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History of the World

Countless textbooks have been written on the History of the World. Thousands of scholars have dedicated their lives to researching its various details. Volumes continue to be written to catalogue as many details as possible. It is interesting to learn details of other people, their customs, religion, and way of life. The scriptures are a summary of the religious side of the history of the world - and for the most part, a spiritual history of descendants of Abraham. The prophet Zenos gave a history of the world in a single chapter in one of my favorite passages in all of scripture in Jacob chapter 5, where Jacob quotes Zenos. I refer to it as "history", because much of the what the prophet Zenos wrote about has already transpired and we are nearing the end. However, at the time that he wrote it much was prophetical rather than historical. To us it is also news, since it describes some current events. This is the part that is exciting for me and so relevant and meaningful for all of us - it is our part in the history of the world.

The prophet Zenos compares the families of the world to an olive vineyard in which the house of Israel is a tame olive tree. This tame olive tree begins to get old and decay. Having taken particular interest in this tree, the master of vineyard is grieved at the thought of losing the tree and therefore commands his servants to nourish the tree so that it is not lost. The tree begins to bring forth some young and tender branches, but most of it is still decaying. The master of the vineyard commands that these young and tender branches be removed from the tree and grafted into other wild trees scattered about the vineyard. Branches from the wild trees are then brought to be grafted into the tame tree so that the tame trees roots maintain their strength. For a time all these grafts produce good fruit and the master of the vineyard is pleased. But after a time, all the branches begin to bring forth bad fruit, even those which were most tenderly cared for. The master of the vineyard weeps at the loss saying, ``But what could I have done more in my vineyard? ... I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.'' The servant prevails upon the master to spare the vineyard from destruction and the master and servant labor together again, this time gathering the branches from the vineyard that had been once been the young and tender branches scattered from the tame tree and grafting them back again to their mother tree.

The house of Israel was scattered among all nations of the earth just as the young and tender olive branches were grafted into all parts of the vineyard. Elder Russell M. Nelson reminded us when he came to our stake conference in June, that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon marked the beginning of the gathering of those branches back into the the tame tree. This is the part of the history that is current events. This is our part in the history of the world. The master of the vineyard now reveals himself as the Lord of the vineyard and commands his servant:

"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...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. And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things."

It is our privilege and opportunity to be one of the "few" servants that Zenos describes as laboring in the vineyard for the last time if we are willing. It is our place in the history of the world, and all we have to do be a part of it is say "I will!", and then get to work. "Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God." (D&C 6:4). What an exciting time in the history of the world! To anyone who is unsure of their place in this great work and in the history of the world, thrust in your sickle and get called to the work! So many of you have caught that vision and contribute so much of your time and energy. May God bless you in your efforts.

Brad Porter

From a congregational newsletter, Billerica Ward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Billerica, MA, Jan. 2009.

Reference: Jacob Chapter 5

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