ZENOS: A Major Prophet Lost to the World
By Rae Simmons
Volume 19, Number 3 Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec 2018, Issue No. 76
Zenos appears to have been a prophet of major proportions, judging from the scope of his teachings. We are first introduced to the prophet Zenos in 1 Nephi 5:242–257 when Nephi quotes extensively from Zenos’ prophecies. Nephi tells us his words concerning the conditions at the time of Christ’s death. Here we have some information from Zenos that is unique:
“And because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God to exclaim, The God of nature suffers” (1 Nephi 5:250).
I n t e r e s t i n g l y, Samuel the Lamanite, while prophesying from the wall in Zarahemla, mentions Zenos. He says Zenos was one of the many prophets who spoke “concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again, to the knowledge of the truth” (Helaman 5:101). This tells us that when the Lamanites were converted they were made familiar with the teachings on the brass plates. Samuel prophesied in Helaman 5:76 that at the time of Christ’s death there would be darkness on the face of this land for three days. Zenos, in 1 Nephi 5:242, was another witness of the three days of darkness.
Zenos told of the Jews becoming a hiss and a byword and being hated among all nations. He also spoke of the redemption of the House of Israel, the gathering, and the salvation of the Lord in much the same manner as the prophet Isaiah. At the time of Christ’s death, he tells us the Lord God will visit all the House of Israel. In this instance, he is speaking of visiting them in both judgment and in mercy (see 1 Nephi 5:245). This was fulfilled on this land at the time of Christ’s death, as we know, when the more righteous were spared, but the wicked were destroyed in diverse manners.
Alma, the son of Alma, refers to Zenos as “the prophet of old” (Alma 16:177). The very use of the word the indicated that Zenos was a well-known and revered prophet. In Alma’s speech to the Zoramites, he quotes Zenos on prayer and worship. Here, in Alma 16:178– 184, we have a psalm equal in beauty to those of David. It is in this psalm of praise that Zenos testifies that it is because of God’s Son we receive mercy. Amulek, also speaking to the Zoramites,
quotes Zenos as saying, “ r e d e m p t i o n cometh through the Son of God” (Alma 16:205).
It is Jacob who treats us to our longest example of Zenos’ words. Beginning in Jacob 3:30 he quotes in its entirety the marvelous “Parable of the Olive Tree.” In the opening verse of this parable, Zenos addresses the house of Israel, describing himself as “a prophet of the Lord.”
Nephi, the son of Helaman, who was one of the twelve disciples, writes in his book that Zenos was one of the prophets who testified of things to come at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. He also gives us the information in 3 Nephi 4:71–73 that Zenos spoke particularly concerning the remnant of the seed of Joseph, which the Nephites were, and that Zenos’ words were written upon the brass plates.
In Helaman 3:53 we learn that Zenos was a martyr for Christ: “Zenos did testify boldly; for the which he was slain.” Yet, because of the many Book of Mormon writers who diligently recorded his prophecies, his words and his testimony live on.