Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Enos 1:11 "faith began to be unshaken"

And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads. And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord
Enos 1:10-11

It wasn't just hearing the voice of the Lord that caused his faith to become unshaken; the feeling came after hearing these words. Was it something about these words that caused that?

Perhaps how this land was prime real estate? And what exactly are we to make of this: "and I curse [the land] not be it be for the cause of iniquity"? Does this imply that there are actually other lands that the Lord curses for reasons other than iniquity? (Strictly speaking, it does not say this. And I wouldn't go there.)

I suppose it has more to do with first the Lord granting a blessing to Enos personally and then his people the Nephites. He's probably just saying, "Well I got response x which was good, and y was also good. Let's see about z."

I won't try to read too much into this verse. That said, I find it interesting that Enos's faith began to become unshaken after hearing the voice of the Lord. Jacob, his father, had the same feeling after searching the prophets and having many revelations. What does this tell us about the relationship between hearing the voice of the Lord and having unshaken faith? Am I seeking the voice of the Lord throughout my day?

Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
Jacob 4:6

Monday, August 24, 2015

2 Nephi 9:20 O how great the holiness of our God!

O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.

Family scripture study again. We got through five verses tonight (2 Nephi 9:19-24. This pace is killing my children.) Ok. "Got through" might be stretching it a bit. Tonight we got hung up on verse 20. I pointed out that it seemed odd that Jacob would use God's omniscience as proof that He is holy. I asked why but no one could come up with a good reason. A simple Google search, "define holy" did not help ("dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred").

Nathaniel had a heated argument with anyone who would engage (no one) explaining how God could not be holy because He can't dedicate Himself to Himself... or something... there was definitely a tautology going on in his argument.

I think the problem was our rudimentary definition. After giving up and ending our study session, I put the kids to bed and then in quiet consulted my Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Geoffrey W Bromiley edited by Gerhard Littel and Gerhard Friedrich. This was dubbed "Little Kittel" by my professor Dr. Dennis Rasmussen--at least it was from Dr. Rasmussen that I heard this nickname--because the editors managed to abridge 10 volumes into a mere 1,300 pages. This "little" book was one of the best investments I made in college.

According to Little Kittel, in Old Testament times, "God's holiness expresses his divine perfection." And then specific to the later chapters of Isaiah (like those Jacob was just quoting) Kittel says, "the Holy One of Israel is more fully manifested as the God of redemption rather than judgement. God is incomparable (45:25). In his holiness lies his mystery (45:15). This mystery is redemption; hence salvation and holiness are now firmly related (45:18ff. etc.)."

Given this explanation, Jacob's words in verses 20-24 make complete sense. Perhaps when we pick up here tomorrow I won't have to tune out Nathaniel. ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Enos 1:1 A just man

Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it

Last week I blogged about God's justice. Tonight rereading Enos 1:1 I realized that in this verse Enos ascribes justice to his father Jacob because he had taught his son "in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Often we think of justice in relation to administering the law or to fairness. Jacob's teaching his son obviously has nothing to do with fairness or the law. So what are we to make of this verse?

Maybe though it's not saying that Jacob was just because he taught his son; perhaps Enos is saying that he knew his father was just because of his teachings. Does it matter?

If it is the first way (Jacob is just because of his teaching), that would imply that if I don't teach my children then I am not just.  If we define justice in terms of doing what is morally right instead of how we administer the law, then I suppose this is an OK reading. It is after all morally right to teach our children in the ways of the Lord.

The second way of reading the verse though is interesting because it implies that teaching our children "in our language and in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" allows our children to see us as just. My teenagers are highly attuned to any time I am not perfectly just. Rather than try to help them see the logic behind my attempts at acting justly, perhaps I should just redouble my efforts in teaching them "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord". (And correct their grammar more.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Enos 1:5-6 "I... knew that God could not lie"

And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

Tonight for our family scripture study we read 2 Nephi 9:17. Here Jacob is giving what is essentially a General Conference talk. He is speaking of the plan of salvation and then exclaims, "O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled."

We discussed how God's mercy is often extolled; we don't often rejoice in His justice. Here Jacob does just that and then points out that because God is just, whatever He says He will do, He does. It's this very trait that allowed Enos to rejoice in His promise, that allows us to rely on Him.

If we are striving to be more like Him, perhaps we need to do a better job "executing all our words." Are we sometimes a bit cavalier in our commitments? I know I am.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Enos 1:3-4 "the joy of the Saints"

Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
And my soul hungered

Something about the teachings of Enos's father (Jacob) sunk deep into his heart. We often hear people say that the word of God has a "more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else." When I hear this I often assume that it refers to doctrine, that true doctrine changes minds. But in fact this verse teaches that preaching "the joy of the saints" changes minds too.

The question is, how do we preach "the joy of the saints" with words (Jacob taught this with words)? In my mind joy is something seen not spoken. But perhaps I need to do a better job articulating the joy I find in Christ.