12: The Lord Labors with Us (March 16–March 22)
So you’ve survived the Isaiah chapters and maybe even feel a little bit more confident about this prophet's teachings, but now you’ve hit Jacob 5—the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. And if you feel a little overwhelmed about this chapter and what the allegory of the olive tree represents, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this week’s Sunday on Monday study group, we’re going to dig into Jacob 5–7 to learn more about the symbolism of the allegory of the olive tree and Jacob’s final message to us.
The purposes of the allegory of the olive tree
1. Jacob quoted the words of Zenos about the allegory of the olive tree to encourage his people to be "reconciled unto [the Lord] through the atonement of Christ."
"Wherefore, beloved brethren, be areconciled unto him through the batonement of Christ, his cOnly Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a dresurrection, according to the epower of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the ffirst-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh" (Jacob 4:11).
2. To show that God will remember his covenant people.
"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of aIsrael, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his bhands unto them all the day long; and they are a cstiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God" (Jacob 6:4).
3. To warn the people that they will be utterly destroyed unless they "continue in the way which is narrow."
"8 Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the aprophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and bdeny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the cgift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a dmock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?
"10 And according to the power of ajustice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that blake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is cendless dtorment.
Who is Zenos?
Zenos was a Hebrew prophet of Israel in Old Testament times whose prophecies of Christ’s mission are found only in the Book of Mormon. His writings appeared on the brass plates but he is not mentioned in the Old Testament. He lived after the prophet Abraham and before the prophet Isaiah (see Helaman 8:19–20). He prophesied and testified of Jesus Christ (see 1 Nephi 19:10–12; Helaman 8:19). Zenos is best known for his allegory of the olive tree (Jacob 5) and he:
· Prophesied of Christ’s burial and three days of darkness (1 Ne. 19:10, 12).
· Predicted the gathering of Israel (1 Ne. 19:16).
· Taught concerning prayer and worship (Alma 33:3–11).
· Taught that redemption comes through the Son (Alma 34:7).
· Was slain for his bold testimony (Hel. 8:19).
· Spoke of the restoration of the Lamanites (Hel. 15:11).
· Testified of the destruction at Christ’s death (3 Ne. 10:15–16).
Zenos's allegory of the olive trees is also found in Romans 11:16-24.
Jacob 5 is the chapter of symbols. You can’t understand it unless you understand the symbolism.
“to be fluent in the language of the Spirit one must be fluent in the language of symbolism.”
“Symbols are the timeless and universal language in which God, in his wisdom, has chosen to teach his gospel and bear witness of his Son. They are the language of the scriptures, the language of revelation, the language of the Spirit, the language of faith. They are a language common to the Saints of all generations. Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and ordinances of salvation have been revealed. They are a means whereby we enrich, deepen, and enhance understanding and expression. They enable us to give visual and conceptual form to ideas and feelings that may otherwise defy the power of words. Symbols take us beyond the language of words, granting us an eloquence in the expression of feelings" (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, Bookcraft 1985, p ix).
Why an Olive tree?
- Some ancient sources cite the tree of life as an olive tree (John W. Welch, Stephen D. Ricks, The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, Olive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period, Deseret Book 1994, p. 464).
- An olive tree is the first tree mentioned in the Bible after the earth had been flooded.
- A dove (symbol of the Holy Ghost) had an olive branch in its mouth symbolizing that a branch of the house of Israel had been preserved.
- The Earliest example of planting allegory/poetry is found in Exodus 15.
- Olive trees were extremely valuable in ancient Israel where Zenos lived. Olives were used for food, and olive oil was used for the tabernacle, cooking, medicine, as fuel for lamps and soap.
- Olive trees require much care and labor to help them produce good fruit.
- The olive tree had always been a symbol of God’s covenant people. It is the menorah in the tabernacle.
- God’s covenant people can’t be destroyed. There is still hope that springs from the roots.
"You can’t destroy an olive tree. Even if you chop it down to a stump, that stump can still grow forth shoots and start up again. You can cut down an olive tree until nothing is left, and the shoots will start coming out persistently. The top branches, as Jacob tells us, are the first to whither. The new shoots do come right out of the trunk. The olive is indeed the most plastic of trees, surpassing even the willow in its power to survive the most drastic whacking and burning or flood (the dove brought it first) After a city had been destroyed, the one thing that would survive would be the olive trees. They could start life again as long as the olive was there" (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Vol.1, Deseret Book, 1993, p.398).
The olive tree becomes even more amazing when you consider the symbolism of all that comes from the olive tree:
1. Olives: all of the works of the house of Israel (wild vs tame)
2. Olive press: Jesus Christ
3. Oil: Holy Ghost
Holy Ghost provides spiritual nourishment, enlightenment, and comfort, just as olive oil in the ancient Near East was used for food, light, and anointing.
Oil pressed three times:
The first press is the best quality and was considered God’s so it was taken to the temple in Jerusalem.
The second press was good quality and was used for food, medicine, perfume and cosmetics.
The third press was bad quality and was used for oil lamps and making soap.
It's interesting to note that the first press was red in color, a reminder of the Savior's blood in Gethsemane.
In fact, Gethsemane is made of two Hebrew words: Gath=wine press, Shemen=Oil
In this allegory, the tame olive tree (or the house of Israel) is located in a vineyard (or the world).
(Jacob 5:3) House of Israel is us, all covenant members. (Remember L.D.S. for the Abrahamic covenant promises of land, deliverance, and seed).
(Jacob 5:3) Vineyard: The world
(Jacob 5:3) Decay: Apostasy, according to footnote d
(Jacob 5:4) Master of the Vineyard: Jesus Christ
(Jacob 5:4–5) Prune, dig, nourish: The Lord’s efforts to help the house of Israel receive the blessings of salvation.
More Symbolism in Jacob 5:
1. Servant: Prophet
2. Branches: Groups of people
3. Wild olive tree: Gentiles who have not yet made covenants, non-Israelites.
4. Grafting and planting: The scattering and gathering of the Lord’s covenant people. In addition, the grafting of wild branches into the tame olive tree represents the conversion of those who become part of the Lord’s covenant people.
5. Burning branches: God’s judgments on the wicked
6. Graft: To graft is to insert a branch from one tree into a different tree. This represents the process of spiritual rebirth when one is joined to the covenant.
7. Roots: Individuals with whom the Lord covenanted anciently, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Jacob 6:4). Roots may also represent the covenants the Lord makes with those who follow Him.
8. Fruit: The lives or works of people. Natural (or tame) fruit represents righteous works. Wild fruit represents unrighteous works.
9. Nethermost part: Those who are furthest out or sent far away (e.g. America, lost 10 tribes, as well as other groups of people we don’t even know about) (Robert L. Millet, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, 1988 Deseret Book Company, p. 55).
Understanding these symbols will help us get the most out of the allegory.
Parley P. Pratt cited Jacob 5 more than any other Latter-day Saint speaker or writer. (John W. Welch, Stephen D. Ricks, Grant Underwood, The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, Jacob 5 in the Nineteenth Century, Deseret Book 1994, p. 50) And maybe after this, so will we.
The allegory of the olive trees was adored by W.W Phelps. He said the allegory is “One of the greatest figures, one of the plainest parables, and sublimest prophecies, that we know of, is found in the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. It is as simple as the accents of a child, and as sublime as the language of an angel" (The Evening and the Morning Star was known simply as The Star in the early years. The quotation is from Star 1 (September 1832, 26).
In Jacob 5, there are five parts or visits by the master of the vineyard (Christ)
Visit 1: Before His birth (Jacob 5:3-14)
Visit 2 : Christ’s ministry (Jacob 5:15-28)
Visit 3: Great apostasy (Jacob 5:29-49)
Visit 4: Restoration of the gospel and the gathering of Israel (Jacob 5:50-76)
Visit 5: Christ's Millennial reign (Jacob 5:76-77)
Who was Sherem?
What did Sherem do?
1. Taught the people that there should be no Christ (Jacob 7:2)
2. Labored diligently to lead away many hearts (Jacob 7:3)
3. He was learned and he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people (Jacob 7:4)
4. Sherem hoped to shake Jacob from the faith (Jacob 7:5)
5. He was not successful (Jacob 7:5,8)
What changed Sherem?
1. He asked for a sign and was smitten by God (Jacob 7:13-15)
2. Sherem denied his teachings, confessed his sins, and died (Jacob 7:15-20)
Jacob’s somber parting words:
"26 And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the aother plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our blives passed away like as it were unto us a cdream, we being a dlonesome and a solemn people, ewanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.
"27 And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son aEnos: Take these bplates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had ccommanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been dsmall; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu" (Jacob 7:26-27).
The definition of adieu: From the Old French "a dieu, to God (I commend you)" (yourdictionary.com).
Also compare to the Hebrew word "Lehitra’ot" or farewell with a blessing.
Segment 1 0:00
The allegory of the olive tree. If this allegory falls into the same category as all the Isaiah chapters for you, don't worry, you're totally normal. And I have some good news. Like Isaiah, this allegory just needs some definitions, explanations, symbols, a historical review, and a heaping dose of the Spirit so we can fully appreciate what's being taught. That's all.
Wow, that kind of sounded like a recipe, "Four cups of the Spirit, three cups of historical review..." Don't worry, we're going to get through this together, and I think by the time we're done, you're going to love the allegory of the olive tree.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday study group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living, where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
Here's something cool about this podcast. It's broken up into six different segments, and each segment is about 10 to 12 minutes long, so you can actually just study your scriptures 12 minutes a day. Done. How cool is that?
Another awesome thing about our study group is that each week we are joined by two of my friends, and it's a little different each week because I get to bring people that I love to come and talk about scriptures, and so this week we have my two good friends Becky Farley and Marcos Orozcos.
Hi Far. I call you "Far," or "BFF -- Becky, Farley, forever."
Becky Farley forever, and forever your friend.
Forever my friend, and Marcos.
So I have to just tell you a little bit about why I chose these friends to come today to talk about the allegory. As I'm planning the lesson that we're going to teach, I have a list of all the people who I want to invite, and names will pop into my head like this is somebody who would be great on this. I don't know why, but then I invite those friends and it always turns out to be great.
And so as I was planning Jacob chapter five through seven, I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is heavy. This is big stuff. Who should I invite?" And the thought came, "Becky Farley and Marcos." And so I'm excited to see what happens with today's podcast because Marcos, there's some pretty neat things about you. One of my favorite things about you is when I asked what your nationality was, I was like, "Now you're Hispanic, right?" And you're like, "No, I'm Chicano." What does that mean?
I'm an American of Mexican descent. I was born in the United States, my dad's from Mexico, I'm Chicano.
And where did you grow up?
I grew up in LA.
Wow. And have you been a member your whole life?
No, I have not. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints four years ago. I was Catholic, I was raised Catholic, born Catholic, grew up Catholic, did the whole Catholic thing, my family staunch Catholic. I'm the only one I believe that's a different religion than the rest of my family.
And Marcos, this is the first time we've actually physically met, but I've known you for a long time and none of you, and I've prayed for your family and I've prayed for you and your wife because you have such an incredible story. In fact, you won Foster Father of the Year, didn't you?
I did. There's five regions in Utah, and I was the Tooele Salt Lake region Father of the Year.
It's pretty cool you fostered kids and you and your wife have a really neat story, and so I'm just so glad you're here. So glad, and you're in the same word as Becky Farley, and that's how I know about you is through Becky Farley, and Becky I've known you for over 20 years.
Yeah, yeah, Tam you pulled me out of the ditch. Let's be honest.
Oh boy, you were in.
Oh man. Was I there?
When you were in your basement eating Oreos and drinking Fanta Orange saying to the world, "I'm done."
Yeah, I remember that was a hard time.
Came in, taught me some Seminary lessons, turned my life around, Tam.
It was such a good time.
That was a good time, eating frozen pizza at the table.
And now you're my Becky Farley Forever -- BFF.
Right there. Right in my heart Tam.
I love you. Well this is neat because if you guys want to find out more about my guests or see what they look like, you can go to our website at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, where there will be BIOS and pictures. So I'd recommend going because I just love to see what people look like when I hear their voices and learn about them.
Alright, so like I mentioned in the very beginning, we are talking about the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob chapters five through seven, and just before we get too far, let's make sure that we know what an allegory is. And so if you want to write at the top of your page in Jacob chapter five, you can write the word "allegory" and just put a symbolic representation.
So this story is going to represent something with lots of symbols and we're going to find out why Jacob decided to include this allegory. What are some other allegories out there in Scripture or in real life?
Are we talking like Aesop’s Fables?
That's what I was thinking too.
Well, yeah, those are great allegories.
I mean the hare and the tortoise, I mean, is that an allegory?
I mean, but that's not in the scriptures.
No, it's not. But that's an allegory. So the cool thing is, is an allegory is just a symbolic representation of something. So this is a story that's going to be symbolic, and there's deeper hidden meaning,
So, tell me the difference between an allegory and a parable?
That's a really good question. A parable is a story that people can put themselves into that relates to them. And then an allegory is about a symbol, something specific, a symbolic symbol that teaches a story.
Let me just start by asking you this question then, when it comes to the allegory, have you ever skipped over this chapter? Have you come to it and thought, "Nah, let's just get to the next part."
To be honest with you, I haven't read the Book of Mormon all the way through. So I've started it a few times, but since I'm a primary teacher, I told my class that I was going to read it this year with them.
Oh I love that. How's it going?
Good. We're to, I'm not sure if I'm going to say this right, "Second Nephi?"
Yep, this is going to be great then because you're going to be able to take what we learned today and just teach it to your class like a pro. Because what's neat about the scriptures is all of the symbolism and what things mean. And when we can understand what that means and how we fit into the story, the scriptures sort of for me come alive.
I am guilty of skipping over Jacob chapter five, plenty of times, until I became a seminary teacher. And then I was like, "Maybe I need to know what this is about." And even as a Seminary teacher, it was hard sometimes to teach but I love the way that Come, Follow Me manual does it and then all the other things that I've read and studied just made this for me this time. Just come alive and we're going to take it slow.
It's kind of like eating an elephant, as they say, to use a fable. You can't eat it all at once, like this allegory of the olive tree requires little bites bit by bit, but once you do that you're going to come away loving it.
So let's start talking about this allegory. And let's go into the purpose of the allegory. We're going to start in Jacob chapter four, and we're going to read verse 11. Let's just start there. Becky, will you read that for us?
"Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ..."
I'm going to pause you right there. Go back to the beginning where it says, "Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ..." and highlight that. That's one of the first purposes, and the word "reconciled" means to be restored back into the friendship of.
So we are going to become friends again with Jesus Christ through this allegory. It's going to help show us how we can always be his friend, no matter where we are on the road of life, or what we've done, we can always come back to him.
Now let's turn to Jacob chapter six and look at verse four. Here's another reason for this allegory. And Marcos, we read that for us?
"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God."
Go back to the very beginning of that verse where it says that God is merciful, but why is he merciful? What does he do right there?
He remembers the house of Israel.
Yeah, he remembers us. And the point of the allegory is for us to be reminded that he will remember us always. And I just think it's beautiful how Jacob is going to set this up and teach us, "Here's this allegory you're going to need and the whole purpose is to help remind us of our relationship with Jesus Christ."
Now the allegory is attributed to a man by the name of Zenos, and that seems like kind of an odd name right?
Who the heck is Zenos?
Perfect question, Becky Farley. So here's some fun facts about Zenos. So he is a Hebrew prophet in Israel in the Old Testament. And it's interesting because his prophecies of Christ's mission are only found in the Book of Mormon, though, and his writings appeared on the brass plates. Those are the brass plates that Nephi went back to get. The brass plates were Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. So his writings were included in that and that's how we have this allegory.
What's neat, is that you'll also find an allegory similar to this in the book of Romans, in Romans chapter 11. And so we can see that if God's word is the same, it would be the same always here, New Testament, he uses this allegory of the olive tree as a symbol for his people and what he's going to do with us.
So let's look at that olive tree. It's a symbol. Now this is not a new concept. All throughout Scripture symbols are super important. So I'm going to give you guys kind of a pop quiz. I'm going to give you the symbol and I want you to tell me what it means. So here we go.
I don't know if I like pop quizzes.
If I give you the symbol of a skull, what do you think of?
Sure, pirate. Very good.
Oh I was gonna say heavy metal.
Heavy Metal. I thought of poison. Skull and crossbones. What about the symbol of a deer on a sign and you're driving down the road and you see a deer on a sign.
That there's deer in the area.
Excellent. What if I showed you a picture of a Coke can?
I'm gonna give it to you, Tam.
Right? Because it means happiness. Okay. That's my own. Now, in this allegory of the olive tree, there are 15 symbols that we're going to talk about.
You know what, I think we have to read this quote, I think it's beautifully written about the power of symbols. Becky Farley, will you please read that quote that says "symbols."
“Symbols are the timeless and universal language in which God, in his wisdom, has chosen to teach his gospel and bear witness of his Son. They are the language of the scriptures, the language of revelation, the language of the Spirit, the language of faith. They are a language common to the Saints of all generations. Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and ordinances of salvation have been revealed. They are a means whereby we enrich, deepen, and enhance understanding and expression. They enable us to give visual and conceptual form to ideas and feelings that may otherwise defy the power of words. Symbols take us beyond the language of words, granting us an eloquence in the expression of feelings. (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, Bookcraft 1985, p ix.)"
So that was Joseph Fielding McConkie, and he wrote it from the book Gospel Symbolism.
Thank you. It's a great book by the way. This is your language, though.
Yeah, I love the symbols. I mean, even with this allegory, when I was reading it at home I was thinking how powerful that symbol of a tree is.
So you guys ready to do this then? We're going to tackle all the symbols in this allegory, so we can understand what we're talking about. So we'll do that in the next segment.
Segment 2 11:02
For this next segment, I have a picture of an olive tree that I brought. For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, we had a lesson when we studied first Nephi, Chapter 10. And we talked about an olive tree and I told you to look up the picture and find it. We're going to do that again.
You need to have a picture of the olive tree in order to understand this. So Google it, look it up. Make sure you study this Jacob chapter five with a picture. So I brought a picture for you guys, there is your olive tree miniatures, you can have it close to you. I want you to just kind of look at that. And as you're looking at it, what are some words that pop into your head? Or what are some thoughts you have about this tree?
Looks like something that's in the desert, growing in the desert.
If it is in the desert Marcos, what are you surprised by then?
How green it is and how green the shrubbery is in the background.
I was too when I saw that picture. And it seems messy to me.
Oh, I like that, old. Let's go to Jacob chapter five verse three, and Marcos will you please read verse three for us.
"For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay."
Okay, so the first thing it tells us, he is likening the house of Israel to what?
An olive tree.
Yeah, a tame olive tree. I'm going to go full blown seminary teacher mode on you because we're going to talk about an olive tree, and all of the symbolism of this tree and what is so cool and I brought a little visual aid. I'll take a picture of it and put it in the show notes because I think it's worth everybody seeing.
So the first thing you need to know is some ancient sources cite that the tree of life in the Garden of Eden was an olive tree. So I think that's really interesting. The other thing is the olive tree is the very first tree mentioned in the Bible. So after the earth had been flooded, and Noah and his family were on the ark, he sent the dove out. And what did the dove bring back?
Oh, an olive branch.
Yeah, an olive branch.
I haven't even thought of that. That's true.
And I don't know if this is absolutely true, but one way I like to think about that is that the dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Ghost, right, the earth had been baptized by water, cleansed, and then we have the symbol of the Holy Ghost, which is the dove. And in its beak is an olive branch, symbolizing that a branch of the house of Israel had been preserved, that God hadn't forgotten his people. He's like, "You know what, we're going to start over." And I just love the beauty of that.
That's so beautiful. I really like that a ton. I mean, I'm even thinking about like when Christ got baptized, and the dove and the spirit, and there's such a pattern and that you can see it that God does remember us.
And that's what this tree is supposed to do for us. When we read this. We'll go, "Oh, look, he remembered us here, and here, and here." I'll show you all the times he remembers us in this allegory.
So so cool, and also how much the olive tree plays a part in Christ's life.
Okay, let's go there.
Now that's great you said that. So here's something neat. The olive tree is a very valuable tree to people in the Old Testament time. In ancient Israel, where Zenos lived, the olives were used for many things. The oil was used for the tabernacle, cooking, medicine, fuel for lamp and soap. So olive oil was super-duper important. And the olive trees required so much care and labor to produce good fruit. I mean, you couldn't just plant it and walk away. I mean I guess you could, but it would turn into a big mangled mess. So in order for it to be successful, it required a lot of care.
Well yeah because doesn't it say that he's gonna liken it to a "tame" olive tree. So there's gotta be a difference between a wild.
Right! He has really worked hard on this tree to keep it nice and tame and at some point, it's going to get wild, and we'll find out why. Okay, this other neat thing, you can't destroy an olive tree. Even if you chop the olive tree down, it can still produce shoots or little branches. There's a really cool quote by Hugh Nibley. And he's a religious scholar and this is what he said about destroying olive trees.
He says, "The new shoots do come right out of the trunk. The olive is indeed the most plastic of trees, surpassing even the willow in its power to survive the most drastic whacking and burning or flood (the dove brought it first) After a city had been destroyed, the one thing that would survive would be the olive trees. They could start life again as long as the olive was there. (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon vol.1, Deseret Book, 1993, p.398)"
So the olive tree has always been a symbol of God's covenant people, and can God's covenant people be destroyed?
No. God's covenant people take extra care, and he's going to care for those people. Right? So when you look at the olive tree, the fruit of the olive tree is the olive. So tell me what you know about olives. Other than that, they're delicious, because I love those.
Okay, well, I think the process is kind of hard. For some reason, that's when I'm thinking, like to pick them they have to sit or something like that. I don't know if that's true.
And I learned you can't eat an olive off a tree.
Right, yeah, that's what I mean. It's not like going and picking an apple or an orange. Like there's a process to getting them to the point that you can eat them.
I didn't know you couldn't eat them off a tree. I thought you could like a peach or a nectarine or something.
Oh in brine?
You know, Marcos, I did too. And when I was reading for this, and I learned that like in order to eat it, you have to put it in brine for a long time to soften it up.
Yeah, isn't that interesting?
Oh, like a pickle.
Yes. So think about that. You can't just pick it and eat it. It takes a lot of work. But in order to get the oil from it then, this is cool, so when you think about the beautiful symbolism of this olive, you have the fruit of the tree, and then you have an olive press that you have to get the oil from. And so you're going to put the olives in this olive press with a huge stone, and you're going to smash these olives down. So you grind grind, grind these olives and you've round them down to a pulp. You take that pulp, you put it in a basket, and now you're going to press it as hard as you can until oil starts to ooze out, and the oil was pressed three times.
This is a neat thing. Where was Jesus Christ? Where did he atone for our sins? What's the garden called? The Garden of...?
Now this is kind of neat because the Hebrew word for Gethsemane is "gath shemen" and "gath" means wine press, and "shemen" means oil.
I didn't know that.
I know. The Savior, atoned for our sins in a place where it was an oil press. Now, olives are pressed three times. The very first pressing that comes out, the oil that they use, is this oil right here that I have. And I have it in a little vial. And you guys what color's the oil?
It looks like blood. I mean, you have, I don't know what color the olives were.
And it looks like blood in the vial, doesn't it? When somebody gave it to me, it was my Hebrew teacher, and I was like, "Why are you giving me a vial of blood? This is gross." And she's like, "It's the first press. It's the first oil that comes from the olive." And there's a great talk by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, where he explains this process and he says in his talk, "The first press comes out blood red." And what they would do with that first press is it was the purest, best quality of oil and it was taken right to the temple in Jerusalem where they would use it in the tabernacle.
Then they pressed it again. And all the oil that came out in the second press was good quality, and they use that for food, medicine, perfume, and cosmetics. And then after they got that oil, they did a last press. This was not good oil. No one wants the last press and so they use this bad quality for oil lamps and for making soap. Can we tie a connection between Christ and us and this tree?
I feel like as he is in the garden, he's being pressed for all of us, that it's us that he's being pressed for. So my question is then, what does the tree represent? I mean, does the tree represent us or does the tree represent Christ? Or how does that all work?
It's a great question. So the tree represents the house of Israel, and we are a part of that. It represents the Abrahamic covenant, everything we're promised. And then it grows, and then all this fruit grows on these branches and the fruits are us, our works, everything we do good or bad, it doesn't matter.
So we're the olives?
We're the olives, and then Christ is the press, and he takes all the olives and he presses all of them, good or bad. He'll press all of those olives so that the oil then becomes you can see it's red.
I didn't understand that that was us, that the olives were us. I mean, then there's all of the pruning and the digging and the burning and that all of that is necessary for us to be able to be pressed by Christ.
Let's get into what those words mean then, and let's find out how they bring us to Christ. We'll do that in the next segment.
Segment 3 19:46
We're gonna go through Institute style, and I'm going to give you the symbols. These are the symbols in the allegory of the olive tree, and you just can't study this without knowing what these things mean. There's just no way. And once you understand this, you go, "Okay, I get it." At least that's how I felt.
So let's go through what these symbols mean. Let's go ahead and start by reading Jacob chapter five, verse three, and we'll go Becky, you read it this time.
"For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay."
All right, right next to the word house of Israel, you need to know that means "us." And we've done this in our past podcast, but it's always worth mentioning because you have a guy named Abraham in the Old Testament and he had a son named Isaac that he was told to sacrifice and then he didn't have to. Then Isaac had a son named Jacob and Jacob's name has changed to "Israel" in the book of Genesis.
Then Jacob has 12 sons and they are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. And through Joseph is Ephraim and Manasseh, and that is the house of Israel. And when you become a member of the church, and when you become baptized, you're adopted into that house of Israel. And so every time you read house of Israel, it means Becky Farley, it means Marcos. It means everyone who has been baptized in the covenant members of the church, you get all the blessings and promises promised to Abraham, which my favorite acronym for that is "LDS." You get "land, deliverance, and seed" and there's so many deep symbols into that. You get to create worlds without number, your deliverance from Satan, and the seed means to have worlds without number with posterity and children just like God has with us.
So that's the first thing on your list. So you're going to put "us." Okay, the next thing is in this verse right here, we have a vineyard. Now mark the word "vineyard" because every time you read about a vineyard in Scripture, it means the "world." So just put right next to it "the world.”
The next one we have in the verse, verse three, at the end, it says, "...it began to wax old and decay," wax old means "grow old." But the word "decay" here, if you look down at the footnote for the letter "D," it means "apostasy." So this means that the people who belong to the house of Israel are starting to leave the church. They're starting to disbelieve in all of the things they've been taught. So they're apostatizing and leaving what they had -- the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's read verse four. Marcos, will you read that for us?
Yes, I can.
"And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not."
Thank you. So the master of the vineyard is Jesus Christ and he's coming into the world. Okay, we're going to kind of tell the story this way. And he's going to prune and dig and nourish. Those words right there are describing the Lord's efforts to help the house of Israel receive the blessings of salvation. So it's the Lord working on this tree to make it live, to keep it alive, we're going to save this tree so that it can come back and live with me again. That's his work.
But I don't think that prune and dig and nourish is comfortable. I don't think it's comfortable, you know, because it's, it's weird. It's different. And it means changing and moving and switching, and I just think that there's such a symbolism in that for me. That when God is pruning my life when he's digging about when he's, you know, getting rid of the old, I just think it's not super comfortable.
So Marcos, you mentioned earlier that you are a convert to the Church and you've been a member for four years, and as she was explaining how being pruned and digged and nourished is uncomfortable or hard, do those words resonate with you?
They do. I was lost for a long time. I was lost for most of my life. I've been sober for 20 years, I've been clean for 19 years. And, you know, the missionaries would come around and didn't want to hear anything they had to say to me, they were young kids, I figured they can't teach me anything. And then the senior missionaries came by and they were older than me, and I figured I'd better listen to them because they have a little more life than I have had.
And looking back, the young missionaries did have something to teach me. I just didn't see it then. And it was the gospel and the Church and Jesus and atonement and then I saw my children and how they enjoyed going to Sacrament meeting and I joined them but I wasn't a member, and they should have to drag me into church.
And so you know, I always believed in Jesus and our Heavenly Father because we did have religion in our life, but when I came to church, it's more welcoming. And there was you know, I wasn't, I didn't feel threatened or anything I felt that he was welcoming me home. And I feel I'm where I need to be where I mean, he could have abandoned me a long time ago with the things that I've done, but he didn't. He was waiting for me. And I'd never imagined me being where I am today ever.
Neither did the rest of us, Marcos. For a long time.
You knew him that whole time. For a lot of it didn't you?
I mean, I'm just thinking about... Marcos had been pruned and digged about his whole life. I mean, we like to call him "nine-lives Marcos" because it feels like that's what he's lived.
Yeah, not getting off the subject, or anything, but I'm an ex-gang-banger. And I was abused by my dad for a long time physically abused, and always prayed and I didn't pray for myself. It was like when we were going into somebody else's gang turf, I'd pray for my brother and my cousin's because we were all in the same gang that they would be safe and I could protect them. I never asked for anything for myself, it was always for someone else, and so he's always been there for me. And I didn't know it was called the atonement, I always just knew, you know, the way the Catholics say that he died on the cross for us, you know, but then I had to learn what the atonement meant. I didn't know and I always heard the word and I'm like, "What does that mean?" You know, and now I do know and so way different.
Thank you. You know Marcos, you're gonna love this though. In Hebrew, the word for atonement is "kaphar," and I actually use a gang member example when I teach it sometimes because the word "kaphar" in Hebrew means "to cover." When I think of all the ways you can cover, I would say, "Okay, let's pretend you're on the street and you're with a buddy and someone's going to shoot you. What do you say? You're like, "Cover me, cover my back." Or another example is, "Can you cover me because I can't afford this." That's usually mine, or the example of covering you like a blanket to keep you warm. But it's kind of cool because that's how the Savior covers you, he has your back all the time. And he's always had your back, which is so cool. I mean, your life is a beautiful example of the Savior having your back. Your kaphar in person right here. It's so cool.
Yeah, thank you. I feel the same way. He's always been there for me. Always, my whole life.
The neat thing about this next segment is we're going to take your story, and all of our stories that have to do with this, and we're going to see it in action in this allegory as we discover the rest of the symbols and how it'll apply to us. So let's talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 4 28:00
We're gonna pick up where we left off. Let's go to Jacob chapter five, verse seven. Becky Farley, will you please read verse seven because we've got some fun words in here.
"And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard saw it, and he said unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, go and pluck the branches from a wild olive tree, and bring them hither unto me; and we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned."
Okay, go back to the top of verse seven, highlight the word servant, and that means "the Prophet." So let's put in some new words, "And it came to pass that Jesus Christ saw the tree and he said unto his prophet, ". . . it grieveth with me that I should lose this tree." Well, of course, he's so sad. He's been nourishing and pruning and digging about it. He doesn't want to lose this olive tree. So he says, "Go and pluck branches from a wild olive tree," like go somewhere else in the vineyard and you're going to cut some branches off of that wild olive tree.
Now the wild olive tree means "Gentiles" or anyone who has not made a covenant with Jesus Christ, go pluck Marcos off of that tree. That's it because we need him with us. So he's saying, "Go find someone who hasn't joined the church yet, or a non-Israelite, pluck it off, bring it back." So that's what he does. That's what the wild olive tree is, anyone who hasn't joined the church or who is not an Israelite.
Now let's look at verse eight because we're going to learn something in verse eight. So Becky, will you continue to read verse eight.
"And behold, saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself; wherefore, I will take these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will."
The grafting of a wild olive branch into a tame olive tree represents the conversion of those who become part of the Lord's covenant people. So, Marcos, you were grafted into that tree when you were baptized.
I would say I was. My life changed that day.
I love this definition that I found. It talks about when you graft or insert a branch from one tree into a different tree, which is so unique because I didn't really know you could do that but you actually can. You slice the original tree, you take the branch you took from the other tree, and you put it into that slice and then you wrap it and nourish it with like, pulp and mud, all sorts of things so that it will take root and hold into that. And the neat thing is is that is what is known as the process of a spiritual rebirth. When someone joins the covenant, when someone's baptized, they are spiritually reborn. Would you say that is the case?
I definitely was spiritually reborn. And you were saying about grafting, my dad used to graft trees in our yard and so I knew what that was.
Did I get it right? You could probably correct me.
You did, but he was doing like lemons and limes and just different... avocado from another avocado, you know, just to get better fruit and stuff. Yeah.
So you've seen it in action? And you are it. Oh, that's so cool. Oh, I really like that. All right, let's do this. In verse eight, it also talks about the fruit and roots. There's a couple things. So in verse eight, we have roots. The roots are the individuals with whom the Lord has covenanted with anciently. So the roots are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that we talked about at the beginning who make up the house of Israel, the old generation, the roots you know.
That was one of my questions too Tam.
Does that make sense that's who it is?
We're the roots, yeah.
Okay, and we'll have a scripture reference in there for show notes with it, but it represents those who will follow him. Then you have the fruit, and we've talked about this, the fruit in that tree and these are the lives of the works of the people. The natural or the tame fruit from the original tree represents the righteous works. And then you have these wild fruit that comes in and represents unrighteous works. We're grafting someone in who's wild, but guess what, we're going to make it tame. It's not going to ruin the tree. Oh I like that!
That's such a cool concept to me too, that the wild fruit isn't forgotten. It's just changed. It's just totally changed. It's not bad, it's not like, "Oh, we're just gonna chuck this wild fruit. No, we're gonna make it better. We're going to change it."
And the thought like, "But what if it ruins the tree?" And it won't.
It won't ruin the tree, no.
Marcos with your experience it's neat because you were wild, you had a wildlife.
Yes, to say the least, yes.
But what's cool is that we take this wild branch and we put it in the tree, but it didn't change the branch. Like there's still that wild, but that God uses that.
I can only speak from my experiences. I didn't grow up in the church, so I listen to other people speaking and I'm thinking, "Okay, you grew up in the church and so this is what you know, where my experiences are from the street, from my life, from everything I've experienced." And so that's what I talk about because it's who I am or who I was.
So Marcos like, I mean, what I'm hearing you're saying is that like your wild fruit, it's still there, like all of those experiences turned for your good.
Yes. You know, I looked at my children and I'm just so thankful that they don't have to live or experience what I went through, and I do tell them and and say you're so blessed that you don't have to live like I did or what I experienced or what I have seen. And now you see your "Pappy" in a different way, you know, because you wouldn't have known me then.
So let's go to our last symbol then. Let's go to verse 13, and we are at Marcos, will you please read verse 13.
"And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever 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 up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof."
Okay in that verse mark the word "nethermost." The nethermost part is the furthest out. It's the farthest away, and so the example of this would be America, and then it would be the lost 10 tribes. it would be anybody, anybody who's not in Israel. And so he's saying, "You know what, I tried to teach all the people in Israel when I was alive, and they wouldn't listen, and so now we're going to teach the Gentiles and we're going to go out to everybody and let them come be a part of the tree."
So that's what the "nethermost" part means. There's no part he will forget. There's no part that he has missed. What does he say will happen to him if he loses the tree? How will it make him feel, it'll what..?
Oh he's gonna "grieveth." He's gonna grieve.
Grieve is a very... it's a deep word in our family too as we've grieved, and as I've watched my daughters grieve the loss of their mom. It's heavy. Like it's not just he'll be sad. I mean, it feels like grief is a physical, it's more than just crying. It stays with you and it never goes away. That's the thing about grieving is that it grieves him when he loses one of us. It's personal. It's, you don't just get over it.
He's always there.
Every one of those little olives.
Every one of us. Absolutely. Understanding these symbols that we've just talked about, how do you feel now about the allegory?
It's so cool. I love it.
Yes, I do, too.
I mean, Marcos, when you came in, what was your understanding of the allegory?
So now do you feel like you could teach it?
Yes, I do. I do. I can teach it in my primary class.
And to teach it from your perspective, can I come to your class?
Well, I will use myself as an example.
It's gonna be perfect. It'll be excellent.
So understanding these symbols now has really given us an appreciation and a love for this allegory. And this is kind of cool, I read that Parley P. Pratt loved this allegory so much, he quoted it. He quoted Jacob chapter five more than any other Latter Day Saint speaker ever did. And so I'm like, "Maybe I will too now."
Taking it into this context of what we've learned today with it, it's so powerful. So in the next segment, we're going to then see the application of this allegory and where we fit into it in our day and age.
Segment 5 36:22
I think it'd be fun to start out with this quote, this is by WW Phelps and he said this about the allegory.
"One of the greatest figures, one of the plainest parables, and sublimest prophecies, that we know of, is found in the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. It is as simple as the accents of a child, and as sublime as the language of an angel. (The Evening and the Morning Star was known simply as the Star in the early years. The Quotation is from Star 1 (September 1832):."
Let's see if we can do that then. Let's see if we can live up to that quote in this next part that we're going to talk about because in Jacob chapter five, there are four specific visits that the Lord makes to the vineyard, and each visit is a specific time in history. How cool is that?
So if you have your scriptures, I'm going to tell you where to start and bracket off the different times. And if you don't, you're gonna want to write these down on a piece of paper or on the backside of the handout, however you're studying this, so that you can have the timeline, and this will also be in our show notes.
Okay, the first timeline starts in Jacob chapter five, verse three, and it's verse three through verse 14.
14 verses is our very first visit that Jesus Christ makes to the vineyard. So mark those verses, you're gonna put a number one by that first visit. This represents the time period which is "B.C." the time before Christ is born. And a family that would be during this time is Lehi and his family, and it's kind of cool because in verses eight and then verses 13 through 14, those verses kind of describe Lehi and Nephi and all of his people.
So that is B.C. that's what you need to know for that visit. Okay, the second visit that he makes are found in verses 15. So mark 15 through 28, put a number two next to that somewhere on your page. And this visit is called "Christ's Ministry." So this is when Jesus Christ was on the Earth.
If you read all of those verses, it will make sense, you can see Christ's ministry throughout these verses, as well as the people that he works with. So we don't have time to read all those verses, but keep that in mind as you're reading verses 15 through 28, that this is Christ's ministry and what that looks like and find Christ in those verses.
The third visit that we have is found in verses 29 through 49. So mark 29 through 49, and put a number three, and this time period is the Great Apostasy, so that is in Jacob chapter five again, verses 29 through 49. And we call this time period, "The Great Apostasy." This is after Christ has been crucified, as well as the apostles, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer really on the Earth, and we have kind of the dark ages, all these different periods where people are leaning on their own knowledge and trying to find truth.
So let me give you an example of how this is of the apostasy period. Let's read verse 30. Marcos, will you read verse 30 for us.
"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard and the servant went down into the vineyard; and they came to the tree whose natural branches had been broken off, and the wild branches had been grafted in; and behold all sorts of fruit did cumber the tree."
That's a fun one. Mark "all sorts." That means the period of Apostasy when everyone had their own ideas and beliefs about religion and who God was. Can you see the apostasy in that verse?
I mean, I'm just picturing this tree having all different kinds of olives and nothing really is making sense that it's all kind of messed up. It's all wild.
And this is the period right before the restoration, which is so cool.
Well, and that word "cumber."
"All sorts of fruit did cumber the tree," because the truth was super hard to figure out. That it was confusing.
Yeah. Let's go ahead now and we're going to mark the last visit. The fourth visit is verses 50 through 76. This visit represents the restoration. And the Lord says, "We're going to do this this last time," like he'll use the word "last time." "This is the last time we're going to come." It's kind of neat when you think about these different visits because there is a visit in here that has not yet happened, and we're awaiting that visit, and you can actually mark this visit number "five" if you wanted to. And it's verses 76 and 77.
What did you call it again Tam?
It's the millennium visit. So Jacob chapter five verses 76 through 77, two verses, and let's just read these two. Becky Farley will you read those two.
Yes, I will.
"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. 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."
What did you see when you read those?
Well, I just saw when it's all said and done and the Earth being burned, and I don't know if this is true, but I heard that then it will be like clear, like a clear glass, right because of the fire.
Well, in article of faith number 10, "The earth will be renewed and receive it's paradisaical glory."
That might have been where I heard it. I just think that at that point that fire, you know, the pruning, the digging, the dunging, the all of it, and now the fire will clarify everything, and we'll have complete understanding and wisdom and love.
What about you Marcos? Look at verse 77 again, what do you see when you hear "the time cometh when the evil fruit will gather and will have the bad fruit and the good fruit gathered together and the good he will preserve and the bad he will cast away?"
Hopefully I'm not part of that bad fruit.
Yeah, you won't be.
The only part I didn't understand was the "season" and then "cometh the season."
Oh, yeah. In 76?
"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."
That's a great question. He's talking about that the season and the time to repent is over. So the Millennium has been finished, which will last 1000 years. It's referred to as a season, a short season to repent and prepare for judgment day, is what it's talking about. A great cross reference to those two verses, I would put Revelation chapter 12 and then chapter 20.
So next to that verse, I have revelation 12, and then Revelation chapter 20. In Revelation chapter 12, and chapter 20, there will be one great big last war, where Satan will be loosed, he will be allowed to come and try to tempt everyone who had lived throughout the Millennium of peace, and there will be one final war and it will be Satan and all of his armies, and Adam and all of his, and it will be the last war and it's cool how the Lord ends it.
In the book of Revelation, he says, "He will rain fire down from the sky, and that Satan and all of his armies will be surrounding Christ and all of his people will be outnumbered, and fire will come down and consume the wicked, and then will begin Judgment Day." It's so powerful. And that's what he's talking about in these verses when he says, "...and it will be burned with fire," like end, done, everyone's had so many chances to repent.
And remember, we're still repenting, and even people in the spirit world, no one's been cut off. We've talked a lot about that. And so this really is the Lord saying, "This is my last time. This is it. Take advantage. Repent." And those are the visits. That's the allegory of the olive tree.
So cool. I really feel like it is sublime and beautiful when you understand the symbols. Let's read in Jacob chapter six, verses three, four, and five, because this sums up the allegory. Marcos, can you read those three verses?
"And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard; and how cursed are they who shall be cast out into their own place! And the world shall be burned with fire."
"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God."
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts."
When I read that I loved how he's saying, "Be diligent, remember that God will always stretch his arm out for you, and cleave unto Him." And that's what Jacob's saying to these people, "I gave you this allegory and remember it, and cleave unto him." And he's setting this up because now he's going to tell us a story about someone who didn't cleave, and what that looked like, and how quick they were to forget.
And so in the next segment, we're going to tell the story of Sherem and how when you do forget, the consequences of that are pretty catastrophic.
Segment 6 46:05
Jacob chapter seven. This is a good story about a guy named Sherem. Very good story.
I work with a guy, his name is not Sherem, but he doesn't believe in anything. He said today he went to a funeral and he comes back and he goes, "It was just a dead body. They're just laying there in a sleep state forever." I said, "No, it's not true. You know, you say, there's nothing out there. You don't believe in anything. What I'm telling you, you're gonna believe, one day you will believe. He goes, "Well how do you know?" I said, "Okay. It's like the wind."
He goes, "How do you know there's a God? How do you know about Jesus?" I said, "It's like the wind. How do you know the wind's there?" He goes, "Well, I feel it." I said, "Exactly, and that's what I feel." So you know it's out there, you don't see it, but you know it's there.
Wow. That's awesome. You're Jacob with this guy. This is your story. Okay. This is very cool.
All right, so we're going to tell the story, everyone gather around the fireplace. Here we go. Once upon a time, I love telling stories, once upon a time, there's a guy named Jacob and a guy named Sherem and Sherem was "Bad News Bears." I mean, this guy, his whole goal was to make sure that he taught people in fact, Jacob chapter seven, verse two says he would try to teach people that there was no Christ. That's all he cared about. And look at verse three, How hard did he work?
I find that interesting that he's using the words that it's "labored diligently" because you really hear that in the Church a lot, that we labor diligently in order to do our missionary work, and do our ministering and all of that, we're laboring diligently, but in this point, he's the opposite, laboring diligently to bring souls away from Christ.
Yeah. Oh, I like that, Becky. That's a very good insight. And in that verse, how many people is he converting or trying to convert?
Yeah, now I like the verse four because how did he do it? Why was he so successful?
He was learned.
Read that verse for us.
"And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil."
He knew how to talk to people. He knew their language they use and how to, like they said, flatter them.
Don't we love to be flattered.
President Hinckley is known for saying, "Adulation is poison." I would think of that all the time when I would teach seminary when people would say, "You're such a good seminary teacher." And inside I'm like, "I know. I know." But then I would think of that "adulation is poison." Because would you agree, Satan absolutely knows how to speak our language.
Well, interestingly, I was listening to something about how Satan wants us to have a label. He wants to put us in a category, and there's really only one category that God puts us in and that is his child. But Satan wants us to say, "Oh, I'm a good seminary teacher. Oh, I'm a good cook, or oh I have mean nun-chuck skills."
You know, whatever it is. I mean, I think that he wants us to have that label...
So we identify as something other than a Child of God. That's what Sherem's doing.
Yes, that's what I think too. That's what I thought. When I read that I thought when he's flattering them. he's saying, "Oh, don't you have such a pretty dress? And aren't you such a great interior decorator and aren't you just such a great blogger? Or great podcaster or whatever." No offense to you Tam because you really are but you know.
None taken. Adulation is poison.
It is. Just a child of God, Tam. That's all.
So Jacob and Sherem are going to meet and they're going to talk and in Jacob chapter seven, verse five it's interesting because he says, "And he had a hope to shake me from the faith." That's not going to happen. Jacob's not going to be shaken from the faith. And now we get to read the conversation between Jacob and Sherem, and it is found in Jacob chapter seven verses six and seven.
Becky, will you read that for us.
"And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ."
"And ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me."
The word "blasphemy" stuck out to me because when I read this verse and then I read what Hugh Nibley said about blasphemy, it's kind of interesting because we hear "blasphemy" and we think, "Oh heretic, you're saying all sorts of horrible things." But the actual context of this word just means "treat lightly." So he's like, "And you're just treating these things lightly." Like he's not calling him out on doing anything really bad... "Brother Jacob," putting his arm on his shoulder.
He's had many follow him so he knows how to talk, and this is what he's trying to do to Jacob.
Yeah. It's the ultimate talk. Right? And then I love how Jacob just comes right at him, and I want you to be Jacob, Marcos, read verse eight and nine.
"But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words."
"And I said unto him: Deniest thou the Christ who shall come? And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be."
Thank you. And then he talks to him in such simple, plain terms. And Sherem's not going to believe it, and finally Sherem gets to the point in verse 13. And he says, "Well, okay, I'll believe you if you show me a sign," and that's dangerous, that's dangerous.
You don't ever want to ask God for a sign, and it's interesting in verse 14, Jacob's, basically like, "Oh, Lord, let thy will be done. Not mine," like whatever you want to happen. And then here's what happens in verse 15. Oh, it's so good. Can I read verse 15 because I really like it.
Uh yeah, you can.
Okay, thank you.
"And it came to pass that when I, Jacob, had spoken these words, the power of the Lord came upon him, insomuch that he fell to the earth. And it came to pass that he was nourished for the space of many days."
And he lays there and he says, "Gather everyone around me who's followed me." Like now he's gonna just leave his parting dying words. Basically sum it up, what do you remember happens?
He was deceived by the power of the devil. You know and he's telling these people, "I'm dying here, you know, I do believe, and the scriptures are true, and you know what he says is true, and I misled you."
And then he dies.
And then dies, gives up the ghost. Absolutely. So in Jacob chapter seven verse 22, I like Jacob's words. "Now this thing was pleasing unto me."
Well, it's unfortunate, but you know, we learned our lesson. And then he describes the conditions of the people. Becky, will you read verse 23.
"And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man."
And then Jacob, he speaks to us, but what's really cool about his last final words to us as he's speaking, and before he passes the plates to his son, Enos, is... let's just read verse 27, and Marcus, will you read that for us?
"And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu."
I love that last word.
Yeah, tell me about that because isn't "adieu" like a French word?
It is. It's totally French.
So how did that happen?
Right? How was a French word in the Book of Mormon? Okay, this is really cool. And that's why I love this so much. The word "adieu" is from an old French word, and it means a "commendation to the care of God." Basically, "go in peace, go with God."
What's neat, is there's another Hebrew word similar to "adieu" and that word in Hebrew is "Lehitra’ot" and that is a fair Well or a blessing. So he could have ended with a Hebrew word too. And this is kind of a cool thing because when you think about the Book of Mormon, it's interesting to think people who criticize the Book of Mormon criticize that word. And I wonder would it be so unreasonable to think for just a moment to say to these critics that none of the words contained in the English translation of the book of Jacob are actually used by Jacob himself, like these words come from the English language, which didn't even come into existence until way after Jacob's time.
So Joseph Smith was inspired to use the best word to end this that would tie in the meaning and emotion of Jacob's Farewell, right? He wouldn't have used these words. These words all come from the English language, which did not come into existence until long after Jacob's time. And I can't wait to learn what word Jacob actually used right there.
But in the translation, rather than saying "goodbye," which wouldn't have meant go with God, or if he had said "over and out, 10-4," you think of all the different ways he could have ended it. Even "adios" in my knowledge of Spanish, I know "adios" means Goodbye, but I don't know you could say "vaya con dios," which would have meant "go with God."
Yes, well "adios."
Yeah, it's to God.
Yeah, he could have used anything, and here this beautiful word, just a commendation to God, "I commend you to God. Farewell. I'll see you on the other side."
Well Tam, adieu.
And now I adieu you too.
And adieu, but I don't want to say "adieu" because I have loved today's discussion so much. And I can see why Heavenly Father, definitely put your names in my mind for this because it's been such a cool day, especially to study the allegory. I had no idea. I never anticipated that we would have studied the allegory the way we did, and we couldn't have done it without you, Marcos.
Thank you for asking me to join you.
That was pretty incredible.
"Nine lives Marcos."
I want you to think back now through all that we've studied today, and just take a minute and gather your thoughts and tell me what was your takeaway? What did you learn today that you didn't know before you came.
My takeaway is that pruning and dunging and digging, and the fire and all of that is not bad. I mean, you know, I've studied a lot of mindfulness and self-compassion and I feel like all of that stuff is meant to bring us to a better place. It's meant to bring us to God in the end.
I love when you pointed that out.
I was just thinking that same thing that you were just talking about, on Jacob, chapter five, verses four and five, where it said, "I will prune it and dig it about and nourish it." And that's me, and that's a lot of people I know. And that's what I took from it is that this is for me.
Maybe all of us.
My takeaway was studying Sherem, and just as we talked about it, recognizing when we talked about how what you guys pointed out to me was so powerful in that, you know, Satan speaks in our language and in our understanding and that the labor diligently, I mean, he is laboring diligently, he knows his days are numbered.
I like the quote that "Satan isn't Satan because he's good, Satan's Satan because he's old." He's been doing this forever, and he is good at trying to make us as miserable as he is. And Sherem did that and so that was my, "Aha," Like, "Yeah, he is doing that ugh."
Oh, I have one more Tam.
Can I do one more?
I think the identity thing that Satan is trying to get us to have a different identity than just a child of God.
Okay yeah. And it makes me think what the identity was that he hooked Sherem with. If Sherem was a learned man, and smart, if that's where it started for him.
That's interesting. I like that.
Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you both so much. I've loved today. This is been great. I love the takeaways.
And for those of you listening, I want to know what your takeaway was. I'm dying to hear what it is that you learned this week as you studied the scriptures. Something cool about this podcast is on our Instagram feed, as well as Facebook, every Sunday, we do a post that says, "Tell us what your takeaway was." And I read all of them, and I like them, and I'll even comment on them because it's just fun to hear and read what it is that you're learning from the scriptures.
If you don't know how to get to our Facebook or Instagram, you can go to LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Also, you can find our show notes as well as an entire transcript of this discussion, so I would recommend going and checking it out. It's really fun.
The Sunday on Monday study group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDSLiving. It's written by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were Becky Farley and Marcos Orozcos, and you can find more information about these ladies at...
It's from the old one. Sorry, it's an old one hahaha.
I didn't even catch that. Okay, here we go.
And you can find... he's all dude, that's hilarious. You can find more information about my guests at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by KaRyn Lay with post production and editing by Katie Lambert. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here and we'll see you next week, and remember, you are God's favorite.