“March 16–22. Jacob 5–7: ‘The Lord Labors with Us,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020 (2020)
“March 16–22. Jacob 5–7,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2020
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There are many, many people who haven’t yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the immensity of the task of gathering them into the Lord’s Church, the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5 has a reassuring reminder: the vineyard belongs to the Lord. He has given each of us a small area to assist in His work—our family, our circle of friends, our sphere of influence. And sometimes the first person we help gather is ourselves. But we are never alone in this work, for the Lord of the vineyard labors alongside His servants (see Jacob 5:72). God knows and loves His children, and He will prepare a way for each of them to hear His gospel, even those who have rejected Him in the past (see Jacob 4:15–18). And then, when the work is done, all those who have been “diligent in laboring with [Him] … shall have joy with [Him] because of the fruit of [His] vineyard” (Jacob 5:75).
Allegories are stories that teach spiritual truths through symbols. In the allegory of the olive trees, for example, a vineyard represents the world, a tame olive tree represents Israel (those who have made covenants with God), and wild olive trees represent the gentile nations (those who have not made covenants with God).
As you study the allegory in Jacob 5, look for additional symbols and ponder what they might mean. For example, what do you think the good fruit represents? What could the bad fruit symbolize?
Before you begin your study of the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5, it might be helpful to review Jacob 4:10–18 to learn why Jacob felt inspired to share this allegory with his people. In Jacob 6:3–5, you can find some additional messages that Jacob wanted to emphasize; look for these messages in the allegory. What messages do you find for yourself in Jacob 5?
Jacob 5 is a long chapter—the longest in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps it would help to divide it into the following sections, which describe periods of the world’s history:
- Verses 3–14.
The scattering of Israel before the time of Christ
- Verses 15–28.
The ministry of Christ and the Apostles
- Verses 29–49.
The Great Apostasy
- Verses 50–76.
The gathering of Israel in the latter days
- Verses 76–77.
The Millennium and end of the world
For additional insights about the allegory, see the diagram that accompanies this outline.
The “other servants” (Jacob 5:70) who were called into the Lord’s vineyard include people like you—as members of the Church, we are all responsible to help God gather His children. What principles do you find in Jacob 5, especially verses 61–62 and 70–75, about working in the Lord’s vineyard? How have you felt Him call you to serve in His vineyard? What experiences have you had while participating in His work?
See also “Missionary Work,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; “Old Testament Olive Vineyard,” “Help the Church Grow” (videos, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The Nephites’ experience with Sherem is often repeated today: there may be learned, well-spoken people who try to destroy your faith. But Jacob “could not be shaken” (Jacob 7:5). How did Jacob respond when his faith was attacked? What do you learn from his responses? What can you do now to prepare for times when your faith will be challenged?
As you read the scriptures with your family, the Spirit can help you know what principles to emphasize and discuss in order to meet the needs of your family. Here are some ideas.
Some families have found it helpful to draw the symbols from the allegory of the olive trees as they read it. Your family might enjoy that approach, or there could be another way you can help family members visualize the symbols in the allegory. Maybe you could mark an area on a table or floor to represent the vineyard (or the world) and depict the tame olive tree (or the house of Israel) with an object, such as a puzzle, that can be divided into pieces (to represent the scattering of Israel) and then brought back together (to represent the gathering of Israel). What does this allegory teach us about the Lord? about His servants?
As you read about the “last time” that the Lord labors in His vineyard, what inspires you and your family to serve the Lord “with your might”? (Jacob 5:71). You could invite family members to personalize verse 75 by adding their names into this verse—for example, “Blessed art thou [name].” Maybe they can share experiences in which they felt joy while serving the Lord of the vineyard, for example through sharing the gospel, serving in the temple, or strengthening Church members. (See also M. Russell Ballard, “Put Your Trust in the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 43–45.)
How has the Lord extended His arm of mercy toward us? What does the word “cleave” mean in these verses? How does the Lord cleave unto us? How can we cleave unto Him?
What do we learn from these verses about how people try to lead others astray? How can we follow Jacob’s example and be steadfast in our faith in Christ?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.