The prophet Zenos wrote such a singularly significant prophecy that Jacob felt compelled to include the entire work in his own book of prophecy contained in the Book of Mormon (BOM) in what became Jacob chapter 5. Being holy prophets they both knew the story of The Great and Marvelous Work (GMW) and all of its component parts. Jacob knew just as we’ve come to know, what a profound piece of literature on the work of God’s labor in His vineyard among men this prophecy represents. We want to share with you the most important things we’ve appreciated and recognized in Jacob 5 from the perspective of the GMW. We will show you the most essential KEYS and then you’ll be able to read this beautiful revelation for yourselves in the manner Zenos and Jacob intended it to be read and understood. Jacob gave us a beautiful summary of the GMW in his book, with Zenos’ record used to teach a most poignant segment of the Isaiah Story. Jacob was a dedicated student of Isaiah as evidenced by his writings in 2 Nephi chapters 6-10 and the book of Jacob chapters 4-7. It’s critical for you to realize how important Jacob’s writings are to gaining a full understanding of the GMW.
During the years of our study to unveil the Isaiah Story, Jacob 5 gave up its mysteries layer by layer, and only after we pieced the entirety of the GMW together into a single mosaic could we see all of the intricate details including that of God’s condescensions. Christians have recognized in the life of Jesus Christ a single instance of God coming down to earth, but the Holy Scriptures teach us that God has been doing His own work on the earth since the beginning, condescending to come down into flesh again and again to labor among men in His own vineyard. Understanding the doctrine of eternal lives is critical to comprehending not only how we live and progress gaining light, but to see how even God continues to descend into mortality to help bring light to mankind to accomplish His eternal purposes. This is the most critical element of Jacob 5 which we will share with you.
Let’s begin with God’s condescensions to come down to earth to work in His vineyard which Jacob writes in his prologue to the great prophecy:
7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. 8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God. (Jac 4:7-8)
Jacob knew it! He understood that God does indeed condescend to be born into mortal flesh to work his work here on earth. And the fact that he wrote that word “condescensions” in its plural form indicates that Jacob was telling us what to look for in the revelation and mystery he was about to copy from the Brass Plates into his own record saying, “…I will unfold this mystery unto you…” (Jac 4:18). Now let’s turn to Jacob 5 and see what Zenos has to say about God’s multiple condescensions.
4 And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not. 5 And it came to pass that he pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word. Jacob 5:4-5.)
15 And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard. 16 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard, and also the servant, went down into the vineyard to labor. And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Behold, look here; behold the tree. (Jac 5:15-16)
19 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Come, let us go to the nethermost part of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches of the tree have not brought forth much fruit also, that I may lay up of the fruit thereof against the season, unto mine own self. 20 And it came to pass that they went forth whither the master had hid the natural branches of the tree, and he said unto the servant: Behold these; and he beheld the first that it had brought forth much fruit; and he beheld also that it was good. And he said unto the servant: Take of the fruit thereof, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self; for behold, said he, this long time have I nourished it, and it hath brought forth much fruit. (Jac 5:19-20)
29 And it came to pass that a long time had passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor again in the vineyard. For behold, the time draweth near, and the end soon cometh; wherefore, I must lay up fruit against the season, unto mine own self. 30 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard and the servant went down into the vineyard; and they came to the tree whose natural branches had been broken off, and the wild branches had been grafted in; and behold all sorts of fruit did cumber the tree. (Jacob 5:29-30)
38 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Let us go down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches have also brought forth evil fruit. 39 And it came to pass that they went down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard. And it came to pass that they beheld that the fruit of the natural branches had become corrupt also; yea, the first and the second and also the last; and they had all become corrupt. (Jacob 5:38-39)
49 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard? (Jacob 5:49)
61 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. 62 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. 63 Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time. (Jacob 5:61-63) (In a subsequent post we will explain this mystery of the last being first and the first being last.)
Jacob so clearly wanted to make this point about God condescending to work in his vineyard, that he called on Zenos to be a witness of this great truth! Then in his afterward to Zenos’ revelation, Jacob could teach a specific truth about the GMW with these provocative words we have quoted elsewhere about God setting his hand again the second time during the GMW to finish his labor on earth.
1 And now, behold, my brethren, as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy—that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass. 2 And the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh. 3 And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard; and how cursed are they who shall be cast out into their own place! And the world shall be burned with fire. 4 And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God. (Jacob 6:1-4)
Given what Jacob just taught us about God setting his hand the second time during the GMW to accomplish his purposes, we can look back at Zenos’ story and clearly see that verses 61-62 quoted above chronicle that second or last time that God comes down to work his work during the GMW. Therefore verses 61-77 of Jacob 5 tell us the story of God setting his hand again the second time during the GMW to finish his work. By revealing to us that there is a “second time” that God sets his hand, clearly suggests and connotes there will be a first time that God sets His hand to work during the GMW so we can look back further into the Zenos story and see that verse 49 quoted above is the beginning of the first time God will set his hand to work during the GMW. Then of course verses 49-60 in Jacob 5 will tell that tale when God initially stands up as Isaiah’s “servant” to inaugurate the GMW.
Our intent is not to walk you through all of Jacob 5 verse by verse. Rather we’ve given you the KEYS now whereby you can read Jacob 5 and understand that God condescends over and over to come work in His vineyard, and you can see the components of that chapter which are specifically dedicated to the GMW. There are wondrous things in Jacob 5 about records to come forth, and other beautiful doctrines that are beyond the scope and purpose of this paper. The Holy Spirit will teach you those things too if you seek them with real intent. Then it will become clearly evident that all of Jacob’s writings were written with the purpose to tell one story.
The commandment in scripture is to awake from our awful sleep. These things call you to awaken!