Enos 1:1 The origin of the name Enos
The name Enos is a poetic Hebrew word meaning "man." It first appears in the Bible as the name of Seth's son. As a grandson of Adam, through Seth, Enos was privileged to be part of the ancient patriarchal line of the priesthood. That Jacob named his son, Enos, should not be surprising because the Nephites often gave their children names from the scriptures.
Enos 1:2 I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God
The word "wrestle" is an interesting word to use to describe one's workings in the Spirit. Later Enos uses the term struggling in the spirit (v. 10), to convey the same concept. The concept of a spiritual struggle is both descriptive and accurate. It encompasses all the remorse and pain of soul caused by true repentance, and it depicts the straining of a human soul to reach toward the heavens. Notice that Enos says the wrestle which I had before God. He does not say "the wrestle which I had with God." The latter would imply that there is some spiritual conflict with God. Not so. The conflict is within the heart and soul of Enos. The carnal man struggles to hold on while the spiritual man fights his way to the forefront of his hopes and desires.
So often we are guilty of repeating redundant, moot prayers. Such prayers have a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof (JS-H 1:19). Enos teaches us how to pray in a different way. To pray with such earnestness that it can be termed "a struggle in the spirit" is to pray with the fortitude and ferventness of the prophets. Alma prayed with this intensity on behalf of his people, Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people (Alma 8:10). The same fortitude is seen in the greatest prayer ever uttered-that of the Savior on Gesthemane when he struggled in the Spirit until his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Lu 22:44).
Spencer W. Kimball
"Here is no casual prayer; here no trite, worn phrases; here no momentary appeal. All the day long, with seconds turning into minutes, and minutes into hours, and hours into an 'all day long.' But when the sun had set relief had still not come, for repentance is not a single act nor forgiveness an unearned gift. So precious to him was communication with, and approval of, his Redeemer that his determined soul pressed on without ceasing." (BYU Speeches of the Year, Oct. 11, 1961, p. 9)
"[Enos] was a very thoughtful young man, and he really had a conscience. The uselessness of his life was worrying him sick....When you wrestle before God, that means you try to...What does a wrestler do when he starts to compete? He tries to strike position. They have to take up a position or a stance-you decide your approach, etc. [Suppose] you have been living in the world of daily life and been completely preoccupied with trivial things ('for to be carnally minded is death' comes strongly to me all the time; carnally minded is concerned with anything related to this world). If you think about that and then you are going to approach God, you can't do it just cold like that. You can't just say, 'Hey God, listen to me; I have something to say.' You are facing the Most High here, and you can't put anything over on him. He can see right through you, so you had better be careful what you say. It is going to be to your great advantage to see through yourself and everything else because he is going to see through you. So you wrestle with it; you have a struggle to tear yourself loose from your preoccupations and thoughts and your petty ideas. And to keep concentrated during prayer takes some effort...With Enos it's a wrestle." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 25, p. 412)
Enos 1:3 the words which I had often heard my father speak...sunk deep into my heart
There is a great lesson to be learned in the lives of Enos and Alma, the younger. Both were young men in need of repentance. They key factor which was the catalyst of their repentance was the teachings of their fathers. Notice the words of Alma, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a son of God (Alma 36:17). This thought turns the mind of Alma to the Savior and allows him to repent and receive forgiveness. What if Alma, the elder had not taught these important principles to the people and his son? What if Jacob had not taught so faithfully concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints? The importance of these paternal teachings cannot be underestimated.
The lesson to be learned, then, is that there is hope for the many parents who struggle with their wayward children. They try to teach correct principles but the teachings, sometimes, seem to fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, when wayward children hit rock bottom, they will naturally think of their parents. When, like the prodigal son who would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat (Lu 15:16), they will realize that they need the help of a power greater than themselves. If they have been taught of the Savior and eternal principles, their minds will turn to the Lord. Like the prodigal son, they will finally understand the importance of their parents' diligent efforts and the Savior's atoning sacrifice.
One Sister wrote about how her experience was similar to that of Enos:
"About five years ago, I was in a state of rebellion. Even though my parents had done their best in raising me, I was lost in a desolate world. My angry words wrenched to the very core of their beings, and with aching hearts they cried unto the Lord for me.
"Somewhere, somehow, a light turned on for me, and all the words that my mother and father had taught me flooded into my mind. I realized that I was ruining not only my life, but also my eternal progression. How could I have been so blind?
"Now that I am older and serving a mission, I have an even greater understanding and appreciation for the words of my parents. Those words have sunk deep into my heart.
"To those parents who have children lost in the world, please do not give up hope. Someday they will remember your words. They will then be humble and ready to receive the gospel. Until then, just love them as you have always loved them. - Sister P. Phillips, Ellicott City, Md." (Church News, Apr. 20, 1996, "Living by the Scriptures")
Loren C. Dunn
"Enos had been raised by good parents. According to his own words, he had been taught by his parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Yet there was a sort of gap between what his parents knew and what he knew. But one day he went to hunt beasts in the forests. It was then that the words he heard his father speak about eternal life and the joy of the Saints sank deep into his heart. And it was then that he had to know for himself.
"Quite often this is the pattern of young people today. You hear the words of your parents and Church teachers. Sometimes these words are not of personal value until you reach the point of wanting to know for yourself, or until such time as these words are challenged, or there is some other experience that prompts you to action.
"Enos wanted to know, and because of the teachings of his parents, he knew how to find out -- and he did." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1968, p. 71-2)
Boyd K. Packer
"We emphasize that the greatest work you will do will be within the walls of your home....It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should. It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. 'The Prophet Joseph Smith declared-and he never taught a more comforting doctrine-that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father's heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.' (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1929, p. 110)...When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them. President Brigham Young said [Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 208]: 'Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang.'" (Ensign, May 1992, p. 68 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 189)
Enos 1:4 my soul hungered
One of the reasons that Enos' prayer was so dramatically answered is because of the faith and desires of his heart. His soul hungered and the result is a perfect example of the blessing spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount, blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 12:6).
Spencer W. Kimball
"The supplication of Enos is written with a pen of anguish and on the paper of faith and with a willingness to prostrate himself totally that he might receive forgiveness. His words are mighty and definitive. He could have said merely, 'I wanted information.' But he said, '. . . my soul hungered. . . .' (Ibid., 4.) He could have merely prayed unto the Lord like so many pray, but in his eagerness for forgiveness, he said, '. . . I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; . . .'
"How impressive his words! 'Mighty prayer and supplication' is not the usual prayer. The Lord's agonies in Gethsemane, so long, so earnest, were mighty prayers." (Conference Reports, Apr. 1965, p. 62)
Spencer W. Kimball
"How much do you pray, my young friends? How often? How earnestly? If you should have errors in your life, have you wrestled before the Lord? Have you found your deep forest full of solitude? How much has your soul hungered? How deeply have your needs impressed your heart? When did you kneel before your Maker in total quiet? For what did you pray-your own soul? How long did you thus plead for recognition-all day long? And when the shadows fell, did you still raise your voice in mighty prayer, or did you liquidate it with some trite word and phrase?
"As you struggle in the spirit and cry mightily and covenant sincerely, the voice of the Lord God will come into your mind, as it did to that of Enos, Thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blest. (Enos 1:5.)" (BYU Speeches of the Year, Oct. 11, 1961, p. 9)
Enos 1:4 all the day long did I cry unto him
Enos may have broken a Nephite record for the longest prayer, but Moses apparently communed with Jehovah for forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai (Ex 28:18). It is not so much the length of time that is important. What is important is the fervent, diligent, and earnest manner in which Enos prayed.
"'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven' (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time to pray, a time to cease from prayer. There is a time to walk alone, a time to walk together. For Enos this was a time for perseverance in prayer, a time to wrestle with the Spirit until an answer came...It would be unfortunate if one were to suppose that the experience recorded herein- as to both the tenacity of his spiritual quest and the response of heaven-is common to or typical of daily prayer. 'Never at any time have' our prophets and Apostles 'taught or endorsed the inordinate and intemperate zeal that encourages endless, sometimes day-long prayers.' (Bruce R. McConkie, "Our Relationship with the Lord," p. 103.) Times of pentecost and other spiritual outpourings are the more treasured because they are not a part of every day." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 97)
Harold B. Lee
"I once read that scripture to a woman who laughed and said, 'Imagine anybody praying all night and all day.' I replied, 'My dear sister, I hope you never have to come to a time where you have a problem so great that you have to so humble yourself. I have; I have prayed all day and all night and all the next day and all the next night, not always on my knees but praying constantly for a blessing that I needed most.' (Stand Ye in Holy Places: Selected Sermons and Writings of President Harold B. Lee, p. 246)
Vaughn J. Featherstone
"Mental wrestling can take the form of prolonged prayer. It may be necessary to pray longer and harder sometimes in order to get the feeling that you have been heard. You remember the case of Enos and his day-long prayer. Of course, that was an extreme case involving a future prophet of God. If you ever get where you need to pray all day long, you will know it and the power will be given to you. It isn't the sort of thing you just set out to do because you would like to hear a voice like Enos did. Still, Enos's example is one you should ponder as you think of gaining the determination to think and communicate with God." (Commitment, p. 30)
Enos 1:5 there came a voice unto me
Prayers can be answered with an audible voice. The prophet Samuel was called four times with a voice that awakened him from sleep (1 Sam 3:4-10). It would be great if every prayer was answered with an audible voice from the heavens, but this is an exception. At first glance, one would probably think that Enos heard an audible voice. However, verse 10 explains that the voice came into his mind again, implying that the first voice was heard not with his ears but with his heart and mind. This is a much more common way to have the Spirit communicate with your soul-in an inaudible, but no less clear, manner. Nephi expressed the following, he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words (1 Ne 17:45, italics added). This same concept is eloquently expressed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who said:
"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.,) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151)
Boyd K. Packer
"Enos, who was 'struggling in the spirit,' said, 'Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind" (Enos 1:10; emphasis added). While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process." (The Things of the Spirit, pp. 89-90)
Boyd K. Packer
"We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have words) which perfectly describe the Spirit...The scriptures usually use the word voice, which does not exactly fit. These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes nor heard with our ears.... It is a voice that one feels more than one hears.
"...I have come to know that inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound...Ponder and pray quietly and persistently.... The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, 'line upon line, precept upon precept' (D&C 98:12). Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable." (Boyd K. Packer: Watchman on the Tower, by Lucile C. Tate, p. 279)
Enos 1:5 Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee
Enos' first concern was for his own salvation. His strugglings with the Spirit were, presumably, colored by the sins of his life. He now receives the reassuring answer-that his sins are forgiven. The result was that his guilt was swept away (v. 6). The same words were spoken to the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was receiving the First Vision. In the 1838 version of the story, with which we are the most familiar, he leaves out the personal part of the story. It appears from other versions that the first words told to Joseph Smith by the Savior were, 'Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee. Go thy way, walk in my statutes and keep my commandments.' (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, ed. by Scot & Maurine Proctor, chapter 17, note #11) That forgiveness of sins would be the first topic of discussion with the Lord is completely natural. Any individual who is approaching the Divine must feel terrible, overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. The recipient of such a magnificent communication could not focus on the message of the Lord without first knowing his standing in the presence of God.
Enos 1:7 Lord, how is it done?
How many times have we heard that it is by faith that we are saved? This is exactly how it is done. Enos received forgiveness of sins because of his great faith. We have heard the Lord use the phrase, thy faith hath made thee whole, to describe the reason for the physical healing that he performed. Appropriately, the same phrase is used to heal the spiritual disease of sin. As the Lord said, For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say Arise, and walk? (Matt 9:5) The answer is that both are possible but only upon the exercise of sufficient faith in Christ.
Enos 1:9 I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites
Notice that Enos does not stop praying because he has received a remission of his sins. He merely changes subjects. There are three main topics in the prayer of Enos: 1) his own standing before the Lord, 2) the welfare of the Nephites, and 3) that the Lord would preserve a record to be brought to the Lamanites. These three subjects are in a very logical order. One's first concern is with self, next with friends and family, and lastly with the enemy. Enos is full of sufficient charity to be concerned about all three.
Ironically, the answer that he receives regarding the Nephites is not as positive as the one concerning the Lamanites. This is because the Nephites will be eventually cursed for turning away from the law. They sinned against the truth and therefore, their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads. The tone of the Lord regarding the Nephites is that they had received only good things from the Lord-the land of Promise, the commandments, the Law, and the prophets-therefore, they should have known better than to reject the Lord.
Enos 1:10 the voice of the Lord came into my mind again
See commentary for Enos 1:5.
Harold B. Lee
"Another way by which we receive revelation is the way that the Prophet Enos spoke of. After he'd gone up and received the great commission to carry on the work and to write the record, he pens this very significant statement in his record in the Book of Mormon. 'And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, the voice of the Lord came into my mind saying -- .' In other words, sometimes we hear the voice of the Lord coming into our minds and when it comes the impressions are just as strong as though he were talking as with a trumpet into our ear. Jeremiah says something like that in the first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah: 'Then the words of the Lord came unto me saying -- .' He was having the voice of the Lord into his mind, as Enos said. ln the story of the Book of Mormon we have Nephi upbraiding his brothers, calling them to repentance and in his statement to them he gives voice to the same thought when he says, 'And he hath spoken unto you in a still, small voice, but ye were past feeling, so that ye coud not feel his words.' Thus the Lord, by revelation, brings into our mind as though a voice were speaking. May I bear humble testimony, if I may be pardoned, to that fact? I was once in a situation where I needed help. The Lord knew I needed help and I was on an important mission. I was awakened in the hours of the morning as though someone had wakened me to straighten me out on something that I had planned to do in a contrary course, and there was clearly mapped out before me as I lay there that morning, just as surely as though someone had sat on the edge of my bed and told me what to do. Yes, the voice of the Lord comes into our minds and we are directed thereby. (Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, October 15, 1952 as taken from Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.164)
Marion G. Romney
"Another manifestation of revelation is the unspoken word, a good illustration of which is given us by Enos. He says: 'while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying...' (Enos 10.) Then he tells us what the voice of the Lord put in his mind. This is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one's mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted." (Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 124)
Enos 1:13 that...the Lamanites should not be destroyed
The third topic for Enos is the welfare of the Lamanites. We must remember that, at the time, there was no love lost between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Enos describes the Lamanites as a wild, and ferocious, and a blood thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness (v. 20). Nevertheless, Enos exhibits true charity in his concern and love for his brethren. This is another good example of the teachings of the Savior when he said, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matt 5:44). One of the truest signs that an individual has charity is the exhibition of such love for the enemy.
Enos was not the only prophet to exhibit such charity. This was the desire of Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob-Thy fathers have also required of me this thing (v. 18). See also DC 10:47-52. The Nephite prophets' charity for their Lamanite brethren was discussed in the allegory of the olive tree, as recorded in the following passage:
'the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit...
And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck off the branches that have not brought forth good fruit, and cast them into the fire.
But behold, the servant said unto him: Let us prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it a little longer, that perhaps it may bring forth good fruit unto thee, that thou canst lay it up against the season.' (Jacob 5:25-7)
Marvin J. Ashton
"Very often the Twelve and the First Presidency pray together. When President Kimball takes his turn to be voice, he generally includes this phrase in his prayers: 'Bless our enemies. Help us to understand them, and them to understand us.' He doesn't ask for vengeance or retaliation, just for understanding so differences can be resolved. Perhaps, family differences and neighborhood problems could be resolved if we would follow our prophet's example and pray for patience and forgiveness." (Conference Report, Apr. 1985, p. 59 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 193)
Enos 1:15 Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it
There are a few promises in the Book of Mormon that are repeated over and over again. Apparently, we don't learn without repetition. This promise, as given to Enos, is a marvelous promise that is too often taken for granted. It is taken for granted because the reader does not really believe what the Lord has promised. This is the famous tendency to believe in Christ but not to believe Christ, "The real question is 'Do we believe Christ?' It is one thing to believe in him and quite another to believe him (Robinson 8-12)." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 178).
Indeed, we should remember the words of Enos, that God could not lie (v. 6). When the Lord promises to give us whatever we want, as long as we ask in faith believing in his name, he means what he says. We have no reason to doubt, no reason to waver else we become like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6).
Enos 1:18 the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites
When we think of missionary work among the Lamanites, we often think of the success of the sons of Mosiah (Alma 17-26). These brave missionaries were not the only ones to attempt to preach to the Lamanites, they were just more successful. Both Jacob and Enos record that their attempts to restore the Lamanites were diligent but unfruitful (Jacob 7:24).
Enos 1:21 the people of Nephi did till the land
The discipline of Anthropology studies the basic forms of human society. Typically, the "hunter-gatherer" society is considered less advanced than the agriculturally-based society. Enos tells us that the Lamanites were nomadic hunter-gatherers, feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness (v. 20). Apparently, the Nephite society was more advanced in that they practiced a typical, agricultural economy. Apparently, hunting was also common among the Nephites because that is what Enos was doing before he began to pray, I went to hunt beasts in the forests (v. 3).
Enos 1:23 stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord
To say that the Nephites were righteous and that the Lamanites were wicked is an oversimplification. The righteousness of the Nephites fluctuated greatly over their history. The Nephite prophets were working hard to keep the people from falling into wickedness. The Lord had promised that when the Nephites became wicked, he would send wars and destructions upon them, and they were having wars all the time. To this point, Nephi, Jacob, and Enos had witnessed great wars between the two peoples. This unfortunate pattern continues for the rest of the book of Mormon.
The only weapon that the prophets had against this wickedness was the preaching of the word. And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just-yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of he people than the sword, or anything else which had happened unto them-therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God (Alma 31:5). This preaching had an effect until the days of Mormon, when the wickedness reached its peak. Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath cease striving with them (Moroni 9:4).
Enos 1:27 there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father
This passage is reminiscent of the word of the Lord to his disciples, In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am, there ye may be also (Jn 14:2-3).
Stephen L. Richards
"For many centuries the world was without an explanation of the 'many mansions' in our Father's house. In February 1832, the Prophet Joseph wrote: 'From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term Heaven, as intended for the Saints' eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one.' (See Introduction to D & C 76.)
"It was in answer to this query in the mind of the Prophet that the revelation which is sometimes characterized as 'The Vision' came to him. It is the explanation of the words of the Savior in that it defines the mansions, kingdoms, and glories which prevail in heaven, 'my Father's house.' These kingdoms are designated as the celestial, the terrestrial, and the telestial." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1956, p. 43)
George F. Richards
"More than forty years ago I had a dream, which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood in mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it unto him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him, and as a result of that dream I had this feeling, that no matter what might be required at my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do, even to the laying down of my life.
"And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples:
'In my Father's house are many mansions: . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there ye may be also,' (John 14:2,3.)
"I think that is where I want to be. If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1946, p. 139)