Jacob’s Sermon on the Allegory of the Olive Trees – Jacob 4-6

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Setting

After sharing a sermon which he delivered to his people following the death of his brother, Jacob began to teach his future readers.

Purpose

Jacob’s goal was to teach his readers that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can redeem any of God’s children, even those who are currently far from Him.

Outline

  1. Build your foundation on Christ (Jacob 4).
    1. We write on plates to create a durable record for our descendants (Jacob 4:1-3).
    2. We know of Christ, just as the holy prophets who came before us knew of Him (Jacob 4:4-5).
    3. Because of our faith in Jesus, we can perform mighty miracles. But God shows us our weakness so that we know that we do these things by His grace (Jacob 4:6-7).
    4. God’s works are amazing. Don’t try to counsel Him. Learn from Him, and be reconciled to Him through the Atonement of Christ (Jacob 4:8-11).
    5. We know these things by the Spirit, which teaches us of “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:12-13).
    6. [Referring to Psalm 118:22]: The Jews have rejected the prophets. They will reject the stone (the Savior). After they reject Him, how is it possible that He can ever become their foundation, “the head of their corner?” I will answer this question (Jacob 4:14-18).
  2. Zenos’s Allegory of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5)
    1. Remember the words of the prophet Zenos (Jacob 5:1-2).
    2. A man was struggling to take care of a single, tame olive tree. He traded the branches of this tree with the branches of a number of wild olive trees in other parts of the vineyard (Jacob 5:3-14).
    3. After a long time, he and his servant returned to the vineyard, they found that the tame tree was producing good fruit. The wild trees were also producing good fruit, all except for part of one of the trees. He instructed his servant to burn the branches that were producing bad fruit, but his servant persuaded him to give those branches a little more time (Jacob 5:15-28).
    4. Some time later, the man and his servant returned to find that things were not going well. The tame tree was producing all kinds of fruit, none of it good. The wild trees had also become corrupted, and the branches which had produced bad fruit the last time had taken over their tree, so that the good branches had died (Jacob 5:29-40).
    5. The man wept and asked his servant what more they could have done for the vineyard, and who is to blame for this tragedy (Jacob 5:41-47).
    6. The servant answered that the branches have overcome the roots, “taking strength unto themselves” because of their pride. The man commanded his servant to burn the vineyard, but the servant convinced him to “spare it a little longer (Jacob 5:48-51).
    7. The man outlined a new plan: they would gradually return the branches to their original trees, discarding the only worst branches and keeping the root and the branches equal in strength so that the good branches could grow and overcome the bad. This new plan would be labor-intensive, so many more servants were needed (Jacob 5:52-69).
    8. More servants were called, and they worked together to execute the plan. Eventually, all of the trees were producing good fruit. The man thanked his servants for their great work. He said that he would enjoy the good fruit for a long time. When the vineyard began producing bad fruit again, he would separate the good from the bad and burn the vineyard (Jacob 5:70-77).
  3. Lessons from the allegory (Jacob 6)
    1. The tame olive tree represents the house of Israel. The scenes in this allegory will literally happen. In the last days, the servants of the Lord will work hard to gather Israel (Jacob 6:1-3).
    2. God remembers Israel and is patient with them in spite of their stubbornness (Jacob 6:4).
    3. God has patiently nourished you. Please bring forth good fruit, so that you won’t be burned. Be wise (Jacob 6:5-12).
    4. Farewell. I’ll meet you at “the pleasing bar of God” (Jacob 6:13).

My Takeaways

How can people who reject the Savior ever be saved? This is the question Jacob explores in this sermon. By sharing and discussing Zenos’s allegory of the olive trees, he tries to emphasize to us that our salvation is a process. We may bring forth evil fruit one day, but the Lord will patiently continue to nourish us in the hope that we will repent and learn to bring forth good fruit.

I will respond to Jacob’s words by believing in God’s ability to save His children. I will repent, believing that God can help me change and improve. I will also remember that other people can change. Even people who seem to have rejected God may one day be reconciled to Him, build their foundation on Him, and receive His redeeming power.

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