Sunday, August 19, 2012
Olive Trees and World History
If you've read the Book of Mormon, you've read the Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5. Referencing the scattering and gathering of Israel, this chapter tells the story of an olive tree whose natural branches are spread throughout the vineyard and then brought back to preserve the life of the tree.
Through symbolism and metaphor we see the fall of ancient Israel, the rise and fall of people like the Nephites and Lamanites, the rise of the gentiles to save the covenants of Israel, the great efforts to gather Israel in the last days, the triumph of the righteous over the wicked, the Millennial reign and the end of the world. There are many more lessons as we observe the relationship of the Lord of the Vineyard (God) with his servants (the prophets), the essential role each of us play in our own time and the tireless efforts of the Lord to save and preserve each of us.
As mentioned in a recent post, one interesting detail of the allegory is the way the Millennium is ushered in. It does not say that there would be a large cleansing of the Earth at Christ's Second Coming, as I have always imagined. Rather it says the natural branches of the house of Israel will be reintroduced. As a reference, remember fruit symbolizes the lives and actions of individuals, roots are the covenants God makes with faithful men and women, and the vineyard is the earth:
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. 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 (v. 64-65).
In other words, evil will be defeated piece by piece, group by group, person by person. It will be 'plucked', rather than 'chainsawed' or 'mowed', to make room for a growing amount of goodness and righteousness. Though Christ's presence will greatly enhance the work of his servants, the work will still need to be done.
Anyone who has been ordained to the priesthood has been called to start that work today. We are asked to strengthen both root and branch and usher in a time when all people of the whole earth will choose to be righteous. If we are faithful, we will one day find ourselves gathered together with the Lord when he will say:
Blessed art thou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring with me in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments, and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that my vineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away, behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard (v. 75).
I want to be in that meeting. As each of us strives to keep the Lord's commandments and rescue those in our stewardship, beginning with our own families and those we home teach, I hope we will be able to see each other there and rejoice together in the bounty of the final harvest.