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I believe the hill in the foreground of this painting of the temple in Jerusalem as it was at the time our Savior, Jesus Christ was serving His mortal mission, is the Mount of Olives spoken of in the New Testament. This is an illustration of how olive orchards were an important life of the Jewish people for ages.
My Father's House -by Al Rounds
I chose this painting to begin TODAY'S THEME because I promised at the end of my previous post to show how the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees given by the ancient prophet, Zenos, which is recorded in Chapter Five of the Book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon, applies to each of us today.
If you have not yet read my previous post let me give you the scripture that was covered in that so you can read it in its entirety. Those of you have read it before may choose to read (and listen) to it again, now.
Zenos, in his allegory, through the spirit of prophecy and revelation tells us about things that were to happen in the future, but of course, to us they are mostly things of the past. They actually happened or are happening now or will happen in the not too distant future.
I will only touch lightly on most of the things this allegory tells us will take place that have already taken place.
It tells us figuratively that the Gentiles shall be grafted into the House of Israel. That, of course happened beginning with the Apostle Peter as he was given a dream that helped him accept his and the other apostles responsibility of teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. In that case Peter was inspired to teach the Gospel to a righteous Gentile, Cornelius, a Roman Centurion.
The allegory takes us through many twists and turns of history and even of the not so distant future, none of which is yet fully known. I would only be guessing if I tried to relate everything that Zenos included in his allegory to actual historic people and events. However, one part of it is quite clear to those who know the Book of Mormon well.
Jacob 5: 25 And he said unto the servant: Look hither and behold the last. Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others. (emphasis added)That is very clearly a reference to the Nephite and Lamanite nations which were led by the Lord (The Master of the Vineyard) to the Western Hemisphere. More is said in later verses of Chapter Five about that particular "Olive tree."
You probably will agree with me that the message of Zenos' allegory is that the Lord loves the House of Israel because it, when it is righteous, brings forth good works which is really pleasing to Him.
The message is also there that He equally loves those Gentiles who are grafted into the House of Israel and bring forth the fruit which is most precious unto Him.
I now quote verses 76 and 77 of Chapter 5 of the Book of Jacob
76 For behold, for a long time will I lay up of the fruit of my vineyard unto mine own self against the season, which speedily cometh; and for the last time have I nourished my vineyard, and pruned it, and dug about it, and dunged it; wherefore I will lay up unto mine own self of the fruit, for a long time, according to that which I have spoken.
77 And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end; and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire. (emphasis added)Now, please read the words of verse 61 - 65 of Chapter 5:
61 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 other fruit.
62 Wherefore, let us go 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.
63 Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.
64 Wherefore, dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more, for the last time, for the end draweth nigh. And if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the
natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow.
65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard. (emphasis added)In our day, the Lord Jesus Christ has re-established His church and has called prophets and apostles to lead it. They are certainly among those "servants" mentioned in verse 61 above. They are doing much to forward the Lord's work in our day.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Of The First Presidency and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
"God Is Love" (inscribed at church) LDS Church News, June 13, 2009
By Elder Darvel Gregory and Sister Kathryn Gregory - Europe East Area senior couple missionaries.
Among the many visits and addresses by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Neil L. Andersen while in Russia and Ukraine in late May and early June was a visit to the Central Baptist Church in Moscow. Here fifty years ago in October 1959, another apostle, Ezra Taft Benson, then serving as Secretary of Agriculture in the U.S. Administration, spoke at a meeting of Christian believers.
On Tuesday, June 2, President Uchtdorf and Elder Andersen were welcomed by Vitaly Vlasenko, the director of external relations for the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of Russia, and Pastor Sergey Zolotarovsky.
The guests were given a tour of the 200-year-old building that has been home to the Baptist congregation since 1917. They stood at the pulpit where Elder Benson spoke cast against the backdrop of words "God Is Love," and looked out over the balcony and main hall where nearly 1,000 Christian believers listened to words of encouragement and testimony during Soviet times.
After the tour, guests and hosts held an informal meeting to share experiences and discuss topics of common interest to the members of these two minority religions in Russia. President Uchtdorf asked Pastor Zoloarovsky about his experience as a Christian. Pastor Zolotarovsky said that he was baptized in 1971 when it was difficult to be a believer. He shared how Christians were often denied educational and employment opportunities. President Uchtdeorf commended them for their faith and explained that such has also been the case with Latter-day Saints.
President Uchtdorf shared his feelings about the wars and discord of the past that have brought sorrow and suffering to the people of Russia and Ukraine.
"Fortunately, those times are in the past," he said. "Today, there is greater unity. With Jesus Christ as our Savior we can all be united and serve Him. We have different doctrines, but we all believe in God, and believing in the goodness of the people unites us."
President Uchtdorf introduced Elder Alekandr N. Manzhos and Elder Sergiy N. Mikulin, Area Seventies, and shared their background and Church experience. It was agreed that there are common issues on which the two Christian faiths can work together and that the meeting was the beginning of a longer relationship.
That was just a small sample of the work being done throughout the world by the Lord's Latter-day servants which is in fulfillment of Zenos' prophecy given to us in the Book of Mormon by the prophet Jacob, son of Lehi.
I will now quote for you one of my favorite scriptures. In this verse the Lord is not using the terms used in Zenos' allegory, yet He is telling us basically that which is expressed by Zenos regarding the Lord of the Vineyard's love for the fruit of His olive trees.
Pearl of Great Price - Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (emphasis added)
As I have indicated in the just previous post I will be helping you to see how this inspired allegory applies to us now in our day! The last verse of Zenos' allegory tells us that rather directly.
|The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ -by Harry Anderson|
Jacob 5:77 And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end; and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire. (emphasis added)
Jesus Christ and the Hosts of Heaven descend to greet His Saints Who Have Been Saved from the Great Burning.
In preparation for the Lord to return with the angels of Heaven to begin the Great Millennium prophesied of by prophets since Adam's day, God's latter-day prophets and apostles whom He has called, are examples of those mentioned in verse 61 above. All faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can, through worthiness and effort be included as the servants mentioned in the allegory.
A Footnote to the Description of Olive Cultivation Found in Zenos's Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees:
To those who might claim that Joseph Smith or some other person from Nineteenth Century New England made up everything in the Book of Mormon I relate the following:
About twenty years ago while riding in a car from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, California with several people I knew and several I did not know before, one of the latter told us the following as we happened to be discussing the Book of Mormon: This middle-aged LDS lady told all of us that her husband, who was not with her at the time, was highly educated in matters agricultural. She said that he had specialized for a time on olive cultivation. They were from the Sacramento area of Northern California where there is a good amount of olive cultivation. She had often heard him tell how accurate the description in the Fifth Chapter of Jacob by the ancient prophet, Zenos is of how olive trees should be cultivated and handled from planting to harvesting and even to eventual disposal.
To me this stands as sure evidence that Joseph Smith and others in New England and New York in his time could not have made up that part of the Book of Mormon. The Fifth Chapter of Jacob was always a part of the Book of Mormon. Nothing of the basic account was ever added later.
I believe that the Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah has accumulated statements from other professional olive cultivators who verify the same thing, often providing verifiable details to back up their findings.
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