Friday, February 28, 2014

Jacob 5:73-74

"And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.
And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning."
Jacob 5:73-74

This is part of Zenos' allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, which is really interesting if you haven't read it yet.  In the beginning of the allegory, the master of the vineyard is sad because his tame olive tree is dying, even though he has done everything he can.  So, he and his servant decide to save whatever they can, and they start grafting branches from the tame tree into other wild trees.  For a while it works, and they get the good fruit again, but then the wild parts start to overwhelm the tame again, and they are worried that none of the trees are salvageable.  Some of the  tree branches have even withered and died when they were in the best spot of ground that he had.  The servant encourages him to try again, and so they start grafting the tame branches back into the tame tree, and balancing out other trees that he had planted in different places.   But they are careful to not cut off all of the bad branches at once, in case it weakens the tree and the whole thing dies.  They work slowly, and this is the triumph near the end of the allegory... where they have worked hard at the balance for a long time, and eventually all the bad is gone, and the trees are all producing good fruit.
Now, of course, this is an allegory, so we know there is more to it than a happy olive grower.  The ideas here are about our world... the Master of the Vineyard and his son represent God and Christ.  The original tame olive trees are the house of Israel, and the wild the gentiles.  At the very end of the entire allegory it says that when evil fruit returns to the vineyard, that will be the season and the end, and the vineyard will be burned with fire.  In this part though, prior to the theoretical "end"/cleansing of the world, isn't this a Zion community?  Where everyone is "one" and equal? :)  And I kind of like the idea that it happens slowly.  Keeping balance so that the roots and the branches don't overbalance each other... slowly, the bad is removed, and the good remains.  We know that destruction will precede the Second Coming, and that there will be turmoil in the world.  As much as we can, though, I think we should change our focus from fear of future calamity to focusing on the small but significant changes that are happening in our world.  Yes, there is a lot of wickedness... but aren't things also getting a lot better in some ways?  Perhaps the good and the bad are balanced, and as we add more good, more evil can be removed.  Let's take some hope with us today, and be part of tipping the balance always towards the good.

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