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Allegory of the Olive Trees

Book of Mormon Lesson #13
Purpose: To help class members better understand Zenos’ allegory
of the olive tress and how it applies in our day
There is no greater admonition in all the Book of Mormon than Nephi’s counsel
to, “Liken the scriptures unto us, that I might be for our profit and learning”.
Sometimes this is easier said that done. Such is the case for me with the
allegory of the Olive trees. I read it. I studied it, but for years I just could
not figure out what it had to do with ME. Finally, one day as a busy mother
with four children under the age of five at home, and two others of school age
I tried again. This time it made perfect sense. I don’t pretend to understand
all of the doctrinal implications that this allegory has for the gathering of
Israel and the last days, but I finally knew how to apply Jacob's words to
my life. And that is what I am going to share here today. If you are looking
for that other stuff, much has been written in other places and the institute
manual is a great place to start! But if you want to know what pruning and
dunging and olive trees could possibly mean to a modern Mormon housewife in
Salt Lake City, Utah, here ya go!
Jacob 5:48
“Have not the ___________________ thereof overcome the roots thereof, behold they
grew __________________ than the strength of the _________________, taking strength
unto ______________________.”.
In this verse Jacob warns of the branches taking on a life of their own and
overcoming the roots. At this time in my life I had SO many branches. There
were piano lessons and karate lessons and baseball teams and soccer teams.
There were activity days and scouts. And sure enough these branches, these
extracurricular activities, were taking over and threatening the life of my roots,
my family’s time together and with the gospel of Jesus of Christ.
When we are tempted to partake of the numberless activities for ourselves
and our children to the point that they sap our strength and leave us too
exhausted to perform our gospel duties we should consider the three
temptations Satan used to distract Christ in Matthew 4:1-10. Satan will follow
this pattern of temptation throughout all time to try and distract us from
understanding our divine calls and duties as well.

Matthew 4:3-4
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that
these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”.
How are you tempted to try and provide materially for your family while forgetting to
provide for them spiritually? Do you put more effort into your presentation at work than
into your family home evening lesson? More effort into your child’s spelling list than
their young women’s goals?

President David O McKay said, “When too much of our focus, our energy, our time and
means are going to the many branches of life instead of the spiritual roots, our efforts
could actually be the antithesis of our eternal goals—an over abundance and
preoccupation with things and activities an rob us of the very spiritual vitality, peace and
joy we are seeking to achieve in our lives and our families”.
When we now we we are, the kind of tree we are to become at maturity, we begin to
get a sense of how to prune and shape our life’s tree. Cutting off the excess branches
leaves a tree looking frighteningly bare, and may even be a bit painful, but if our tree
doesn’t get pruned, it will become overgrown with branches and not produce the kind
nor quality of fruit we so desire. What are some of the obvious time wasters in your
________Talking on the phone
________ Pinterest
________ Shopping
________Excessive cleaning
________ You Tube
________ Not saying “No”
________ Others


Surfing the internet
Watching TV
Playing Games
Organizing/Editing Photos

With this meaning in mind, pruning the branches came to mean that I needed to
simplify and thinning the fruit came to mean that I needed to prioritize. But
most importantly, I need to nourish the roots, the vital part of the tree that
doesn’t show
What can you do to reprioritize the spiritual roots of your olive tree and begin to
prune the worldly branches?

Matthew 4:5-7
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of
the temple,
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is
written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they
shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus
said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Here Satan is saying that your faith, in order to be valid, must include grand
displays, that simple everyday demonstrations of peace and joy, patience and
long suffering are not enough. How have you fallen victim to this temptation?
Spent 30 hours on a relief society lesson lately but skipped family prayer? We
must remember that we don’t need to do grand and mighty gestures. Instead
our Father in Heaven has taught us that “through small and simple things are
great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
Name some times either from the scriptures or your own life when small and
simple things brought about great miracles or changes of heart.

Matthew 4:8-10
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all
the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these
things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.Then saith Jesus unto
him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and
him only shalt thou serve.
This temptation appeals to our pride. Don’t we all want to feel as though we have
made a difference? As though we have made our mark on the world? Of course we
When our deepest desire is not the things of god, or a favor from god, but god himself,
we cross a threshold. Less self focus, more God focus, less about me, more about him.
No matter if a tree grows to more than a thousand feet in height, each leaf, each
day must return to its roots for nourishment.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the braches: He that abideth in, and I in him the
same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” St John 15:5
What does it mean to “abide in” our Savior?

I think that to abide in Jesus Christ is the opposite of being busy. Do you ever find
yourself feeling like you are just going around in circles and not accomplishing much?
I feel like that a lot when I am not doing what my Father in Heaven sent me to this
earth to do. Sometimes when I am busying my time with things that won’t benefit me
in the eternities and don’t really serve a purpose. An example of me doing this is deep
cleaning a closet when I should be studying my scriptures. Yes, a clean house is
important, but not more important than spending time communing with my Father in
Heaven each day.

Busyness tries our patience. We get so wrapped up in doing that which doesn’t really
matter that we don’t have the patience to do that which does. We are too tired.
Sometimes we keep ourselves busy in order to keep ourselves from being able to think or
to feel. We, like Martha, choose busy over abiding in God’s company and therefore his
care. Trust your Father enough to stop. Stop trying to earn His love and trust Him
enough to just feel it. I know sometimes you feel that if you just make one more visit
to one more sister, one more batch of cookies for one more new family in the ward
then He will love you just that much more, but that’s simply not true. He loves you
right now. Just because you are you.
Be still.
He will tell you himself.
Right now.
If you will just give Him the chance.