Jacob 5

Jacob 5: Allegory of the Olive Tree

Allegory of the Olive Tree (See also: Romans 11:17-24)

Jacob quotes Zenos about the allegory of the tame and wild Olive Tree. The Olive Tree in the Lord’s Vineyard is like Israel and the Gentiles, the scattering and gathering of Israel… the Gentiles will be grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.

Symbol What it might represent
The Vineyard The World
Master of the Vineyard God
Servants The Lord’s Prophets
Tame Olive Tree The House of Israel; The Covenant People
Wild Olive Tree Gentiles
Branches Groups of People
Roots of the Tame Olive Tree The Covenants the Lord makes with us
The Fruit The Lives/Works of men
Digging/Pruning/Fertilizing The work of the Lord to help His children obey
Transplanting Branches Scattering groups of people throughout the world
Grafting The joining of one group to another
Decaying Branches People dying spiritually from sin and apostasy
Casting branches into the fire God’s Wrath and Judgment

What is ‘Grafting’?

To graft branches, healthy, living branches are cut from a tree or plant and inserted into another place. The branches in this allegory represent groups of people that the Lord takes from one place and plants them in another. In the scriptural sense, grafting means to “…come to the knowledge of the true Messiah…” (1 Nephi 10:14).

In this chapter (which is super long), we learn about the Lord’s Vineyard. The chapter can be likened to Missionary Work and Rise and Fall of God’s Authority on the Earth.

Missionary Work

                “And the Lord of the Vineyard caused that it should be digged about, and pruned, and nourished, saying unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing. Wherefore, go thy way; watch the tree, and nourish it, according to my words. And these will I place in the nethermost parts of my vineyard, withersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also that I may lay fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof.” (Jacob 5:11-13) God wants his servants to work hard, so that they will not lose one soul or “branch” of the Olive Tree.

                “Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all fruits. Wherefore, let us got to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard. Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last…” (Jacob 5:61-63) This really shows the importance of Missionary work in the last days, God will prune his vineyard one last time before his second coming… and it is the responsibility of the members of the church and the full time missionaries to teach the truths that we know to the world… we must labor diligently and with all our might… this last time

Young and Tender Branches of the House of Israel

(Jacob 5:8, 13–14, 19–25)

The “young and tender branches” seem to be those people who responded to the “pruning and fertilizing” by God and His prophets. They were more teachable than the old established branches, or the groups of Israelites who had to be removed and destroyed.

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “In that parable the olive tree is the House of Israel… In its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes, and like others that the Lord led off that we do not know anything about, to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:204).

Zenos’s allegory helps us understand that the scattering of branches of Israel all over the world was a blessing both to Israel and to the rest of Heavenly Father’s children, the Gentiles. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [Israel] those spirits who in pre-existence developed an especial talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Mormon Doctrine, 81).

As scattered Israel mixed with the Gentiles around them, the blood of Israel was spread even further. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented: “The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood that believes, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 127; or Ensign,Nov. 1982, 87–88).

When Did All the Trees Become Corrupt?

(Jacob 5:32–46)

The part of the allegory when all the trees bear evil fruit seems to represent the period of the Apostasy, prior to the restoration of the gospel. When the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith in the First Vision, He told Joseph that he should join none of the churches of that day because they were all “wrong” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19).In Jacob 5:48, we read; “…Is it not the loftiness [Pride] of thy vineyard – have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? …behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves…” Essentially in this one verse we can see how easily churches after Christ was crucified began to pop up without any legitimate authority of power from God. However, they had some of the basic roots… but they began to lose their roots when they took strength upon themselves. The same people who claim that God won’t call another prophet, and that His word is complete the Bible.

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2 Nephi 8

2 Nephi 8: Zion Shall be of Joy

                See Isaiah 51 and 52:1-2

“Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I am he; yea, I am he that comforteth you. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man, who shall die, and of the son of man, who shall be made like unto grass? And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, and hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?” (2 Nephi 8:11-13)

In the LAST DAYS, the Lord will comfort His people and shall gather them into Israel. Those who are of the Lord shall gather together and there shall be much joy!

2 Nephi 6

2 Nephi 6: Jewish History

                Jacob speaks to the people of Nephi, he explains that he is anxious and desirous of them, that they might have welfare unto their souls. He explains that Nephi has told them much of the history of the world, but that he would like to read to them the words of Isaiah to give them a better history of their own people, the Jews.  Jacob explains that they might be likened unto themselves, because they too are part of the house of Israel.

Jacob speaks the words of Isaiah;

“…Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.  And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” (2 Nephi 6:6; see also: Isaiah 49:22)

Jacob reminds the people of Nephi that he reason for leaving the ‘Old World’ and coming to the ‘New World’ was because Jerusalem was to be destroyed (and at this point had already been destroyed) and for this purpose Lehi was led by God to safety with his family. Jacob explains that even though the people were destroyed that God will have them return, however they would also crucify their Savior.

Jacob continues to explain the Jewish people; “…shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance.” (2 Nephi 6:11) Jacob explains that not only will the Jews be blessed, but also the Gentiles; “…if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.” (2 Nephi 6:12) Jacob explains that those who fight against Zion shall ‘lick up the dust of their feet’ as Isaiah had explained in old.

Jacob explains that those who fight against Zion and believe not on the Lord shall be destroyed; “…both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:15)

1 Nephi 22

1 Nephi 22: Righteousness Shall Prevail in the Last Days

                After reading from the Brass Plates (1 Nephi 20-21), Nephi’s brethren ask him what these things meant; “… are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?” (1 Nephi 22:1) Nephi responds that they are to be understood both Spiritual and temporal, he also explains that by the Spirit all things are known unto the Prophets and through the Prophets we come to know all things; “…Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.” (1 Nephi 22:2)

                Nephi goes on to explain that Israel will be scattered because of their wickedness, however; The Lord and the Gentiles will shall ‘nurse’ Israel that they might “…bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (1 Nephi 22:12) Here we learn that Israel will eventually come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, Jesus Christ. First, they will be led into captivity and then gathered together in the land of their inheritance. We can see throughout history that the Jews have been persecuted, and now they are gathered in Israel. Does this mean the next step is them coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Only time will tell.

Nephi explains that in the Last Days; “…the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood. And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.” (1 Nephi 22:13-14)

In the Last Days, the Great and Abominable Church (presumably the Catholic Church) will wage war among the people of the Lord and eventually have the sword fall upon themselves. Everyone who fights against Israel shall be destroyed and those who pervert the right ways of the Lord shall be destroyed and GREAT shall be the fall of that Great and Abominable Church!

Nephi explains that “…the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.” (1 Nephi 22:15) Again, those who fight against the Lord and His people will lose. Satan thinks he is in control, even his followers believe this… however the Lord can crush Satan at any time… he only allows Satan to tempt His children, so that we might have Agency to choose for ourselves the path we want to take.

Nephi writes that; “…the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded…” (1 Nephi 22:22) Those who follow the commandments of the Lord will be filled with the knowledge they need to avoid the churches of Satan built upon the world by the flesh.

Why are there so many Churches and Religions?

“…the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.” (1 Nephi 22:23)

After the death of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, the Church Jesus established on the earth and the Power and Authority that He had given to the Apostles was eventually lost with the last Apostle who like Apostles before him were persecuted, killed and even Crucified. From this time forth, the flesh of the world created their own religions and churches. These churches or religions were built up only to obtain power, gain, and popularity to seek the lusts of the world.

Jesus Christ made it clear; “…other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) The ‘other sheep’ are the people of Ancient America, who also heard His word. In the Last Days all the folds of the Lord shall come unto Him and become ONE FOLD, with ONE SHEPHERD (Jesus Christ)

Nephi explains that in the Last Days, Satan will be locked up for the space of many years (1,000 years) and shall not be loosed, so that the work of the Lord shall be carried across the entire world.

Nephi makes an end to this chapter and the 1st Book of Nephi by explaining that his testimony is not the only testimony; “…ye need not suppose that I and my father are the only ones that have testified, and also taught them. Wherefore, if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.” (1 Nephi 22:31) Nephi, like prophets of old have made it very clear. Those who Love the Lord and have His Spirit shall come to this knowledge through careful, prayerful study of the scriptures.

1 Nephi 21

1 Nephi 21: Israel will be gathered in the Last Days

Compare to Isaiah 49

Taken from Isaiah, Nephi taught his people and made record of Isaiah in his own records. The Lord speaks to Israel and all those who have been broken off; “…because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people.” (1 Nephi 21:1) Many people are led away from the house of Israel by wicked men who chose to distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The servant speaks in his own voice – he has been called from the womb. His mouth has been made like a sharp sword. He will be a light to the gentiles; He will release prisoners, and those in darkness. The Lord cannot forget Israel, as a nurse cannot forget her nursing child. The Lord will protect Israel from her enemies, who will be humbled and defeated.

1 Nephi 20

1 Nephi 20: The Purpose of Israel

Compare to Isaiah 48

The Lord rebukes Israel for their routine religious observance. “…I showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.” (1 Nephi 20:6)The Lord made sure that he was revealed rather than concealed, but Israel did not see or hear. The Lord defers his anger for His name’s sake; He is the first and the last. The Lord wishes that his people had obeyed Him in the past. Exodus from Babylon joined with that from Egypt – the rock in the wilderness flowed with water.

In other words, Israel, even with all their disobedience was chosen by the Lord to go forth from Babylon and rise above the earth as His chosen people.

1 Nephi 15

1 Nephi 15: Nephi and the Tree of Life

                After having seen these visions, Nephi returns to the tent of his father Lehi, where he finds his brothers arguing over what their father had seen in his visions. Nephi explains that Lehi had seen visions that “…were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord…” (1 Nephi 15:4) Essentially Nephi is saying that those things Lehi spoke of were not easily understood without the inquiring of the Lord to have a deeper understanding. In other words, in order to understand the words of Lehi one must have the Spirit of the Lord.

Nephi was saddened because of the destruction he saw in his visions, nevertheless he desired to know why his own brothers were fighting against their father. They explain to Nephi; “…Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.” (1 Nephi 15:7) Nephi asks them if they had inquired of the Lord to know of its meanings, and they explained that they had NOT inquired of the Lord. Nephi asks his brothers; “Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11) Nephi knew that if you asked the Lord in FAITH, He would answer your prayers.

Regardless of the hardness of their hearts, Nephi explains the meaning behind the branches of the Olive Tree; “…now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed— And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” (1 Nephi 12-14) In other words, the seed of Nephi and his brothers will become the Gentiles in the Americas who will eventually come to the knowledge of their divine inheritance, that they shall be grafted into the Olive Tree in Israel. They will become the covenant people of the Lord!

Nephi explains to his brothers that the Jews will also be restored and shall no more be confounded or scattered among the land. Nephi’s brothers then ask for a meaning of the Tree of Life, which Lehi and now Nephi had seen.

The Tree of Life

 

“And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 15:24) Nephi urges them to give heed unto the words of the Lord that they might keep His commandments and shall overcome the adversary.

25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.

“And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw? And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.” (1 Nephi 15:27) Nephi explains that this river of water was an awful gulf, that separated the wicked from the tree of life… it was a representation of Hell.

Nephi explains to his brothers that this vision is meant to be both temporal and spiritual, for if someone were to die in their wickedness they would be judged of their works. No unclean thing can enter into the presence of the Lord. Therefore, those who die in filthiness will remain in filthiness and shall be given their just reward.