Feast upon the Word Blog

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BoM Lesson 14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

Posted by robf on April 11, 2008

The Gospel Doctrine lesson this week features, as usual, an embarrassment of riches. There is more text here than can be covered in one class, and more than enough commentary available online to supply any teacher looking for topics to cover. So why add more here now? Read on and see!

I’ve already posted Primary Lesson materials covering some of this week’s readings:
Primary 4: Lesson 9 Enos Prays
Primary 4: Lesson 10 King Benjamin’s Teaches His People (includes history from Enos down to Benjamin).

In addition, go to this Feast page for an index of Sunday School lesson posts, including Jim F’s notes from 2004.

After reading all this, and the four books to be covered, you for sure have more than enough to go on. Hopefully, your mind will have been touched by a few things that you can store away, to bring up in class if a) you are impressed by the Spirit or b) you panic and don’t have anything else to say!

But seriously, since I never prepare a written lesson outline, I’m not about to pretend to make one here. But let me discuss how I might approach this lesson, after reading and praying about Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon.

To me, the most important thing that we do in Gospel Doctrine class is, as individuals and as a ward family, come unto Christ. That means the Spirit has to be present, to confirm our relationship to Christ and our Heavenly Father. I can try to keep my eye on this prize (following the Spirit, rather than a lesson outline) and then let all my fears go away. I’m not teaching the lesson. Any real lesson will be taught by the Spirit. I’m just there to help get that process started, and if need be, keep it on track. As we noted here recently, asking questions of the class is one of the best ways to a) get the conversation started and b) to let the Spirit start to guide the discussion.

So, what are some questions I might use to start things off, or to return to if needed? Here are some SAAT questions to get going.

Search Questions:
We all know how important it is to “come unto Christ”–how many examples of coming unto Christ can we find in Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon?
Are there examples of people who resisted the invitation to come unto Christ?
Analysis Questions: How did these individuals come unto Christ? What special steps did they have to take? What does it really mean to come unto Christ, anyway?
Application Questions: While reading these books, who do we most see ourselves as? Who would we like to be? If we had to categorize ourselves as one of the characters here, who would it be? Hunting trip Enos? Wrestling with God Enos? Enos of the Eternal Covenant? Missionary Enos? Omni? Mosiah? Zeniff? How are we like each of these men?
Testimony Questions: So in your own experience, what is it really like to wrestle with the Lord? When do you, like Enos, most feel for the welfare of those around you? When have you felt the love of God even for your enemies?

I’m fully confident that if I had read Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon several times this week, and had chased down related scriptural thoughts, and was prepared to ask even a few of the types of scriptures I’ve listed above, that our ward Gospel Doctrine class would have a rich spiritual feast. I’d try to focus us on the scriptures, to really ask what they are saying to us, to dig into what they might really mean. I know the Lord would grant the Spirit to witness to these things, and each person who was open to the Spirit would be guided and taught in his or her own way.

But here’s another alternative way to go. Ask the class to “randomly” list some gospel principles. Maybe have them, with their eyes closed, thumb through the Bible Topical Guide or the Book of Mormon Index. Or ask them to list principles they have been thinking about or have questions about. List maybe 10 on the board. Then dig into Enos, Jarom, Omni, and the Words of Mormon to see what they have to say about these topics. Depending on how obscure the original topics are, you might have to really dig. But as you do so as a class, the Spirit will inspire class members to make the connections. The Spirit will be present. Inspiration will flow. The teacher may not have to do anything more than testify to the presence of the Spirit and to the truthfulness of what has been said.

With these two recipes for a spiritual feast on the table, who could want anything more!?!

Well, for dessert, or perhaps to cleanse the palate, here’s a couple more thoughts I’ve had while studying some of the verses for this week. I’ll leave them as some questions and leave it to any potential gospel feast preparers out there to work out the specific ingredients and preparation instructions:

Wrestling–how does Enos’s experience echo that of his ancestor Jacob (Hebrew “supplanter”)/Israel (Hebrew “one who prevails in wrestling with God”)? What did Jacob get by wrestling with the Lord? What did Enos get?
Covenants–what covenants does Enos remember (both call to mind, as well as re-embody) in wrestling with the Lord.
Deuteronomy–Jacob has taught Enos the scriptures, which would have included the covenants in the Book of Deuteronomy. How many of Deuteronomic principles does Enos mention in this short account?
Land–why the emphasis on a promised land?
Records–why is Enos so concerned about preserving the record? Doesn’t he already know that the Lord has promised to preserve it?
Feeding on beasts of prey–Now here’s a curious one. Why does Enos mention this? (see perhaps Deut 14:4-8)
Shaved heads–what’s up with this one? Why would Enos mention this? Is he just showing us how the Lamanites are different, or is something else going on here? What did shaving one’s head mean in ancient Israelite (and perhaps Nephite) culture?

Audience–according to v. 2, who is Jarom writing for? We always think the Book of Mormon is written for us and for our day. How does this influence how you think about who the book is for? What is our responsibility towards this book and its intended audience? Are we living up to our mission, as seen by the ancient Nephite prophets (1 Nephi 22:6-12)? Is the Book of Mormon for us to use for our own benefit, or as a tool to help the Lord fulfill his promises to the Nephite prophets regarding their seed?
Seed–speaking of seed, how many times is “seed” or “posterity” referred to or implied in this week’s reading?
Drinking blood–another dandy image! Are these Nephite writers just racists, showing us how depraved the Lamanites are? Or is there something else going on here (JST Gen 9:10)?

Oh I wish we could spend a whole year on this book! So much packed into such a little package!
Mosiah–who is this guy? Why is he leading the people to Zarahemla? Was he a king in the Land of Nephi (he’s not named “Nephi” like the kings were said to have been named)? If not, why is he made king over the land of Zarahemla? How is he able to get out of the Land of Nephi with the brass plates? How do the Nephites become rulers of a land already occupied by Zarahemla and his people?
Mulekites: Here’s one of the few places where we get to learn anything about these people. Do we think that they gave a true and accurate account of their genealogy, or do you think Zarahemla padded it after learning the history of the Nephites, in order to establish their own claim to rightful rulership over the people? How much did Nephite culture change after becoming integrated with the people of Zarahemla? Did the two cultures ever really congeal, or were there always divisions that ultimately led to their destruction as a united people?
Jaredites: Even these people show up here! What is the relationship between the Jaredites, Mulekites, and Nephites? Was there just a passing acquaintance between the Mulekites and Jaredites, or a more shared history?
No seed–what? The apparent rightful heir of Jacob and Enos is the last of his family? Surely there were cousins (there were still Jacobites around later in the Nephite history)? What happened here? Why didn’t Amaleki pass the plates on to a cousin? And what of that mysterious brother? Was he also taught the scriptures? Where Jacob’s descendants also priests, like he was? If so, might this lost brother also be a priest? Any connection to Abinadi? Or the priests of Noah–including Alma? The scriptures we have don’t tell us. All Amaleki tells us is that we’ve now got a major break in the political system and the plates are being passed on to another lineage. Don’t you wish we had more!?!

Words of Mormon
Mormon says he used the Small Plates (1 Nephi-Omni) to “finish” his record. Does it change how you read it these books to know that apparently Joseph Smith translated them last, after already translating Mosiah-Moroni?
Records again–How is it that Benjamin (and presumably Mosiah, his father) had the records of the Nephite kings? Does that mean that Mosiah actually was the original king in the Land of Nephi? Or that he got the plates some other way, like how Nephi got the original brass plates? Could it be that Mosiah was a prince, the fleeing son of an unrighteous king about to be destroyed? Is that why the Zarahemla told a similar story about a fleeing son of an unrighteous king about to be destroyed?
New lands of inheritance–So Benjamin and his people drive the invading Lamanites out of the land of their inheritance. But they’ve only been in the land of Zarahemla for one or two generations. How did the Nephites come to consider Zarahemla to be the land of their inheritance, rather than that of the Mulekites? How is this related to their views of covenanted land? How are these land covenants central to the history and message of the Book of Mormon, and the book’s purpose in the latter days?

Whoa, perhaps that was too heavy of a dessert! With a little sweet, sour, and bitter all thrown together. Best of wishes to everyone teaching lessons from these books. I know that they contain many plain and precious things that we often overlook in our quick dash between the books of Jacob and Mosiah. They aren’t just filler. They contain the fullness of the gospel and the heart of what the Book of Mormon is all about! Let the Spirit guide you and your class through them, and show us how to more fully come unto Christ.

6 Responses to “BoM Lesson 14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon”

  1. BrianJ said

    Rob, thanks for helping us to really dig into “the forgotten books” of the Book of Mormon. Every time I read Enos, I’m always surprised by the richness of the book and how incredible were the promises he received. I don’t know why I’m surprised—except that I must, for some reason, be expecting less from so small a book. (Shame on me!)

  2. JennyW said

    Rob, thank you for these notes. I appreciate the ideas on how to “get into” what’s going spiritually in these chapters.

    Just as a side question, I wondered what you make of Enos praying all day and night. Our teacher implied that only by physically kneeling and praying aloud for 24 hours could one receive revelations such as Enos, and while I agree that an intensity of thought and focus is necessary to wrestle and labor as Enos did, I’ve always thought it more likely that as he’s out hunting he’s praying at times, but also out walking and meditating. We’ve received council against “inordinate and intemperate zeal” in our prayers (here (near the end); I think in part because it seems to make such spiritual experiences the exception, something “other people” might do or achieve, and in doing so allows us to excuse ourselves from the responsibility of seeking after our own experience because it seems so out of reach.

  3. robf said

    Thanks Jenny. First of all, Enos says that he prayed “all the day long” from some starting point in the day (did it have to even be the morning?), and that he continued to pray “when the night came”. Nowhere does it say that it was anywhere close to 24 hours.

    That said, he clearly did pray for many hours, something I imagine most members don’t do often, if ever. My own experience is that, at least for some (most?) people, it probably does take many hours of wrestling to pour out the soul.

  4. joespencer said

    Rob, let me add my thanks as well. I’ll also add an “amen” to your desire to spend a full year on Omni (especially in light of our recent discussions by e-mail… to which I promise to return soon!). Very helpful notes.

  5. amira said

    I need some words that start with omni. would you help me find some?

  6. Hello could I reference some of the content found in this entry if I reference you with a link back to your site?

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