How Blessed Are They Who Have Labored Diligently in His Vineyard

The Earth is the Lord’s vineyard and souls that have yielded to the enticing of the Holy Spirit and become true followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, are the desired fruit. One last harvest will occur in the last days before Christ’s return.

“…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. And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard; and how cursed are they who shall be cast out into their own place! And the world shall be burned with fire.” (Jacob 6:2-3)

Questions:

-Do you see this last harvest occurring in our world today?

-Is the wheat being separated from the tares as described in Christ’s parable? (see Matthew 13:25-30)

-Will the world be burned by literal fire according to this prophecy?

-Is the unveiled presence of God like a burning fire to all that is corrupt?

This Is the Last Time I Shall Nourish My Vineyard

Jacob quotes the words of the prophet Zenos (who is not found in the Old Testament but likely had writings in the Brass Plates) regarding the last days before Christ’s Second Coming.

“And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.” (Jacob 5:70-71)

Questions:

-How many in the world are laboring in God’s vineyard with their might?

-What is the significance of the servants being few?

-Do you believe that Christ’s Second Coming will occur soon?

-Would many reprioritize their life focus is they believed a labor was available to them that would yield eternal fruit?

The Lord God Shall Cause a Great Division among the People

Nephi prophesies about the great division that will occur among the inhabitants of the earth as the Lord gathers the house of Israel out of all lands and peoples during the last days.

“…It shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth. And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. For the time speedily cometh that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.”  (2 Nephi 30:8-10)

Questions:

-Who are the Lord’s people?

-According to these versus, what kind of person will the Lord help and protect as wickedness grows around the world?

-Will the kind of people the Lord will protect and gather during the last days take joy in seeing the wicked suffer? Are those who are humble and meek likely to have ill will towards others and have a vengeful spirit?

-Would God destroy the wicked other than to spare His people?

-Does God reprove anyone who is willing to repent and come to his Son, Jesus Christ (regardless of whether they are of the house of Israel or not)?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“I testify that as the forces of evil increase under Lucifer’s leadership and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus Christ, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation. As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested. God’s wrath will soon shake the nations of the earth and will be poured out on the wicked without measure. (See JS—H 1:45; D&C 1:9.)” (Ezra Taft Benson, “I Testify,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 87).

The Lord Covenanteth with None Save it be with Them That Repent and Believe in His Son

After prophesying about some of the beliefs and misconceptions that would keep many of the Gentiles from accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and also the blessings that would come to the house of Israel in the last days, Nephi warns his people that no one receives salvation by birthright. Covenant blessings can only be made fully alive through repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed. For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 30:1-2)

Questions:

-Do the verses above imply that most of the Gentiles will repent and become part of the Lord’s covenant people in the last days? Or, do they imply that it will be a relatively small proportion that will do so? (see The Gentiles Shall Deny Me)

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“We need a strong faith in Christ to be able to repent” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf,“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 100).

My Word Shall be Gathered in One

As the Lord gathers the house of Israel in the last days, He will also gather all His revelation they have received (and written down).

Wherefore, because ye have a Bible ye need not suppose it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it. (2 Nephi 29:10-12)

“…It shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29:13-14)

Questions:

-What level of spiritual strength and light will result when this prophecy is fulfilled as God gathers His previously dispersed revelations into one?

-If the words of the Jews is the Bible and the words of the Nephites is the Book of Mormon, what divinely inspired book (or books) will come from the lost tribes of Israel?

Have Ye Obtained A Bible Save It Were by the Jews?

Through the writings of the prophet Nephi (in about 559-545 B.C.), the Lord addresses those who would fight against the additional scripture He would bring forth in the last days. He addresses the Gentiles hardened view of what He would or wouldn’t do in terms of additional scripture and contrasts their sense of possession towards the Bible against their lack of appreciation towards, and general mistreatment of, the Jewish people whose ancestors brought it to them.

“…My words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel; And, because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?” (2 Nephi 29:2-4)

“O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people. Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?” (2 Nephi 29:5-6)

Questions:

-Is much of the full meaning and message of the Bible lost if there is not a deep appreciation and love for the people through which the Lord brought the Bible into being and an understanding of the eternal covenants He made with them regarding their descendants?

-Is a religion that does not give proper attention and nourishment to its roots truly living and viable? Is it fully alive if the same power of continuing revelation that created the roots does not animate the branches?

-Do you believe the words above are the Lord’s and that a large portion of Christianity needed a strong wakeup call, through the Book of Mormon and other Restoration scriptures, regarding their relationship with — and actions towards — the Jews and the house of Israel more generally? Is the Lord’s use of the word “fool” indicative of the depth of the folly He was addressing?

-How much of the tragedy that unfolded during the first half of the 20th Century in Europe could have been avoided if the Lord’s voice would have been respected and heard when these verses were published as part of the Book of Mormon in the early part of the 19th Century?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“We, the members of the Church, and particularly the missionaries, have to be the ‘hissers,’ or the tellers and testifiers, of the Book of Mormon unto the ends of the earth” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, 65).

The Words of Your Seed Should Proceed Forth Out of My Mouth unto Your Seed

The Lord speaks to Nephi about the great work He will do to recover the house of Israel (including Nephi’s and Nephi’s father’s descendants) in the last days.

“…I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel. And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed…” (2 Nephi 29:1-2)

Questions:

-When the Lord speaks of His “mouth” is He referring figuratively to Joseph Smith who translated the Book of Mormon?

-Are Lehi’s descendant’s hearing the words of their ancestors through the Book of Mormon?

The Gentiles Will Deny Me

Nephi prophesies that, as the house of Israel is gathered out of the Gentile nations in the last days, many (if not most) of the Gentiles will deny Christ’s work because they will trust their own thought systems and the security of their social networks more than the witness and power of the Holy Ghost.

Cursed is he who putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 28:31-32)

Questions:

-How tempting is it to trust the power of mankind (that works on a mortal and temporal scale) more than God (who works on an eternal scale)?

-Can mortal and temporal power seem like the only power that matters if one does not receive the Holy Ghost’s witness of eternal power?

Wo Be unto Him That Is at Ease in Zion

The prophet Nephi describes some of the methods the devil will use in the last days to lull souls into a state of spiritually destructive complacency.

“…Others will he pacify and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion.” (2 Nephi 28:21-24)

Questions:

-Why is spiritual complacency equivalent to spiritual death?

-What forces make it next to impossible to stand still in terms of spiritual growth versus spiritual atrophy?

Messages of the Presiding Bishopric:

“Every act, good or bad, has a consequence. Every good act improves our ability to do good and more firmly stand against sin or failure. Every transgression, regardless of how minor, makes us more susceptible to Satan’s influence the next time he tempts us. Satan takes us an inch at a time, deceiving us as to the consequences of so-called minor sins until he captures us in major transgressions. Nephi describes this technique as one of pacifying, lulling, and flattering us away until Satan ‘grasps [us] with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance’ (2 Ne. 28:22; see also v. 21)” (Richard C. Edgley, “That Thy Confidence Wax Strong,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 40).

At That Day Shall He Rage in the Hearts of the Children of Men

After giving the Lord’s assurance that those who repent will not be destroyed, Nephi extends a warning to those living in the last days (the time in which we now live): Before being destroyed, the devil and his kingdom will grasp desperately at the hearts of all in an attempt to anger them against God’s light and goodness.

“…If the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts. But, behold that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof. For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.” (2 Nephi 28:17-20)

Questions:

-What would lead a soul to “anger against that which is good”?

-In a scenario where the light and power of God’s work becomes more and more evident on the earth, will it be possible for those who do not repent to avoid becoming angry?

-Will things reach such an awful state among those who have consolidated against God’s work that a portion of those who have been lulled into the devil’s kingdom will wake to their terrible situation and repent?