As always, use the official Gospel Doctrine Manual for your preparation. Here are some ideas you might use to supplement your lesson.
Enos is Jacob’s son, Nephi’s nephew
1 – “he taught me in his language” This is not the only chapter which begins with an expression of gratitude for being taught to read and write – see also 1 Nephi 1:1, Mosiah 1:2.
2 – “the wrestle which I had” The word “wrestle” indicates that this was more than a verbal acknowledgment of the need for repentance. This was a prayer that lasted “all the day long” (see verse 4).
I have always appreciated the art of Walter Rane, who has done a series of paintings on the Book of Mormon. I love his depiction of Enos’ prayer which captures the idea of a “wrestle” before God. See this painting at: http://www.walterraneprints.com/
4 – “my soul hungered” Note the footnote to 3 Nephi 12:6: “And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness…” This is not hunger of the body, but of the soul.
7 – “Lord, how is it done?” We may surmise that Enos already knew something about the process of repentance – he knew that he had to pour out his soul to God, but when he is told his sins are forgiven, he is struck by the miracle of forgiveness, which causes him to ask, “how is it done?”
8 – “Because of thy faith in Christ” Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone taught:
Number one on our agenda, above all else, is faith in Christ. I don’t know anything that will take the place of it. Whenever we find problems in the Church, we usually find them under one of two umbrellas or canopies, either transgression or lack of faith in Christ.” (BYU Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1982-83], p.145).
Here is an excerpt from When Times are Tough, Chapter Four, entitled “Five Scriptures that Will Strengthen Your Faith:”
Scripture One: Enos 1:7-8. “How is it done? Because of thy faith in Christ.”
Enos only wrote one chapter in the Book of Mormon, but his message is vital. Enos began, “I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins” (Enos 1:2). Since all of us must receive a remission of our sins, Enos chose to write about something important to all of us. It’s as if Enos was saying, “This must happen in your life. Here’s how it happened in mine.”
Initially, Enos went to hunt beasts in the forest, but he later began to reflect on the words his father taught, and as they “sunk deep into [his] heart,” he apparently lost all interest in hunting. He began to pray, and continued praying all day and into the night, until finally, a voice declared, “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.” Enos responded in gratitude and amazement, “Lord, how is it done?” The answer came, “Because of thy faith in Christ…”
I chose this beautiful passage as Scripture One. I like it because of how easily we can apply the question, “how is it done?” to our own lives. It really doesn’t matter what “it” is, the formula is always the same – faith in Christ. So, what is “it” you need to do?
Cleanse your soul? (Enos 1:1-8);
Build a ship? (1 Nephi 17:51);
Defeat an army? (Alma 44:3-4);
Conquer a habit? (Ether 12:27);
Move a mountain? (Ether 12:30);
Part a sea? (Exodus 14:13-16);
Dismiss a demon? (Moses 1:21);
Walk on water? (Matthew 14:29);
Heal a relationship? (Alma 15:5-11);
Resist a temptation? (Genesis 39:9-12);
Level a prison? (Alma 14:27-28).
“How is it done?” For these many different challenges, there is but one single answer: faith in Christ. No matter what “it” is, the way “it” is accomplished is by the first principle of the gospel.
9 – “a desire for the welfare of my brethren” Notice the things Enos prays for, and more particularly, the order in which he prays for them:
- 4 – “mine own soul…”
- 9 – “my brethren, the Nephites…”
- 11 – “my brethren, the Lamanites…”
- 16 – “the records…”
Joseph Smith Jr.: Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. —Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839–42, p.174.
27 – “Then shall I see his face with pleasure” The scriptures describe a wide range of emotions when contemplating returning to the Lord’s presence. Enos describes a very positive experience, but at the other end, we might remember Alma who said, “the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror” (Alma 36:14). However, after Alma’s repentance and forgiveness, his words are: “my soul did long to be there” (Alma 36:22).
2 – “have they not revealed the plan of salvation?” Jarom feels that what his fathers have written is sufficient, since they have taught the plan! President Boyd K. Packer taught:
Without a knowledge of the gospel plan, transgression seems natural, innocent, even justified. There is no greater protection from the adversary than for us to know the truth — to know the plan! — Boyd K. Packer, Our Father’s Plan, p.27.
We also notice that Adam and Eve were taught the plan before they were taught the commandments. Perhaps we could say that the plan of salvation is the “why” behind the commandments:
Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption… (Alma 12:32)
11 – “look forward unto the Messiah” The Book of Mormon repeatedly states the purpose for the Law of Moses, which was to point the people to Jesus Christ who should come.
2 – “I of myself am a wicked man” Interestingly, Omni shares his assessment of his own righteousness, and we hope that he is being unduly hard on himself. But he kept the commandments of his fathers to keep the records (verse 3).
5 – “more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed” The oft repeated promise of the Book of Mormon, that if you keep the commandments you will prosper in the land, and if you don’t, you won’t, is verified (see verse 6).
12 – “Mosiah … king over the land of Zarahemla” These are important verses in the story line of the Book of Mormon. In 2 Nephi 5, Nephi led his people away from the Lamanites and founded the land of Nephi. Many years later, King Mosiah must do the same thing. For many upcoming chapters, the Lamanites occupy the “land of Nephi” which sounds strange, unless you remember these earlier migrations.
14 – “They discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla” As explained in verse 15, these people also left Jerusalem at about the same time as Lehi. We learn later that they were descendants of Mulek, one of the sons of Zedekiah (Mosiah 25:2 and Helaman 8:21). Zarahemla and his people rejoiced “exceedingly” because Mosiah had the brought the plates of brass.
17 – “they had brought no records with them” Languages evolve over time, and because the Mulekites had brought no records with them, their language drifted to the point that Mosiah and his people could not understand them, even though their ancestors had come from the same place a few centuries earlier.
20 – “a large stone … with engravings on it” Mosiah was able to interpret the writings “by the gift and power of God.” The account of Coriantumr, who was the last of the Jaredites, had lived with the Mulekites for a time. These verses (19,20) connect the children of Lehi, the Mulekites and the Jaredites.
26 – “come unto Christ” Amaleki beautifully summarizes the gospel with an invitation to “come to Christ” and “offer your whole souls” unto him.
Words of Mormon
Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet: The section called Words of Mormon is a transition between the small plates and Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates. It is also a glimpse into the heart and mind of an editor with seeric vision, a man chosen and selected by God to organize and prepare the volume we know as the Book of Mormon. An extraordinary task called for an extraordinary man. Having been shown the challenges and struggles of the people of the last days, Mormon prayerfully selected from a host of records those parts which bear fervent testimony of the divine sonship of Christ and reveal and expose persons and philosophies which stand in opposition to Christ. Thus because of the editorial influence of the spirit of revelation, the Book of Mormon has a timeless value and an eternal relevance. (Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987-1992], 2: 119.)
4 – “the prophecies of the coming of Christ” Mormon was working with records which spanned hundreds of years before Christ’s coming as well as a few hundred years after his coming, so he continues, “My fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled”
5 – “I cannot write the hundredth part” This type of phrase appears throughout the Book of Mormon letting us know that we are getting a fraction of what happened among the people – and yet, we are getting what has been chosen to be most important for our day.
13 – “he did fight with the strength of his own arm” King Benjamin was a powerful spiritual leader, but also a defender of the liberty of his people. He did not stand behind the armies, but at their head and fought with the sword of Laban.
17 – “many holy men in the land” the people of King Benjamin were blessed to live in a time when “many holy men” could speak the word of God with power, authority, and “sharpness.” Notice footnote 17c on the word “sharpness.” The footnote takes us to D&C 121:43, which speaks of “reproving betimes with sharpness.” Elder H. Burke Peterson taught:
Reproving with sharpness means reproving with clarity, with loving firmness, with serious intent. It does not mean reproving with sarcasm, or with bitterness, or with clenched teeth and raised voice. (“Unrighteous Dominion,” Ensign, July 1989, 10.)
We enjoy a similar blessing in the latter-days, when every six months we have the privilege of listening to inspiring church leaders who speak with power, authority, and “sharpness.”