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.

Romans 11

Romans 11: The Olive Tree

Paul asks the question; “…Hath God cast away his people?” (Romans 11:1) Paul answers his own question by exclaiming that He does not. Paul then goes on to explain that God had a specific purpose to fulfill in allowing Israel to stumble,  so that salvation would come to the Gentiles.

The Olive Tree

Paul explains how Israel is the root of a tree, whose branches can be removed or grafted on. God’s plan for Israel includes a future Restoration. God’s love and calling for Israel to come unto Him and to believe on His Son, still continues. Essentially, the Olive Tree can be grafted or dug about to remove the bad branches and add good branches. This is a metaphor for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His believers, and how the Lord can clean up His vineyard by casting away the bad branches. The Gentile Christians came from disobedience; yet God showed them mercy, in part through the disobedience of Israel. God is full of wisdom and knowledge, Paul exclaims: “…how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:33-34)

In the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5) we learn more about this Olive Tree:

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.

In this chapter (which is super long), we learn about the Lord’s Vineyard… which we can liken to 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.

Mark 11

Mark 11: Jesus in the Temple – Money Changers

                Jesus and His Apostles ride into Jerusalem through to the Mount of Olives, where He commands two of His Apostles to go to a village near them, where they would find a colt tied to a doorway. So the Apostles leave and find a colt tied to a doorway, exactly as Jesus had told them. Some of those who were standing near the colt asked the Apostles what they were doing, the Apostles told them it was for the Lord, and the men told them to continue.

After returning to Jesus, Jesus hops onto the Colt and they ride into Jerusalem, all while people are shouting “…Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Mark 11:9) Jesus spends sometime in Jerusalem before it got dark and after “…he had looked round about upon all things…” (Mark 11:11) From here Jesus goes to Bethany, where He gets hungry and finds a fig tree. However, upon reaching the tree it was found that the tree was not producing fruit, only leaves.  Jesus answered upon the tree and said; “…No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever…” (Mark 11:14)

Jesus left the curse on the tree and departed with His Apostles into Jerusalem. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus found that the temple had turned into a market place; Jesus began to “…cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Mark 11:17)

                Jesus was mad, because they were turning His house into a house of market. The scribes were of course angry by this display from Jesus, so they sought to destroy Him. As Jesus and His Apostles departed, and passed by the same fig tree, Peter reminds them; “…Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.” (Mark 11:21) Jesus then tells them that with Faith, even mountains can be made to move. He continues; “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall receive them.” (Mark 11:24) Jesus also instructs them that they should forgive always, especially when they pray. For if man forgive men, then the Lord will also forgive that man.

The scribes catch up to Jesus and ask Him by what Authority He is able to do such great miracles, and Jesus responds; “… I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The Baptism of Job, was it from heaven, or of men? Answer me.” (Mark 11:29-30) The scribes were afraid to ask, because they reasoned with themselves; “…If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.” (Mark 11:31-32) After thinking over the question Jesus had proposed they respond; “…We cannot tell. And Jesus answering unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:33)