This is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon and sometimes is a mire or a bog for the casual reader. Some of our students over the years have said, “We just can’t understand all the symbols and the confusion about the trees and different places and times.”  Some of our institute students have even skipped reading Jacob 5 altogether. I guarantee you, we’re not going to skip this and you’ll come to see why this is one of our very favorite chapters.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.

[dfads params='groups=2870&limit=1&orderby=random']

Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.

Scot

One of my favorite olive trees in the entire world is inside the walls of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem.  I remember Truman Madsen telling us all about how it was long-lined from a helicopter all the way from the Galilee to the center. They were concerned about the shock of its journey, but they promptly planted it.  And then it died…at least they thought it did. We’ll tell you all about it.

Maurine

Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast.  We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this week we get the immense joy of being able to talk about the allegory of Zenos from Jacob Chapter 5.  This is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon and sometimes is a mire or a bog for the casual reader. Some of our students over the years have said, “We just can’t understand all the symbols and the confusion about the trees and different places and times.”  Some of our institute students have even skipped reading Jacob 5 altogether. I guarantee you, we’re not going to skip this and you’ll come to see why this is one of our very favorite chapters.

Scot

It certainly is. To start with, let’s explain a few terms so that we’re all on the same page together. First of all:  What is an allegory? An allegory is a story, a poem, or a picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.  The word allegory is from the Greek allēgoria and can be broken into two simple roots: allos, which means ‘other’ and –agoria, which means speaking.  So, other speaking. An allegory, like a parable, is designed to conceal and to reveal hidden messages and teachings.  This incredible allegory of the prophet Zenos has pure Israelite and Hebrew context.

Maurine

That’s right.  These are people whose origins are from what we call the Middle East.  The whole Mediterranean region is rich in olive vineyards or groves. Nearly 100,000 acres of precious Israeli land is planted in olive groves.  It’s illegal in Israel to kill an olive tree without a permit. These trees can grow to an age of more than two thousand years. They are resilient.  They are tough. They are tenacious. They are amazing. Some ancient cultures believe that the Olive Tree was the original Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

Scot

Which brings us back to my favorite olive tree there at the BYU Jerusalem Center. This is not a small or insignificant olive tree.  It is conservatively estimated to be no less than 500 years old and likely between 800 and 1,000 years old. It took so much to get this tree in from the Galilee—Transplanting it (root ball and all) and long-lining it from a helicopter more than 100 miles.  Truman Madsen said they did everything they could to care for this tree after they planted it. They nourished it. They watered it. They fertilized it. They watched over it. And it just looked like it was dead. The small leaves wilted. The tree looked horrible.

Maurine

Then one day, Truman and Ann came outside to look at this enormous olive tree and they looked carefully at it.  A tiny little shoot was starting out of the tree. And in the next few days there were more. The roots were taking hold and the tree was receiving the nourishment.  The tree began to revive and grow. It was a miracle. Now, admittedly, it takes a lot to kill an olive tree—but to see this first hand was truly amazing. Every year when we take our tour groups to the Jerusalem Center, this tree is the first thing we show them.  It’s right after you come in the gate on your right.

Scot

I talked to one of our dear friends in Jerusalem this week.  His name is Jamal Abusbeih (pronounced a boos’ bay). Many of you who are listening and have been to Jerusalem probably know him—except you know him as Jimmy.  We have known him for a long, long time. He has one of the premier olive wood companies in Israel. He often comes to BYU Education week. He is Muslim but all his carvers are Christians living in Bethlehem.  I asked Jimmy (without having him read Jacob chapter 5) about his working with olive trees. He and his family have worked with them for generations.

Maurine

Jimmy said some interesting things that help us lay the foundation for understanding this allegory.  He said, “The olive tree is always green and when you plant it, you wait four years and you will start to get olives.”  He said the olive trees are incredibly capable of drawing moisture from the earth—even in a very dry climate. Their roots are quite miraculous.  He said they always prune the olive trees in December right at the beginning of winter.  We asked him why the pruning? He said, “Because when you trim and prune, you allow the sunlight to hit all of the olive tree and with that sunshine there is a much greater production of olives.  You have to prune and also fertilize the trees to make them more productive. And you always harvest the olives in October.”

Scot

Jimmy also said they make a circle around the base of the olive tree where they cultivate and fertilize it, and that circle alone is all that’s needed for the tree to capture any rain water or moisture for the entire tree.  And he said there are many kinds of olives and you can graft small shoots from one tree to another and produce different fruits on one tree.

So, there is your brief lesson on olive trees in the Middle East.  With that background, let’s start to look carefully at the allegory of Zenos in Jacob 5.  Many of you listen to this in the car or while you’re exercising—that’s wonderful, but in order to follow along closely and understand this, you will do better to have your scriptures open and take some notes—or you can come back to the transcript and study it again at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast.  Stop the podcast anytime to write things down or mark your scriptures.

Maurine

Before we go into great detail, Scot, I want to say that what I’ve always loved about this allegory is that the Lord of the vineyard—who is Jesus Christ (and this is a key to understanding the allegory)—cares for both roots and branches throughout this story.  This is of great comfort to me. Jacob records this most beautiful summary statement of the allegory in chapter 6, verse 4:

4 And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long…

What is the meaning of roots and branches?  Our ancestors and our posterity.  

President Nelson has said many times, just recently, that the work of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil is the greatest work we have to do.  So, here’s an insight into the allegory—this is all about the gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil. This is a family allegory—a family story.  It’s all about the covenant children of God. He will never forget His covenants and He will do everything in His power to bless and save His children.

Scot

To understand the allegory, know that there are four different places or lands consistently talked about and five different time periods.  If you mark these in your scriptures it really helps you to understand. In my personal sets of scriptures I have designated the time periods as Period A, Period B, Period C, Period D and Period E—or just A, B, C, D and E.  I have then designated the lands as 1, 2, 3 and 4. Would you like to take a minute and mark in the margins of your scriptures these time periods and groups? Or in your electronic scriptures, you can color code each of these sections and make an electronic note.

Period A comprises verses 3-14.  This period is before the time of Christ, in other words, before his birth—before his first coming.  

Period B comprises verses 15-28.  This is all around the time of Christ—during his ministry and directly thereafter.

Maurine

Period C comprises verse 29-49 and is the time of the great apostasy.  Now, I just write the letter C and then an arrow pointing downward in my margin with the numbers 29-49 in my paper scriptures. 

Period D comprises verses 50-75 and is especially important to us—because this is the time period of the Restoration of the Gospel in these latter days.  If you know this, as you’re studying these verses, you begin to see things more clearly. In a few minutes we will talk about why this period D—our time—is so exciting and also unique in the allegory from the other time periods.

Scot

And then we have the last two verses of the allegory, verses 76 and 77 that are Period E.  This is the Millennium. I remember more than 40 years ago I had a teacher who went through the entire allegory, verse by verse and it came clear to me for the first time.  That’s why we wanted to at least get you started with understanding these time periods.

Four groups of people or four lands are talked about in the allegory. Zenos is very consistent in talking about them.  You don’t ever have to feel confused.

We know that group or land number 1 is the land and people of Israel—the mother tree.

We know that group or land 4 in the allegory is referring to the promised continent or continents of America where the Nephites and the Lamanites—the posterity of Joseph—were planted.

Maurine

Group or land 2 is referred to as a “poor spot of ground” and is very likely the Jews or tribes of Israel who were scattered to the British Isles and parts of Western Europe.  We’re not personally saying this area is a poor spot of ground, but in relation to the climate of the original tree, this would have been a difficult place to plant an olive tree.

Group or land number 3 is the poorest spot of ground of all and refers to the ten lost tribes or the tribes that were taken and scattered into the “north countries.”  We don’t know exactly where they are, but we do know from Christ’s visit to the Nephites and Lamanites that He and the Father have never forgotten them—and they were known and loved and visited (see 3 Nephi 17:4).

Scot

We have mentioned that the master or the Lord of the vineyard is Jesus Christ.  The use of the title servant is referring to a prophet or one holding priesthood keys. The word servants (plural) refers to all those who are working in the vineyard of the Lord—the missionaries and the faithful.

If you would like to quickly take notes and mark where these lands are in the allegory, you can mark them as follows (and we’ll read some verses together so you can get used to the language):

Let’s look at the original tree or the land of Israel—I’ll say these twice.  You can see this in verses 3-6; 7-14; 15-18; 29-37; 58, 65-66; and verses 74-76.  Again—the main tree—the mother tree, or the land of Israel is specifically referred to in verses 3-6; 7-14; 15-18; 29-37; 58, 65-66 and verses 74-76.

Maurine

Let’s read Jacob 5: 3-5 together:

3 For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive-tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew and waxed old, and began to decay.  [Remember, this is all before the first coming of Christ. This includes the time period when the children of Israel were in Egypt because of the famine in Canaan.]

4 And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive-tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not. [Remember the story of the olive tree at the BYU Jerusalem Center? A new and tender generation of Israelites would be the ones who entered the promised land after their parents had been in the wilderness for forty years.]

5 And it came to pass that he pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word.

Scot

Let’s talk about those three images of pruning, digging and nourishing—and let’s throw in dunging for good measure.

Pruning.

Pruning a tree can have many benefits.  Pruning a tree will influence the way the tree grows. With proper pruning, a tree can be made to grow into a certain configuration of limbs and branches that is more ideal for the structural integrity of the tree and for the increased production of fruit. Maintaining the tree’s structure helps to mitigate the risk of broken limbs and falling branches. Pruning has lots of benefits for us as well. It reminds me of the Savior’s teachings in John chapter 15:

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

And then one of our favorite verses:

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:2,5)

Maurine

Part of the Lord’s perfect plan for us here in this life is that He will prune us.  He will purge us. He will try us and challenge us. This is a given. If we can accept this as part of His plan, we will be much better off.

Oh, Scot, this all reminds me of President Hugh B. Brown’s classic talk—God is the Gardner.  I think we should excerpt a story from that.

President Brown said:

“Sixty-odd years ago I was on a farm in Canada. I had purchased the farm from another who had been somewhat careless in keeping it up. I went out one morning and found a currant bush that was at least six feet high. I knew that it was going all to wood. There was no sign of blossom or of fruit. I had had some experience in pruning trees before we left Salt Lake to go to Canada, as my father had a fruit farm. So I got my pruning shears and went to work on that currant bush, and I clipped it and cut it and cut it down until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps.

Scot

“And as I looked at them,” he continued, “I yielded to an impulse, which I often have, to talk with inanimate things and have them talk to me. It’s a ridiculous habit. It’s one I can’t overcome. As I looked at this little clump of stumps, there seemed to be a tear on each one, and I said, ‘What’s the matter, currant bush? What are you crying about?’

“And I thought I heard that currant bush speak. It seemed to say, ‘How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as large as the fruit tree and the shade tree, and now you have cut me down. And all in the garden will look upon me with contempt and pity. How could you do it? I thought you were the gardener here.’

“I thought I heard that from the currant bush. I thought it so much that I answered it.

“I said, ‘Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. If I let you go the way you want to go, you will never amount to anything. But someday, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to think back and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”

Maurine

“Ten years passed, and I found myself in Europe. I had made some progress in the First World War in the Canadian army. In fact, I was a field officer, and there was only one man between me and the rank of general, which I had cherished in my heart for years. Then he became a casualty. And the day after, I received a telegram from London from General Turner, who was in charge of all Canadian officers. The telegram said, “Be in my office tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.”

President Brown continued:  “I puffed up. I called my special servant. (We called them “batmen” over there.) I said, “Polish my boots and my buttons. Make me look like a general, because I am going up tomorrow to be appointed.”

“He did the best he could with what he had to work on, and I went to London. I walked into the office of the general. I saluted him smartly, and he replied to my salute as higher officers usually do to juniors—sort of a “Get out of the way, worm.” Then he said, “Sit down, Brown.”

“I was deflated. I sat down. And he said, “Brown, you are entitled to this promotion, but I cannot make it. You have qualified and passed the regulations, you have had the experience, and you are entitled to it in every way, but I cannot make this appointment.”

Scot

“Just then he went into the other room to answer a phone call, and I did what most every officer and man in the army would do under those circumstances: I looked over on his desk to see what my personal history sheet showed. And I saw written on the bottom of that history sheet in large capital letters: “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.”

“Now at that time we were hated heartily in Britain, and I knew why he couldn’t make the appointment. Finally he came back and said, ‘That’s all, Brown.’

“I saluted him, less heartily than before, and went out. On my way back to Shorncliffe, 120 kilometers away, I thought every turn of the wheels that clacked across the rails was saying, ‘You’re a failure. You must go home and be called a coward by those who do not understand.’

“And bitterness rose in my heart until I arrived, finally, in my tent, and I rather vigorously threw my cap on the cot… I clenched my fist, and I shook it at heaven, and I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I’ve done everything that I knew how to do to uphold the standards of the Church. I was making such wonderful growth, and now you’ve cut me down. How could you do it?”

Maurine

Then President Brown reported:  “And then I heard a voice. It sounded like my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to be. If I let you go the way you want to go, you will never amount to anything. And someday, when you are ripened in life, you are going to shout back across the time and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”

“Those words—which I recognize now as my words to the currant bush and that had become God’s word to me—drove me to my knees, where I prayed for forgiveness for my arrogance and my ambition.”  (Brown, Hugh B., God is the Gardner, BYU Speeches, May 31, 1968 Commencement address, Provo, Utah)

Scot

I grew up on that story and loved how it applied to everyone else.  But, I have grown a little more since those days and have had my pruning from the Lord of the vineyard and continue to receive regular prunings.

Let’s talk about digging.

Digging is important as it breaks up the soil, making it light enough for tender plants and flowers to grow in, and it allows for the moisture of heaven to penetrate quickly and get to the roots of the olive tree.  If roots cannot push their way through the soil easily, any plant or tree will be stunted and find it difficult to thrive. As you dig round about the tree, this also makes it easier and better for compost, dung or fertilizer to improve the soil.

Maurine

I remember Elder Oaks taught us so wonderfully about the parable of the sower.  He said a most interesting thing about where the seed falls from the sower’s hand that applies here to the allegory:

“The Savior’s examples could cause us to think of this parable as the parable of the soils. The suitability of the soil depends upon the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seed. In susceptibility to spiritual teachings, some hearts are hardened and unprepared, some hearts are stony from disuse, and some hearts are set upon the things of the world.” (Oaks, Dallin H. The Parable of the Sower, General Conference, April 2015)

Scot

The Lord is going to work our soil.  He will. It is a given. This is an act of love.  He is working with our hearts and spirits so that we might receive His word and accept His counsel and teachings, whether by His voice or the voice of His servants, it is the same (see D&C 1:38).

Now nourishing.  The tree is nourished by all the processes we’ve talked about, by watering, breaking up the soil, dunging the soil, seeing to the watering needs of the roots. The dunging maintains the soil fertility and helps the tree bring forth as much fruit as possible.  It also brings the essential nutrients to the roots of the tree, which then send that nourishment to all parts of the tree and finally will increase the production of fruit.

Maurine

Let’s go back and fill in those four groups so that you can start seeing the whole picture of the allegory.

Group 1—the land of Israel—mark it in verses 15-18; 29-37; 58, and 65-66.

Group 2—the poor spot of ground—mark it in verses 20-22; 39 and 46.

Group 3—the poorest spot of ground—mark it in verses 23; 39 and 46.

Group 4—the promised land of the Nephites and Lamanites—mark it in 24 and 25; 39 and 46.

If you feel like you missed some of these, just come to the transcript of this podcast at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast

Scot

Look in verse 14 of Jacob 5 for a moment:

14 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.

This is a clear reference to the scattering of Israel.  Jacob’s work as a house or family began about 1815 B.C. This verse then includes the time period from about 1815 B.C. to around 400 B.C.—about 14 centuries which encompasses the House of Israel’s time in Egypt, the scattering of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the scattering of Israel by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. 

The next verse, 15, says, “that a long time passed away.” That period of time would be 400 years—until the coming of Christ in the flesh. It is interesting, too that that is a time of silence in the scriptures from the time of Malachi until the birth of Christ.

Maurine

There is such a clear reference to the Nephites and the Lamanites AND the Jaredites in verses 43 and 44:

43 And behold this last (remember, this is group 4), whose branch hath withered away, I did plant in a good spot of ground; yea, even that which was choice unto me above all other parts of the land of my vineyard.

44 And thou beheldest that I also cut down that which cumbered this spot of ground [that’s the Jaredites], that I might plant this tree in the stead thereof. (Jacob 5:43-44)

Scot

Let’s notice a few times when we learn in the allegory about the attributes of the Lord of the vineyard—or—the attributes of this God we worship.

A number of times He says:  “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree.” (7, 11, 13, 32, 46, 51, 66) He has compassion, empathy, patience and love for the House of Israel.

“This long time have I nourished it.” (20, 22, 23) He is long-suffering.

And verse 41 is so telling of our Redeemer:  “And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (also 47, 49) He weeps because of His intense love and care for us.

And in verse 47:

“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…” He is tenacious. He is merciful.

Maurine

Jacob teaches us in chapter 6, verse 5:

5 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts.

This is the God we worship. And in verse 60 of chapter 5 he says with hope, “perhaps the trees of my vineyard may bring forth again good fruit; and that I may have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard, and perhaps, that I may rejoice exceedingly that I have preserved the roots and the branches of the first fruit.”

The Lord does not forget us.  He does not forget our ancestors.  He does not forget our posterity. His work is truly to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  He remembers His covenant unto a thousand generations.  

Scot

And I love the Lord’s promise in this last section depicting the Restoration of the Gospel in these latter days.  The prophet Zenos states in verse 72:

And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. (Jacob 5:72)

Did you catch that?  The Lord of the vineyard—that’s Jesus Christ—labored with them.  This is the promise for our day. The servants of the Lord of the vineyard have been going forth now for 170 years—since the early days of Solomon Chamberlain and Samuel Harrison Smith—the first to carry the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world in spiritual famine.  I wish we had another hour or two together, just you and us, going through the allegory verse by verse until we understood every aspect of it.

Maurine

It kind of harks back to Laman and Lemuel when they said to Nephi, “We cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree and also concerning the Gentiles.”

And Nephi said unto them: “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:7-8)

As we go through the allegory in our families, our study groups, our homes and hearts, let us start with that principle in mind—Ask the Lord to help you understand this amazing and epic Jacob chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon.  And the Lord of the vineyard will help you.

Scot

This we are sure of.

Now, everything in the Book of Mormon is in the record by divine design.  There is nothing written down that was haphazard or coincidental. The Lord guided and directed Mormon and Moroni and the other recorders so that very specific things would be in the record for us in our day.

Jacob chapter 7 is an example of this with the story of Sherem.  Jacob is going to give us a pattern in the story of Sherem for understanding the characteristic of an anti-Christ.  This is critical for our time.

Maurine

Dr. Robert Millet helps us here:  “The first and perhaps the most obvious characterization of an anti-Christ is that he or she denies the reality of or necessity for Jesus Christ. The anti-Christ has partaken of that spirit of rebellion which resulted in the expulsion of a third part of all the children of the Eternal Father in the premortal world.” (The Book of Mormon: Jacob Through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, Utah, 1990, p. 176, emphasis added)

So, we see one of the first things Sherem says to the people:  “he began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ.” (Jacob 7:2)

Scot

Next, a characteristic of an anti-Christ is that they use flattery to win disciples. “And Sherem preached many things which were flattering unto the people (Jacob 7:2) “To flatter is to soothe or satisfy, to make people feel comfortable.  It is to whisper in their ears that all is well. To flatter is also to raise false hopes of an anticipated reward or acquisition…Anti-Christs are usually glib of tongue and nimble of speech.  They are sinister students of human behavior, knowing how to persuade and dissuade; how to attract attention and create a following; and how to make their listeners feel secure and at ease in their carnality.” (Ibid, pp 176-77)

Maurine

Well, and the anti-Christ is an expert in accusing the Brethren of teaching false doctrine.  “The devil and his disciples are neither shy nor hesitant about accomplishing their purposes.  Some among the legions of Beelzebub are subtle and cunning; others are direct, assertive, and aggressive. Sherem goes directly to the prophet of the Lord—to Jacob—to gain a hearing in an effort to gain a convert. Satan would always rather capture a spiritual general than one of lesser rank.”  (Ibid, p. 177)

Sherem accused Jacob of perverting the gospel and of uttering false prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 7:7)

Scot

The anti-Christ has a limited view of reality.  “When a person refuses to exercise faith—to have a hope in that which is unseen but true—he thereby denies himself access to the spiritual world, another realm of reality.  His vision of things is at best deficient and at worst perverse; he does not see things ‘as they really are.’…

“Those who rely exclusively upon human sensory experience and human reason to come to the truth cannot find a place in their tightly-enclosed epistemological system for such matter as spirit and revelation and prophecy…Sherem said, “This is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come.” And further, “If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be.” (Jacob 7:7,9) (Ibid, p. 178)

Maurine

The anti-Christ has a disposition to misread and thereby misrepresent the scriptures.  “Those whose motives are less than pure are not entitled to that which the scriptures call ‘pure knowledge’ (D&C 121:42), knowledge from a pure source.  They are unable to comprehend the scriptures in their true light, to perceive and then incorporate the purity of their messages into their own impure lives…Sherem professes to know and to believe in the scriptures, but, lacking that elevated perspective and learning which comes not only by study but also by faith, he is unable to discern the undergirding message of the scriptures (Jacob 7:10-11)—that all things bear witness of the Holy One of Israel, that all things which have been ‘given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.” (Ibid, p 180)

Scot

One last point about an anti-Christ, he or she is a seeker of signs. “Sherem insisted that Jacob prove by demonstrable evidence that his was a true position—he demanded a sign.  Miracles or wonders or gifts of the Spirit always follow true believers; indeed, that is one of the signs of the true Church and evidence that the power of God is operating among his people. And yet Jesus taught that it is an ‘evil and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign (Matthew 12:39).  Joseph Smith added that that principle “is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.’ (TPJS, p. 157; compare 278. Ibid p, 181)

Jacob includes the story of Sherem in his record for us—that we might pay attention, and see and know clearly how to identify and beware of an apostate or anti-Christ in our day—another example of how the Book of Mormon shines a floodlight of truth on our dark and tumultuous times.  How thankful we are that we have it!

Maurine

That’s all for today.  Thanks for joining us. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that accompanies this podcast.  Thanks to Michaela Proctor Hutchins for editing and producing this show. Next week we’ll be studying Enos through Words of Mormon, and the lesson is entitled: “He Works in Me to Do His Will.’  We love you and we’ll look forward to our time together next week.