‘Come, Follow Me’ for April 8-14: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Jacob 5-7?

This week’s study guide includes the allegory of the olive tree and Jacob’s encounter with Sherem

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Jacob 5-7, which includes the allegory of the olive tree and Jacob’s encounter with Sherem.

Following are a few quotes from past and present Church leaders about these chapters.

Jacob 5

“In the exquisite allegory in Jacob 5, the Lord of the vineyard planted a good tree in good ground, but it became corrupted over time and brought forth wild fruit. The Lord of the vineyard says eight times: ‘It grieveth me [to] lose this tree.’

“The servant says to the Lord of the vineyard: ‘Spare [the tree] a little longer. And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer’ (Jacob 5:50-51).

“And then comes instruction that can be applied to all of us trying to dig about and find good fruit in our own little vineyards: ‘Ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow’ (Jacob 5:66).

“Unity doesn’t magically happen; it takes work. It’s messy, sometimes uncomfortable, and happens gradually when we clear away the bad as fast as the good can grow.

“We are never alone in our efforts to create unity. Jacob 5 continues, ‘The servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them’ (Jacob 5:72).

“Each of us is going to have deeply wounding experiences, things that should never happen. Each of us will also, at various times, allow pride and loftiness to corrupt the fruit we bear. But Jesus Christ is our Savior in all things. His power reaches to the very bottom and is reliably there for us when we call on Him. We all beg for mercy for our sins and failures. He freely gives it. And He asks us if we can give that same mercy and understanding to each other.”

Sister Sharon Eubank, then the first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, October 2020 general conference, “By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God

“In the Book of Mormon, Jacob, quoting Zenos, spoke of our task today in the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees:

“’Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all other fruit.

“’Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard’ (Jacob 5:61-62).

“The Savior’s call is to you of the rising generation. He is asking for worthy, prepared, faithful young men and young women who will heed the prophet’s voice, who will step up and say, as the Savior Himself said, ‘Here am I, send me’ (Abraham 3:27). The need has never been greater. The field has never been whiter. You are called to go ‘this last time’ (Jacob 5:62). There is no greater work; there is no greater call than teaching ‘all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 28:19).”

Elder Brent H. Nielson, October 2009 general conference, “A Call to the Rising Generation

“[There is a] vivid moment in the Book of Mormon allegory of the olive tree, when after digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, ‘What could I have done more for my vineyard?’ (Jacob 5:41).

“What an indelible image of God’s engagement in our lives! What anguish in a parent when His children do not choose Him nor ‘the gospel of God He sent! How easy to love someone who so singularly loves us!”

Then-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2003 general conference, “The Grandeur of God

Jacob teaches the Nephites in this images from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Jacob teaches the Nephites in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched ‘all the day long’ (Jacob 5:47). Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours.”

— Elder Neal A. Maxwell, October 1991 general conference, “Repentance

“There is a lesson, a profound lesson, in the Book of Mormon. In Jacob’s parable of the olive tree, the lord of the vineyard wept because he had worked so hard but the trees brought forth wild fruit. ‘What could I have done more?’ he asked. ‘Have I slackened my hand, that I have not nourished it, and digged about it and pruned it and stretched forth mine hand almost all day long? What could I have done more for my vineyard? (Jacob 5:47)

“How many bishops with disappointing results have felt to say those very words in their souls? ‘What could I have done more for my ward? Why wild fruit after all our work?’

“It was the servant — it always is the servant — who said, ‘Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard — have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves’ (Jacob 5:48).

“‘Nevertheless,’ the lord of the vineyard said, ‘I know that the roots are good.” (Jacob 5:36). Then he brought cuttings from the trees he had planted in poor ground, for he found them to be strong; and grafted them in that ‘the root and the top may be equal in strength’ (Jacob 5:66).

“There is great meaning in Jacob’s parable for the Church in our generation.

“Meetings and activities can multiply until they take ‘strength unto themselves’ at the expense of the gospel — of true worship. …

“Church activities must be replaced by family activities. Just as we have been taught with temporal affairs, the spirit of independence, thrift and self-reliance will be re-enthroned as guiding principles in the homes of Latter-day Saints.”

— Then-Elder Boyd K. Packer, April 1990 general conference, “Teach Them Correct Principles

“You are growing to maturity in a period of the earth’s history that all of the great prophets of all the ages have looked forward to with anticipation. It is a time of final preparation before the earth and its inhabitants undergo a remarkable transformation. … It is the period during which the Lord and his servants will make the final great effort to take the message of truth to all the peoples of the earth and to reclaim the descendants of ancient Israel who have lost their true identity.

“The prophet Zenos, whom Jacob quotes in the Book of Mormon, compares this effort to the work of the laborers who prune and nurture a vineyard and gather its fruit for the last time. Zenos likens the Savior to the master of the vineyard, who says to those who are his helpers, ‘Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is the last time that I shall prune my vineyard’ (Jacob 5:62).

“You have come to the earth when the foundation has been laid for this great work. The gospel has been restored for the last time. The Church has been established in almost every part of the world. The stage is set for the final dramatic scenes to be enacted. You will be the principal players. You are among the last laborers in the vineyard. This is the yoke that is set upon your necks. This is the service for which you are chosen.”

— Elder Dean L. Larsen, April 1983 general conference, “A Royal Generation

Jacob teaches the Nephites in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Jacob teaches the Nephites in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Jacob 6

“The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is, first, foremost and forever, the source of lasting happiness, true peace and joy for everyone in these latter days. The blessings that flow from the gospel and from Christ’s unlimited benevolence were never meant for only a select few, anciently or in modern times.

“No matter how inadequate we may feel, and despite the sins that may distance us from Him for a time, our Savior assures us that ‘he stretches forth his hands unto [us] all the day long’ (Jacob 6:4), inviting us all to come unto Him and feel His love.”

President Jeffrey R. Holland in the March 2024 Liahona article, “The Savior of All, a Gospel for All

“As we consider the prophet’s invitation to learn to hear God’s voice, are our hearts determined or hardened? Let us remember the counsel given in Jacob 6:6: ‘Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?’ Let us be determined to let God prevail in our lives.”

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, April 2021 general conference, “They Cannot Prevail; We Cannot Fail

“The tender anguish of Jacob’s soul is evident as he expresses grave concern that his people will ‘reject the words of the prophets’ concerning Christ and ‘deny … the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, … and make a mock of the great plan of redemption’ (Jacob 6:8).

“And then, just before he bids farewell, he speaks eight simple words that are the basic text of my message this morning. Jacob’s plea was ‘O be wise; what can I say more?’ (Jacob 6:12).

“Those of you who are parents and grandparents have a sense of what Jacob must have been feeling at the time. He loved his people, partly because they were also his family. He had taught them as clearly as he could and with all the energy of his soul. He warned them in no uncertain terms what would happen if they chose not to ‘enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow’ (Jacob 6:11). He couldn’t think of anything else to say to warn, to urge, to inspire, to motivate. And so he, simply and profoundly, said, ‘O be wise; what can I say more?’…

“Today is in many ways like Jacob’s day. My counsel is like unto his: ‘Repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you’ (Jacob 6:5). Brothers and sisters, be wise with your families. Be wise in fulfilling your Church callings. Be wise with your time. Be wise in balancing all of your responsibilities. O be wise, my beloved brothers and sisters. What can I say more?”

Then-Elder M. Russell Ballard, October 2006 general conference, “O Be Wise

Sherem, right, contends with Jacob in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Sherem, right, contends with Jacob in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Jacob 7

“After a fitting conclusion to his record in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob writes a prophetic postscript. He recounts his experience with a man named Sherem, who tries in vain to ‘shake [him] from the faith’ (Jacob 7:5) using several tactics. Understanding the eroding influence of one who tries to shake our foundation in Jesus Christ is critical today, when information is ubiquitous but wisdom is scarce. …

“Because Sherem ‘had been deceived by the power of the devil’ (Jacob 7:18), he thought he was doing good by correcting a prophet. We can avoid being similarly deceived by today’s Sherems — or becoming like them ourselves — if we appeal to the same three things Jacob appealed to: the Spirit, the scriptures, and the prophets (see Jacob 7:8, 10, 11), especially living ones. This triangle of faith can give us stability and strengthen our spiritual defense as we build our testimony on Jesus Christ and the strength of His words.”

— Benjamin Hyrum White, adjunct professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, in the April 2020 Ensign article, “Sherem’s Skepticism: The Tactics of a Faith Shaker

“Well over half of the counterfeiters in the Book of Mormon use flattering speech and a charismatic personality to achieve their goals. For example, Sherem ‘had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil’ (Jacob 7:4). …

“When the world presents us with an idea, philosophy, or opinion that seems to appeal solely to our vanity or pride or that simply sounds too good to be true, that ought to be a warning to us immediately. Treat those ideas as counterfeit. Compare them against the truths taught by the Lord’s prophets. Look for differences, not similarities, and the counterfeit ideas will become obvious.”

— Dennis C. Gaunt in the 2018 YA Weekly article, “Recognizing Satan’s Counterfeits

“All scriptures are one in that they testify of Jesus. Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet, reminds us that ‘none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ’ (Jacob 7:11).”

-Then-Elder James E. Faust, October 1983 general conference, “The Keystone of Our Religion

Sherem is struck by the power of God in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Sherem is struck by the power of God in this image from the Book of Mormon Videos. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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