Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jacob and Enos: What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?--

This posting is a little out of order. Although I haven't blogged much lately it's because I've been reading and writing a lot. I want to collect and polish some of what I've written before I put it out here, because my understanding of a lot of things are still evolving and are still kind of unorganized.

I just had one thing I wanted to comment on, though.

This morning I was reading the tail end of Jacob and the Book of Enos in the Book of Mormon. Here they are for your convenience:

The Book of Enos especially is a wonderful story of faith.

In V3 he testifies of the preaching of his father that has sunk deeply into his soul, which is a concept that warms a father's heart. He agonizes because of his sins, is overcome, and prays all day long, and receives the witness that all people of faith long for, that his sins are forgiven because of his faith in Christ. "My guilt was swept away", as he says. The Lord tells him, "thy faith has made thee whole". Whole, as in complete, like a restored automobile where the damaged parts have been removed, repaired, and replaced. He's not just forgiven, he's completely restored.

He goes on to testify of his longing for the salvation of his estranged cousins the Lamanites. He almost shrugs off the complete destruction of his own people, but his heart aches for the lost Lamanites and prays that in some way the sad story of his own people might save his cousins.

His short story finishes with one of the most eloquent testimonies of Christ in all of scripture:

I just think these last two verses are the equal of anything Paul wrote.

Now for the point of this post.

I really want to read these passages from two entirely different mindsets.

On one hand, the depth of Jacob and Enos's understanding of the new covenant with Christ is truly astonishing. Their brethren in Jerusalem are still slaughtering bulls and goats and have no remote idea of the mission of Jesus Christ, yet Jacob and Enos might as well have Romans and Hebrews opened up right in front of them. They have already moved beyond the sacrificial law of Moses and understand salvation by faith through the atonement of Christ as well as any 19th century Baptist preacher standing in the pulpit.

It's tempting to wonder whether a) Jacob and Enos were that much more highly favored of the Lord, compared to the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and others whose published writings only give the barest hints of this, b) maybe these things were clearly taught among the Israelites and are among the plain and precious things lost from the scriptures, c) whether the Lord was clearly working through Joseph Smith to preserve and reinforce these critical teachings by including them in the Book of Mormon, or d) whether Joseph Smith was clearly restating the themes of contemporary evangelical preachers for motives we can only guess at in our day.

It's difficult to read these sections and not wonder why the theology seems several hundred years ahead of its time.

On the other hand . . . .

It's also tempting (at least for the evangelical Christian in me) to set aside all this logical analysis and to just read the words and glory in the story being told, to empathisize with Enos as he wrestles with his sinful nature, and to rejoice with him as the chains of sin fall away and the hope of new life enters in. What a blessing to share with him the feelings of peace and rest and complete faith in Christ, his Redeemer, as his only hope of salvation from the winds of earthly cares in this life and redemption in the life to come.

So I think I'll do that. Obviously today is the day for the analytical mind. Tomorrow I'll turn off the monitor, put away the notebook, and just share Enos's story with him.

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