As I have been studying The Allegory of the Olive Trees in Jacob 5 this week, I have been marking tender mercies and seeing the Lord’s loving care, attention, and nourishment.
Here are the tender mercies that I found (and I’m sure I missed some as well):
vs 4: The Lord of the vineyard prunes, digs about, and nourishes the tree that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches and perish not
vs 7: It grieveth the master of the vineyard that He should lose this tree
vs 11: The Lord of the vineyard said to His servant that it grieveth Him that He should lose this tree
vs 12 : The Lord of the vineyard tells the servant to watch the tree and nourish it, according to His words
vs 13: The Lord of the vineyard says that it grieveth Him that He should lose this tree and the fruit thereof
vs 15: The Lord of the vineyard says to the servant, “come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard.”
vs 19: The Lord of the vineyard said unto HIs servant: “come, let us go to the nethermost part of the vineyard.”
The Lord doesn’t forget where He has placed the other branches. He knows where each and every one of them are.
vs 20: The Lord of the vineyard has nourished the tree this long time
vs 22: The tree was in a poor spot of ground but it was still ok because the Lord of the vineyard had nourished it for this long time.
vs 23: Another tree was in ground that was even poorer than the first, but the Lord of the vineyard has nourished it this long time and it has brought forth much fruit.
vs 31: The Lord of the vineyard said, Behold, this long time have I nourished this tree
vs 33: The Lord of the vineyard says unto the servant: what shall we do unto the tree, that I may preserve again good fruit thereof unto mine own self?
vs 41: The Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: what could I have done more for my vineyard?
vs 46: The Lord of the vineyard laments that notwithstanding all the care which we have taken of His vineyard, the trees thereof have become corrupted, that they bring forth no good fruit. It grieveth Him that He should lose them.
vs 47: The Lord of the vineyard says, “But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay. 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 and the end draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down the trees of my vineyard; and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
vs 51: The Lord of the vineyard listens to the servant’s pleas to spare it a little longer and says “yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.”
vs 58: The Lord of the vineyard says to the servant, “we will nourish again the trees of my vineyard, and we will trim up the branches thereof.”
vs 61-62: The Lord of the vineyard tells the servant to call more servants so that they may labor diligently with their might in the vineyard, for the end draweth nigh.
vs 63-64: The Lord of the vineyard and the servants graft, dig about, prune, dung, and nourish the trees for the last time
vs 66: The Lord of the vineyard tells the servants that it grieveth Him that He should lose the trees of His vineyard
vs 71: The Lord of the vineyard tells the servants to labor in the vineyard with their might and if they labor with their might, they shall have joy in the fruit which the Lord of the vineyard shall lay up
vs 72: The Lord of the vineyard labored also with them and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.
vs 75: The servants will have joy with the Lord of the vineyard because of the fruit of His vineyard
I love this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland:
“There is much more here than simply the unraveling of convoluted Israelite history. Of greater significance in this allegory is the benevolent view of God that it provides. He is portrayed here as one who repeatedly, painstakingly, endlessly tries to save the work of His hands and in moments of greatest disappointment holds His head in His hands and weeps, ‘What could I have done more for my vineyard?’ (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49.) This allegory is a declaration of divine love, of God’s unceasing effort as a father laboring on behalf of His children. As one writer has noted, ‘Zenos’s allegory ought to take its place beside the parable of the prodigal son. Both stories make the Lord’s mercy so movingly memorable.'”
Because we have been growing this little garden over the past few months, studying this allegory this time through has been much more meaningful and personal than it has in the past. The allegory has come alive for me more this time. I can relate to the feelings of grieving losing any of the trees (plants in my case).
There have been a few plants (mostly the tomatoes, but also the spinach) that have had issues. Some of their branches have shriveled up and died.
Some of them have been producing a few flowers, but no fruit.
I have grieved the loss of these plants because of all the resources, time, care, attention, and hope that I have poured into them over these past 3 months.
There have been a few times that I almost threw out those particular plants because I thought they were past saving. But my love for the plants kept me from throwing them out, and instead motivated me to keep pressing forward and keep praying for them and watching and nurturing them.
Miraculously, they have continued to grow. In place of the shriveled, dead branches, they have shot forth new young and tender branches.
They still aren’t producing fruit yet, but I am continuing to pray, nurture, and hope that someday they will.
There is one tomato plant in particular, the Orange Cherry Tomato variety. It was planted on the same day (January 8th) as the other 4 tomato plants, but it is far behind in terms of growth. It was growing at about the same rate as the others and looked healthy, until it was a few weeks old and I started noticing that it was looking sick – the main trunk/stem was losing its hairiness, and some of the lower leaves/branches were drying up and dying.
When I noticed these negative developments, I immediately grieved because of the loss of this plant and I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to preserve it and to teach me how to take care of it and give it what it needed.
I thought, well, maybe it needs more water? Or maybe it needs more light? More airflow? After giving it the care that I thought it needed for a few days, it didn’t seem to get any better. In fact, it was getting worse.
I feared that it had some sort of tomato plant disease so I didn’t want to keep it next to the other plants, in case of transferring the disease to the others. I thought about just cutting my losses and throwing it out, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I still loved that plant, even though it seemed to be dying.
I put it on the bathroom counter, until I could figure out what to do with it. Over the next few weeks, it didn’t get as much light as normal (because it was no longer under the grow lights and the bathroom light wasn’t on all the time). It got watered every so often when I would remember. Most of me was just waiting for it to die all the ways so I wouldn’t feel as bad about throwing it out.
Instead, the plant continued to grow taller and to get new branches and leaves at the top, but the main stem/trunk just looked more and more sickly and the bottom branches continued to shrivel up and die.
I was always amazed that it was still growing at all. And because of that growth, I just still couldn’t bring myself to throw it out just yet. I honestly felt that this little tomato plant was livin’ on a prayer… the prayer that I had said at the beginning of February, asking Heavenly Father to preserve this plant, so that I may lay up fruit unto myself.
After seeing that it was still continuing to grow, I decided to put it on the windowsill so it would at least get a little more light.
At the beginning of March, I had the thought come to me that maybe I could cut off the top (the part that was the most healthy), put it in water, see if it would grow new roots, and then plant it in soil again.
So that’s what I did. I cut the healthy top branches away from the dying part and stuck it in a jar of water for a couple of weeks. I would check it every few days to see if any new roots had started growing, but for a while, nothing was happening. Finally, about 12 days later, I noticed new roots. (which I’m sad I forgot to take a picture of)
Yesterday, I planted that little tomato plant, with the new roots, into new soil and I placed it back under the grow lights.
I continue to pray for this little plant and I continue to pour my heart and hope into it that it may grow healthy and strong this time and may produce good fruit.
This experience has made The Allegory of the Olive trees come to be even more personal and meaningful for me.
How much greater this feeling must be when it’s not just trees/plants, but people (because that is what the trees are symbolizing in this allegory). The Lord cares deeply about each and every one of us. He weeps at the thought of losing any of us. He continues to nourish and nurture us for as long as it takes.