How God is Working in Our Day – Wrapping Up Jacob 5

Olives Growing On a Branch
Photo by Julia Sakelli from Pexels

Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but Jacob 5 is one of my all-time favorite chapters in The Book of Mormon. I’m a big fan of digging deep into stories and symbolism, so that’s a big reason as to why I love it.

But there are a few other reasons that I love this chapter. For example, I think this is one of the best chapters in all of scripture to help us all understand our personal relationship with God better. It demonstrates God’s love, efforts, and commitment to each of us – and shows His grief when we stray.

Every time I read Jacob 5, I come away with new insights, and I hope you’ve experienced that as well. This week, I had a thought to look at it differently than I have in the past, and I want to share what I learned with you.

The next few sections of this post will read differently than most of my blog posts because I’ve broken down what I’ve learned into an outline that I hope will help you learn a little more about Jacob 5 as Come, Follow Me wraps up the book of Jacob today.

My outline takes a look at Jacob 5 as though the whole allegory is representing our current times, or maybe starting back a couple of years from now, and then working forward to the millennium. You’ll see that toward the end of the outline, it starts to match up more with the traditional interpretation and symbolism.

And, like the traditional interpretation, I’ve broken the outline into the different visits of the Lord of the vineyard to the trees. However, I’ve divided the verses for the visits differently. The way I see it, visits 1-3 have already happened or are happening, 4 and so on are either starting or will happen in the future.

I learned a lot about how God is working with us now as I read Jacob 5 with this perspective, so I hope you take some time to look this over as well.

Pre-First Visit – Jacob 5:3

Before the allegory really begins, there’s this one verse to give a bit of background. And to help you see where this outline starts, here’s a bit of what would have happened up to this point.

Verse 3 talks about the tree being planted, growing, and beginning to decay. Traditionally, this is considered as the time before Christ came to the earth.

For this study, I chose to look at it as though it were the time that passed between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being restored through Joseph Smith up to modern times.

So this main tree represents the Church, and its being planted is the initial Restoration, the growth of the tree is the continued Restoration through missionary work, etc., and the decay of the tree is the increased influence of the world on the Church resulting in some leaving the Church, some struggling with doctrines, and so on.

That should be enough to put us on the same page. From here on out, I’ll use an outline format instead of paragraph formats unless something needs more explanation.

First Visit of the Lord to the Vineyard – Jacob 5:4-6

The Lord comes to the tree and sees it beginning to decay. He decides to nourish the tree.

Outline for This Section:

  1. God sees our generation.
  2. We are decaying because of things like:
    • Apathy
    • Tolerating or embracing sin
    • Immorality
    • Justification of sin, etc.
    • Pride
    • Excessive prosperity
    • Constant anger and fear
    • Lack of faith
    • “Wisdom” of the world
    • Division
    • Etc.
  3. God sees this decay and decides to nourish us by giving us things like:
    • A Church-wide emphasis on the Sacrament and Sabbath Day
    • Come, Follow Me program
    • Temple adjustments and constructions
    • Living prophets and apostles
    • Ministering
    • Different teaching styles (Teaching in the Savior’s Way)
    • Emphasis on the family and the Proclamation to the World
    • Missionary work and age change
    • Teachers, leaders, etc.
    • Continual teaching of His truth and gospel
    • Fulfilled blessings for obedience to eternal commandments
  4. Many days pass as nourishment is given.
  5. The main tree/Church is nourished and new growth begins.
  6. However, despite constant nourishment, parts of the main tree/Church still decay.

Second Visit of the Lord to the Vineyard – Jacob 5:7-14

The Lord sees the growth in the tree and decides to take the growing branches and graft them into other trees. He also takes branches from other trees and grafts them into the first tree.

Outline for This Section:

  1. God sees the mix of progress and decay in the main tree/Church.
  2. God places the progressing branches/people among those who need strength.
    • Some are placed in their home countries, communities, etc.
    • Others are placed throughout the world (missionaries and others).
  3. God also places new people in the Church in hopes of strengthening it.
  4. The completely decayed parts of the tree/Church are removed or leave.
    • This is so the progress of the rest can continue.
  5. Nourishment (listed above) continues without pause.

Third Visit of the Lord to the Vineyard – Jacob 5:15-28

The Lord visits the main tree as well as the other tree where He grafted in the main tree’s branches. He finds the trees doing well and, for the most part, giving good fruit.

Outline for This Section:

  1. More time passes and God visits each tree/part of the Church.
  2. Main tree = the originally established Church membership
    • Good fruit:
      • New people integrated into the Church
      • In a good place, has strength
      • Accepted nourishment
      • Gives glory to God
  3. First tree visited after the main tree = Growth of the Church in Faith
    • Good fruit:
      • A lot like the main tree
      • Has much “fruit” or good
      • But given a poor place to grow (our times, growth in the Church can be a challenge but it still happens)
  4. Second tree = Growth of the Church in especially challenging areas
    • Good fruit
      • Poorer spot than first tree
      • Still much good to God
  5. Last tree = Divide between those in the Church and those leaving it
    • Both good and bad fruit:
      • Has the best “ground,” the Church is a sure place of truth, but mixed results
      • Proposed removal of the wild/wicked branches
      • Instead, more nourishment is given

Fourth Visit of the Lord to the Vineyard – Jacob 5:29-54

The Lord again comes to each tree, but this time finds bad fruit on each tree. He grieves, knowing He’s done everything He can to help the trees.

Outline of This Section:

  1. More time passes. God states that the end is near so gathering must be completed soon.
  2. He visits the main tree.
    • All sorts of fruit, none of it good = all sorts of people who are not doing good things nor bringing fruit to God
    • Wasting His nourishment, no profit
    • God still gives another chance
      • There are good “roots” in the Church even when the individuals in the Church are struggling. Get back to basic truths.
      • The Church lacks purpose if it doesn’t change people toward good and away from evil.
  3. He visits the first tree.
    • Also corrupted.
  4. He visits the second tree.
    • Also corrupted.
  5. He visits the last tree.
    • The wild/wicked part overcame the good part.
    • The good part is dead, not wild.
    • Corrupted too.
  6. God weeps, knowing He’s done all He can so far to help us change and recover ourselves to Him, only to have us waste His efforts.
    • Result of pride and haughtiness, among other things
  7. Return all branches to their original places.
    • Return lost ones to the Church.
    • Strengthen the origins.

The Last Labor and Harvest – Jacob 5:55-77

Plans to return branches to their original trees are carried out. Nourishment of the trees continues. The Lord and His servants labor constantly for the vineyard. Good fruit returns to the vineyard. End of the vineyard is prophesied.

Outline of This Section:

  1. All branches are returned to their original trees
    • People return to their origins.
    • Wild branches = people not in the Church
    • Those that are most bitter and unwilling to change are cast off.
    • The rest are not abandoned but have the chance to change.
  2. God will give more nourishment.
    • Continuing revelation
  3. God hopes that by helping us more, He will have great joy in us.
  4. God sends more and more servants to “labor with [their] might” (v. 62).
    • They are sent out to all the Church and all the world for the last time.
    • Let the good replace the bad as it grows.
  5. God works with His servants.
  6. Good fruit AKA righteousness returns to the trees/Church and world.
    • People (in and out of the Church) return to God AND labor with Him.
    • Unity between all.
  7. God gathers the righteous to Him for a long time.
    • This “long time” will be the Millennium.

Some Last Thoughts

Now that I’ve shared this outline with you, I want to share just a couple of the takeaways I had.

First, looking at Jacob 5 as though the whole thing is taking place now helped me see how much our Father and our Savior work to help us today. We have constant, unending nourishment from Them when we choose to accept it.

And (this hit me hard) Their efforts are often wasted by us because we choose not to accept the nourishment They give us.

Since reading this, I’ve had to ask myself where I’m wasting God’s efforts on me. Am I following through on the things He’s asked me to do? Am I ignoring warnings or responsibilities?

A second thing I noticed is that, by looking at Jacob 5 with this perspective, the “last labor and harvest” part seems a lot closer now than it does with the traditional interpretation.

That in mind, I’ve been wondering, are we as a people ready for Christ to come?

Last week I wrote about how He comes to each of us individually. But next week, I’m going to talk about this very question.

Are we ready for Christ? How do we prepare?

I hope you take some time this week to consider the work God is doing right now in your life and in the world around us. What do you learn? How does this allegory help you see God’s hand around you?

Hopefully, this can start us really preparing for Christ.

Want to Read More on Seeking Christ?

Don’t Worry – Christ Will Show Up in Your Life

My Tips for Studying Isaiah

7 Tips for Studying Christ in Your Scriptures

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