22 And there were exceedingly many prophets among us. And the people were a stiffnecked people, hard to understand.
 23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them. (Enos 1:22-23)
It seems that the spiritual condition of Enos’s people varied widely across the board.  They had the advantage of having “exceedingly many prophets,” perhaps coming close to fulfilling Moses’s wish that all the people would be prophets (Numbers 11:29), but they also had many stiffnecked people too, who were stubborn and set in their ways.  I guess in every age people get too comfortable doing what they are doing and have trouble making changes. 

The text says the people were “hard to understand,” which doesn’t make sense after the charge of stiffneckedness.  Part of me wonders if Enos meant “slow to understand,” since that better captures how stiffneckedness causes people to be slow to accept prophecy about the necessity of repentance.  But then, it also may be that the people also had very sophisticated rhetoric by then, full of doublespeak, flourishes, and smooth-talking that made it hard to understand what they really meant, since smooth-talking arises out of a wish to not offend with plain-speaking, which might remind the hearer of their imperfect state and need to repent. 

Enos points out that only harshness in preaching and prophesying and plainness could keep the people from destruction.  I’m intrigued by his calling this “harshness.”  I suppose that even back then people tried to blunt the calls to repentance so that it wouldn’t wound so much and wanted smooth things to tickle their ears.  Yet Enos could see that only the truth in its plainest form could do the trick.  What were these harsh truths that were so effective?
·      Prophesying of wars, contentions, and destructions
·      Reminding them of death
·      Reminding them of the duration of eternity
·      Reminding them of the judgments of God
·      Reminding them of the power of God

It is these same things that are still effective today.  We still need to be reminded of these things.  We may get the sense from Enos that it didn’t have to be this way and he was disappointed at having to always remind the people about these things.  Maybe he’s right and it is possible to get beyond needing it, but if so, it hasn’t happened often that we know of.

The fact is, we need to remember those things.  We need to be reminded that this life is not all there is, that our spirit continues to exist after death, that this life is a probationary period in which to prepare to meet God and receive reward or punishment according to our works, that the final judgment will set our state for the rest of eternity whether to be stopped in our progress or continue on toward godhood, and that we do not know when we will die.  We need to be reminded of the power God has to save us from sin and death.  These doctrines help us pull our vision out of the here and now, and I suppose if we kept our eyes on the eternities we wouldn’t need the reminders so much. 

How does the prophesying of wars, contentions, and destructions fit in with this?  Enos prophesied of these things to remind his people that they could not assume they could live a long life and the Lord could send them out of the world early if need be.  He had to say those things to remind them that it was important not to procrastinate repentance.  In Enos’s day it was wars and contentions and destructions that sent people to an early death.  Today it is accidents, natural disasters, sudden unexpected medical problems, acts of terrorism, and violent crime that bring early death, but the principle is the same; we don’t really know how much time we have or when we will die, and these things come to us—a matter of when, not if—so it is best to prepare and repent now.

Continue reading at the original source →