might he be “wrestling”?
·       In front of God
·       So he is wrestling someone else and God is watching
·    It is doubtful that he is “wrestling with himself” regarding whether or not to repent – he has already told us of the nurturing he has received from God and will tell us about how his soul “hungered” for God – he wants a remission of sins
·    He “wrestled” with a messenger from God or a mediator with God – one who either acts as a sentinel or is the gatekeeper Himself
Where else in scripture is “wrestling” mentioned and in what context?
·   Alone at night, Jacob wrestled an angel who was guarding the portal at the bottom of the “Ladder” to heaven; he receives a blessing and passes the sentinel’s challenge and ascends to heaven where he meets God face to face and is sealed up to eternal life (see Genesis 32:24-32)
·     Alma wrestled with God in mighty prayer and labored much in the Spirit to get God to pour out His Spirit upon the people who were in Ammonihah (see Alma 8:10)
What are the components of Jacob’s “wrestle” in Genesis 32?
·       Solitary setting
·       Contact with Deity
·       An embrace between God and man
·       Reference to sinews and loins
·       Bestowal of a new name

READ Enos 1:3-5
This story reads somewhat like an Alma the Younger experience – was Enos a wicked man?
·       No – to the casual reader it may appear to be a classic repentance story (“I was in the woods hunting when my guilt overcame me as I thought back about everything I had done in the context of the sermons my father had preached to me, so I prayed for forgiveness…”)
·       But Enos goes to the woods to be alone to commune with God – it is more like Nephi, son of Helaman (see Helaman 10:2-11) or Israel/Jacob’s experience we have just talked about - an attempt to rend the veil and obtain a blessing
What did Enos’ soul hunger for?
·       Eternal life
·       The joy of the Saints
Why did he cry in mighty prayer all day and night?
·       To receive this great blessing – eternal life
·      He wants to receive His calling and election – the more sure word of prophesy that the path he is on is acceptable to the Lord – he is praying to be sealed up to Eternal Life by God and hear The Testimony of Jesus to the Father about his standing before God (see D&C 88:75) – he is praying for his soul
In the context of verse 21, what is Enos telling us when he says he is going to a solitary setting to “hunt beasts”?
·       He does not need to hunt to provide food – they have domesticated herds and flocks already
·      He is going to perform a ceremony – a sacrifice in similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God (see Moses 5:5-9; D&C 138:12-14)
How did Enos “raise his voice” so high that it reached the heavens?
·       It had nothing to do with shouting
·      He prayed in “mighty prayer” or cried unto the Lord – in a way that parted the veil and allowed him to speak directly to God
How did Enos know that his voice had reached the heavens?
·       God answered him
·       From the “wrestling” connotation, it sounds like a true messenger came down to administer at the veil, and allowed him to enter the portal and ascend 
·       Or that Christ Himself came down and embraced him at the veil, allowing him to enter
What is Enos told first and why?
·       His sins are forgiven him
·     As no unclean thing can enter God’s presence, God forgives the sins of those who He meets with, as all of us have sinned and fallen short of His glory; i.e. can’t abide it without assistance – cleansing and forgiving such that we are filled with a portion of glory, which comes from perfect obedience to commandments, or in this case, forgiveness of sin and being made perfect in Christ (see Moses 1:2 and Moroni 10:32-33)
What does it mean that Enos shall be Blessed?
·       It is not in reference to the remission of his sins – he has just received that 
·       He shall be sealed up to eternal life!  The Lord is making Enos’ calling and election sure – “you shalt be blessed… with eternal life and experience the joy of the Saints who have entered into my rest” (see D&C 88:75)
·       He is receiving a new name to signify his new status as a Son of God: the name is Blessed

READ D&C 88:75 and Psalms 2:7
How does God seal one up to eternal life?
·       He declares the decree
·       He bears testimony to the Father in your presence that you are clean
·       He makes a promise to you – you “shalt be blessed” 
·       He makes an oath and covenant with you to give you the priesthood needed to be able to stand in His presence (see D&C 84:19-27, 33-42)

READ Enos 1:6-8, 19
What does it mean that God cannot lie?
·         He is a God of Truth (see Ether 3:12)
·      God’s word is truth; truth is light; God has a fullness of light – it is His power and is what makes Him God; and upholding His word, which is just, is what keeps Him being God (D&C 84:45; D&C 88:6-13; D&C 93:28-37; LoF 7:9, 15; Alma 42:13)
·       When God makes a promise, He intends to be bound by His word; He lays out His covenants with clarity and then the terms are always favorable to mankind’s ultimate happiness (see D&C 1:38; 3 Nephi 15:5-7; Moses 1:39)
·     It is interesting that God does use language to selectively conceal or even partially deceive – e.g. telling Abraham to tell the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister not his wife (Abraham 2:22-25); teaching in parables that most people would not understand (Matt 13:3-13); using the phrase “eternal punishment” to get people to repent when it really means “God’s punishment” rather than meaning punishment that will never end (see D&C 19:7).  Having said that, it is in covenant making that God is very clear about His intentions
Would the Lord have told Enos how He had done this if Enos had not asked?
·       No, God is bound by our agency – if we “ask, seek, knock” He can and will open, but if we do not, He cannot and will not violate our agency by giving us information we did not desire to know
What is the answer to why God sealed Enos up to Eternal Life?
·       Because of Enos’ faith in Christ, who he had not seen or heard until that night in the woods
·       The power to rend the veil comes through faith (see 2 Nephi 27:23; Moroni 7:37-38)
·       The gift of eternal life comes through faith in Christ (see Moroni 7:25-26; D&C 76:51, 69)
Did Enos enter into God’s presence or just hear a voice?
·       The promise of eternal life is given by God’s voice – it is His “word” or promise to you that He cannot break or He will cease to be God; but that doesn’t preclude you from seeing God as you hear Him speak these words to you
·     But Enos heard and saw (v19) God bestowing this promise upon him; God’s ministration to the man is part of the ceremony – he knows things he did not know with surety before (see 3 Nephi 11:15); he had never “before” (but was now) seeing and hearing Christ (v8)
·     The phrase “many years pass away before He shall manifest Himself IN the FLESH” refers to Christ’s mortal ministry – which Enos probably saw or He would not have made this comment because how would he know that) – but that doesn’t preclude Christ from showing Himself to men in the flesh (in their flesh or during their mortal probation – even if He had not yet descended to experience His mortal probation (see 3 Nephi 11:14-17); but even in His flesh prior to His mortal ministry (see Ether 3:17-18) – this implies that Christ either had a physical body prior to His birth on this earth or there was some other way that He could show Himself to a person prior to His mortal life but in the same physical body in which He showed Himself to the Nephites!
What does it mean that Enos has now been pronounced “whole”?
·       He is no longer “on the path” but has “finished the race” or endured to the End – he can now enter into the rest of the Lord
·       He has a hope or promise of salvation from the Lord’s own lips – any anxiety over death and the eternities have been removed 

READ Enos 1:9-10
Enos exercised faith in Christ to receive a hope of salvation – what is the natural result of this experience?
·       Charity, the pure love of Christ
·       To want ALL others to experience the same sealing up to eternal life that you have experienced
·      With one’s whole soul, to desire to bring to forth the immortality and eternal life of man – to be a “servant” to your Lord in enabling His objectives (see Moses 1:39; Jacob 6:2-3)
·       You don’t have to be told to “feed the sheep” – it comes naturally from the pure love of Christ that has filled your whole soul (see John 21:15-18)
·     You KNOW Christ, you are filled with His love, and you want those you love (everyone) to know what you know and experience what you have experienced
Did Enos not feel a desire for the welfare of his brothers before this experience?
·       Not in this way
·      This level of love and desire for the salvation of his family and friends had not entered his heart before – it is similar to a father after the birth of his first child: he didn’t have that level of love active within him – he didn’t know he could love like that – it was beyond his comprehension previously
·     Clearly he would have felt a great deal of mortal love for them, as he went from belief in Christ to faith in Him – he would have experienced the baptism of fire previously and been filled with the Holy Spirit, so he would have felt love – BUT NOT LIKE THIS and even now he is just “beginning” to feel this desire
What is Enos doing when he is “pouring out his whole soul unto God for them”?
·       He is begging for mercy on their behalf
·       He is saying “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
·       He is interceding on behalf of them – he is saying “upon me let this iniquity be” (see 1 Samuel 25:24)
Did Enos stop petitioning the Lord for his people?
·       No, the Lord stopped him
What is implied by the fact that the voice of the Lord came into Enos’ mind?
·       It was a real voice – but would take faith to hear it
·     No one else in the woods that night would have seen or heard anything but Enos’ words – and even those might not have been vocalized; ditto Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory, etc.
·       God’s concepts are extremely difficult to fully convey in mortal speech – He almost always speaks to us in our mind or really to our spirits, “as though we had no bodies at all” (see TPJS 156:3)
·       But that is not to say that these experiences aren’t “real” or even not experienced physically (see 2 Corinthians 12:2-4) but they are experienced in a spiritual realm where matter is more refined and cannot be sensed by our mortal senses (see D&C 131:7-8; D&C 76:12, 113-118; D&C 138:11, 29; D&C 97:16;)
Does the Lord promise to save Enos’ people?
·       Yes, if they do what Enos has done
·       But not categorically just because Enos has asked for it
·      He will not violate the agency of others or His Doctrine which states that they must each exercise faith in Christ, repent, covenant through baptism, receive the birth of the spirit through the baptism of fire, and endure to the end by abiding in covenant
So, as Enos truly loves his people, what will he do next?
·       He will do everything he can, following the run-rules laid out in D&C 121:41-43, to enable them or persuade them to come unto Christ themselves (see v20)

READ Enos 1:11-14
Why is Enos’ faith beginning to be unshaken?
·       He has knowledge now – a personal manifestation of Christ (see Alma 32:34-35)
·       He expects to communicate with Christ and His messengers directly, as Joseph Smith did after his initial first vision; he is confident in rending the veil and discussing issues (see JSH 1:29)]
·     He is not necessarily “confident” yet that the Lord will grant all his wishes because he won’t just save the Nephites as Enos has asked – it is his relationship with Christ which is becoming “unshaken”
How long of a time period are we looking at here, for Enos to “pray” with “many long struggles”?
·       Likely it is much more than one day and night!
·       He seems to now have moved on from the initial calling and election experience and is describing his experiences with the Lord over time
·       “Many” requires more than one – perhaps a dozen or even hundreds
·       “Long” suggests that there were many days and nights spent in prayer

READ Enos 1:15-18
Why is Enos “struggling” in prayer over the Lamanites?
·       He is not struggling to convince the Lord to save them arbitrarily, as he tried to do with the Nephites
·       He is not struggling to convince the Lord to save the records, as He has already promised “thy fathers” that 
·      He is struggling to receive charity for an enemy that was seeking to destroy him and his family/people (see also Jacob 7:24) which he receives as indicated by calling them “my brethren” – he gets to a point where he genuinely loves those who are trying to kill him: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”
·       He is begging for the Lord to share the record with the descendants of the Lamanites, so that they might have a chance of coming back into the light
What does the fact that Enos “cried unto the Lord continually” about his desire teach us?
·      “Crying unto the Lord” in prayer is “spiritual labor”
·       Learning patience is a critical trait to becoming like God
·      Part of crying unto the Lord is the alignment of our will with His as He reveals it – this sometimes takes a while as we are not open to His will at first or struggle to accept and live it even after we are open to it
What does this process of prayer and labor teach us about charity?
·      We are sanctified gradually – from grace to grace – and the more light we obtain, the more like Christ we become and the more charity we have – even for our enemies
·       We grow in charity
Why does the Lord grant Enos “whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith”?
·     Those who have become Sons and Daughters of God through Christ (He has become their “father” for He has spiritually begotten them) are given the opportunity to ask “whatsoever” they will, in faith (see Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; Psalms 2:7; TPJS 423:2)
·     Note the “faith” qualifier implies that they must obtain the will of the Lord; but the relationship also implies that by this point, they would not want to ask anything contrary to God’s will anyway (see Helaman 10:4-5)
·    Getting back to Enos’ use of hermetic language to protect us from knowledge we shouldn’t have prematurely: it is possible that other entities besides Christ can also grant mortals “whatsoever things ye shall ask in faith” but with disastrous consequences because they are not aligned with God’s will but are the will of the individual or perhaps the spiritual entity
What does it tell us about Enos that he spent his “wish” on the Lamanites and not on a quick resurrection or wisdom or spiritual translation or some other gift or blessing like others did?
·       He truly had become a man of charity
·       He became a man of Christ

READ Enos 1:19, 26
Why does Enos go among the people testifying of what he has seen and heard?
·     Prophets know Christ personally and are given messages, visions and dreams (see Numbers 12:6-8) – Enos was given “the truth which is in Christ” (v26; see also D&C 84:45; D&C 88:6-14)
·       There is a difference between “teachings” about God and “revelations or commandments” directly from God (see D&C 43:5)
·       Prophets that are given these messages, visions and dreams are to speak them faithfully to the people (see Jeremiah 23:28)
·        Enos was “wrought upon” to do that by God (v26) – he did not volunteer but was “drafted” by God to proclaim His message
·       God’s word will not “go away” – it is unchangeable (see D&C 1:38; Mormon 9:9-10; D&C 20:17) but we have not received all of it, so we must always be open to hearing more from true prophets sent from God with those messages (see D&C 50:24; AoF 9)

READ Enos 1:22-23
Why were their many prophets among them?
·     Although there were priests (like Enos’ father Jacob), they don’t seem jealous of their authority – plus priestly authority to administer ordinances is different from a prophetic ministry to teach a message from God – incidentally, Jacob was both priest and prophet, but there is no indication that Enos was a priest, “just” a prophet!  
·       Prophetic gifts on display is a sign that “many” of them had received The Testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 19:10 and D&C 88:75)
·       True prophets rejoice in the exaltation of others and the demonstrating of the gifts of the spirit (see Numbers 11:26-29; Acts 21:8-14) which accompany the seeker from birth of the Spirit through to calling and election and beyond
·       These are signs that God is with a person and that they have a true and living faith (see Mormon 9:24); we should see many true prophets and prophetesses among any group of believers who claim to be Saints
Why is there such a contrast between Enos’ message about his own search for God and the message being preached among his contemporaries?
·       Enos has experienced the birth of the Spirit and was seeking to rend the veil and find God so that he can be sealed up to eternal life
·       “Many” others have experienced the same thing 
·       But “the people” in general were stiff-necked (prideful) and hard to understand (unwilling to comprehend because they would not be obedient to God so as to receive further light themselves)
·       The message is adapted to the needs of the audience – and for many of them, they needed to move from wickedness to rule keeping before they could enter the Gate and ascend to Heaven
·     It is interesting to note that in neither case (speaking about the “mysteries of Godliness” or “the fear of the Lord”), no one is flattering the people with a message that “all is well in Zion”…
·       We can gain hope from the fact that people like Enos were able to ascend to the highest blessings of the gospel from within a people that were so hard hearted

READ Enos 1:27
What is the “rest of the Lord” and how does Enos “know” he will enter into it?
·       The rest of the Lord is the fullness of His glory (see D&C 84:24)
·       Enos has sacrificed the world (v26) and all things (see LoF 6:7-8) in order to have the faith sufficient to have received this hope in Christ
·       Enos knows seeing God again will be pleasant for him – he has confidence in his next meeting with God (see D&C 138:14)
·     He knows he will enter into it because his calling and election has been made sure – in verse 5 – he “shalt be Blessed” – he is certain of it because God cannot lie (v6)
·       But now, at the end of his life, the Lord is calling him home using the new name he was promised he would receive if he remained faithful and true to his hope in Christ – “Come unto me ye, Blessed”


I Know of No Revelation

Between the time of Enos and Abinadom, over 150 years and four generations have passed.  The record reflects a change in the content of the writers from recording revelations, to recording genealogy (Omni 1:1), to recording history (Omni 1:10).

READ Omni 1:11
Are Abinadom and his people unbelievers?
·      No, there is nothing to indicate that they are faithless
·     They continue to be religious and honor the traditions and records written by prophets in the past – they seem to believe very much in the importance of their ancestors’ revelations
So, is there an issue with Abinadom and his people?
·       Yes
·       They lack the vitality in their faith which would result in having the heavens opened to THEM
·       And even worse, they don’t seem to realize the need for having the heavens opened and receiving revelation themselves as they feel that what they have is sufficient (see also 2 Nephi 28:29)

READ TPJS 365:1
“Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”
Why is reading the faith-promoting experiences of others not sufficient?
·       Study of others’ experiences cannot tell you about your personal condition and true relationship to God; 
·      And unless you have that, you cannot exercise faith unto salvation (see LoF 3:5; LoF 6:2-5) because you will not be able to make it through the trials and required sacrifices (see LoF 6:7, 10, 12)
Why would a people say that what they have is sufficient to be saved – that they have a great, basic reservoir of revelation and don’t need any more?
·      They have atrophied spiritually and they don’t even realize it – they don’t ask for more light and knowledge because it does not occur to them to do so (see Alma 12:10-11; 2 Nephi 28:30)
·       They lack the faith to receive any more – spiritual gifts, miracles and ministering angels have ceased – (see Mormon 9:19-20)
·     They think they have all that they need or all that God has to give, which is a terrible, blinding sort of pride in being “chosen people” (see 2 Nephi 28:27-29)
·       In their pride they honestly assume the priestly authority of their ordinances is sufficient to save them – they are trusting in the arm of the flesh and deny that the power of God is truly needed to provide salvation, above and beyond their ceremonies and rites and priestly authority (see 2 Nephi 28:5, 12, 26, 31)


The Sacrifice Required of Us

READ Omni 1:26
What does it mean to come unto Christ?
·       It means to “receive Him in the world” (see D&C 132:21-25)
·       It means to know Him with a surety (see 3 Nephi 11:14-17)
·       It means to be promised eternal life (see D&C 88:75; TPJS 332:3-333:2)
What happens when we come unto Christ and can it happen in any other way?
·       We are redeemed from the fall when we are brought back into His presence (see Ether 3:13
·       I am the way – there is no other way but Christ (see John 14:6)
·     No ordinances that have not been sealed will suffice, including baptism, the temple endowment or celestial marriage (see D&C 132:7)
How is what Christ is requiring of us described?
·       In terms of a sacrificial offering
·       Something that is in the similitude of His sacrifice
·       When an offering is laid on the altar it no longer belongs to the person making the offering but to God
·       The offering is killed – blood seals the sacrifice, making it in affect
·       The whole soul is “killed” but a “new creature” is given to the supplicant instead – he or she is filled with God Himself (in the form of the Holy Ghost), in that their spirits are made Holy through sanctification via the blood of Christ (see Moses 6:59-61)
What is the sacrifice He requires of us when we come unto Him?
·       Our whole soul (Omni 1:26)
·       A broken heart and contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:19-20)
·       All our sins and vain attempts at righteousness (see Alma 22:15-18; Isaiah 64:6)
·       Our willingness or the desires of our hearts (see Moroni 4:3)
·     We covenant to offer our WHOLE SOULS to Christ – a broken heart and a contrite spirit - by sacrificing our will and giving up all our sins.
How can we know that the Lord has accepted our sacrifice?
·      We know that God has accepted our covenant when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, the baptism of fire – our sins are forgiven and we are born again, spiritually.  We become clean and blameless before God and receive a mighty change of heart, so that we abhor sin and want to be righteous.
What does it mean “as the Lord liveth ye will be saved”?
·       God is swearing on His own immortality and eternal life – as long as He lives, He will promise to save that person – you cannot get a more sure prophesy of your personal salvation than this! (see Ether 3:11-13)


God’s Character and Attributes (Lectures on Faith 3-4) QUESTIONS

A Correct Idea of God’s Character   READ LoF 3:2-5 What is necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God u...