Jacob testifies that Zenos’s prophesy about the tame olive tree being likened to the children of Israel is true.
“And the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh.” (2)
This is the day we are in right now—we are nourishing and pruning God’s vineyard to prepare people for the Second Coming of the Lord.
Social distancing & nourishing
How can we nourish others for God during this time of social distancing (due to the COVID-19 pandemic)?
I’ve been pondering this question, wondering how to minister to the ladies I’ve been assigned to watch over in my ward family and how to keep up with my neighbors, to know if they have everything they need or if they need help—without putting myself or them at risk by close contact.
The thought came to me very clearly last night to use the tools God has allowed to come forth in our day. Technology. We all have phones. One of my older ladies I watch over doesn’t have a smart phone, but I can still call her a couple times a week as needed to nourish her with spiritual thoughts I’ve had as I study the Book of Mormon. For my other ladies and neighbors, I can send them a simple text with an inspiring quote and ask after their families. Any contact with them will let them know I care and that they can turn to me if things got bad and they needed physical help.
What I shouldn’t do during this time is take a break from caring for others. We want to protect ourselves (and others!) from this virus. But we don’t want to catch the apathy bug while we do it.
And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard.”Jacob 6:3
God will bless us when we do the best we can do in any given circumstance. When we make loving Him our highest priority each day, repenting consistently so our hearts are humble and teachable, He will pour out the blessings so we can bless others, too.
Jacob goes on to praise God’s mercy for saving both root and branches of the house of Israel. God never gives up on His people, but continually “stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long,” even though His people are “a stiffnecked and gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (4)
How to be saved!
Jacob pleads with his people to repent and be saved.
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 day, harden not your hearts.”Jacob 6:5
How do I come unto God with full purpose of heart?
To me, that shows I have goals of where and what I want to be. If I have a purpose guiding my actions, I am going somewhere. If my full purpose in all I do is to come unto God, then I will be obedient to His commandments, repent, serve others. That holy purpose will bring me closer to Him through faithful action.
How do we cleave unto God?
I studied several synonyms of cleave. Here is what I found:
- Adhere implies growing together.
- Cohere suggests a sticking together of parts so they form a unified mass <eggs will make the mixture cohere>.
- Cling implies attachment by hanging on with arms or tendrils.
- Cleave stresses strength of attachment.
Taking all these definitions together, “cleave unto God” suggests becoming unified or closely attached to Him. Like eggs make a mixture cohere, God makes us strong in our bond with Him. Clinging can have a negative connotation (like in Lehi’s dream when those who clung to the rod fell away and were ashamed), but cleave suggests strength in attachment. We are made strong through Christ when we hold to Him tightly, not letting the world loosen our grasp.
Verse 5 says we are not only to cleave to God, but cleave to Him as He cleaves to us. That shows that God wants to be attached/bonded to us as much as we want to be united with Him. He yearns for that relationship, in fact.
Hear His voice
Jacob then uses blunt words. “Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?” (6)
We are blessed in our day to hear words from God given by His ordained living prophets. When God’s prophets speak, do we “hear his voice,” God’s voice?
If we don’t, our hearts harden. When that happens, it becomes easier to dismiss other words from the prophets. We consider them not applicable to us, or out of date, or not politically correct.
Jacob circles back to his allegory. If we hear the words of the prophet and still bring forth evil fruit, we will be hewn down and burned at the last day. God doesn’t want that to happen, so just like He gave the trees in His vineyard many chances by pruning, digging, and nourishing them, He gives us many chances to repent and bring forth good fruit.
All of us will stand before God at the judgment bar someday. That is truth. The righteous, the lax, the outright wicked. Everyone will take their turn before our Savior. For those who hardened their hearts, instead of taking advantage of the opportunities to repent here on earth, they will feel “shame and awful guilt before the bar of God.” (9)
How much better to be able to savor that moment when it comes and be able to look up to Him with reverence and awe.
That can only happen if we choose Him now…and hear Him. That doesn’t mean we are perfect. Far from it. A humble person realizes they can never be perfect on their own. But through repentance, coming back to Christ and being willing to do His will, God can instantly forgive us and enable us to start being better. And when we fall again, He will forgive us again and again and help us stand each time. That is what it means to follow Him.
O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life. / O be wise; what can I say more.”Jacob 6:11-12
To choose Christ is to choose life. To choose any other course is to choose eternal misery. Why do we do that?
Because we forget. That is why it’s important to write down our spiritual experiences so we can re-member and piece together our testimony in hard times. Jacob told us to be wise.
Wise men and women work hard not to forget.
Wise men and women hear God’s voice in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets.
Wise men and women repent daily.
In the words of Jacob, “O be wise; what can I say more.”