Longest Chapter in the Book of Mormon

Reading: Jacob 5, 1 Nephi 19:23

Sunday evening I got out my scriptures for my evening scripture study and read a handwritten note at the top of the chapter, “Longest chapter in the Book of Mormon.”  The chapter, of course, was Jacob 5 containing the allegory of the olive tree.

Now, I have gone through the different meaning of the allegory of the olive tree several times in seminary, sunday school, and on my own.  I know that it is a story about the gathering of Israel, and that each trip to the garden is symbolic of different dispensations of the gospel.  That doesn’t make it any easier for me to read.  It’s like reading the daily log of a farmer’s work: lots of repetition, not a lot of excitement. Even with all that education I have a hard time figuring out what the allegory is supposed to mean.

However, if there’s anything I’ve learned from my in-depth study of 2 Nephi 2 it is that a close study of scripture can yield great results.  So, I don’t want to to just put away Jacob 5 without gaining anything from it.  Nephi also tells us that although Isaiah’s writings can be hard to understand, we can gain from them if we apply it to ourselves.  From 1 Nephi 19:23:

And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.

So, the following is a list of the doctrines I can glean from Jacob 5 that actually mean something to me, personally:

  • God works with prophets (the servant) to accomplish his work on Earth.
  • God is determined to do all he can to raise up a righteous group of people (the good olive tree & fruit).
  • Although it is hard for us to see where the gospel will prosper, God knows his people (the garden) and knows what to do to yield the greatest results.
  • God loves his people (the garden) so much that he weeps at the losses, and waits many times to see if some good would come even though he could have destroyed it.
  • A day of harvest is coming where God will “reap the fruits” and we will all be judged.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of this story is this: that God loves his people and is doing all he can to bring them home.  In Jacob 5:47 it says:

But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.

When I think about Jacob 5 from this perspective it gives me hope that God is working to help me overcome my own weaknesses and to be worthy to return to live with him someday.

Today I am going to work on reading Jacob 5 again, but this time highlight every time there is some evidence of God’s love for his people.

What do you think about Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree?  Is there some part of the story that touches you or that illustrates some important doctrine especially well for you?


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