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Jacob 5: 60-63

The Lord of the vineyard wants to “have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard.” (5: 60.) This is an interesting connection by the Lord of “joy” in His “fruit” or joy in His posterity; for the redeemed are the children of God and He dwells in them. (1 John 4: 4.) The purpose of having children is to have “joy” with them. In this instance, the Lord of the vineyard is describing not only His “work and glory” (Moses 1: 39) but also what pleases Him most. He explains that producing such fruit worthy of preserving would be so “that I may rejoice exceedingly that I have preserved” these souls. (5: 60.) It is a compelling thought: A Lord who would “rejoice exceedingly” at our success!

The effort required to accomplish this is not inconsequential. There will be many “servants” called to labor in the vineyard. It will require some to descend without disclosing their true identities and to “labor diligently with our might in the vineyard” to bring about the potential for fruit. (5: 61.) Servants sent into the Telestial condition to labor in the vineyard with their might is a careful description, I think. Perhaps it is worth careful thought to consider how such servants might come among us to do the labor needed to rescue us from the coming harvest.

The effort is to “prepare the way” for the vineyard to be able to “bring forth again the natural fruit” of the original, natural tree. The effort is the return of covenant, adopted Israel sealed to the fathers and able to endure the return of the Lord. Such a people are not only “good” but also “the most precious above all other fruit.” (Id.) This is because such people are not merely mortal, but also immortal, even infinite because they have no end. (D&C 132: 20.) It is through such rare “most precious above all other fruit” that the universe itself expands. The infinite itself grows.

The Lord, however, acknowledges that both He and His servants must “labor with our might this last time” to salvage some few. (5:62.) What an image comes to mind when you consider the Lord of the vineyard laboring with “His might” to bring again some natural fruit in His vineyard. How great an undertaking! How foolish it is for the saints to believe ourselves chosen. How foolish to think that our careless church activities will save us. How arrogant a proposition it is for the saints to point with pride at our institutions and think it reflects credit upon us. It is, in a word, fruitless.

Because the living must be redeemed for the dead to be saved, the labor begins with the last and goes to the first. The work begins with the living, who are last in the vineyard. (5: 63.) They must be grafted back to the fathers who are in heaven. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 29, 37.) God’s children living today must be sealed to those who now sit upon thrones in the heavens. Then the deceased ancestors may be sealed to the living so the whole earth is not smitten with a curse at the return of the Lord.

Joseph’s instruction about adoption to the “fathers in heaven” was short lived. As I pointed out in Passing the Heavenly Gift, many of the surviving church leaders who were taught this by Joseph didn’t believe it when he said it. Brigham Young said he never understood it. The allegory of Zenos makes it apparent that there must be a connection, and that connection must produce natural fruit. The thing that will be saved will be the “fruit” and not the roots, trees and branches. There must be children born into the covenant, raised in righteousness who will live an order that can bring to pass the Savior’s great petition in prayer. The Lord’s prayer instructed us how to pray and what to pray for: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6: 9-10.) Zion will return.

How can fruit be harvested and laid up against the day if we cannot endure His presence at His return?

Jacob 5: 57-59

The restoration begins with an amalgamation of old and new. The only things removed are the bare essentials that are required to begin the transplanting or grafting. “Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter; and in them ye shall graft according to that which I have said.” (5: 57.) The restoration was not a wholesale affair at the start. There was and were a lot of wild, unredeemed and unredeemable participants in the work underway. There is a great deal of “loftiness” and “bitter fruit” left to be trimmed away.

As becomes apparent from the incidents in Nauvoo, Joseph Smith’s death was as much a result of internal conspiracies to get him into the hands of the Illinois civil authorities as it was the result of outside fear and hatred. He could have left on June 22nd and never returned. When he lamented “if my life is of no value to my friends, it is of no value to me” he clarified the reason for his return. The accusation that he was a false shepherd because he was “fleeing” when “the flock was in danger” was enough to bring him back, surrender to arrest and incarceration, and ultimately be killed. It wasn’t the mob that made the accusations which brought it about. It was the saints, his inner circle, his trusted friends.

So when we reflect on how the restoration was interrupted in its beginning states by the death of Joseph, we cannot lay the blame entirely on the mob that ultimately killed him. It began inside the church itself. If we are partly to blame, as I believe the record shows, then killing Joseph was not just an act of violence against the church, but also an act of treachery from within the church. Such things generally provoke a reaction from heaven which requires a third and fourth generation to pass away before the Lord of the vineyard begins anew to cultivate, water, dig and dung His tree again. That would make it about now when the Lord’s work would resume.

The work required to begin the restoration was not to produce fruit. It was to make it possible for fruit again to return to the vineyard. To that end, the work to “trim up the branches” and then to “pluck from the trees those branches which are ripened, that must perish” will be an ongoing process once the work begins. (5: 58.) There will be trauma. There will be casting away. There will be those who are “plucked” or removed. The patience required will endure for generations, as the Lord rids the tree of the many wild, unfruitful and unworthy growth found in the undisciplined, wild tree.

The Lord’s committment and understanding allows Him to foresee the possiblity it will yet result in worthy fruit. He does this “that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil.” (5: 59.) It is still a “perhaps” proposition. The tree has its own independence. It will need to respond.

Joseph Smith was attempting to explain some of this process when he taught: “The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.” (TPJS, p. 149-150.) There is so much Joseph spoke about we no longer understand, but in the case of restoring the potential for “fruit” to return, the blood of Jacob matters. Even there, each individual is free to respond to the Lord. 

There may be “goodness” left in the individual from his birthright, but even the literal seed of Abraham must do the works of Abraham before they are able to produce fruit.

Jacob 5: 53-56

The Lord is quite realistic about salvaging something from the vineyard. He does not state He can produce fruit again, only that “perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof.” (5: 53.) The vineyard must respond. He respects our agency. He can encourage, invite and entice us, but we are always free to choose. (Moroni 7: 13.) It is that freedom to choose that results in the vineyard being condemned. They could have responded to the Lord’s invitation, but decided not to. (D&C 101: 78.)

So this final dispensation is not a guaranteed success. Notwithstanding the optimism of many of our revelations, the Lord of the vineyard knows success (fruit reappearing) will only “perhaps” occur.

The bloodlines are still here. Though they are separated, mixed and disbursed throughout the nethermost parts of the vineyard, they are “yet still alive.” (5: 54.) The Lord has determined, and is now taking the steps, to graft back together the branches to the root in hopes of producing “fruit” again. (Id.) Notice it is not the restoration of the link, the regrafting of the branches, or the successful return of the Lord’s husbandry to the vineyard that matters. Despite all the coaxing and work, and even the regrafting of branch to root, the purpose is not fulfillled until there is “fruit” produced. The organizational structure of the reassembled tree is nothing. It is the “fruit” and the “fruit” alone which is the object of the effort. A Divine reconnection of branch and root is not and never has been the object of the Lord of the vineyard. Bragging about how you are part of a “restored branch” distracts you from the fact you are still unworthy to be laid up against the season. Lacking fruit, you are only worthy to be gathered in bundles and burned.

This restoration of branch to root does not bear and was never expected to bear any fruit at first. It was the preliminary step, intended to lead to a time when the restored branch takes its opportunity seriously and repents, finally returning to Him. “[T]hat when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me.” (5: 54.) It was always expected to take time. Generations, in fact, before there would be “fruit” in the vineyard.” No matter how millennial the first generation of the saints expected their faith to prove, no matter what prophecies and patriarchial blessings the first generation of latter-day saints shared with one another, and no matter what promises Joseph Smith obtained – everything was contingent on producing “fruit” which the Lord of the vineyard could lay up against the season. I’ve written the last book about the obvious conclusions we ought to reach regarding the beginning of the restoration. It is my effort to explain where we are and how we got here. It is also intended to help us now produce “fruit” in the vineyard.

The Lord began the process. (5: 55-56.) He and His servants took the wild branches and regrafted them. The potential covenant was restored. He returned again the pattern of covenant-making, the ordinances which testify to us of Christ’s Atonement, the ritual return through the veil to the Lord’s presence, and the ideas of a priesthood which is inseparably connected with heaven. He gave us the warning that when we undertake to assert the right to compel others to follow the priesthood, then we forfeit it. No power and no influence can or does exist by “virtue” or by reason of the priesthood. It exists because someone has humbled themselves, repented, come into the presence of Christ, and thereby been redeemed from the fall. (See, e.g., Ether 3: 13; D&C 84: 35.)

The Lord of the vineyard and His servants did the work. The graft was begun. Now it remains to see if it will bear fruit.

The Lord knows the end from the beginning. (Abr. 2: 8.) Everything He revealed to Zenos about the past has happened. We ought to respect that enough to allow the prophecy to inform our present and future.

Jacob 5: 52

We reach our day. In it the Lord of the vineyard has a highly specific intention. He will take the various scattered branches, the far-flung and long lost descendants of Jacob who are in “the nethermost parts of [His] vineyard” and will “graft them into the tree from whence they came.” (5: 52.) This is the work Joseph Smith identified as the most critical work of the restoration of the Gospel. This is the only thing that will prevent the earth from being “utterly wasted” at the Lord’s coming. (D&C 2: 3; JS-H 1: 39.)

The manner of this gathering involves connecting the “children” who are disassociated with the House of Israel – and have altogether lost their status in that family back through an adoption by God into His House. In other words, to make them members of the Family of God again. The “fathers” to whom they are to connect are not their ancestors. Their ancestors will require vicarious work to be saved. Connecting to them in their fallen, disconnected condition will not save “the children.”

Joseph taught the way this connection is to be accomplished. I would refer you again to the Elijah Talk which is available for download here. I won’t repeat it again. You can read it for yourself.

This leads to several side issues, including: Who are the gentiles and how do they fit into the plan of regrafting? Who are the remnant, and how do they fit into the regrafting? Who are the Jews and how do they fit into the latter-day scheme? What about the latter-day saint practice of identifying a Tribe of Israel in the patriarchial blessings and the effect that has on regrafting?

These questions require a specific reference point from which to answer. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants provide answers. In the vocabulary of both, the “gentiles” are the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the unconverted European residents of “this land.” You should be able to see that for yourself just by reading the material. As a quick example, Nephi explains who the “gentiles” are in 1 Ne. 13: 14. Moroni explains who they are in the Title Page of the Book of Mormon written by him. Joseph Smith identifies the church as “gentiles” by identity. (D&C 109: 60.) We, the latter-day saints to whom the Book of Mormon was given, and who are among the very few readers of the text, are the “gentiles” of prophecy. Notwithstanding that status, there are many among the “gentiles” who have blood of Jacob in them. They are potentially candidates for restoration to the House of Israel. They are the intended targets of the restoration, but their restoration will not be completed until they are adopted back to the line of “the fathers” who are able to save them from the coming harvest.

The “remnant” are those who are descended from Lehi. They are still identifiable (to the Lord) as Nephites,  Jacobites, Josephites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and so forth. (D&C 3: 16-20.) They are known to Him, and are still here, but are without knowledge to save themselves. For that, they also must come to the knowledge of the truth and be restored. (D&C 3: 20; 3 Ne. 5: 23, among many other places.)

The Jews are those from Jacob who have retained their original identification with Jacob, but who are also lost as members of the House of Israel, or members of the Family of God. Remember, the vineyard is utterly corrupt no matter which group the Lord considers. (Jacob 5: 39.) The status alone will not restore good fruit to the vine. There must be a direct connection, through “the fathers” by adoption into the Family of God, restoring them to “the living vine.” (John 15: 4-5.)

The identification of a Tribe of Israel in the latter-day saint patriarchial blessings does not restore the covenant, nor does it connect you to the “living vine,” nor does it alter the status of being “gentile” by identification. There is another group who are not identified as “gentile,” nor as “Jew,” nor as the “remnant” who are considered “heathen.” These people are “remembered” by the Lord. (2 Ne. 26: 33.) Their inheritance is to come forth in the “first resurrection” where “it shall be tolerble for them.” (D&C 45: 54.) But these other people are not the target of the regrafting. The intended audience and the covenant people to be restored are the “scattered branches” who are unable to bear fruit because they have lost their identification with the original “root” or the “fathers in heaven” as Joseph explained it. (See Elijah Paper.)

The Lord of the vineyard has a plan. It is His. He knows all of us and cares more about each of us than we can even understand. However, His ways are His and are reckoned from the vantage point of the one who owns the vineyard, and who has every intention of providing the highest and most exalted outcome for His vineyard. We would be much better off if we took counsel from Him instead of resisting and rejecting it. As Jacob, whose book we are now considering, put it: “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4: 10.)

Easter

Tomorrow is Easter, April 8th. The Lord rose from the borrowed tomb while it was dark on that morning approximately two millennia ago.

The assortment of thoughts that run through my mind wanders from past to present to the future. He  dominates the landscape no matter where the thoughts run on this approaching Easter:

What are these wounds on your hands and feet?

“Those I suffered in the house of my friends.”

How is it possible?

“By the power given unto me from the Father I have overcome all things.”

Did not our hearts burn within us?

He is dressed in red, coming in judgment, to reward those who waited on Him and to punish and remove the wicked.

The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The Lion of Judah. The Son of David. The Scepter of Judah. The Slain. The Risen. The Redeemer.

So we might understand who He is and have faith in Him, He declared in meekness: “I am greater than them all,” and “I am more intelligent than them all.”  And again, I am the light and the life of the world. I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”

“What I call ‘clean’ call thou not ‘unclean.'”

“Therefore I command you to repent– repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore– how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit– and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink– Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”

Why is it “preparations” Lord?

“It is given unto you to choose. I can prepare, but you must choose to repent. I call upon all men to repent and come unto Me.”

Seeing, they do not understand, hearing, they do not listen. They have lost the desire for knowledge and they have fallen away. Isaiah said we would change the ordinances, break the covenant, but Christ tells us to pray continually: Thy will be done, thy kingdom come…

To rescue a broken and fallen people, we have His light and the life He gave for us. Look unto Him and live. We have hope in Christ Jesus.

The Glorious One. The Father of the saved. The Firstborn. The Son of God. Jehovah.

Jacob 5: 48-51

The vineyard fails continually because of “the loftiness of the vineyard.” (5: 48.) That is, the pride and arrogance of Israel itself is the cause of continual failure. They run faster then they are able, reaching what they cannot attain, claiming to have what they do not have, and relying on their conceit rather than the Lord. As a result, the branches overcome the roots. They grew faster than could be accommodated, and took strength to themselves, which always defeats fruit production. (Id.)
The Lord’s exasperation with this complete failure results in the announcement that He was going to return to the vineyard, “hew down the trees” and then “cast them into the fire” so they no longer cumbered the land. (5: 49.) It was time to return and destroy everything. Or, to use a phrase from Malachi, to “smite the whole earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4: 6.) We see in this that the Lord does actually consider smiting the entire earth. The allegory reveals it. It is indeed possible for the Lord to consider that as an option.
The only way to prevent it is for the “vineyard” to again bring forth fruit worth laying up against the season of the harvest. It failed. There was a universal apostasy. The Lord announced it was His intention to destroy all the people of the earth. (5: 49.) But it was the “servant” who pleaded for the Lord to “spare it a little longer.” (Id.) In Zenos’ allegory, the Lord is the one wanting to destroy the vineyard. When He was in His mortal ministry, the Lord reversed these roles. He had the angels wanting to destroy, and the Lord being patient. (See, Matt. 13: 28-30.) In both, the judgment is postponed until something worthy of preserving can be brought into the harvest. The Lord agrees to spare the vineyard despite the universal failure to bring about “fruit” because it “grieveth” Him to see such a loss, so great a waste. (5: 51.)
Now all of this is about history. It has already happened. Zenos wrote in the unified kingdom, before the division into the Northern Kingdom, or Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, or Kingdom of Judah. He wrote before Isaiah, and before Jeremiah. His prophecy became a benchmark from which other, later prophets would draw in fashioning their own prophecies.
Using these allegorical themes and images (tree, branches, transplanting, grafting, laboring, gathering, burning, trimming, pruning, etc.), we can see what happened historically with the scattering of Israel. Now, however, we have reached a point in the allegory where the events are either current or future. They are underway. This part of the allegory relates to us. It is meant to warn us about the time we live.
We think we’ve gotten the benefit of the Lord’s hand in the effort now underway. However, there is nothing going on at this time in the vineyard that should make us think we can relax. There is more pruning, gathering and yet more labor, before we yield fruit.
As we continue from this point forward, we must pay more attention. It is a blueprint for how the Lord is dealing with us. We should take every opportunity to consider how the prophecy may be intended to warn us against our own “loftiness” and ultimate failure.

Jacob 5: 48-51

The vineyard fails continually because of “the loftiness of the vineyard.” (5: 48.) That is, the pride and arrogance of Israel itself is the cause of continual failure. They run faster then they are able, reaching what they cannot attain, claiming to have what they do not have, and relying on their conceit rather than the Lord. As a result, the branches overcome the roots. They grew faster than could be accommodated, and took strength to themselves, which always defeats fruit production. (Id.)
The Lord’s exasperation with this complete failure results in the announcement that He was going to return to the vineyard, “hew down the trees” and then “cast them into the fire” so they no longer cumbered the land. (5: 49.) It was time to return and destroy everything. Or, to use a phrase from Malachi, to “smite the whole earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4: 6.) We see in this that the Lord does actually consider smiting the entire earth. The allegory reveals it. It is indeed possible for the Lord to consider that as an option.
The only way to prevent it is for the “vineyard” to again bring forth fruit worth laying up against the season of the harvest. It failed. There was a universal apostasy. The Lord announced it was His intention to destroy all the people of the earth. (5: 49.) But it was the “servant” who pleaded for the Lord to “spare it a little longer.” (Id.) In Zenos’ allegory, the Lord is the one wanting to destroy the vineyard. When He was in His mortal ministry, the Lord reversed these roles. He had the angels wanting to destroy, and the Lord being patient. (See, Matt. 13: 28-30.) In both, the judgment is postponed until something worthy of preserving can be brought into the harvest. The Lord agrees to spare the vineyard despite the universal failure to bring about “fruit” because it “grieveth” Him to see such a loss, so great a waste. (5: 51.)
Now all of this is about history. It has already happened. Zenos wrote in the unified kingdom, before the division into the Northern Kingdom, or Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, or Kingdom of Judah. He wrote before Isaiah, and before Jeremiah. His prophecy became a benchmark from which other, later prophets would draw in fashioning their own prophecies.
Using these allegorical themes and images (tree, branches, transplanting, grafting, laboring, gathering, burning, trimming, pruning, etc.), we can see what happened historically with the scattering of Israel. Now, however, we have reached a point in the allegory where the events are either current or future. They are underway. This part of the allegory relates to us. It is meant to warn us about the time we live.
We think we’ve gotten the benefit of the Lord’s hand in the effort now underway. However, there is nothing going on at this time in the vineyard that should make us think we can relax. There is more pruning, gathering and yet more labor, before we yield fruit.
As we continue from this point forward, we must pay more attention. It is a blueprint for how the Lord is dealing with us. We should take every opportunity to consider how the prophecy may be intended to warn us against our own “loftiness” and ultimate failure.

Jacob 5: 42-47

There was no fruit being produced anywhere in the vineyard. The Lord recognized that. The separated branches that He had visited were able to produce covenant sons and daughters of God, only to fail to keep the covenant alive. “[N]ow all the trees of [the] vineyard are good for nothing save it be to be hewn down and cast into the fire.” (5: 42.) That does not mean they aren’t going to be preserved. They will, but they will suffer the wrath of God. Then they will come forth at the end of the season, and be placed in a position of Telestial Glory to dwell in the same condition as this fallen world. (D&C 76: 81-85.) From the Lord’s perspective, that is undesireable. It is failure. It is tragic. This is the native condition this vineyard repeatedly lapses into, even with the Lord and His servant’s continuing care. What more could He do, indeed! How often would He have gathered us, but we refuse. (3 Ne. 10: 5.)

Even when the Lord bestows peculiar advantages on the branches of His vineyard, the results are not dissimilar to what goes on elsewhere. Highly favored and greatly blessed people seem as indifferent to their salvation as those who inherit challenges and difficulties. (5: 43.) The Lord “cut down that which cumbered this spot of ground, that I might plant this tree in the stead thereof.” (5: 44; see also, Ether 13: 1.) He provided the best spot in the vineyard by destroying the people inhabiting it. Then, as we shall see, He destroys the branches brought there once they also fail to produce suitable fruit.

The good spot was cleansed of the bad branches, yet the bad still overcame the good. (5: 45.) The Nephite civilization was, in the end, entirely overcome and destroyed because it failed to produce any more sons and daughters of God.

As the Lord surveyed the entire vineyard, He saw nothing but universal failure. There was no fruit able to be preserved against the coming season of judgment. The whole earth was worthy of destruction, because there were none whose hearts were sealed to the fathers in heaven, members of the Family of God, who could endure His presence at His return. In other words, there was no righteous branch living on the earth. All manner of fruit claimed to be good. All kinds of pretenders were claiming they were of God. They clammored “lo here!” and “lo, there!” and claimed they could deliver souls from hell. Yet no one was able to bring the living into contact with God, which was required in order for them to receive the “testimony of Jesus” promising them eternal life. (D&C 76: 51-55.) The Lord needed to begin over again. The vineyard was void of fruit-bearing trees. Despite this, the Lord reflected “it grieveth me that I should lose them.” (5: 46.) The Lord takes the salvation of mankind seriously. It is His work. And when they fail, He grieves.

The Lord lists all He does to try to provoke His “tree” to bear fruit. He does not “slacken his hand” nor does he fail to “nourish” it. (5: 47.) He “digged,” and He “pruned,” and He “dunged” the tree. These efforts include sending the Light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, scriptures, prophets, angels, visions, dreams and signs in the heavens above and the earth beneath. He has done this continually for His vineyard. But these many gifts from God, and the great work He has done have failed to produce fruit. At last He poses the question to His servant: “Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?” (Id.) A worthy question, indeed. The answer is surprising, because it does not require a devil to be involved.

Jacob 5: 38-41

The Lord’s inspection of the vineyard was global. Even the “nethermost parts of the vineyard” were examined for fruit. (5: 38.) Despite the opportunities given to the vineyard, “the fruit of the natural branches” which belonged to the original root and should have been able to bear fruit “had become corrupt also.” (5: 39.) No matter where you looked, “the first and the second and also the last; …they had all become corrupt.” (Id.) The apostasy was now universal. It was not possible for the Lord to find fruit worth preserving anywhere in His vineyard. The ordinances were changed. The covenant was broken. (Isa. 24: 5.)

Apostasy is always marked by a change of ordinances and breaking of the covenant. Then everything can continue to mimic the truth, but there can be no fruit. The apostates can keep the vocabulary, claim to have the truth and worship the God of Israel, use the same scriptures as were written by those who were in and kept the covenant, and assume they are either in or headed toward Zion and that “all is well” even as they are covered in chains and bound for hell. (2 Ne. 28: 23-25.) Then the apostasy can rule from the rivers to the ends of the earth, but no-one is capable of telling them to be afraid. While in Satan’s power, they think themselves blessed.

The “fruit” to be “laid up against the season” is highly specific. It is God’s own family. Those who are bound to Him directly, in an unbroken covenant of adoption, where He recognizes them as His “sons and daughters” and has told them so in an unbreakable bond. (Mosiah 27: 25.) Those who receive Him receive this oath from Him. And through it, He covenants with them, in a bond which He cannot break, that they are His sons and His daughters and heirs to all the Father has. (D&C 84: 35-40.) It will not be an imitation, which does not create “fruit” but it will be Him and His covenant. For “all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 88: 35.) He will come to and “comfort” those with this covenant. (John 14: 18.) This is not by proxy, or through an appearance “in the heart” through some feeling, but is an actual appearance leading to an actual bond that cannot be broken, and therefore comforts the sojourner in this lone and dreary world. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)

Because there were no longer any who remained in the vineyard with this covenant, or who were adopted into the Family of God, or who were suitable to be preserved through the burning of the vineyard, the entire vineyard, from the first to the last, “had all become corrupt.” (5: 39.) Even in the best spot in the vineyard, “the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died.” (5: 40.) The Nephite fall was complete. Nothing remained. All was wild and unsuitable, entirely corrupt.

At this terrible state of man “the Lord of the vineyard wept.” (5: 41.) The Lord’s work and glory is to produce fruit from His vineyard. (Moses 1: 39.) The Lord of the vineyard is not able to withhold His tears at our dreadful plight. He is moved with compassion for us. (Heb. 4: 15, see also Matt. 14: 14.)

As the Lord looked at the complete failure of the entire vineyard, He reflected with sorrow: “What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (5: 41.) The Lord does not fault us. He examines Himself. He begins His inventory of what went wrong with His own actions, not ours. We who rebel against Him are not faulted by Him. But He wonders how He might have been the better Lord. It ought to cause us to weep to realize who He really is, and what He really thinks.