Due to work and some pressing family concerns, I have not had much time to work on the Allegory Topic. It has been frustrating because I am really excited about it, but have not been able to spend the time writing more about it.
I was looking forward to spending all of yesterday (Saturday) working on it but Mrs Watcher had other plans for me in the garden.
As a child growing up in my family us kids established my Dad's power-base within the family by letting everyone know that;
“Daddy is in charge cuz Mommy says!”
Having a similar power-base, now that I am the patriarch of a family, when Mrs Watcher explained to me that the garden was a higher priority on my Saturday list of things to do than the blog, I realized she must be right… because “Mommy says!”
We recently went to a “square foot gardening” seminar and wanted to get an early start on our garden this year.
So this short post on the Lord’s Sabbath will have to do for a while.
Mrs Watcher and I have some dear friends that we study with every Sunday Morning. We have been doing this for years. Initially we would meet together at our home or theirs but since it is a 1 ½ hour drive between where we currently live in Idaho and where they live in Utah, our Sunday morning study sessions have become Sunday morning “conference calls” that last anywhere from about one hour to three hours depending on schedules, the topic, the spirit, etc..
The husband of this heretical couple whose initials are SF visits this site and the anarchy site (under a different name) from time to time but rarely posts any replies… he is a rather shy person when it comes to posting replies on blogs.
A few weeks ago I mentioned to him and his other half that NEPT had requested me to identify the three watches in the allegory in Jacob so we began studying Jacob together (for about the 20th time over the years) in our Sunday study session.
Our study session ended abruptly when visitors showed up at our home… but to my surprise and delight, the next day SF emailed me a summary of the allegory notating where the three watches were and providing additional insights. That was very helpful to me since my memory is leaving me.
Mrs Watcher and I have had some really enjoyable study sessions regarding this topic since getting the summary from SF and my eldest Son who also visits this blog periodically, but like SF is rather shy, seldom posts replies, has called and emailed me several times with questions, comments and observations regarding the allegory.
Others have also emailed questions and observations directly. In some cases I suppose it is because they don’t feel comfortable doing replies and in other cases their questions were of a sensitive nature and they felt their was a better chance that I would respond.. or respond in greater detail if they used email instead of the blog to correspond.
Anyway, there are lots of people who have participated directly or indirectly in the beginning and future parts of this topic.
I want to thank NEPT for suggesting the Allegory as a topic of study and I want to thank SF for getting me jump started on it.
I also want to thank my wife and my son and, NEPT, DUDE, TRUTHSEEKERTOO and LOVE MONSTER and everyone else who has in some way, currently or in the past, contributed to this topic and has provided thought provoking observations in the reply sections that relate to this allegory. Undoubtedly some of those observations are going to find their way into some of the posts on this study on the allegory.
I was really touched by the following comment NEPT made to DUDE;
“Dude, I really appreciate your latest musings. I've benefited so much from the "burnings in my bosom" that I've received lately, and reading your post was no exception. Although you, OWIW (and Mrs. Watcher), and I are only "gathered" via the internet, our discussions bring to mind D&C 6:32 (Matt 18:20)...
Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.”
Indeed, I really do feel the spirit of the Lord in a much stronger degree when I am able to hear someone else’s testimony as they share what the spirit is confirming to them in their gospel study.
Additionally, there really is a synergistic cross-pollination that takes as we all share what we are seeing, feeling and learning.
So, as I continue to plug along in sharing my observations and interpretations of the allegory in the days and perhaps weeks ahead, please feel free to share your own observations and interpretations as well.
As always, I love it when people challenge me when they think I am wrong.. that is how we all learn.
According to Wikipedia, an Allegory, is an expression by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation…. The etymological meaning of the word is broader than the common use of the word. Though it is similar to other rhetorical comparisons, an allegory is sustained longer and more fully in its details than a metaphor, and appeals to imagination, while an analogy appeals to reason or logic. The fable or parable is a short allegory with one definite moral.
It also states that fictions with several possible interpretations are not allegories in the true sense. ... This is important to understand because the primary meaning behind the allegory in Jacob is not relative or optional but rather there is a very definitive, identifiable meaning behind every symbolic word use, from roots, trees, branches, to dig, prune, nourish, dung, graft to Lord of the Vineyard and his servant and the storyline in general.
Understanding what each term means is obviously critical in getting the most out of the allegory.
However, as I previously mentioned, I am not going to do an extensive breakdown of every word, term and meaning… at least, not yet.
Remember, the primary purpose of this exercise is to show the LDS Foundation movement in the 2nd watch as a separate, distinct, identifiable event from the 1st and 3rd watches in the allegory of the olive tree found in Jacob five.
Obviously, other things will surface along the way… in fact some additional things already have.
One of the things I want to point out in this second part of the allegory has to do with the concept that characterizes how the Lord of the Vineyard comes and goes.
In other words, he sometimes visits the vineyard and labors among the vineyard with his servant for a period of time and during other periods he leaves them on their own to grow however they choose to grow and mature.
In a sense I suppose some people have a problem with this characterization of God because we believe and there is scriptural support for the fact that God is all omniscient and omnipresent.
Although he does know all things and although his spirit is in all things and through all things and he is always upholding and sustaining us to whatever extent we are willing to feed off of it, the plain and simple fact of the matter is that his active participating in laboring in the vineyard is in fact sporadic whether we like it or not and whether it seems logical or not, it is easily documented in the scriptures that he does in fact come and go.
Sometimes he is near and sometimes he is not. This really brings up some interesting theological questions pertaining to fairness and other issues.
Why were some people able to live on the earth in Jerusalem at the time Christ came in his earthly ministry, when he was near.
Why were some people living among the Nephites when Christ came down among them and established a Zion... when he was near.
Why were some people able to live during the time of the LDS restoration movement in the Kirtland area when Christ was in their midst? Even though he could not be seen by most of the Saints, he was near.
Compare those groups of people and the opportunities they had to those who lived during the dark ages when the gospel light was not on the earth and the Lord of the Vineyard was not near.
Why do some people live on earth when he is near while others live when he is not near?
Although we can speculate and perhaps assume that it is interrelated to the events of the pre-existence we just don’t know the details.
What we do know, from the events of religious history and from the word of God in the scriptures, is that the Lord of the Vineyard does in fact come and go.
The words of Isaiah support this reality;
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near..”
Clearly, Isaiah understood that there were appointed times when the Lord is near and other times when his is not near.
I am not saying that there are times when it is impossible for the humble follower of Christ to get inspiration through prayer, I am saying that there are times when a Gospel Dispensation is on the earth and God is speaking to and nourishing his people via the bringing forth of scripture and by having an anointed prophet on the earth.
With this in mind, let me provide a powerful evidence that the beginning of the dispensation of the last times that Joseph Smith ushered in back in the 1830’s was to be followed by a time when the Lord of the Vineyard would leave the vineyard and then return again at a later time.
Notice the similarity to the above scripture in Isaiah in the following statement in modern revelation given to the brethren in Jackson County in December of 1832;
“And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near” D&C 88:62
I believe the above admonition the Lord gave the Saints in Kirtland provides one more evidence that the Lord of the Vineyard was going to be leaving and then returning at a future time.
With that observation behind us, I want to make just one more before we begin looking at the allegory.
My Son reminded me the other day just how critical it is to get the correct definitions on the words used in the allegory.
I agree, however, I want to allow things to evolve over time as we review this allegory… and I want to give some of you who want to share what some of the definitions are… hopefully, that will give me enough time and information to figure out what some of the definitions of some of the words are! LOL
One of the significant players in the allegory is the servant of the Lord of the Vineyard. I assume that we all agree that the Lord of the Vineyard is Christ. I am not sure that defining who the servant is, is quite as easy.
The generally accepted interpretation of the allegory that I noted earlier says the “servant” represents Gods “prophets”.
I think the “servant” is a specific, identifiable being and personage that is the same personage that accompanies the Lord of the Vineyard IN ALL THREE WATCHES!
To say that “servant” is a general reference to Gods “prophets” is inconsistent later on in the parable when the “servant” singular takes “other servants” plural with him in the 3rd watch. There are other problems with that interpretation as well.
Now, if I am correct, then I have probably created a little confusion for some of the people reading this post. Particularly those who are intimately familiar with just how much emphasis I put on the important reoccurring roles of people like Joseph Smith the Seer and Sidney Rigdon the Spokesman in the 2nd and 3rd watches. Obviously, they would both be possible candidates for this role for several reasons except for the fact that they are participating in all three watches, not just the last two.
How could Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon be the Servant of the Lord of the Vineyard if the Servant participated in the 1st watch?
I originally wanted to keep this three watches blog focused on the three watches doctrine and to stay away from deeper, more controversial doctrines. That is why I started the www.onewhoiswatching.wordpress.com blog, so that I could have a place to post some of my deeper, more controversial and often Off-topic posts without drowning those who are interested in gaining a greater understanding of the Marvelous Work and a Wonder in deeper waters that they didn’t want to swim in… but as you can see from several of my latest posts, I have failed to keep this blog as tame as I wanted to.
In order to do justice to my thoughts on the Servant I would need to go deeper into who each of the personages in the Godhead are.
You are probably aware that Joseph Smith is attributed as saying that the Holy Ghost, referring to the 3rd member of the Godhead, is currently in a probationary state pertaining to this earth.
The fundamentalists of course take that statement to show that Joseph Smith is the Holy Ghost… you can actually build an interesting case for that postulation.. however, there are other possibilities as well.
As you know, I have been very critical of the Adam God doctrine taught by Brigham Young, however, what many people are not aware of is that Brigham Young actually taught two separate, conflicting Adam God Doctrines.
It is the most famous and most controversial version of the Adam God Doctrine wherein BY taught that Adam was the Father of Jesus Christ that I have taken issue with, HOWEVER, the other heretical Adam-God doctrine that Brigham Young taught is actually not quite so easy to debunk!
At some point in time I am going to cover that doctrine and the implications of it. I have not decided whether I will do that on this blog or the other one, but in the mean time, I invite anyone that wants to, to state who you think the Servant is and why you feel that way.
Another definition that becomes crucial is that of the “roots”.
When you see how I interpret the roots in this post you will see another reason why some interpretations of the Servant become even more problematic.
Now, instead of starting with the 3rd watch and working through the allegory backwards like a good Jew might do, and instead of beginning at the very first and working toward the end like a good gentile might do, I want to begin in the allegory at the time of the 2rd watch I think this is the most misunderstood and confusing part of the allegory to most people… we will undoubtedly work our way towards the other parts eventually.
Jacob 5:29-31 Tells how the Lord of the Vineyard and his servant go back to the vineyard in the 2nd watch after having been gone a long time. They wanted to check up on the tree whose natural branches (The Jews) had been broken off and the wild branches (the Gentiles) had been grafted in during the 1st watch.
They observe that the Gentiles had been nourished for a long time as a result of the gospel going to them in the meridian of time and that in fact much fruit had previously been harvested.
Verse 32 however reveals something very disturbing about the current state of the vineyard when the Lord and his Servant come down to take inventory of the situation;
“But behold this time it hath brought forth much fruit, and there is none of it which is good”
This was the state of things both when the Lord of vineyard returns, before the restoration of the church and priesthood as well as after the church and priesthood was restored.
Notice the reply that God gave Joseph Smith when he inquired which church he should join in the grove ten years before the legal restoration of the Church;
" My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
(Joseph Smith, "History of the Church, Vol. 1, page 5-6.)
Even after the legal restoration of the Church, as the Lord of the Vineyard and his Servant are laboring, things are not good. Notice how clear the Lord makes it in modern revelation that the Saints who were living at the time of the 2nd watch were still struggling even after the legal restoration of the Church.
He verifies, consistent with the allegory, that the vineyard had become corrupt, every whit;
“For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and it is the eleventh hour, and the last time that I shall call laborers into my vineyard. And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds. And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this church have I established and called forth out of the wilderness.” D&C 33:4
It is interesting to notice that even though there were a few that did some good, they nevertheless erred in many instances because of priest craft and that the entire vineyard had become corrupt.
Two sections later the Lord uses wording hauntingly similar to the verbiage used in the allegory to demonstrate that NONE of the FRUIT in the vineyard prior to the coming forth of the fulness of the gospel was good;
“And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth unto this generation.” D&C 35:12
In section 82, less than 2 years after the church was legally established, the Lord makes a similar statement;
“Therefore, what I say unto one I say unto all: Watch, for the adversary spreadeth his dominions, and darkness reigneth; And the anger of God kindleth against the inhabitants of the earth; and none doeth good, for all have gone out of the way” D&C 82:6.
Does the phrase “out of the way” ring a bell?
2nd Nephi 28 prophesies about the failure of the latter day restored gentile church to bring forth fruit.
Notice the striking resemblance that the following wording in 2nd Nephi 28 has to the wording in wording in the allegory as well as the wording in the verses above in modern revelation;
“Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up..” 2nd Nephi 28
Verses 33- The Lord of the vineyard asks his servant what shall we do to the tree to preserve the good fruit.
The servant makes the most amazing observation;
“Because thou didst graft in the branches of the wild Olive Tree, [during the 1st watch] they have nourished the roots, that they are alive and they have not perished, wherefore thou beholdest that they are yet good.”
It is from this incredible observation that we see the incredible strategy that was executed in the 1st watch. Outwardly it appears that the taking of the gospel to the Gentiles was done in vain since the wild tree is corrupt and not bringing forth any good fruits in the 2nd watch when the Lord and his servant visit it. However, the mysterious thing that the grafting in of the wild olive tree accomplished is that it preserved the root. The roots are still alive in the 2nd watch!
Who are the roots?
The first clue is that if you look at a tree, the part that you don’t see are the roots. The roots are HIDDEN from view.
If the olive tree and it's branches represent people, it would be consistent that the roots of the trees are people also.. but they are the shepherds that nourish the rest of the tree…. Apparently they are leaders of Israel with priesthood authority, connected by lineage… but these people are hidden from the eyes of the world as to who they really are. They have been HID from the world.
If we do a key word search for "hidden" and "hid" one of the amazing scriptures we find is as follows;
“Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers— For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been HID from the world with Christ in God— Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began. Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.” D&C 86: 9
It is not until the dispensation of the fullness of times that God will openly reveal to his church certain things that have been kept hid from the world;
Undoubtedly, one of the hidden things that will be revealed to the Church in the 3rd watch will be who he is whose right it is to reign over Israel.
Isaiah understood that Israel was likened to a tree and that such terms as stem, rod, root were genealogical terms relating to lineage and priesthood right to reign.
He speaks of several individuals who might well be considered roots according to the definition that Zenos uses in his allegory.
Isaiah speaks of one of the main players in the last days that will arise during the 3rd and final watch as an ensign to the people. This person was active in the ministry in the 2nd watch but comes forth again in the 3rd watch when the Lord sets his hand again, the second time to recover his people;
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people… And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” Isa. 11: 10
Giving further clarity to who this person is, the Lord revealed the following;
“What is the root of Jesse spoken of in the 10th verse of the 11th chapter? Behold, thus saith the Lord, it is a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Joseph, unto whom rightly belongs the priesthood, and the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering of my people in the last days.” D&C 113: 5
We see from the section 86 and other scriptures that certain leaders of the Church such as Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon are roots that have special lineage and priesthood callings. The full understanding of who they are and how critical their involvement is has been hidden from the world.
Verses 35- tell us that despite the Servants observation that the roots are still alive, the Lord of the Vineyard is not happy that the tree is not bringing forth good works.
It is good for nothing as long as it is bringing forth evil works.
In verse 36 the Lord says he has “preserved the roots” for his own purposes. This ties in well with section 86 wherein he tells his anointed servants that “your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things…”
Verses 36 reveals that some good fruits did initially come out of the wild gentile Church, the roots had “hitherto brought forth from the wild branches good fruit” yet in verse 37 we are informed that ultimately the wild branches have grown and “overrun the roots”. It repeats the indictment with a little different terminology; “the wild branches have overcome the roots”. This results in the bringing forth of much evil fruit!
This brings us to the incredible pronouncement by the Lord that the tree is becoming ripened and will need to be cast into the fire unless the do SOMETHING to preserve it!
“…it will soon become ripened that it may be cast into the fire except we should do SOMETHING for it to preserve it….”
We covered this in part one of the Allegory so I will not belabor it, but sufficeth to say, Joseph Smith stated that the Lord had revealed to him that SOMETHING NEW must be done for the salvation of the Church!
“the Lord has revealed to me that SOMETHING new must be done for the Salvation of the Church”
In part 3 we will take up verse 38 wherein the Lord of the Vineyard and the Servant go the nethermost parts of the vineyard to see if the natural branches have also brought forth evil fruit.
The thing I want to leave you pondering is the fact that the wild branches (gentile church) of the 2nd watch first brought forth good fruit for a while and then the roots (Gods anointed Servants) were overcome by the wild branches (Rebellious Members of the Church) who rejected Gods word and refused to live the higher law, ever the fullness of the Gospel.
Many people are not familiar enough with Church History to really understand the significance and depth of the apostasy of the Church in Kirtland, the defiling of the temple and the failure of the Church to redeem Zion at he appointed time of September 11th 1836!
I have scanned a few pages from a book I wrote sometime ago that provides documentation about the severity of the Kirtland Apostasy. I have documented, to some degree, in other articles how dark the Church became following their expulsion from Kirtland and how the spiritual gifts manifested during the early Kirtland period were non-existent during the Far West and Nauvoo periods.
The stealing and plundering that took place as the Saints were being pushed out of their places of refuge is one red flag. The involvement in secret organizations such as the Danites and Masonry should be another red flag regarding the state of the Church. Instead of a man having one wife as commanded in the higher law (section 42), the spiritual wife doctrine and the associated polyandry crept in. That is another red flag.
Instead of the true heavenly endowment of the baptism of fire, the introduction of a Masonic covenant with blood oaths and swearing by their necks, etc. in the temple worship is yet another red flag that the good works being produced by the wild branches had been replaced by evil works.
Indeed the wild branch was becoming ripened and ready for the fire. The same thing would have happened to the Latter day Saints that happened to the Jews in the siege of 73 AD had the Lord of the vineyard not done something NEW to preserve the vineyard.
Next post we will continue on in the allegory... for now, the five pages below will provide a little historical perspective on the Kirtland apostasy. (you may click on the first page for a larger view)