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.

2 Nephi 33

2 Nephi 33: Those who Believe in Christ, will Believe in Nephi

“And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Nephi 33:1)

Here Nephi explains that not EVERYTHING God says or commands can be written down. However, the most important and precious things can be recorded. Nephi explains that he is just a man, a man who God called to speak, and while his writing is not the best… his speaking, through the Holy Ghost is perfect, because it is the word of God that can be carried to the hearts of the children of men.

Nephi also knows that not all men will open their hearts to the Holy Ghost, and therefore makes it difficult for some to believe the words of God.           Nephi hopes that “…the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good… And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainnessof the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil.” (2 Nephi 33:4-5)  

Nephi explains that the words he writes comes from God, those who cannot see the plainness of truth, and are angered by its words can only have the spirit of the devil. Nephi urges his own people and those people who will read this book in the future (us) to heed to its words; “…hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.” (2 Nephi 33:10) Again, Nephi explains that these words are the words of Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ will know that these are His words and shall believe in them also.

Nephi calls out the non-believer and explains that these are the words of Christ; “…for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.” (2 Nephi 33:11)

Those who believe in Jesus Christ should recognize His words, and will be shown that they are His words, whether in this life, or in the next life… before the bar of judgment. These are simple truths; the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Nephi testifies of Him, and those who believe in Jesus Christ will believe the words of Nephi, and those who believe the words of Nephi will know that the Book of Mormon is truly Another Testament of Him. Those who believe that the Book of Mormon is true, will know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint is His Restored Church on the Earth today with Modern Prophets who lead and guide His people.

2 Nephi 27

2 Nephi 27: Apostasy will cover the Earth

                Nephi explains that in the Last Days, that the world will fight against those who believe in God. Because of the rejection of the Prophets throughout the ages, the Lord had a book hidden from the world, with a purpose to come forward in God’s own time, this book is the Book of Mormon;

“For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity. And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered. And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. “(2 Nephi 27:5-7)

This Book would come forth at the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, or the beginning of the End. The book would contain an account of the beginning to the end of the world. However, the Book will be sealed and hidden, until God called a prophet to complete His works.

“Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them. But the book shall be delivered unto a man [Joseph Smith], and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;” (2 Nephi 27:8-9)

When the time comes to reveal this book; “…the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few [Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon] according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.” (2 Nephi 27:12-13)

Here is where things get interesting…

 “…it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.” (2 Nephi 27:15)

Isaiah also said something similar; “the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.” (Isaiah 29: 11-12)

Joseph Smith received this book [The Book of Mormon], being unlearned. What’s more, he sent it with Martin Harris to the learned Professor Anthon, who reportedly said precisely “I cannot read it, for it is sealed.”

Ezequiel prophesied of a Stick of Judah, (a stick is a book or a scroll) these are the Jews and this stick is the Bible. He also prophesied of a Stick of Joseph, these are descendants of Joseph, down through Lehi and his descendants who came to the New World. He and his descendants wrote the Book of Mormon. If this were not true, could we simply ignore prophecy?

The Book of Mormon was all part of God’s plan to reveal more of His word in the Last Days. For many false teachers and churches will teach; “…fear towards me [God] …taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Nephi 27:25)

This marvelous work and wonder has already come forth among the Children of God. Those who pray to know, shall know of its truth!

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7: Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood

                In this chapter, Paul writes a letter to the Hebrews and starts off by telling them who Melchisedec was. Melchisedec was the King of Salem; “…who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all…” (Hebrews 7:1-2) This is very important to know, Abraham, who was counted by all as a very great man in the eyes of both God and men, was blessed by Melchisedec? Abraham also gave his tithes to Melchisedec, this would imply that Melchisedec was a very powerful and wise man in both the eyes of God and man.

Paul goes on to explain that Melchisedec was; “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Hebrews 7:3) Here we learn a lot about the character of Melchisedec, he had no parents, no ancestors and was made ‘like unto the Son of God’. If we were to take this scripture exactly as it is written, one could understand that Melchisedec was on the same level of Jesus Christ. However, more modern day revelation has revealed exactly what this scripture meant;

“This high priesthood [the priesthood that Melchisedec had] being after the order of his Son [Jesus Christ], which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things.” (The Book of Mormon; Alma 13:7)

                The Book of Mormon, which was written in the Americas during the time of the Old and New Testament of the Bible, explain that Melchisedec himself was not without father or mother, nor was HE himself made like unto Jesus Christ. Rather, the priesthood which Melchisedec held was without years. This priesthood was made from the foundation of the world and was made after the order of Jesus Christ. While we do not know much about Melchisedec, it is likely that he did actually have family. While we do not know all the facts, one thing we do know is that Melchisedec held a priesthood which was of the highest order. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through Jesus Christ we have been given this Priesthood Authority, which we call the “Melcizedek Priesthood” after the same order which Melchisadec belonged too.

Paul goes on to ask the Hebrews to consider; “…how great this man was, unto whom eve the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of his spoils.” (Hebrews 7:4) At this time, under the sons of Levi was the Priesthood after the order of Aaron, known as the Aaronic Priesthood. This priesthood was considered at the time to be the highest order. However Paul explains; “…what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisadec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”  (Hebrews 7:11) Paul, like the Hebrews was probably confused by this, but Paul clarifies that this priesthood did not come from the tribe of Levi. Rather it is “…far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there riseth another priest. Who is made, not after the law for a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:15-16)

Paul explains that when a priest would go into the temple to make a sacrifice for the peoples sins, they would often times have to make a first sacrifice for their own sins. This would make them pure enough to facilitate a sacrifice for the sins of others. However, with the high priests, who were after the order of Melchisadec; “…needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his owns sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” (Hebrews 7:27)

Paul explains that a High Priest; “…is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)

Titus 3

Titus 3: After Baptism, Live Righteously

                Paul explains to Titus that after baptism, those who become members of Christ’s Church, must be; “…subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready for every good work. To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3: 1-2)

As Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have often explained that we follow after the words of Paul, for he was an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ. One of our Articles of Faith explains; “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (Articles of Faith 1:12)

Paul goes on to explain that just because someone is a member of Christ’s Church, does not mean that they are perfect; “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating on another.” (Titus 3:3) But Paul makes it clear that whether that was in the past or present, we can always better ourselves through Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for us. Paul urges the members of the church to “…avoid foolish questions… contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3:9) Essentially Paul is telling us that we should not argue over the scriptures, but rather put them into practice and follow Jesus Christ. We should not be judgmental of how others worship Christ, but instead worship Christ.

 

 

2 Timothy 4

2 Timothy 4: Preach the Gospel

                Paul writes to Timothy and explains that he needs to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove [to disapprove of someone], rebuke [criticize], exhort [urge] with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:1) Paul tells Timothy sharply that he must be quick to preach and if necessary tell someone he is teaching that they are wrong, criticize their thinking and urge them to change their thinking using sound doctrine. At first thought one might think Paul is encouraging Timothy to go around and bash others beliefs and force the teachings of Jesus Christ on others. HOWEVER, I believe that Paul wrote to Timothy in this way to encourage him to work hard to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because Paul explains; “…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itchy ears; And they shall turn away from the truth, and shall be turned into fables [A story that teaches a lesson or a false account].” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

What is Paul trying to say? He is telling Timothy to hurry and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because soon the people will not listen to the TRUE doctrine, because they will consume themselves in their own lusts and find teachers to tell them that what they are doing is ok.

In March of 1839, while in the jail at Liberty, Missouri; Joseph Smith received revelation which the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know as the 123rd Section of the  Doctrine and Covenants, verses 12-13 read;

“For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it – Therefore, that we should waster and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven.” (Doctrine and Covenants 123: 12-13) For this reason Paul urged Timothy to work hard to convince his fellow brother and sister of the truth!

Paul explains that he “…is now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 3: Apostasy and the Last Days

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

This is the second letter that Paul wrote to Timothy shortly before his death. In this letter to Timothy, he explained that in the Last Days there would come an Apostasy, which would bring on a time of war and wickedness.

Paul goes on to explain that those who have lots of knowledge may still not come to the knowledge of the truth; “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)

Paul reminds Timothy and the followers of Christ that when this time comes; “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Paul ends this letter by explaining that even though all this bad will happen, that the followers of Jesus Christ need to hold on and endure to the end. He urges everyone to study the scriptures to know for themselves if they are true and to use them as a guide and tool for knowing the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For this very purpose members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourage others to find out whether or not the Book of Mormon is also a book of Holy Scripture. For Paul said that ALL scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine. One has to decide on their own after pondering its teaching and divine origin.